Re “Israel’s ‘American Problem’ ” (Op-Ed, May 18):

Jeffrey Goldberg attacks our book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” while openly embracing one of our main arguments.

He writes that we “argue, unpersuasively, that American support for Israel hurts America. It doesn’t. But unthinking American support does hurt Israel.”

Our book contains detailed case studies showing that unconditional support for Israel is not in America’s national interest. Readers can judge for themselves whether we are “persuasive.”

But we also emphasized that “the lobby’s impact has been unintentionally harmful to Israel,” that its actions “may even be jeopardizing the long-term prospects of the Jewish state” and that its “influence has been bad for both countries.”

The lobby’s harmful impact on Israel was also a central theme of an op-ed article, “Israel’s False Friends,” we wrote in The Los Angeles Times on Jan. 6. Mr. Goldberg clearly agrees with this part of our argument. John J. Mearsheimer

Stephen M. Walt

Chicago, May 18, 2008

To the Editor:

Sixty years after Israeli independence, it is time for Jews to acknowledge the painful truth: the Jewish state was born on the forced expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinian people.

As an American Jew who lived in Israel for many years, and who has worked with Muslim organizations for the last decade, I believe that our recognition of this agonizing history would help open doors to peace between Israel and Palestine, and could lay the foundation for Jewish-Muslim reconciliation.

In the third century, Rabbi Hama bar Hanina wrote, “Great is repentance: it brings healing to the world.” This ancient Jewish teaching can guide us as we seek to bring peace to what Martin Buber rightly described as “a land of two peoples.”

Jacob Bender

New York, May 18, 2008


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