Tuesday, February 10, 2009

DVD: The Tipping Point: Changing Perceptions of the U.S.-Israeli Relationship

This is a DVD of a panel discussion held at Cooper Union in New York City on September 28, 2006. It focused on the arguments in John Mearsheimer's and Stephen Walt's book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. The panel included John Mearsheimer, Rashid Khalidi and Tony Judt, who were more or less defending Mearsheimer and Walt, and Ambassador Dennis Ross, Ambassador Martin Indyk and former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, who criticized Mearsheimer and Walt, more or less.

On the whole, I find historians' reasoning and outlook more sound than political scientists and politicians, whom I find in comparison to historians to be overly focused on details and misleading data lacking causal mechanisms. So it was pleasant to hear Khalidi, Judt and Ben-Ami, and Mearsheimer was good, and Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk rarely made points which I thought worthwhile.

The forum is a good introduction to the arguments about how U.S. policy towards Israel is constructed.

It also includes two bonus features. It may be better for those unfamiliar with Mearsheimer and Walt to watch the bonus features first, as they illustrate how they make their arguments.

I think it is important for Muslims involved in policy debates regarding Palestine to hear these discussions so that they don't imply in their arguments that American Jews are making backroom deals to use United States power to suppress Palestinians. The "lobby" and its ability to influence U.S. politicians is a function of a whole congruence of factors, many of which have nothing to do with U.S. Jews. Perhaps Muslims can learn from a study of the pro-Israel lobby is how to advocate at many different levels of society simultaneously and continuously.

I purchased my copy from http://www.cnionline.org.It is available on Amazon.

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