John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, co-authors of the controversial book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” will speak at the University March 14.
Mearsheimer, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, and Walt, a political science professor at Harvard University, have taken heavy criticism for their book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” which argues that a powerful group of Israel supporters influences the United States Congress to create and pass policies favorable to Israel.
The book originally appeared as an essay in the March 2006 issue of the London Review of Books, where it contended that the U.S. and Israel hold a “special relationship” where the U.S. goes out of its way to advance the interests of Israel, motivated by a hidden “Israel lobby” in the U.S. government.
In August 2007, the article was expanded into the book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.”
In the original article in the London Review of Books, Mearsheimer and Walt describe the lobby as the most powerful foreign policy motivator in the country.
“Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical,” the London Review article says.
In the article, Mearsheimer said the Israel lobby is deeply rooted in the U.S. political system.
“The special relationship is driven largely by the lobby, and the lobby has grown in power since the creation of Israel in 1948,” he wrote.
Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, a pro-Palestinian advocacy group, invited the duo to speak on campus, according to LSA sophomore Andrew Dalack, co-chair of SAFE. Dalack said the professors would speak to students in the Natural Science Auditorium.
Earlier in the day, Mearsheimer and Walt will address Michigan’s Knight-Wallace Fellows in a discussion separate from the SAFE-sponsored event that isn’t open to the public, Dalack said.
Mearsheimer said in an interview yesterday that he expects people to disagree with his and Walt’s opinion and looks forward to the debate.
“The idea that there are going to be people in the audience who disagree with us and disagree with us vehemently is attractive to us,” Mearsheimer said. “We want people who disagree with us to make their arguments and give us an opportunity to deal with them.” LSA sophomore Andrew Dalack, co-chair of SAFE, said the group had been in contact with the authors for nearly a year trying to solidify a date that they could come to campus. He said Mearsheimer and Walt were invited because of the thoroughness and quality of their book.
“This book really makes the Middle Eastern conflict more personal to the average American,” Dalack said. “What this book does is it links Israel’s interests in the Middle East to American foreign policy, and that has a direct impact on Americans here at home.”
Dalack also said he expects the crowd to have differing views.
“I think that it will draw out a very diverse crowd,” Dalack said.
“The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” has been criticized by some as an anti-Israel and propagandist book masquerading as a researched academic work.
Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote a book meant to denounce the claims of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” The book, “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control” was one several attempts to refute the theory, with essays refuting Walt and Mearsheimer’s claims found in publications such as The New Republic, Foreign Affairs and The Washington Post.
Nick Israel, the Midwest campus coordinator for the Zionist Organization of America, said Mearsheimer and Walt shouldn’t be speaking on campus because the book is not really academic.
“You have people masquerading an idea that is non-academic,” Israel said. “The book reinforces conspiracy theories part of traditional anti-Semitism.”