On March 23, 2006, we published an article titled “The Israel Lobby” in the London Review of Books. A slightly longer, fully documented version titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” was posted simultaneously on the Faculty Working Paper website of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In these two pieces, we argued that unconditional U.S. support for Israel could not be justified on either strategic or moral grounds, and that it was primarily due to the political effectiveness of the loose coalition of groups and individuals that make up the “Israel lobby.” We also argued that the lobby had encouraged the United States to adopt policies that were neither in the America’s national interest nor in Israel’s long-term interest.
We knew that our article would be controversial, because it addressed a set of important issues that few mainstream scholars or journalists had examined. We also knew it would be criticized, because it challenged a number of powerful individuals and organizations and cast doubt on a set of historical claims and policy positions to which these individuals and organizations are strongly committed. We also thought it likely that we would be personally attacked, because we were critical of Israeli policy and of Washington’s unconditional support for Israel, and we had observed what had happened to others who had taken similar positions in the past.
We have followed the criticisms closely and have provided brief responses to some of them in two letters to the London Review of Books (May 11 and May 25, 2006), a symposium on the Israel lobby in Foreign Policy (July/August 2006) and a letter on that symposium in Foreign Policy (September/October 2006). We also published a slightly revised version of the original Harvard Working Paper in the Fall 2006 issue of the journal Middle East Policy. This clarified our position on several points, but our main position was unaltered.