Shalom Lappin emails:
There are a at least three additional points worth making with respect to the the article by Mearsheimer and Walt.See further on this Bob Fine's post on Mearsheimer and Walt at Engage; and, at the same place, these two posts.
1. They do not offer a critical examination of a particular lobbying agency, like AIPAC, but a general indictment of Jewish and pro-Israel influence in American public life, which they portray as a cohesive, well-oiled lobby, their weak caveats notwithstanding. Therefore, despite their stated intentions to avoid Zionist conspiracy-theory-mongering, this is precisely what they engage in.
2. They fail to distinguish the very different views of distinct Jewish public figures in successive American governments, but roll them all into membership in 'the Lobby'. Particularly grating is their portrayal of Clinton's Middle East advisers as part of the same axis that they identify with the neo-conservatives of the present Bush administration. While AIPAC tends to support hardline Likud positions, Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and Sandy Berger promoted a moderate policy modelled on a Peace Now view. This brought them into serious conflict with Netanyahu and his AIPAC supporters. Yossi Beilin discusses this conflict in his record of the Camp David and Taba negotiations, A Guide for the Wounded Dove, as does Ross in his book The Missing Peace. Mearsheimer and Walt simply ignore these facts in what turns into a generalized assault on the Jewish presence in American political life.
3. They make no attempt to describe the workings of other lobbies and to compare them to the 'pro-Israel' lobby in order to support their claims of the undue influence of the latter. Specifically, they leave out of their 'research' any mention of the extensive Saudi lobby, which has enjoyed intimate relations with the Bush family for generations and is closely intertwined with the oil industry. It played a significant role in shaping American policy during the first Gulf War and its aftermath. For some reason it and all other foreign and domestic lobbies are invisible to Mearsheimer and Walt in their obsessive concern with the Israel lobby.
This is a particularly unpleasant case of shoddy political propaganda packaged as scholarship. It is deeply disturbing to see it coming out of serious American universities.