Friday, June 13, 2008

'Israel Lobby' authors in Jerusalem: Ahmadinejad not inciting to genocide

"....."If you bring up the Israel lobby, you are asking for trouble," Walt said as he opened his lecture. He said he knew he was playing with fire when he wrote the book, but said he would not be deterred by personal attacks against him........

On Thursday Mearsheimer and Walt, both renowned political scientists long before their book came out, outlined their findings in a brief introduction. They argued that the only logical explanation for the U.S. government handing Israel $3 billion (1.95 billion) in annual aid, far more than any other U.S. ally, and supporting it unconditionally was the pro-Israel lobby, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. They said AIPAC wields disproportionate power because of deep financial resources and heavy-handed tactics.......

At one point, 25-year-old international relations student Liad Gilhar accused the professors of distorting facts and providing fodder for anti-Semites. "You need to choose your words carefully," Gilhar said.

Walt shot back. "With all due respect, I don't think it is my words that harm Israel, but rather Israel's actions."

A professor criticized the authors for failing to condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. "I don't think he is inciting to genocide," Walt responded.

Mearsheimer said Israel's brutal treatment of Palestinians helped fuel terrorism against the United States and that, unlike in Israel, there was no healthy debate on the matter in America.

"The U.S. media coverage is heavily slanted in Israel's direction," he said.

Not all in the audience were hostile.

Korina Kagan, a political science lecturer, said she essentially agreed with their thesis and was appalled by the attacks against them, especially from academic circles.

"The smear campaign against them is worse than anything they have ever written, she said," adding that many of their positions are shared by commentators in the Israeli media. "We need to have a free academic exchange."
Mearsheimer and Walt were invited to Israel by Gush Shalom....."

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