Michael F. Brown

Book review: "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy"

The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy by professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt weighs in with 106 pages of endnotes. The controversial tome challenging the might of the pro-Israel lobby is nonetheless accused of “shoddy scholarship” — much as when the authors’ shorter paper on the subject in 2006 unexpectedly burst the bubble of a lobby unaccustomed to challenge and reprimand. However, EI contributor Michael F. Brown finds that the heavy-hitting academics did not suddenly lose their intellectual acumen in penning this well-reasoned criticism of the Israel lobby. 

Damaging Congressional Silence on Israeli Violations in Lebanon

In late January the State Department delivered a potentially explosive report to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The classified report asserts that Israel may have violated the Arms Export Control Act with its use of American-made cluster munitions this past summer in Lebanon. Multiple contacts to both offices indicate neither Biden nor Pelosi has any intention of pursuing the matter. In contrast, a congressional investigation 25 years ago helped persuade President Ronald Reagan to suspend cluster munitions to Israel for six years. 

Style or substance following Riyadh summit?

The Arab League peace initiative is back in play after an Israeli and American-imposed five-year hiatus. The return to the previously shunted aside proposal comes only because the Bush administration has utterly fouled the region — from the bloody sectarian turmoil of Baghdad to the tsunami of human waste that recently swept through part of northern Gaza — and has evidently concluded there is now a better hope of “fixing” Israel and Palestine than Iraq. In an ironic twist, the Bush administration claim that the road to Middle East peace runs through Baghdad has been inverted by the total collapse in Iraq. 

Core issues absent from Rice's peace rhetoric agenda

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet today with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Ostensibly, they are to talk of a “political horizon” in order for Abbas to relay to the Palestinian people a “vision” of what could be. This now appears to be little more than a hallucination put out for public consumption. Borders, Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees cannot be expected to highlight the agenda. Consequently, if these three issues are not central to discussions, this is not a political horizon but a cliff for Palestinians. A horizon, properly viewed, simply cannot omit these three central concerns. 

Subcommittee hosts anti-Palestinian threesome

Hubris leads directly to disrespect. Back in power for just a handful of weeks, Rep. Gary Ackerman, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, is already displaying his disregard for the Peace Movement, Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, the unfairly maligned progressive Jewish community, and, well, generally anyone who favors a fair debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No such debate will occur on Valentine’s Day when Ackerman’s Subcommittee hosts a stacked and biased witness list. None of the three witnesses who will be present can be described as a vigorous advocate on behalf of Palestinian rights and freedom. 

A rebuttal to the Carter Center Board of Councilors resignation letter

Fourteen members of the Carter Center Board of Councilors resigned on 11 January to express their dismay over President Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. Their criticisms are petty and inaccurate and say much more about them than about President Carter. They fail to grapple in the letter with Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians and with President Carter’s call for substantive peacemaking. EI contributor Michael F. Brown responds with the following point-by-point rebuttal to the resignation letter. 

Debate? What debate?

There is a misperception in various world locales of Washington’s debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Namely, that substantive debate exists at all. In fact, the debate in the power corridors of Washington is highly constrained, almost non-existent. Should we engage with President Mahmoud Abbas now or require him to leap through several more hoops — including civil war — first? Serious argument on the injustice of Israel’s long-running occupation simply does not take place other than at the margins. The reason for the silence has become increasingly clear with the publication of President Carter’s courageous book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid

Sole protester greets otherwise unchallenged Lieberman

Every once in a while I end up at precisely the right spot at precisely the right time. Sunday 10 December 2006 was one such instance. I raced over that morning to the Ritz-Carlton at 22nd and M Street in Washington, DC with the hope that Member of Knesset Avigdor Lieberman was indeed speaking at 8:30 am. I parked, charged up the stairs, and then calmly walked in. I was sporting my wedding suit and a classy yellow tie. Hair cut short. Other than the touch long beard and some scuffs on my black dress shoes, I very much looked as though I belonged. And, in fact, it’s a shame I was not invited to the Saban Forum 2006 on “America and Israel: Confronting a Middle East in Turmoil.” 

Israel blocks another UN fact-finding mission

Israel has shut down another internationally mandated investigation of its military actions. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his high-level fact-finding mission, authorized by the UN’s Human Rights Council, have been refused entry by Israel for so long that they have been forced to call off the visit. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mark Regev disingenuously claimed that Israel had not denied entry, but simply not yet reached a decision. The families of the 19 Palestinian civilians slain at Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on 8 November 2006 will apparently not see even an approximation of justice at this time.