One of the most significant misunderstandings about the relationship between the United States and Israel is that both Jews and non-Jews exaggerate Jewish power and the influence of Israel on American foreign policy and politics. According to JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin, the belief in both a conspiratorial “hidden Jewish hand” manipulating Republican and Democratic administrations is based on misconceptions that are shared both by anti-Semites and supporters of Israel.

Speaking with Wall Street Journal columnist Walter Russell Mead, author of the new book, The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel and the Fate of the Jewish People, the two discussed why a less “Jew-centric” view of the world.

According to Mead, it’s not just that the notion of Jews controlling the world is an anti-Semitic trope. It’s that even Jews tend to believe that the outcome of many events is determined by attitudes toward the Jewish people or as a result of Israeli or Zionist strategy when, in fact, they are the result of other nations and various political leaders, doing what they think is in their best interests rather than what is good for the Jews.

But the willingness to buy into conspiracy theories about Jewish power is both immoral and foolish.

“If you think the Jews are running the media and the Jews are running the banks and the Jews are running this, and running that,” Mead pointed out. “You have no idea how the world you live in works. And so it’s not only a moral deficiency, it’s an intellectual deficiency.”

Mead’s history of U.S.-Israel relations makes clear that the American obsession with the Middle East peace process was misguided in one sense, but carried out because each president believed it was to his advantage to pursue what turned out to be an unreachable goal.

As Mead describes, the goal of an Israeli-Palestinian peace was a “holy grail” that none of those who sought it would ever find. But it was also a “MacGuffin,” or a plot device that had no intrinsic value but served the purposes of those engaged in the futile effort.

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