Janet McMahon: Hello. I’m Janet McMahon, the managing editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. I was out at the registration table trying to help sign people in when Dale started speaking, so I don’t know if he told you that the Washington Report will be 35 years old next month. And we have been following the Israel lobby since our very first issue in 1982, so it’s a special pleasure to introduce our first keynote speaker—Prof. John Mearsheimer. He is the R. Wendell Harrison distinguished service professor of political science and the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago.
In March of 2006 he and Prof. Stephen Walt of Harvard published an article in the London Review of Books entitled “The Israel Lobby.” The article had originally been commissioned by The Atlantic monthly, but that American publication decided not to publish it after all. Instead it found a home overseas. The paper’s publication caused an uproar, in no small part because it shed light on what AIPAC operative Steve Rosen described as a night flower that “thrives in the dark and shrivels up in the sunlight.” Harvard posted the paper on its website, but removed its logo. Attacks on Mearsheimer and Walt ranged from naïve—that’s from Noam Chomsky—to—and this will shock you—anti-Semites. The following year their article evolved into the book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, which has since been translated into 22 languages. Professor Mearsheimer, by the way, will be signing copies of his book at 12:15 at the registration table where you signed in.
I’m also particularly glad that he is joining us today because every year people ask us if he is going to be speaking at our conference. So it’s been a great pleasure this year to be able to say, “Of course he is!”
Today he will be discussing what, if anything, has changed in the decade since The Israel Lobby was published. Please join me in welcoming Prof. John Mearsheimer.
John Mearsheimer: Thank you for the kind introduction. It’s a great pleasure to be here today to speak before this distinguished audience. I would like to thank IRmep and the Washington Report for inviting me to give this talk. Of course, I thank all of you for coming out to hear me, and the other speakers.
I would like to focus my talk on what has transpired regarding the Israel lobby and the U.S.-Israeli relationship in the 10 years since Steve Walt and I wrote The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. My talk is comprised of four parts. I’ll begin by briefly restating the core arguments in our book. I’ll then describe four major changes that have taken place regarding the lobby and the U.S.-Israeli relationship over the past decade. I will then describe what has not changed and conclude by speculating about the future.
The central argument in the book is that the United States has a special relationship with Israel that has no parallel in modern history and it is almost wholly due to the lobby. What makes Israel’s relationship with the United States extraordinary is not simply the fact that Israel has received more foreign aid than any other country, or that Washington almost always backs Israel diplomatically. What makes it truly special is that the aid is given unconditionally. In other words, Israel gets this aid even when it does things that the United States opposes, like building settlements in the West Bank.
This discussion raises the obvious question: why does the United States give Israel so much aid and without any conditions? Israel supporters sometimes argue that it is because Israel is a vital strategic asset. This is not a serious argument. In fact, giving Israel nearly unconditional support is one of the reasons we have a terrorism problem. Others argue that there’s a moral rationale for this special relationship. Israel is said to be a democracy that shares our values.
The two countries certainly share some values, but Israel is a Jewish state which clearly privileges its Jewish citizens. Non-Jews are second-class citizens in both theory and practice. The United States, on the other hand, is a liberal democracy that works hard to treat all of its citizens equally. It certainly is not a Christian state that treats non-Christians as second-class citizens. Indeed, that kind of discrimination, which is part of Israel’s essence, is antithetical to the American way of life. Furthermore, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in the occupied territories is sharply at odds with U.S. values.
Finally, there’s the claim that the American people have such a favorable view of Israel that they demand their politicians back the special relationship. This argument, however, is not persuasive. If you look at the survey data on how the American public thinks about Israel, as Grant made clear before I spoke, there’s no question that Americans have a generally favorable image of Israel in part because media coverage tends to be favorable. But as poll after poll shows, that support is not especially deep or wide.
So what explains the special relationship if there is no strategic or moral imperative and if most Americans do not favor it? Our answer, of course, is the lobby.
What exactly is the lobby? Steve and I argue that it’s a loose coalition of individuals and groups who actively work to influence U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. It’s not a centralized organization, and the groups that make up the lobby do not agree on every issue. It includes organizations like AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents [of Major American Jewish Organizations], the Zionist Organization of America, and Christians United for Israel, just to name a few.
It also includes think tanks like WINEP [Washington Institute for Near East Policy] and the American Enterprise Institute, and publications like The Weekly Standard and Commentary. It certainly is not a cabal or a conspiracy that “controls” U.S. foreign policy. Rather, it’s a powerful interest group like the NRA, the farm lobby, the Cuba lobby, or the AARP, and it operates pretty much the same way those other interest groups do.
Very importantly, the lobby is not synonymous with Jewish Americans. Surveys suggest that about a third of American Jews do not care that much about Israel. Others do not support the lobby’s positions. Some groups that work on Israel’s behalf, such as the so-called Christian Zionists, are not Jewish.
In short, the lobby is defined by its political agenda, not by ethnicity or religion.
Finally, we argue that the lobby has pushed policies that are in neither Israel’s nor America’s national interest. In particular, we maintain that it would have been much better for both countries if the United States had long ago pressured Israel to stop building settlements and allow for the creation of a viable Palestinian state. But this did not happen—and it will not happen—because the lobby makes it impossible for American leaders to use the leverage at their disposal to pressure Israel. In essence, that’s the story Steve and I tell.
Let me now switch gears and talk about what has changed regarding Israel and the lobby since the book was first published in 2007. I think that there have been four noteworthy changes. First there’s been a fundamental change in how Americans think and talk about Israel, the special relationship, and the lobby. When we initially wrote our book, there was much ignorance about these subjects. My sense is that most people who read our book, or who have read our book, thought there was a large element of truth in what we said, but that we had nevertheless exaggerated the lobby’s influence.
There was also a great deal of ignorance in the American body politic about Israeli policies, especially toward the Palestinians, and little understanding of the special relationship. This is hardly surprising, because one of the lobby’s main goals is to prevent an open conversation in the media about Israeli policy, the U.S.-Israeli relationship, and the lobby itself. It was successful for a long time, but my sense from talking to many people about these matters, and from closely following the public discourse, is that those days are over. For example, it’s commonplace, even in the mainstream media, to talk about the lobby, using just that word. I cannot tell you how many people have said to me that, if anything, Steve and I just scratched the surface in our discussion of the lobby’s power and influence.
I might add that there’s now more discussion of Israel’s policies and actions in the American media. If you read the comment section that follow many newspaper stories, you will see that there are a substantial number of Americans who are critical of Israeli behavior, especially toward the Palestinians. Only someone who is blind and deaf would not recognize that the United States is deeply committed to defending Israel’s behavior at almost every turn. In short, there is much more awareness of these critical issues today than there was a decade ago.
What has caused this change? I think that our original article and the book helped. Both attracted an enormous amount of attention. Indeed, the Lobby book made the New York Times bestseller list and, because of the Internet, the article on which the book was based was widely read all over the world. But I think that, ultimately, our arguments would not have had much impact were it not for a number of other factors.
First, the actions of Israel and the lobby over the past decade have done much to substantiate many of the claims we made in the book. Just to take one example, consider how Israel and the lobby responded to the Iran nuclear deal. Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu went to extraordinary lengths to sabotage the agreement, going so far as to give a speech to a joint session of Congress on March 3, 2015 that not only sought to undermine the deal but was also an indirect attack on President [Barack] Obama. Of course, he was aided by AIPAC, which went all out to defeat the deal. This nasty fight between Netanyahu and the lobby on one hand, and the Obama administration on the other hand, played out in full public view.
The second factor behind the increased awareness of Israeli policy and the lobby is the Internet and social media. There are now all sorts of places on the Internet one can go to for information about these subjects. The website Mondoweiss, which I’m sure everyone in this room knows about, is a case in point. It posts a steady stream of stories that reveal important information about Israeli policy and the lobby’s activities, not to mention critical assessments of those matters. Mondoweiss, which is now 11 years old, had eight million visits to its site in 2016.
Of course there are other sites that provide valuable information like the Electronic Intifada, which is run by Ali Abunimah, and the site for the Israeli magazine +972. Another important source of information on the Internet is Haaretz, the liberal Israeli newspaper which often runs pieces that take a critical perspective on Israel, as well as the lobby. And in the age of Twitter, important pieces that appear on these sites are immediately spread around the world to huge numbers of people. These same pieces are also circulated on e-mail lists that go to hundreds, if not thousands, of interested readers.
Third, there are hosts of organizations that are willing to criticize Israel and the lobby. IRmep is a case in point, as it has played an important role in exposing the lobby’s activities over time. There are also a number of organizations that are deeply committed to Israel which, nevertheless, are willing to take Israel to task when they disapprove of its behavior. They include J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Americans for Peace Now, and the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, among others.
Finally, there are some important voices in the mainstream media who have taken to speaking critically about Israeli policy and the lobby. The most important person in this regard is Peter Beinart, who wrote a very influential article in the June 2010 issue of the New York Review of Books entitled “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” which is critical of the lobby for aiding and abetting Israel’s misguided policies in the occupied territories. He has continued to write and speak about these matters since this article appeared.
Before Beinart, there was the late Tony Judt, who offered searing criticisms of Israel and its American defenders. Of course, there are a number of other key figures in the mainstream media who have occasionally taken aim at both Israel and the lobby over the past decade. They would include Roger Cohen, Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, as well as Jon Stewart of “Daily Show” fame. In sum, I think there has been a significant change in how Americans think and talk about Israel since our book appeared.
The second big change is that Israel’s image in the West, especially in the United States, has suffered serious damage over the past decade. This is due in part to the fact that information about Israel is more readily available now than it was in the past, thanks in good part to the Internet and social media. But it is also as a result of the fact that things have been changing inside of Israel in recent years. For starters, the political center of gravity in Israel has been moving steadily rightward for decades, and it has now reached the point where government ministers occasionally make racist comments about Palestinians and write legislation that is directly at odds with basic liberal values. The recent legislation banning individuals who support BDS from entering Israel is the latest example of this phenomenon. All indications are that this rightward shift will continue for the foreseeable future and Israel will become an increasingly illiberal country, even toward its own citizens.
But the key stain on Israel’s reputation is its brutal treatment of the Palestinians and the fact that it has become an apartheid state. Until recently, Israel and its supporters were able to maintain the fiction that there would eventually be a legitimate Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, but it is now clear that there is virtually no chance that will happen, and Greater Israel is here to stay. That Greater Israel, as Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley make clear in an important new U.N. study, is already an apartheid state. Israel and its defenders vehemently deny that fact, but even among Israelis it’s not unusual to hear Israel described as an apartheid state. For example, two former Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, have said that if there is no two-state solution, Israel will—to quote Olmert—“face a South African-style of struggle.” Well, there is no two-state solution.
Speaking of South Africa, there are a number of individuals who were well acquainted with the situation in that racist state before it collapsed who believe that the situation in Israel is worse. John Dugard, the eminent South African law professor, says that the crimes against the Palestinians are, to quote him, “infinitely worse than those committed by the apartheid regime in South Africa.” He is hardly the lone voice in that regard.
For anyone who doubts how bad life can be for the Palestinians living under Israeli control, one only has to consider what happened in Israel’s three major assaults against Gaza over the past decade: Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense, and Operation Protective Edge.
Because of time constraints, I will focus exclusively on the first of those operations, Cast Lead, which took place in the weeks before President Obama was inaugurated in 2009. Israeli forces killed about 1,400 Palestinians, of whom roughly 1,200 were civilians; 350 of those civilians were children. In contrast, 13 Israelis were killed. The ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed in that operation is 108:1. That’s not a war in my lexicon—that’s a massacre. I might add that 6,300 Palestinian homes were destroyed, contributing to the 600,000 tons of rubble that littered Gaza when the shooting ended.
The U.N. commissioned an investigation in the wake of that conflict which was headed by the distinguished South African jurist Richard Goldstone. The final report concluded that Israel had engaged in “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.” It went on to accuse Israel of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
There are other signs of serious trouble in Israel. Especially worrisome are the racist attitudes among large segments of Jewish Israeli youth. Given these attitudes, it is hardly surprising that a year ago today a young Israeli soldier shot and killed a wounded and defenseless Palestinian. Equally unsurprising, there was a huge outcry in Israel when he was indicted and later convicted of the reduced charge of manslaughter. Press reports from Israel make it clear that many Israelis thought his behavior was justified, and that it was hardly an isolated incident. He simply had the misfortune of getting caught on film. The fact that the shooting was captured on film virtually guaranteed that it would go viral on social media and further damage Israel’s image.
The bottom line is that the days when Israel was seen as a morally upright David taking on an evil Goliath are over. The damage to Israel’s reputation probably started in 1982, when it invaded Lebanon, but it has accelerated at a marked pace over the past decade.
The third big change involves changes within the American Jewish community. One of the most important developments in recent years is a shift in the balance of power between the mainstream organizations and the lobby that reflexively support Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, and a more progressive set of organizations that are determined to find a way to make peace between the two sides. The divide between those groups has long been present, but the balance of power between them has always been lopsided in favor of the organizations that support Israel no matter what it does.
That situation, however, has begun to change, especially with the rise of J Street, which was created in November 2007 as a home for individuals with progressive views on Israel. It not only has a high profile, but it also is willing to criticize Israeli policies in the occupied territories and actually take on the hard-line organizations in the lobby. J Street is surely not as powerful as an organization like AIPAC, but the mere fact that it has survived and is thriving shows that times are changing. After all, a similar organization called Breira was established in 1973, but the mainline forces in the lobby quickly crushed it. Not only has J Street survived, but there is good reason to think that it will grow in strength over time as increasing numbers of American Jews look to join institutions that challenge Israel’s repressive policies toward the Palestinians.
In addition to these changes in the Jewish establishment, there are changes taking place in the broader American Jewish community that do not bode well for either the lobby or Israel. In particular, it seems clear that younger Jews are not as committed to Israel as their parents and grandparents. For example, a Pew survey from 2013 found that among Jews who are 65 years or older, 53 percent say that caring about Israel is essential to being what Jewish means to me. That’s 65 years or older, 53 percent. In contrast, 32 percent of American Jews under the age of 30 held a similar view. That is a gap of 21 percentage points. It seems likely that support for Israel in the American Jewish community, which has been weakening over the past decade, will weaken even more in the years ahead as generational change continues.
Lastly, there’s been an important change in Israel’s support within the United States. For purposes of background, it’s important to re-emphasize that public support for Israel in the United States has never been particularly strong. One way that the lobby deals with this thin support is to have significant influence both inside the Democratic and Republican parties. In essence, the lobby has worked hard to make sure that Israel enjoys strong bipartisan support and is not strongly backed in one of the major parties but not the other. The lobby was successful in this regard for a long time, but that bipartisan support has begun to erode over the past decade as support for Israel inside the Democratic Party has plummeted. At the same time, it has grown substantially inside the Republican Party.
In a Pew poll from this past January, only 33 percent of Democrats said they sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians, while 74 percent of Republicans said they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians. This is a gap of 41 percentage points. In short, there has been a marked erosion in support for Israel within the Democratic Party in recent years, which raises serious questions as to whether the lobby will be able to maintain bipartisan support for the special relationship in the years ahead.
Let me switch gears again and now focus on what has not changed over the past decade. Three things have not changed. First, the lobby is as powerful as ever. One might be tempted to see the lobby’s defeat on the Iran nuclear issue as evidence that its power is waning, but that would be a mistake. The lobby does not win every time, and it is most likely to lose when it is pushing the United States to do something that might get it into a war. The Iran deal fits squarely in that category. Its failure to make a deal with Tehran would have sharply increased the chances that the United States would have attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Where the lobby almost always wins is on matters relating to the Palestinians and financial support for Israel. The fact that the Obama administration could do virtually nothing to get Israel to move toward a two-state solution, yet still opted to provide Israel with $38 billion in aid over the next decade is clear evidence that the lobby remains very powerful. It’s important to understand that the key to the lobby’s success is that it focuses mainly on influencing high-level policymakers and opinion makers, as well as the elites in both political parties—not the rank and file.
I noted earlier that there has been a significant decrease in support for Israel within the Democratic Party. The reason that change has had little effect on policy is that the elites in the Democratic Party remain deeply committed to the special relationship. They fear the lobby will target them if there is any evidence they are wavering in their support for Israel. One might think that politicians who are supposed to place the American national interest above the interest of all other countries would stand up to the lobby when it pushes policies that they know are not good for the United States. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explains why this does not happen: “I saw most of Congress as uncivil, incompetent in fulfilling their basic constitutional responsibility, micro-managerial, parochial, hypocritical, egotistical, thin-skinned”—here are the key words—“and prone to put self and re-election before country.”
The second big non-change is that U.S. policy toward Israel remains the same as it has been for the past decade. The special relationship, in other words, is firmly intact. Of course, this continuity is hardly surprising, given that there has been no diminishment in the power of the lobby. As many of you probably remember, there was a brief moment during the recent presidential election where it looked like candidate [Donald] Trump might favor a more even-handed approach to dealing with Israel and the Palestinians. But he quickly reversed field and made it clear that he would go to great lengths to be even more pro-Israel than President Obama. Naturally, Hillary Clinton made the same pledge. Thus, there is no good reason to think that American policy toward Israel is going to change in a meaningful way any time soon.
Finally, there is hardly any sustained criticism of Israel in the American foreign policy establishment. This, too, is unsurprising, since the lobby is as powerful as ever and, as I emphasized, it focuses most of its attention on keeping the country’s elites in line. Anyone who wants to be a serious player in the making of U.S. foreign policy understands full well that if he or she criticizes Israel, there will be a price to pay. The result is that there is no serious debate about Israel or the special relationship in Congress, the mainstream media, or prominent think tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations. This is not to deny, however, that there is an open and vigorous discussion of Israel and its relationship with the United States outside of these establishment institutions.
Let me conclude by talking about where we go from here. I believe dark times are ahead for both Israel and the lobby. There is no reason to think Israel is going to move toward a two-state solution. Greater Israel is here to stay, and that state is and will remain an apartheid state. That brute fact will become increasingly clear to people all over the world, especially now that it’s clear the Palestinians are not going to get a state of their own. Moreover, the Palestinians, who already comprise almost half of the population of Greater Israel, will continue to resist their oppression, which will force Israel to escalate the repressive policies that have already badly tarnished its image.
The Palestinians’ most potent weapon in this fight will be BDS, which is a global movement that aims to generate significant economic and political pressure on Israel that will ultimately force it to give the Palestinians equal rights. Israel and its supporters in the West view BDS as an existential threat, because it not only has the potential to delegitimize Israel, but it might ultimately lead to Israel’s undoing. After all, the Palestinians, if they were given equal rights, Israel would cease to be a Jewish state, as there eventually will be more Palestinians than Jews inside of Greater Israel.
There are good reasons to think that BDS might succeed, at least when it comes to delegitimizing Israel. First, it takes dead aim at apartheid, which is a morally repugnant political system that is universally condemned. Apartheid South Africa eventually disappeared. Why should Israel be any different? Second, the call to give the Palestinians equal rights is fully consistent with basic Western values. It’s a demand that will surely resonate in Western Europe and the United States, causing all sorts of problems for Israel and its supporters.
Of course, Israel and its supporters are counting on the lobby to stymie BDS. Over time, however, that will become an increasingly difficult task, simply because there is no good defense for apartheid, which is a reprehensible political system. Nevertheless, the lobby is extraordinarily powerful, and it will go to enormous lengths to protect Israel at every turn.
It’s difficult to say where this conflict will lead in the decades ahead. Many Israelis will surely be interested in expelling the Palestinians from Greater Israel if they have the opportunity, thereby eliminating the need for apartheid. But that outcome is unlikely, because there are now more than six million Palestinians living within Greater Israel’s borders, and they would surely put up fierce resistance if Israel tried to expel them from their homes. Moreover, massive ethnic cleansing would be an enormous and everlasting stain on Israel’s reputation. It’s more likely that Israel will simply remain an apartheid state and, with the help of the lobby, just hunker down and accept the fact that most of the world considers it a pariah state.
Finally, there is the possibility that BDS will carry the day and Greater Israel will become a legitimate liberal democracy. If that were to happen, which is not likely, it would undoubtedly come after much bloodshed, as most Israeli Jews would fervently oppose this outcome, since it would mean the end of the Zionist dream.
Again, it’s hard to say which one of these outcomes will carry the day. It will probably take another 20 or 30 years before we understand how this conflict will ultimately be resolved, or maybe not resolved. Regardless of the outcome, I’m deeply sad to say that the decades ahead promise abundant trouble for Israel, and especially for the Palestinians. The United States will not be spared either, simply because the lobby will be working overtime to protect Israel and preserve the special relationship, which is likely to harm America’s intellectual life, as well as its politics. Thank you.
Questions & Answers
Janet McMahon: Thank you very much, Dr. Mearsheimer. We have several questions. I want to start with one of my own. When you talk about the deteriorating image in the United States, do you think that’s because people think it’s because Israel has a right-wing government, and if it didn’t have a right-wing government these things wouldn’t be happening?
John Mearsheimer: Well, I think at a very general level the deteriorating image is due to two factors. One is exposure because of alternative media. Number two, because of what’s happening inside Israel. I think that in part what’s happening inside Israel is that the politicians who now are beginning to dominate the discourse there are unattractive from a liberal American point of view. Since the vast majority of American Jews are liberal, they’re deeply bothered by what these politicians are saying. But I think that’s not the key. I think the key is that it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Israel is an apartheid state, and that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is simply unacceptable to large numbers of people. My argument is that, as time goes by, that will be more and more the case.
Janet McMahon: So now we’ll get to some questions from the audience. Here are two related ones, I think. Your 2006 book largely attributed the U.S. decision to invade Iraq to the Israel lobby. But many of the neoconservative policymakers involved in that decision were not particularly loyal to Israel, including Donald Rumsfeld. What is the evidence that the lobby was the primary cause? Another question. To what extent would you say that the Israel lobby was responsible for the attacks on various Middle East countries, such as Iraq?
John Mearsheimer: With regard to the Iraq War, our basic argument was that of course George Bush and Vice President [Dick] Cheney had to be in favor of the war for it to happen, and that neither one of them is part of the Israel lobby. Our argument in the book, and of course in the article as well, is that the lobby was deeply interested in getting Iraq and taking Saddam Hussain down for a long time before the actual invasion on March 19, 2003. The lobby, and here we’re talking especially about the neoconservatives, were pushing very hard for a war against Iraq. In the wake of what looked like a stunning military victory in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, we came to the conclusion—falsely, of course—that we had the magic formula for taking down regimes and getting out of town quickly so that we could march on to the next target. This is what the Bush doctrine was all about.
So what you had in 2002 and early 2003 was a situation where we thought we could win a quick and easy victory in Iraq, point number one. Number two, you had this group of neoconservatives who were deeply committed to taking down Saddam Hussain, who had a huge amount of influence in the media and in the Bush administration, who pushed very hard. Therefore, we argued, they were the main driving force. But there’s no question that they alone could not have made the war happen. They needed President Bush, and Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of Defense [Donald] Rumsfeld, and they all went along because they basically bought the neoconservative arguments which were of course not simply couched in terms of doing something that was good for Israel, right? They bought the argument, and they thought that we could go in and win a quick and decisive victory.
They were wrong. We jumped into a quagmire. Furthermore, they were wrong in the sense that we had not won a decisive victory in Afghanistan. We had won a temporary victory. And the Taliban eventually came back from the dead. So we had two huge disasters on our hands, which still exist today—one being Afghanistan, two being Iraq. Of course, as a result of the Iraq War, in part, Syria has turned into a disaster as well.
Janet McMahon: Here is a question about your professional career. What has been the evolution or impact of your book, and your principled and outspoken views, on your career? Has your university been uniformly supportive of your academic freedom?
John Mearsheimer: I think that there’s no question that for both Steve at Harvard and for me at the University of Chicago, we’ve not been punished in any significant way, at either Harvard or at the University of Chicago. Both universities have fully supported our right to speak out on this issue and other issues. American universities are actually excellent when it comes to freedom of speech issues in almost all cases. Not every case, but in almost all cases. We were taken care of in that regard. Larry Summers was the president of Harvard at the time, and he defended Steve down the line. The key officials at Chicago did the same with me.
It’s very hard to say exactly how much of an impact writing that book had on our professional lives. I would note that, just in my own case, I’ve written a number of other controversial pieces on controversial subjects that have got me into trouble. For example, I argue that with regard to the present crisis in U.S.-Russian relations, that we—the United States—are principally responsible for creating that crisis. [APPLAUSE] The Ukraine crisis was not the result of Vladimir Putin’s doing. It had to do with the fact that the West, and especially the United States, were very interested in making Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia’s doorstep. The Russians had long made it clear that that was unacceptable. It was our policies that led to the crisis.
You can agree or disagree with that, but that view is a minority view. I can tell you there are probably about five people in the United States who believe that. So there are a lot of people who are angry at me for that, right? It’s hard to tell how much of the trouble I have getting speaking engagements here and there, or getting put on this board or that board, is due to the fact that I wrote The Israel Lobby, or due to the fact that I have been controversial on other issues as well. But I think just in general, without going into any details, there are surely a number of opportunities that we were not afforded because we wrote the article and the book.
Janet McMahon: I think we’re out of time. I’m tempted to ask you more questions, but I think we’re On a pretty tight schedule. So thank you so very much, again.
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