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21 Dec, 2011

A Must-Read Book For The Travel & Tourism Industry in 2012, U.S. Election Year

Editor’s Note: 2012 will be an election year in the United States and a critical year for the world at large. The travel & tourism industry will be significantly affected by the many geopolitical and economic events and developments sure to unfold next year.

In an era of shifting global balance of power, it is becoming more important than ever to understand these external and internal forces of change and clearly identify the drivers of decisions, policies and actions which have a far-reaching ripple effect on millions of people worldwide.

Similarly, in an era of growing protest and demands for accountability and transparency, it is becoming more important than ever for those who are affected by global policies to have a say in shaping them, and the means of making someone accountable when things go wrong.

One eye-opening book is highly recommended as absolutely must reading for anyone in the travel & tourism industry seeking to make sense of it all. Read my review….


With American taxpayers having spent trillions of dollars on wars in the Middle East, thousands of American deaths and injuries and mega-billion manhours expended in diplomatic and political wrangling, will the U.S. public ever ask itself the trillion-dollar questions: How are we benefitting from all this? And is it all worth it?

One book that is contributing to the American awakening process, and now available as a fresh reprint is “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” by John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M Walt, Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Its objective is best explained by the cover introduction: “How a powerful American interest group has created havoc in the Middle East, damaged Israel itself and now threatens an even more perilous future.”

Through meticulous research and cogent arguments, the book is a detailed expose of “America’s relationship with the Israel lobby: a loose coalition of individuals and organisations that actively work to shape foreign policy in a way that is profoundly damaging both to the United States and Israel itself.”

Drawing upon the vast body of publicly available information, the book identifies the dozens of academics, journalists, lobbyists, policy-makers, evangelists, bureaucrats, politicians who are active members of the Israel lobby and how they work to promote the policies and viewpoints of the Jewish state.

Where it falls short is in identifying the even more critical component of the Israel lobby: the dozens of private individuals and the huge conglomerates and corporations that fund it. That perhaps is a golden opportunity for academics and journalists to expose in a sequel.

The book makes an important contribution to the study of international relations in the context of ongoing global geopolitical tensions because the “Israel lobby” is no longer just an American entity but a global operation seeking to expand its influence in India, China, the ASEAN countries and the strategically critical emerging regions of the Central Asian Republics and Africa.

Unless the activities of this lobby are debated, understood and exposed – and the people behind it subjected to a rigorous process of accountability and scrutiny — it is not just the American people but the rest of the world that will pay the price, as is already happening.

Click here to order the book

Originally published as an article in the London Review of Books in March 2006, it was subsequently expanded into a full-scale book and has now been reprinted due to its relevance to both the upcoming American elections as well as the ongoing tensions in the Middle East.

The book’s rationale is explained thus: “Israel is an important, valued American ally, yet the authors show that by encouraging unconditional US financial and diplomatic support for Israel and promoting the use of its power to remake the Middle East, the lobby has jeopardised America’s and Israel’s long-term security and other countries — including Britain — at risk.”

Say the authors, “This book represents an opportunity to discuss how the United States should advance interests in the Middle East, and how Americans, and indeed the rest of the world, should think about the influence of the pro-Israeli lobby. The stakes are high, for Americans and non-Americans alike, because the Middle East is a volatile and strategically vital region and America’s policy to the region will inevitably have extensive repercussions.”

The authors say the book “contains a more complete definition of the lobby, an extended discussion of the role of Christian Zionism, and a fuller account of the lobby’s evolution over time. We also provide a more detailed account of Israel’s past conduct and current behaviour, especially towards the Palestinians.”

They stress that it is not driven by “any animus towards Israel or its supporters in the United States, or because we are eager to highlight Israeli misconduct. Rather, we address this topic because it is central to some of the moral arguments commonly used to justify an exceptional level of US support for the Jewish state.

“We focus on Israel’s behaviour, in other words, because United States focuses an extraordinary degree of support on Israel. We also address the controversy of issue or dual loyalty, which was not discussed in the original article.

“Second, writing this book enables us to respond to the central criticisms that were lodged against the original article.” The authors note that anyone who criticises Israel inevitably comes under criticism and attack, especially personal attacks and that all-too-familiar name-tag: anti-Semite.

Rebutting and refuting all these arguments, the authors say that the book was an opportunity “to provide further empirical support for our core claims and to bring the analysis up to date.” Indeed, they argue that the way things are panning out in the Middle East proves them right on many scores.

They say, “As the war in Iraq demonstrates, the United States can do great damage to itself and to others if its policies are misguided. This fact makes it all the more important to identify what is driving US policy and to figure out what that policy ought to be.

“Our original article did not offer much in the way of positive prescriptions, but the concluding chapter of this book outlines a different approach to US Middle East policy and identifies how the lobby’s power might be mitigated or made more constructive.”

The book argues that it is imperative for the role of the Israel lobby to be publicly discussed.

It names the many neocons who are “connected to an overlapping set of Washington-based think tanks, committees, and publications.” It names the many Christian Zionists and right-wing evangelists, noting that their support for Israel can be traced back to the theology of dispensationalism.

“This theology asserts that the world will experience a period of worsening tribulations until Christ returns. Like many other Christians, dispensationalists believe that Christ’s return is for drawing in the old and new Testament prophecy, and that the return of the Jews to Palestine is a key event in the preordained process that will lead to the second coming.”

The book also identifies the many well-known pro-Israeli newspaper journalists and columnists. It asserts, “The lobby’s perspective on Israel is widely reflected in the mainstream media in part because a substantial number of American commentators who write about Israel are themselves pro-Israel.”

In one really caustic remark, the authors say, “The (Wall Street) Journal, along with other prominent newspapers like the Chicago Sun Times, the New York Sun, and the Washington Times, regularly runs editorials that read as if they were written by the Israeli Prime Minister’s press office.”

In their final thoughts, the authors say, “Because the cost of these failed policies are now so apparent, we have an opportunity for reflection and renewal. Although the lobby remains a powerful political force, its adverse impact is increasingly hard to overlook. A country as rich and powerful as United States can sustain flawed policies for quite some time, but reality cannot be ignored forever.

“What is needed, therefore, is a candid but civilised discussion of the lobby’s influence and a more open debate about US interests in this vital region.”

The book is now available in many bookshops worldwide (although probably not in the United States or Europe) as well as on the Penguin Books website.