David Rothkopf has a long post going after Stephen Walt. It feels to me like an attempt to reaffirm his credentials against the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis, but he also makes some important points. Read the whole anguished thing. Walt himself concludes the debate with this zinger:

If Freeman were Israeli, he could write a regular column in Ha'retz and nobody would bat an eye.

I think that's true - and the fact that there is a broader, clearer debate in Israel than in Washington should be troubling. It does seem to me that the issue, framed in the best light, is simply: what kind of relationship should the US have with Israel? With the rise of Islamism, America and Israel face a common foe, but their interests in confronting that enemy may not always be identical. If we are to give Obama the diplomatic space necessary for progress, we need a little less Schumer and a little more Freeman. Sometimes, it seems to me, the admirable passion many have for the Jewish state can flood the frontal cortex and not allow for a more measured take on specific issues. As the US prepares to make the toughest decision since the Iraq war - whether to launch an Iran war - this is more vital than ever.

To put it more bluntly: assertions of "conspiracy" or a view that the Israel lobby is in some way more nefarious than, say, the Cuba lobby, or many other lobbies, need to be confronted directly. These things are not true. But equally, the notion that those who want to establish a more normal relationship with Israel are all closet anti-Semites or "hostile to Israel" seems to me to be just as damaging.

The two paranoid generalizations, of course, feed on each other. That cycle has to be broken. There is too much at stake for this debate to be about us.


(Photos: Relatives of slain Israeli soldier Staff Sergeant Eran Dan Gur comfort each other during his funeral procession at the Mt. Herzel military cemetery in Jerusalem on March 02, 2008. Staff Sergeant Eran Dan Gur was killed with another soldier during a fire exchange with Palestinian gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip yesterday, the army said. By Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty.

An unidentified relative of Hamas fighter Mohammed al-Kintani mourns during his funeral in Gaza City on January 14, 2009. By Mahumd Hams/AFP/Getty.)

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