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Old 12-19-2011, 11:20 AM
stephanie stephanie is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,921
Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Originally Posted by ledocs View Post
To repeat myself, if Mead had said that W&M's effort was courageous, admirable, and wrong, that would have been fine.
This was largely his initial reaction -- the "wrongness" relating in large part of the badly-defined nature of the "Lobby" and the lack of discussion as to how it actually works. I realize that you dislike the fact that he noted that one problem with the poorly-defined nature of the Lobby and vague discussion of its power is that it would likely call into mind traditional anti-semitic accusations and thus detract from the message, from the part of the argument that Mead at least initially saw as potentially valuable, but again I think that's just common sense and closely related to the specific problems Mead pointed out.

Now, clearly, Mead's view of the whole thing has evolved since that initial review, and part of that is his analysis of Mearsheimer's actions since then, including the recommendation of that book.

But what Mead said was "immoral" was not discussion of "the Israel Lobby" in the way Friedman did or the numerous comments about AIPAC that have been made since long before M&W wrote their article and book. He said it's wrong and -- if one does or should know better -- immoral to attribute the US's foreign policy re Israel to some vaguely defined powerful group of Jews. It is in part immoral to do this -- as I understood his comment -- because it ignores the much broader reasons for the US's action, ignores the reasons why the US may see these things as in its interest (this is part of the argument, but to show it's not one has to be a lot more specific than the kinds of comments Mead was referring to usually are), AND -- and I don't see why this doesn't bug you more -- because it suggests that there is some monolithic "Jewish" opinion when obviously there is not. Indeed, W&M seem to lump in the "Israel Lobby" groups that have quite different takes on what is in the interest of the US and of Israel.

But Friedman says exactly what W&M say.
Friedman is not saying what Mead called "immoral." Also, of course, the comments take place in context, and Friedman has said lots and lots of things about the US's Israel policy. It's clear he isn't making the argument that Mead called "immoral."

W&M are anti-Semites because they make false allegations against Jews by attributing too much power to them (per Mead).
Mead didn't say that.

Therefore, no allegation of disproportionate political power of rich American Jews is possible, unless the allegation is simultaneously anti-Semitic.
People on both sides of this issue say such things all the time. For example, the right was crowing not long ago that Obama was unpopular among Jews and that was going to hurt him wrt donations. The complaint Mead had was more nuanced.

That said, it's odd to focus on "rich Jews" specifically and solely when considering this topic, since again it's a lot more complicated than that and there's a diversity of opinion among Jews, rich or not, rather obviously. It makes more sense to actually focus on how the "Lobby" actually works and affects policy and that includes a whole host of factors. It is simply doing a better analysis that would seem to me to protect against the "anti-semitic" accusation from all but the self-evidently silly (of which of course there are plenty, but they don't seem to me to have the power against their opponents -- in the scholarly, not the political field -- that you see).
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