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May 18, 2016 6:08 pm

Conference Hosted By Billionaire Koch Brothers Gives Platform to Notorious ‘Foes of Israel’ Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer

avatar by Lea Speyer

John Mearsheimer (L) and Stephen Walt (R). Photos: Wikipedia and Harvard.

John Mearsheimer (L) and Stephen Walt (R). Photos: Wikipedia and Harvard.

A prominent Washington think-tank backed the billionaire Koch brothers hosted two of the most “virulent foes of Israel” at a Wednesday conference, a Bloomberg View columnist reported.

The Charles Koch Institute conference — titled “Advancing American Security: The Future of US Foreign Policy” — featured on separate panels Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, co-authors of the controversial 2007 book “The Israel Lobby,” which, among many of the arguments it lays forth, says that US support for Israel cannot be fully explained on either strategic or moral grounds.

The book was widely criticized within and beyond the Jewish community and even prompted the Anti-Defamation League’s national director at the time, Abraham Foxman, to write his own book countering Walt and Mearsheimer’s claims. Foxman’s book, “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control,” argues against the co-authors’ stereotypical claims of undue Jewish power. 

According to Bloomberg View politics and foreign affairs columnist Eli Lake, brothers Charles and David Koch, “scions of the Koch Industries fortune, have always leaned libertarian in their political giving and  nonprofit work…In foreign policy, the Kochs have stayed away from the uglier fringes that blame Israel and its supporters for hijacking US foreign policy. That is, until now.”

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The decision to feature Walt and Mearsheimer signals a shift in policy and politics among conservatives, Lake asserts. “Under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, conservatives have embraced Israel and accused their partisan foes of not supporting the Jewish State, but this year has brought a shift,” he wrote.

Citing a recent Breitbart controversy in which contributor David Horowitz accused Weekly Standard editor William Kristol of being a “renegade Jew,” Lake contends that conservatives are now starting to turn on themselves.

Walt and Mearsheimer’s anti-Israel activism extends beyond their book. In 2011, both were featured speakers at a conference sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Code Pink, the report notes. The event, called “Move Over Aipac,” took aim at the pro-Israel lobby. In 2011, Mearsheimer endorsed a book written by an author known for Holocaust revisionism and disseminating antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Will Ruger, the vice president of research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute, defended his organization’s invitation to Walt and Mearsheimer, telling Bloomberg View, “They are all very respected members of the foreign policy community and the academy.”  

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