An Unfair Attack
Moreover, history shows many instances when our presidents have sharply opposed the Israeli government in order to protect American interests. I was there when Ronald Reagan, a great friend of Israel, was so repelled by pictures of victims in Lebanon that he insisted the Israelis call off their assault on Beirut (they did). He acted in the same spirit as Dwight Eisenhower, who insisted that the Israelis, British, and French pull back from the Suez in 1956 (they did).
History is also replete with examples of American governments working tirelessly to mediate or negotiate peace between Israel and its neighbors. Who can forget the shuttles of Henry Kissinger, the heroic efforts of Jimmy Carter, the last-minute push for peace by Bill Clinton? These men and their colleagues weren't hostages of some sinister Israeli "Lobby." They were acting in what they correctly perceived to be America's own security interest--and they weren't afraid to put pressure on Arabs or Israelis if that's what it took.
Has Washington sometimes tilted too much toward Israel? Of course, just as we have toward other friends overseas. Is our policy in the Middle East worthy of serious debate? Absolutely, and we should defend the right of academics like Mearsheimer and Walt to question it. But let that debate go forward with a clear mind and an understanding heart. And let us remember that our friendship with Israel has always been rooted in noble values--just as our friendships have been with other outposts of freedom.