13 Questions for Stephen Walt
Stephen Walt is at it again: ascribing nefarious policies to Jews that allegedly are against the best interests of the US and international communities. This time, in a piece for the Huffington Post, he insists Netanyahu is killing Palestinians for political reasons. Walt claims the Israeli government is trying to keep Hamas out of a Palestinian unity government so that Israel won’t have to face up to peacemaking. According to him, a Palestinian unity government with Hamas in it would be focused on peace whereas Israel ultimately wants “colonization.”
Walt obviously thinks he knows better than the Israeli experts on the ground. He hasn’t consulted with them as far as we know; he has not revealed any access to intelligence reports; nor has he shown us the minutes of even one meeting he has attended with Israeli officials. He just knows. How they are. Greedy, land grabbing colonists who are ready to kill innocents and manipulate the good American public in order to avoid peace.
Forget that Israel is the only country in the Middle East, and probably the world, whose territory has willingly shrunk by considerable proportions over the years. Forget that Hamas has a history of lying, and that they do not keep their agreements whereas Israel does. Forget that Hamas has spent all of its military budget on offense and zero on defense, whereas Israel has spent billions on defense. It’s Israel who doesn’t want peace.
But even more than that, let’s forget the importance of legal agreements, and the desire to keep the Palestinian Authority as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The reason why Israel and Egypt blockaded Gaza when Hamas violently took over the territory after winning elections is because the two countries had an agreement with the Palestinian Authority for the safe transfer of goods through the border crossings. Egypt told Hamas to return the border crossings to the PA if they wanted Rafah reopened, but Hamas refused, and in the name of human rights, Israel and Egypt were largely blamed for a siege.
Walt also says that Palestinians have the right to resist occupation. OK, but Israel pulled out of Gaza nine years ago, and gave two years notice before it did so. Where were the blueprints for territorial development to alleviate Palestinian living conditions? Where were the donor conferences to stimulate growth? Where were the attempts to create a demilitarized zone that would become a haven for Palestinians to have self determination? Where was Walt? Or should I ask, where is he now? He’s telling Israel no again. But is putting the onus of responsibility singularly upon Jews really how to help Arabs?
Clearly, sociopolitical responsibility is neither his purview, nor that of Israel bashers who conveniently ignore all the proof that too many Palestinian powerbrokers have chosen war against Jews rather than the development of their own people; and have done so in concert with the willful negligence of the international community to the extreme detriment of the Palestinian populace. When Israel left Gaza with plenty of notice, it was the perfect opportunity for the world to show how much they care about uplifting the Palestinian condition. They failed, and blamed Israel for responding to rockets, which were imported simply as part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s desire to repress the only indigenous minority in the Middle East that has gained self-determination, rather than to maximize all they were given for the benefit of their own people. What Hamas is doing is not resisting occupation. It’s warmongering. Resisting occupation would mean building underground bunkers for civilians like Israel does, not attack tunnels directed at civilians, which Israel doesn’t. But, according to Walt, it’s Israel who prefers war over peace.
None of that matters, according to Walt, as to why the US public and government support Israel. It’s AIPAC’s fault for allegedly manipulating Americans against their best interests. But is that really true? Does Walt’s “smells like The Lobby” meme really pass the test of logic and evidence regarding support for Israel? Or could it be that the US supports Israel through shared cultural values about living in an open and accountable government that is threatened by repressive regimes? Is AIPAC manipulating Americans, or is the US public actually demonstrating moral consistency by supporting outposts of democracy?
Let’s ask him some questions to find out:
13 Questions for Stephen Walt
- If the “Israel Lobby” is in control of the US Government, why is Jonathan Pollard still in prison? In your answer, I would appreciate it if you would explain how an interest group can conscript an entire government to have a foreign policy that is against its own best interests more readily than they can spring just one guy out of lock up.
- You have claimed in the past that American support for Israel is responsible for generating mass consternation toward the USA throughout the Middle East. Please explain where else US support for an ally creates hatred.
In your answer, please explain:
-- Why isn’t there wide-spread hatred toward the USA by Kurds (not even the PKK) over our support and alliance (political and military) with Turkey, which has wrought suffering upon that population?
-- Why isn’t there wide-spread hatred toward the USA by Western Saharans and their refugees in Tindouf (not even by the Polisario) over our support and alliance (political and military) with Morocco which refuses to recognize Saharawi sovereignty over Western Sahara?
-- Why isn’t there wide-spread hatred toward the USA by Serbs over our support, recognition, and alliance (political and military) with Kosovo?
-- Why haven’t there been any uprisings by Tibetans against the US providing China with economic power that translates into military hardware?
All of these peoples have been denied sovereignty over (substantial parts or all of) their lands due to US relations with their rivals, but grassroots level hatred toward the USA among them is not nearly as widespread as it is among Palestinians and their allies. What makes the case of Palestine different in ways that justify their anger beyond that of any other suffering people, and put the onus squarely upon the “Israel Lobby” for blame?
- If anti-Zionism is legitimate international outrage toward “western colonialism,” and has not been purposely crafted by agenda-driven propaganda, how do you explain the claims that Israel as an illegitimate “western, colonialist outpost” on Arab/Muslim lands, but not any international discussion of substance whatsoever (not even on a much smaller scale) about other modern colonialist outposts in the Muslim world with their own recent histories of abuse toward Muslims, such as the Spanish exclaves, Ceuta and Melilla? Is it the act of colonialism that creates resentment, or the identity of the one accused of doing it? Please explain.
- If it is true that the “Israel Lobby” is the driving force behind US governmental support of Israel to the detriment of American foreign relations with (nondemocratic) regimes in the Middle East, then who is responsible for US governmental support of Taiwan and South Korea to the detriment of American foreign relations with nondemocratic regimes in East Asia (e.g. China and North Korea), which are already nuclear and somewhat hostile toward the USA for reasons that have nothing to do with Israel?
- How can you discount that US support for Israel is directly related to US support for Taiwan and South Korea because they are all democracies threatened by nondemocracies? If there is a significant difference in American motivation to lend threatened democracies in East Asia our support from our (supposedly AIPAC-manipulated) support of a threatened democracy in West Asia, explain it.
- As a realist, why do you spend so much more time writing warnings about US support of Israel, which antagonizes Middle Eastern regimes instead of US support for Taiwan, which antagonizes the Peoples Republic of China? Do you think Middle Eastern regimes pose a more dire threat to US security than China? Please explain.
- Please support your claim that Jews are colonialists in Israel, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, using stringent academic and (nonpoliticized) international criteria rather than populist lingo.
In your answer, please explain how it is irrelevant to claims of colonialism that the land in question is ancestral to the (ethnic) Jewish people, that the identity of the Jewish people has been inseparable from it for millennia, and that the only people in both ancient and modern times to have self-determination on those lands are Jews.
- Embedded in your claims of Israeli (Jewish) colonialism and an end to the occupation is a call for the enfranchisement of a Palestinian state that today makes no accommodation for Jews to live among them. Currently, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Libya, and Jordan make it illegal for Jews to live there. Explain the morality behind the construction of a 7th Arab country that is de jure Judenrein, especially one formed on the ancestral lands of the Jewish people; and why resistance to that happening is colonialism.
- Please explain how it is possible, and logical, that the “Israel Lobby” is responsible for generating hatred toward the USA among populations in Middle Eastern countries that have a strong history of abuse and violence toward Palestinians.
- Please provide us with all the facts you have – basically a balance sheet -- to prove that antagonistic US foreign policy toward Iran is predominantly generated by the “Israel Lobby” and not by other “real politik” and special interest groups, such as those on behalf of American energy interests in the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea regions.
- It is well known that many hundreds of thousands of indigenous Middle Eastern Jews were turned into refugees by Arab regimes in the years following 1948 (even though they did not participate in war) and then subsequently absorbed by Israel. Explain how this does not constitute a legitimate population transfer, which was de facto initiated by Arab regimes similar to other population transfers in recent history, and how those Jews living in Judea are colonialists.
- Leaders and students of the national liberation movements of indigenous minorities throughout the Middle East, including Kurds, Baloch, Kabylians, Berbers, Assyrians, and others, have been very vocal in their support for Israel. Why is their narrative less relevant than the narrative of the majority ethnic groups in the region? Is it resource control, or morality?
- When and where has your work brought tangible results resulting in improved public safety, trade relations, and/or US international influence so we can better understand why we should listen to you?