Stephen Walt towers over me as we walk in the Harvard sunshine past Eliot Street, a big man who needs to be big right now (he’s one of two authors of an academic paper on the influence of America’s Jewish lobby) but whose fame, or notoriety, depending on your point of view, is of no interest to him. “John and I have deliberately avoided the television shows because we don’t think we can discuss these important issues in 10 minutes. It would become ‘J’ and ‘S’, the personalities who wrote about the lobby – and we want to open the way to serious discussion about this, to encourage a broader discussion of the forces shaping US foreign policy in the Middle East.”
“John” is John Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago. Walt is a 50-year-old tenured professor at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. The two men have caused one of the most extraordinary political storms over the Middle East in recent American history by stating what to many non-Americans is obvious: that the US has been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of Israel, that Israel is a liability in the “war on terror”, that the biggest Israeli lobby group, Aipac (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), is in fact the agent of a foreign government and has a stranglehold on Congress – so much so that US policy towards Israel is not debated there – and that the lobby monitors and condemns academics who are critical of Israel.
It should be added that Fisk responds to the Australian Jewish News who recently claimed that Fisk believed in conspiracy theories over 9/11:
In Australia to launch my new book on the Middle East, for instance, I repeatedly stated that Israel – contrary to the anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists – was not responsible for the crimes of 11 September 2001. Yet the Australian Jewish News claimed that I “stopped just millimetres short of suggesting that Israel was the cause of the 9/11 attacks. The audience reportedly (and predictably) showered him in accolades.”
This was untrue. There was no applause and no accolades and I never stopped “millimetres” short of accusing Israel of these crimes against humanity. The story in the Australian Jewish News is a lie.