Foxman attacks ‘Israel lobby’ books


Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, attacked the recent book by two professors which described a “Jewish Lobby” which they say has an undue and negative influence on American policy as part of “the emergence of a disturbing, upsetting and even frightening” trend in the United States. Foxman, author of the newly published “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control,” was the special preview speaker for the 29th Annual St. Louis Jewish Book Festival. He spoke to over 500 people who attended the event in the gymnasium of the Jewish Community Center Monday evening.

Foxman, a child survivor of the Holocaust, has been national director of the ADL since 1987, and he is one of the nation’s leading spokesman against anti-Semitism, bigotry and discrimination. He wrote the book in direct response to the controversial book Israel “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” by Professors John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University, as well as the book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” by former President Jimmy Carter. The Mearsheimer-Walt book claims, among other things that Israel and its U.S. supporters pressured the United States into going to war with Iraq and that Israel has become a strategic liability instead of an asset to America in the post-Cold War world. In discussing his book in the media, former President Carter has said that Israel has “horribly abused” the Palestinians and has compared the security barrier Israel has placed along its border with the Gaza Strip to the South African system of racial segregation called apartheid.


“I have plenty to keep me busy in my daily work so that I do not have the need to publish books to keep me occupied,” Foxman said, who noted that his previous book, “Never Again?” was written in response to an increase in global anti-Semitism. “Why is it that I felt that someone needed to rebut the thesis of two university professors from leading institutions?” Foxman asked. “Who would have thought that we would again have to fight classical anti-Semitism in our time? We have suffered for centuries from canards that Jews only care about themselves, that they are greedy and killed Jesus, and we have paid the price. ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’ provided encouragement for the pogroms. Over 100 years ago, anti-Semitism increased in France over the false claim that the Jew Dreyfus was a Jewish traitor.

“We know that Adolf Hitler did not start out with racial claims of ‘Aryan supremacy’ at the start,” Foxman continued. “At first Hitler accused the Jews of selling Germany out after the First World War, that the Jews stabbed Germany in the back. Later, Nazi Germany enacted the Nuremberg Laws, and then it culminated in Kristallnacht and the Holocaust.”

Foxman added that overt and vehement anti-Semitism in the United States could be managed “as long as it stayed on the extreme fringe. We could deal with Gerald L. K. Smith and Charles Lindbergh who claimed that the United States was tricked into World War II by the Jews. In the post-war period, we have had such claims from people like David Duke and Pat Buchanan.

“But when two university professors and a former President publish books which attack the so-called Israel Lobby, and claim that Jews attempt to stifle debate when they are rebutted, it was then that I decided that I had to publish this book.” Foxman said. He added that when Carter was asked by media to respond to the charges in the Mearsheimer-Walt book, the former president said “absolutely; they are telling the truth.”

Foxman noted that when Carter was questioned on his use of the word “apartheid” in his title, he said it was only the fifth word. “Why use it at all if it is not true?” asked Foxman. He added that when the views of Mearsheimer and Walt and Carter are criticized “they claim that the so-called Israel Lobby is so strong that it does not permit open discussion, that Jews control the media and the universities in this country.”

Foxman took especially strong exception to the Mearsheimer-Walt book’s assertion that America would not be at war in Iraq if it were not for the Israel Lobby. “Yet poll after poll has proven that the vast majority of the Jewish population in America is opposed to the war in Iraq,” he said. “Similarly, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was on the record as cautioning the United States against taking on Iraq, saying that Iran posed the greater threat. Other prominent Israeli generals expressed similar views.”

Foxman also attacked the assertion that the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were a result of the fact that because the United States Congress supports Israel, Osama bin Laden wanted to attack Congress and the Pentagon. He added that such books as those of Walt and Mearsheimer and Jimmy Carter “feed the notion that Israel is immoral, is not democratic and is not under threat. If all of these assertions are true, then why should we support Israel?”

Foxman said that according to surveys of Americans on their attitudes towards Jews through the years, overt anti-Semitism has dropped since the 1960s. “Back in the sixties, one out of three non-Jewish Americans accepted some anti-Semitic beliefs; now that has dropped to about 12 or 13 percent. There is one area of continued concern regarding the belief by one out of three non-Jewish Americans that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the United States.”

Foxman stressed that he was not accusing Professors Mearsheimer and Walt and former President Jimmy Carter of being anti-Semitic, but described much of their research as “shoddy” and said the views in their books could feed into and reinforce anti-Semitic and anti-Israel beliefs.

Concerning Iran, Foxman said, “How could it be that in our time the president of Iran says he wants to wipe Israel off the map and intends to develop the means to do it, and yet is invited to be a speaker at a major American university?” He also attacked the decision by the British Academic Union to boycott Israel universities, but praised the full-page advertisement placed in The New York Times in August signed by 300 American college presidents and chancellors saying, “If you boycott Israeli universities, boycott us!”

Foxman said that Israel and its leaders can be criticized just as those of other nations. “But when Israel is attacked again and again at the United Nations and other forums, while the abuses and atrocities of nations like the Sudan, Cuba, China and Zimbabwe are ignored, if only Israel is attacked and not them, it is anti-Semitism.”

Foxman said that while people often ask him if the situation today for the Jews is similar to that of 1938, the year of Kristallnacht, “there are three differences between today and that period. First of all the United States of America, with all its warts is much different now than it was then. There are two full-time diplomats at the State Department, one who deals with combatting anti-Semitism and the other who deals with issues related to the Holocaust. America understands that Israel is a democracy; there is a free Israel today, unlike the situation in 1938 when the Jews on the ship St. Louis were not allowed to land here. We now have a State of Israel, to which Jews from anywhere in the world can come without depending upon a kind bureaucrat or righteous Gentile to save only a few.

“The American Jewish community helped bring freedom and new lives in Israel and America to the Jews of the former Soviet Union, from Ethiopia and from Syria and other places where we have been in peril. We must not allow the claims by Mearsheimer and Walt and Carter that we stifle debate to intimidate us. The best answer to bad speech is good speech. That is why I wrote my book, and that is why I encourage all of you not to hesitate to speak out.”