Why did your article “The Israel Lobby,” which was published in the London Review of Books in 2006, provoke such heated discussion around the world? James Traub wrote in The New York Times Magazine: “ ’The Israel Lobby’ slammed into the opinion-making world with a Category 5 force.” How would you describe the reaction?
The article received enormous attention because it challenged what had become a taboo issue in mainstream foreign policy circles, namely the impact of the Israel lobby on U.S. Middle East policy. We did not question Israel’s legitimacy and explicitly stated that the United States should come to Israel’s aid if its survival is at risk, but we did argue that pro-Israel groups in the United States were encouraging policies that were ultimately not in America’s national interest. Although the views we expressed are often discussed openly in other democracies—including Israel itself—they have rarely been set forth in detail by mainstream figures in the United States. The article was also of great interest to many readers because it has become increasingly obvious that U.S. Middle East policy has gone badly awry. Although a number of groups and individuals either mischaracterized our views or attacked us personally, many other readers agreed that such an examination of the lobby’s role was long overdue. [complete article]
About 30 or so years ago, when I first began to write of my concern that Israel was embarked on a course that would lead only to recurring wars, or perhaps worse, I received a letter from Abraham H. Foxman, then as now the voice of the Anti-Defamation League, admonishing me as a Jew not to wash our people’s dirty linen in public. I still have it in my files. His point, of course, was not whether the washing should be public or private; he did not offer an alternative laundry. His objective was—and remains—to squelch anyone who is critical of Israel’s policies. [complete article]