My friend Crystal runs a book review blog and she tagged me as follows:
Open the nearest book to page 123 and post the fifth sentence.
Well, The Israel Lobby it is:
"The prosettlement group Americans for a Safe Israel distributed a thirty-page pamphlet smearing Breira's leaders for their involvement with other left-wing causes and referring to them as "Jews for Fatah."
Yeah. Reading this book is definitely not kick-back-and-relax time, which is why I had to hang my head in shame at the library this morning and have them transfer the Express Checkout (3 weeks, no renewals, due today) to Miriam's library card.
But as long as we're talking about this book, let's talk about it.
First of all, I realize it's highly likely that many/most of you have no interest in the subject of this book, if you are at all even aware that such a thing as "the Israel lobby" exists. I don't mean that as an insult to anyone's intelligence, either. The Israel lobby itself, in fact, would have you believe that it doesn't really exist - it would rather you see the effects of its efforts at work in US foreign policy (and, indeed, in some aspects of daily life, the news media, and higher education) without you recognizing them as such.
But if you've ever spent even a few moments talking politics with someone from the Middle East, you have almost certainly discussed the subject, even if you don't know it.
I think an alternate title for this book could very fittingly be: An Ajnabi's Guide to Debunking or Confirming All Those Crazy Conspiracy Theories Arabs Are Always Telling You About. Here are some of the more interesting questions addressed by The Israel Lobby:
-Exactly how much money does America give Israel every year, and what is it used for?
-Is Israel a strategic ally or a foreign relations liability?
-So, all those bombs Israel dropped on Lebanon during the 2006 summer war - were they purchased with American money?
-Who was the first to use suicide bombings in the Middle East?
-What is the true story of the failed Camp David talks?
-Since when is being an Arabist a bad thing?
-Does Israel always do what America tells it to do, and is their continued financial aid contingent on cooperation?
And I'm not even done reading yet.
The most frightening thing about reading this book has been discovering how many of those "wacky conspiracy theories" we wrote off with a laugh in Damascus actually have a strong basis in truth, or are in fact entirely true.
The authors, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, faced an uphill, bumpy road to publication, and the story of the book's genesis is fascinating. Also, I don't know that I've ever read such a thoroughly researched book before.
Before you try to tell yourself that you couldn't possibly care about a subject like this one, think again. Our relationship with Israel and the impact this relationship has on our global foreign policy affects you very much. Think of your personal views on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Do your elected representatives carry that view to their boss(es)? Do you think the conflict has anything to do with terrorism, or the safety of Americans and American interests abroad? How interested are you in what causes or ideologies your tax dollars support, and at whose (figurative) expense?
So although I can't really say I look forward to discussing politics with Arabs in the near future, at least when it happens, I'll be more prepared.
Aaaaaanyway, I tag Eevi, Lark, and Liz. If you dare.