- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 6, 2006

A widely-criticized study published by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government that asserts that the Israeli lobby manipulates and damages American foreign policy has led one of its authors to step down as academic dean at the school.

The paper, written by Kennedy School Academic Dean Stephen M. Walt and University of Chicago professor John J. Mearsheimer, asserts that “the Jewish Lobby” is responsible for the Iraq war, the negative Muslim view of the United States and Israel’s status as the top recipient of U.S. aid.

They define the lobby as a collective that includes the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), neoconservatives, Christian evangelicals, prominent journalists and lawmakers.

AIPAC has declined to comment on the paper, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” Even frequent critics of Israel, such as Noam Chomsky, question the study’s assertions. “We still have to ask how convincing their thesis is,” Mr. Chomsky says. “Not very, in my opinion.”

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America says the paper is “riddled with errors of fact, logic and omission, has inaccurate citations, … and, contrary to basic scholarly standards, ignores previous serious work on the subject.”

In their study, Mr Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt say: “The main driving force behind the Iraq war was a small band of neoconservatives, many with close ties to Israel’s Likud Party … No lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical.”

The Kennedy School removed its logo from the study’s Web site, and Mr. Walt subsequently said he would step down as academic dean. The Web site now includes the following disclaimer:

“The two authors of this Working Paper are solely responsible for the views expressed in it. As academic institutions, Harvard University and the University of Chicago do not take positions on the scholarship of individual faculty, and this article should not be interpreted or portrayed as reflecting the official position of either institution.”

Mr. Mearsheimer, an emphatic critic of the Iraq war, was one of 30 academics to sign a letter to the New York Times opposing the 2003 invasion. He wrote an article for Foreign Policy magazine arguing that the war was unnecessary and counter to U.S. interests.

The paper has received some praise, some of it unwanted. David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan officer in Louisiana, told the New York Sun: “It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier American university essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making since even before the war even started.” Al Jazeera, the television network, headlined a report on the study: “AIPAC behind U.S. criminal ME policy.”

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