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A Lobby.....Not a Conspiracy

In the last weeks there has been quite a bit written - including on this blog - about the paper, "The Israel Lobby", by two academics, published in the London Review of Books.

This last week saw The Australian publish an op-ed piece by Antony Loewenstein [here] on the "lobby" in Australia, and a response, the next day, from an executive of AIJAC, Colin Rubenstein.

Yesterday, The Australian featured an article which was, in effect, a synopsis of the original piece by the two academics. [here].

An op-ed piece in the New York Times [only available by subscription] dissects the original paper in a sober and unhysterical op-ed piece by a leading academic Tony Judt. As Judt writes:

"As they must have anticipated, the essay has run into a firestorm of vituperation and refutation. Critics have charged that their scholarship is shoddy and that their claims are, in the words of the columnist Christopher Hitchens, "slightly but unmistakably smelly." The smell in question, of course, is that of anti-Semitism.

This somewhat hysterical response is regrettable. In spite of its provocative title, the essay draws on a wide variety of standard sources and is mostly uncontentious. But it makes two distinct and important claims. The first is that uncritical support for Israel across the decades has not served America's best interests. This is an assertion that can be debated on its merits. The authors' second claim is more controversial: American foreign policy choices, they write, have for years been distorted by one domestic pressure group, the "Israel Lobby.".......

Does the Israel Lobby affect our foreign policy choices? Of course — that is one of its goals. And it has been rather successful: Israel is the largest recipient of American foreign aid and American responses to Israeli behavior have been overwhelmingly uncritical or supportive.

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