Walt and Mearsheimer: the Reverberations Continue

Even as the Washington Post continues its effort to blackball Walt and Mearsheimer as antisemites, how interesting that their ideas gain wider and wider circulation. Later this month the giant issue they raised, the Israel lobby, will be the subject of a debate, sponsored by the London Review of Books, in the great hall at Cooper Union in New York on Sept. 28.

Something else about this debate is the roster. On one side are the inevitable Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk. Joined now by Shlomo Ben-Ami, former Israeli foreign minister, who in his fine new book on the Arab-Israeli “tragedy” acknowledges the Zionists’ “expulsions and atrocities” that resulted in ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians in 1948.

On the other side John Mearsheimer is joined now by the eloquent Rashid Khalidi and the redoubtable Tony Judt, who in a brilliant piece in Haaretz last spring described Israel as an indulged adolescent that refuses to grow up. (Though, witness Haaretz, the discourse on these issues in Israel is at a much higher level than ours). Expect the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis to be textured and expanded by the addition of an Arab and a Jew. To gain the psychological and geographical dimension that the authors, realist political scientists, were not able to supply. Their achievement in breaking the seal last March will only be magnified in this way. An event not to be missed!