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Various | 01.06.2006 17:54 | Anti-militarism | World

About time this debate about Zionism took place, since it is the radical Ideology behind this Perpetual War.

By Joe American
May 31, 2006

The American people are currently debating the extent to which the pro-Israel lobby is responsible for muzzling free speech in academia, and also for distorting U.S. Mideast policy by pressuring Washington decisionmakers to commence wars of aggression against Iraq and Iran. Accordingly, 45 recent essays which offer different perspectives on that debate are conveniently summarized here:

[1] Michael Carmichael's 5-30-06 CounterPunch essay, "Zionist Democrats: The DLC And Israel" ["Last week the newly elected Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, visited Washington to meet with George Bush in order to endorse America's plan to attack Iran in his address to Congress. In a strident appeal to Congress, Olmert sought nothing less than to incite war between America and Iran. ... To coincide with Olmert's visit, the Democratic Leadership Council issued a statement celebrating 'Zionism' and condemning Islam." Describes how Al From, the DLC's founder and CEO, created the DLC to persuade the Democratic Party to adopt his "blatantly Zionist agenda" of massive U.S. support for Israel. Recommends that "progressive Democrats...should oppose the DLC with all their might."]:

[2] Eran Lerman's 5-28-06 Boston Globe essay, "Reaffirming US-Israeli Ties" [Contends that "American Jewry, unlike all others in Jewish history, is made all the more American, not less so, by its close and committed association with Israel." However, Eran Lerman is the Director of the American Jewish Committee's Office of Israel and the Middle East, and thus a pro-Israel lobbyist.]: affirming_us_israeli_ties/

[3] Justin Raimondo's 5-26-06 essay, "Enough Is Enough: People Have Had It Up to Here With The Lobby" [The motive and purpose of the Israel Lobby is to squelch any debate about U.S. policy in the Middle East, especially as it concerns Israel, and to smear as an "anti-Semite" anyone who questions the centrality of Israel's "special relationship" with U.S. policymakers.]:

[4] Michael Massing's 5-26-06 New York Review Of Books essay, "The Storm Over The Israel Lobby" [On their central point - the power of the Israel lobby and the negative effect it has had on U.S. Mideast policy - Professors Mearsheimer and Walt are entirely correct in their Harvard research paper, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.]:

[5] Saul Singer's 5-25-06 Jerusalem Post essay, "Interesting Times: Join The Conspiracy" [Unfairly accuses the Mearsheimer-Walt paper of "trashing" the American pro-Israel lobby. Then attacks Michael Massing for having written "an 8,000-word sequel in the New York Review of Books that comes to the same conclusion, complete with a helpful guide to all of the awful people behind the cons piracy to support Israel."]: ticle%2FShowFull

[6] Dr. Robert Dickson Crane's 5-26-06 The American Muslim essay, "'Wipe Israel Off The Map': Neocon Propaganda Requires More Than Ad Hoc Answers" [The American mainstream press has misquoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as having said he wants to "Wipe Israel off the map." Americans will never know that this supposed quote is neocon propaganda from MEMRI ("Middle East Media Research Institute") unless Muslim-American linguists demonstrate that it is based on a gross mistranslation.]:

[7] Jim Lobe's 5-25-06 article, "Israel's American Constituency" [Even the Israeli prime minister and defense minister are too dovish for the right-wing Israel lobby (e.g., AJC, AIPAC, JINSA, the Christian Right) and their allies in Congress. Indeed, AIPAC just pressured the U.S. House of Representatives into unwisely passing its draconian and counterproductive "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act" by the landslide margin of 361-37.]:

[8] Christopher Brown's 5-25-06 EI/CNI interview transcript, "Israel Lobby Watch: Interview With Professor Norman Finkelstein" [Professor Finkelstein: (a) challenges Israel's policies towards the Palestinians; then (b) provides details of his struggle against the false charge of "anti-Semitism" after he published "Beyond Chutzpah," in which he challenges the misuse of "anti-Semitism" and the abuse of history.]:

[9] Carlton Cobb's 5-24-06 EI/CNI article, "House Passes Anti-Palestinian Legislation, Senate Fight Continues" [Helpfully notes which American lobbying groups dared to oppose AIPAC's controversial "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act", H.R. 4681. Unsurprisingly, none of them were members of the pro-Israel lobby. Even the Bush Administration deemed this bill "unnecessary" in a memo outlining its opposition.]:

[10] U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum's 5-23-06 EI/CNI open letter, "A Letter To AIPAC" [In which the Democratic Congresswoman from Minnesota demands that AIPAC's executive director apologize for AIPAC's unethical smear-and-fear attack on her, waged because she dared to oppose their ridiculously harsh "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act." By the way, the U.S. State Department also opposed this bill, and AIPAC hasn't apologized to her.]:

[11] Stephen Zunes' 5-22-06 CD/Asian Times essay, "The Israel Lobby: How Powerful Is It Really?" [Concedes that the Israel lobby uses unethical smear-and-fear tactics, but tries to absolve it of responsibility for manipulating U.S. foreign policy to serve Israeli, rather than American, national interests. Casuistically attempts to shift the blame: (a) onto "the many more powerful interests that actually drive US foreign policy"; (b) onto the Mearsheimer-Walt study's authors, but then fails to explain how their foreign-policy realism invalidates any of their specific conclusions about the pro-Israel lobby; and (c) by floating several red-herring arguments, such as conflating the antiwar Jewish-American progressives with the prowar Israel lobby to cover up the highly-probative fact that the latter vehemently advocated a U.S. war against Iraq, and now Iran. Perhaps unwittingly proves that the U.S. relationship with Israel is extremely militaristic and profoundly regressive.]:

[12] Dr. Robert Dickson Crane's 5-22-06 The American Muslim essay, "A Muslim Mao Calls For 'Wiping Israel Off the Map': A Classic Example Of Covert Disinformation?" [Stories by the Ottawa Post, and other Western newspapers, have attributed several loony sayings to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, the media is repeating gross mistranslations from the original Persian that were done by MEMRI ("Middle East Media Research Institute"). MEMRI is a pro-Israel, Israeli-owned, neoconservative think-tank that the Bush administration uses to (mis)translate statements and documents from Middle Eastern sources.]:

[13] Tom Barry's 5-19-06 IRC Right Web essay, "Iran Freedom And Regime Change Politics" [The American Israel Political Action Committee ("AIPAC") is the most powerful group advocating a militarized U.S. policy toward Iran, but numerous other pressure groups calling for regime change in Iran have emerged over the past three years. However, these regime-change pressure groups are run by members of the pro-Israel lobby, neoconservatives, and retired military officers who are Republicans. In short, they are the same people who advocated the illegal U.S. war of aggression against Iraq. Sadly, the Congressional Democrats a re caving in to these warmongers, so another U.S. "shock-and-awe" blitzkrieg appears to be coming.]:

[14] Hussein Ibish's 5-18-06 EI/The Daily Star essay, "Is Arab-American Irrelevance Our Goal?" [What was amazing in the response to a much-publicized recent paper, written by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, about the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on American foreign policy, was not the chorus of condemnations from Israel's supporters, but similar criticism from some leftist Arab-Americans. For instance, U.S. university professors Joseph Massad and Asaad Abu Khalil dismissed the Mearsheimer-Walt paper by arguing that the real problem is U.S. imperialism. Their arguments are monocausal, deterministic, ahistorical, and profoundly disempowering. Even worse, they are irresponsible because they grant the pro-Israel lobby an open field without any substantial opposition.]:

[15] U.S. Newswire's 5-17-06 press release, "World Jewish Congress American Section Welcomes New U.S. Anti-Semitism Envoy" [The World Jewish Congress' American Section has appointed Gregg Rickman as its U.S. Special Envoy on Anti-Semitism Issues. WJC American Section Chairperson Evelyn Sommers said: "Gregg Rickman has improved international broadcasting and public diplomacy around the world, and he has actively promoted governmental and non-governmental efforts to combat anti-Semitism."]:

[16] Eve Fairbanks' 5-14-06 Los Angeles Times essay, "A Hot Paper Muzzles Harvard: Controversial 'Jewish Lobby' Paper Raises Nary A Peep On Cowed Campus" [At Harvard and other universities, the Mearsheimer-Walt paper on the “Israel lobby” proved simply too hot to handle -- and it revealed an academia deeply split, yet lamentably afraid to engage itself on one of the hottest political issues of our time.]:,0,307824 9.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

[17] Michael Neumann's 5-14-06 Counterpunch essay, "Why Viewing Israel As An Indispensable Ally Of The U.S. Is Deadly To Palestinians: The Stability And Value Of Israel" [In essence, this essay is a news flash to the pro-Israel Lobby: it's NOT all about you! Challenges "the false doctrine" that Israel is an indispensable ally of the United States. Concludes that this "special relationship" has been counterproductive, not only for the U.S. but for most of the world.]:

[18] Jim Lobe's 5-10-06 CD/IPS article, "Jewish Community Worried About Iran Backlash" [Reports that the Jewish-American community is complaining about Mr. Bush's public emphasis on America's willingness to defend Israel's security through military action against Iran because it could backfire, if anything goes wrong, by producing a wave of anti-Semitism.]:

[19] H.D.S. Greenway's 5-9-06 Boston Globe essay, "Playing Ethnic Politics" ["In America, diaspora politics has long played a role, and it's not just about Israel. Some call AIPAC 'the National Rifle Association of foreign policy.'" Trundles out the disingenuous defense that when it comes to ethnocentric lobbying groups, "everyone's doing it," so it's "as American as apple pie." However, that's a red herring because everyone is NOT lobbying Congress to start another unprovoked U.S. war of aggression against Iran, as is the pro-Israel lobby.]: aying_ethnic_politics/

[20] Amir Ismail's 5-9-06 CounterCurrents essay, "Washington's Next Military Crusade Is Beckoning" [Contends that the contradictions of American capitalism are getting sharper, and that the language of force and total destruction is rarely absent from statements delivered by White House officials and some members of Congress. Analyzes whether we can justifiably accuse Israel of manipulating the American public, and of using the U.S. military to wage its proxy wars in the Middle East.]:

[21] Alexander Cockburn's 5-8-06 Counterpunch essay, "The Row Over The Israel Lobby" [Critics of the Mearsheimer-Walt report contend that there is no such thing as the Israel lobby, and that those asserting its existence are by definition "anti-Semitic." This method of assault at least has the advantage of being funny. For the Israel lobby is very real, and the Harvard report is neither the first nor the best analysis of its operations.]:

[22] Normon Solomon's 5-8-06 Counterpunch essay, "Gag And Smear: The Misuses Of 'Anti-Semitism'" [A well-argued analysis that criticizes the Israel Lobby's tactics and goals, and defends the Harvard study by Professors Mearsheimer and Walt for having started a long-overdue debate about about the Lobby's distorting influence on U.S. policy in the Mideast.]:

[23] Trish Schuh's 5-6-06 Counterpunch essay, "Islamophobia: A Retrospective" [Much overheated rhetoric has been published in the West about the scapegoating of Jewish peoples, or "anti-Semitism," but virtually nothing has been published in the West about the scapegoating of Islamic peoples, or "Islamophobia." This essay focuses on American Islamophobia.]:

[24] Haviv Rettig's 5-5-06 Jerusalem Post article, "Bush: U.S. Must Ensure Israel's Security" [Mr. Bush spoke before the American Jewish Committee's conference in Washington on 5-4-06. The audience applauded enthusiastically when he declared, in the context of Iran, that "the United States has a strong and inalienable obligation to ensure the security of Israel." However, Mr. Bush is conflating U.S. national-security interests with Israel's. Realistically, Israel has the obligation to ensure the security of Israel. And Israel can do so because it has a first-rate military with 400+ nukes.]:

[25] William Pfaff's 5-5-06 CD/International Herald Tribune essay, "Israel's Personal Superpower" [Explains that Israel has been depending on the USA to be its "personal superpower" since 1967. However, Israeli and American interests in the Middle East have diverged. Therefore, the USA cannot - and will not - continue to be the proxy for the implementation of Israeli strategy, which is to either weaken or destroy the regimes in Iraq, Iran and Syria.]:

[26] Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's 5-5-06 Counterpunch essay, "The Storm Over 'The Israel Lobby': Is It Possible To Have A Civilized Discussion About The Role Of Israel In American Foreign Policy?" [The Harvard study's authors briefly respond to some criticisms (e.g., historical inaccuracies, monocausative analysis), then express dismay at the fractious and non-substantive nature of the national debate.]:

[27] Vijay Prashad's 5-4-06 ZNet essay, "The Lobby" [Notes that the "Israel Lobby" is one of several powerful lobbies that control the Washington establishment. Two more are the "Ares Lobby" for the military-industrial complex war profiteers, and the "American Lobby" for predatory global capitalism's corporatocracy.]:

[28] Norman Finkelstein's 5-1-06 Counterpunch essay, "The Lobby: It's Not Either/Or" [Unpersuasively contends that the pro-Israel lobby is not a case of "the tail wagging the dog." His most salient points are buried in the last two paragraphs: (a) "without the Lobby and in the face of widespread Arab resentment, the U.S. would perhaps have ordered Israel to end the occupation by now, sparing Palestinians much suffering"; and (b) a crucial dimension of this debate should be the Lobby's use of extreme intimidation tactics inside the U.S.A. to suppress free and open public discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.]:

[29] Benny Morris' 4-28-06 New Republic essay, "The Ignorance At The Heart Of An Innuendo: And Now For Some Facts" [Concedes that there is some truth to Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's Harvard study, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," but then rather unconvincingly argues that it is a "nasty piece of work." The New Republic requires a paid subscription to read this essay.]:

[30] Phillip Weiss' 4-28-06 CD/TN essay, "Ferment Over 'The Israel Lobby'" [Thoughtfully analyzes the shrill debate that emerged in reaction to Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's study of the pro-Israel lobby's distorting influence on Washington's policymakers.]:

[31] Arnaud De Borchgrave's 4-28-06 Washington Times essay, "Touching The Third Rail" [Over the years, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee ("AIPAC") has maneuvered to make Israel the third rail of American foreign policy.]:

[32] Robert Fisk's 4-27-06 Counterpunch essay, "The United States Of Israel?" [Interviews Harvard's Kennedy School of Government Dean Stephen Walt. In so doing, challenges the pro-Israel lobby's tactic of smearing anyone who dares to disagree with their attempt to hijack U.S. foreign policy so they can use the U.S. military as Israel's proxy to fight wars against Iraq and Iran.]:

[33] William Hughes' 4-25-06 MP essay, "Kevin Zeese: 'Hawkish Israel Lobby Wants War With Iran'" [Provides probative evidence that the American Jewish Committee, JINSA and AIPAC are pressuring the USA to commence yet another illegal war of aggression, this time against Iran.]:

[34] Linda Heard's 4-25-06 Counterpunch essay, "Is The US Fighting Israel's Wars? The Prophecy Of Oded Yinon" [The answer to her titular question is "yes." Describes an Israeli journalist's 26-year-old strategy for Israel's domination of the Middle East that is nearly identical to the neocons' plans for the conquest and fragmentation of Iraq, Iran and Syria.]:

[35] Molly Ivins' 4-25-06 CD/TruthDig essay, "Pro-Israel 'Nut Jobs' On The Attack" [Explains why the pro-Israel right-wingers generally, and Alan Dershowitz specifically, lack credibility in their wildly off-the-mark allegations that distinguished Professors Mearsheimer and Walt are "anti-Semitic," just because they've produced an objective study of the pro-Israel Lobby's influence on U.S. foreign policy. (It concludes, among other things, that the Lobby was a major factor in promoting war with Iraq.) Notes that she's not so much afraid of these right-wing smear tactics as she is sick-and-tired of them.]:

[36] Joe American's 4-25-06 The Peoples Voice essay, "Another McCarthyite Smear Job: Middle East Scholar Juan Cole Is Falsely Accused Of Being Anti-Semitic To Stop Yale From Hiring Him" [Right-wing WSJ columnist John Fund has falsely accused U. Michigan History Professor Juan Cole of being a "notorious anti-Semite" because Cole agrees with the Mearsheimer-Walt study's conclusions (e.g., that the pro-Israel lobby was a major factor in causing the US to invade Iraq). However, Fund's "anti-Semitism" charge is just another McCarthyite smear job. The right-wing's real agenda here is to destroy the careers of anti-war professors and to strangle academic freedom inside the USA. (At the website, you'll find this essay by moving your horizontal scroll-bar to the right.)]:

[37] Richard Cohen's 4-24-06 Washington Post essay, "No, It's Not Anti-Semitic" [Contends that Israel's special place in U.S. foreign policy is deserved, and not entirely the product of lobbying.]:

[38] Juan Cole's 4-24-06 Informed Comment essay, "Blogger David Versus WSJ Goliath" [“This is day three since John Fund of the Wall Street Journal did a nationally-read hatchet job (see essay #21 below) on me in which he made up quotes and falsely attributed them to me. He has still not retracted, and has not apologized. Neither has The Wall Street Journal. Hint: I wouldn't want my business news or investment advice from a newspaper that just makes things up. I have complained directly to the Opinion Journal. But still nothing. The lies are still out there, online, damaging my reputation. Those readers who wish to help might write politely to this e-address: ”]:

[39] John Fund's 4-24-06 Opinion Journal essay, "Cole Fire: Yale Is Set To Ditch Taliban Man And Hire A Notorious Anti-Semite" [Skip to this essay's second section, where Fund commences his defamatory diatribe against U. Michigan History ProfessorJuan Cole.]:

[40] Uri Avnery's 4-23-06 Redress essay, "Who's The Dog? Who's The Tail? The Influence of The Israel Lobby In The USA" [Highlights the overwhelming influence of the Israel lobby in the USA: "If the Israeli government wanted a U.S. law tomorrow banning the Ten Commandments, 95 U.S. Senators (at least) would sign the bill forthwith." But he says the conclusion as to whether the tail wags the dog or the reverse may be less straightforward: "The U.S. uses Israel to dominate the Middle East; Israel uses the U.S. to dominate Palestine."]:

[41] Stephen Sniedgoski's 4-20-06 ThornWalker essay, "The Last Ditch - Israel Lobbying: The Attack On Mearsheimer And Walt" [Provides a must-read analysis of the Harvard study. "The elephant in the room is that no one is supposed to mention the role of the supporters of Israel in shaping American foreign policy in the Middle East. Their role has become especially apparent with the American attack on Iraq and the subsequent American policy toward Iran and Syria, in all of which the Israelocentric neoconservatives provided the fundamental driving force. The neocons have been closely aligned with the Likudniks (the Israeli Right), and the idea of destabilizing and weakening Israel's Middle Eastern enemies through war actually originated among Israeli Likudniks."]:

[42] Tony Judt's 4-19-06 CD/New York Times essay, "A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy" [Americans must not be afraid to debate this issue: does the pro-Israel lobby's pressure to support Israel distort the decisions of our Washington policymakers? Explains why this issue has been prominently debated and dissected overseas, but has received virtual silence from the USA's mainstream media: (a) fear of legitimizing the notion of a "Jewish conspiracy"; and (b) fear of being smeared as "anti-Semitic." Quite rightly concludes that we must not conflate "anti-Zionism" with "anti-Semitism," because it is grossly inaccurate to equate those who merely disagree with Israel's policies with those who phobically dislike the Jewish people per se.]:

[43] Juan Cole's 4-18-06 Salon essay, "Breaking The Silence: The Overwrought Response To John Mearsheimer And Stephen Walt's Brave Paper Only Confirms Its Thesis" [This U. Michigan History Professor is one of the nation's leading experts on the history, culture and mentality of the Middle East. Hence, he is in a position to offer a knowledgeable perspective about the impact of the pro-Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy. Perhaps this is the real reason why right-wingers consider him to be a threat to their pro-Israel lobby.]:

[44] Normon Solomon's 4-13-06 CommonDreams essay, "The Lobby And The Bulldozer: Mearsheimer, Walt and Corrie" [Correctly contends the Mearsheimer-Walt study is NOT anti-Semitic, despite shrill protestations to the contrary in the mainstream media. Concludes that: (a) they are level-headed scholars whose study deserves serious consideration for its objective assessment of the destructive aspects of the pro-Israel lobby's influence on U.S. foreign policy; (b) Americans must be allowed to debate this topic openly and fairly; and (c) the pro-Israel lobby must stop using intimidation tactics to suppress our freedoms of speech and press.]:

[45] U. Chicago Professor John J. Mearsheimer and Harvard U. Kennedy School of Government Dean Stephen M. Walt's 3-23-06 London Review of Books essay, "The Israel Lobby And U.S. Foreign Policy" [This is a shortened version of the famous 81-page Harvard research paper that launched our national debate about the pro-Israel lobby.]:


THE MORAL OF THE STORY: We can't get to much higher moral ground than the American progressive position, which steadfastly maintains that U.S. foreign policy must altogether cease to scapegoat people, and thus be neither anti-Semitic nor Islamophobic. Furthermore, American progressives maintain that it is equally unacceptable: (1) for the Israeli-aligned parties to oppress, or seek the destruction of, the Islamic parties; and (2) for the Palestinian-aligned parties to oppress, or seek the destruction of, the Jewish parties. Instead, the partisans must STOP using counterproductive intimidation tactics to coerce third parties into adopting their position in the conflict, RENOUNCE their escalatory cycles of tit-for-tat violence, SEEK mutual forgiveness in their common humanity, and FIND a civilized diplomatic solution.



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A hot paper muzzles Harvard

02.06.2006 05:24

A hot paper muzzles Harvard
Controversial "Jewish lobby" paper raises nary a peep on the cowed campus.
By Eve Fairbanks, Eve Fairbanks works at the New Republic as a reporter-researcher.
May 14, 2006

DID YOU THINK there was a controversy in academia over "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," the paper by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer contending that a shadowy "Israel Lobby" — including everyone from the New York Times and Hillary Clinton to Pat Robertson and Paul Wolfowitz — has seized control of American foreign affairs? I did too, but let me tell you: We were wrong.

When professors Walt and Mearsheimer (of Harvard and the University of Chicago, respectively) went public with their paper in the London Review of Books on March 23, it seemed the whole world started screaming. From columnists Richard Cohen and Max Boot to historian Tony Judt and Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, public figures battled in the pages of the major papers. Accusations of anti-Semitism and divided loyalties flew. The magazine I work for published three articles on the paper in a single week.

Of course, if the paper caused such uproar in the public sphere, you'd think academia (and particularly the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where Walt is the academic dean) would be, as the Harvard Crimson put it, the ultimate "field of battle." And as far as conspiratorial rumors and unexplained reversals go, it has been.

The Kennedy School pulled its name off the article, nervous to be associated with the argument that an expansive lobby is undermining American interests on behalf of the Jewish state. Bob Belfer, the fabulously wealthy (and Jewish) oil baron who endowed Walt's chair at the Kennedy School, was hopping mad. Angry donors reportedly threatened to retract gifts. Whispers began that faculty relationships were fraying, and gossip circulated that campus forces were plotting to oust Walt from panels and boards. Harvard had to deny that his decision to step down as dean had anything to do with the paper.

But something else happened at Harvard, something strange. Instead of a roiling debate, most professors not only agreed to disagree but agreed to pretend publicly that there was no disagreement at all. At Harvard and other schools, the Mearsheimer-Walt paper proved simply too hot to handle — and it revealed an academia deeply split yet lamentably afraid to engage itself on one of the hottest political issues of our time. Call it the academic Cold War: distrustful factions rendered timid by the prospect of mutually assured career destruction.

A couple of weeks ago, keeping in mind Henry Kissinger's famous aphorism that academic quarrels are so vicious because the stakes are so small, I began calling around Harvard, expecting to find a major fight flourishing. Spirited exchanges! A divided faculty! Parties canceled! Walt egged!

Instead, most people I spoke to assured me that, at Harvard, there is no controversy. Most everyone, they said, agreed about the paper. But what they all "agreed" on, hilariously, depended on whom I was talking to.

One anecdote illuminated the puzzle. At a faculty meeting, the paper came up, and the department head remarked that she was sure everyone had the same reaction when they read it — approval. One professor piped up: "No, this article is rubbish!" The room became very quiet. Finally, someone changed the subject. Through moments like these, a de facto consensus developed not to discuss the paper at all.

Most professors I reached wouldn't speak on the record about the flap because they didn't want their feelings to become known on campus. Walt ignored my requests for comment. Harvard's Alan Dershowitz, one of just a few professors who have conspicuously denounced the paper, says that when he was scheduled for a BBC face-off with Mearsheimer, the author mysteriously canceled moments before airtime.

Most fishily, one Kennedy School professor who had previously gone public with his opinions clammed up completely, explaining cryptically to me that even chatting off the record about the paper isn't "the right thing for me to do at this time." Another senior Kennedy School professor admitted that he was baffled by the dearth of discussion of the paper. "We debate everything else here," he said.

The closest we've gotten to open academic argument over the paper is an online petition circulated by Juan Cole, a media-hungry professor-blogger at the University of Michigan, condemning the paper's critics for "McCarthyite race-baiting." It has garnered nearly 1,000 professors' signatures.

But even Cole's petition — many signers of which haven't read the paper — exemplifies how, instead of knocking heads over the paper's core argument, it's become acceptable merely to debate drier questions of academic standards. Critics condemn the paper as shoddy scholarship; supporters, such as Cole, insist that the academic world's primary ethic is the right to say whatever you believe.

But make a list of how professors have come out on this divide and you'll find it is an awfully neat proxy for deeper ideological divisions. Those who dislike the U.S. relationship with Israel suddenly find themselves champions of free speech; those supportive of Israel are recast as defenders of high standards of scholarship. It's just that nobody can talk about that schism.

So is this collective campus lip-sealing evidence that Mearsheimer and Walt are right that the Israel Lobby squelches criticism? No, because professors fear taking a stand on either side.

Professors I spoke to offered various reasons they must tiptoe around the paper: That its style was too provocative. That they're skittish after witnessing Harvard President Larry Summers' ouster for making fractious comments. That the long-running PC wars have made them tired of controversy. That it's too "personal."

Most interestingly, they explained that topics related to the Middle East, though they provoke some of the deepest divisions in opinion between faculty members, are just too strewn with ideological landmines for them because academics are supposed to be above dogma — an explanation that also sheds light on why most Middle East studies departments languish in mediocrity and lack influential senior faculty.

And most sadly, professors admitted that academia's notorious office politics — in uniquely volatile combination with all these other reasons — interfere with natural reactions to the paper, resulting in a collective response that one described as "nervous laughter."

"A lot of [my colleagues] were more concerned about the academic politics of it, and where they should come down, in that sense," another Ivy League professor told me, ruefully.

But isn't this all a little bit ironic? Mearsheimer and Walt clearly wrote their paper to be provocative. They took pleasure in breaking a taboo — only to see another one erected around their work. And universities ought to be the centers of debate about ideas, right? "It's perhaps not a great reflection on academia — perhaps we should be more out there," mused Princeton's Andrew Moravcsik, who calls himself an "idealist" about his profession.


But it seems more likely that academic tempers will continue to boil on the inside, without any release valve.

One observer close to the debate was profusely sorry to request anonymity, explaining that he had opinions concerning the paper but feared professional retaliation no matter what he might say.

"People might debate it if you gave everyone a get-out-of-jail-free card," he said, "and promised that afterward everyone would be friends.",0,3078249.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

LA Times


02.06.2006 09:43

Man o man. You would think a bunch of British academics voted to ban, Israelis or something.
First stop, marginalize the, Zionists. Boycott Jewish shops, er, I mean shops owned by shop keepers who refused to condemn the policies of the Israeli government. Next stop book burning. It's fun, and no one would mind, as long as they Jewish books, or books written by jews, who refused to concemn the policies of the government of Israel.

After this is done, give awards to Sudanese, Saudi, Yemeni and Syrian academics for the anti-israel stance, and defence of humanitarian policies and equal rights for women and gays.(LMAO)

Arthur Kennedy

AK Press book...

02.06.2006 11:00

Some of this was also covered in the AK Press book 'The Politics of Anti-semtism'. There's a good review of it over at the site:

(Note that this site has nothing to do with the London Review of Books online).

- Homepage:

Weak Hasbara

02.06.2006 18:23

It's interesting that "Arthur", the Zionist Troll, can only make his point by manipulating what was actually said, and imply something that wasn't done. As everybody now knows, Judaism is NOT synonymous with the violent, supremacist Cult known as Zionism. Pointed criticism of this relatively small extremist group is warranted, and mentioning another, broader group, is wholly irrelevant (But makes for great Disinformation/Hasbara) and dishonest.

"After this is done, give awards to Sudanese, Saudi, Yemeni and Syrian academics for the anti-israel stance, and defence of humanitarian policies and equal rights for women and gays."

Then, he continues to display his racism, by implying that because these Academics are of a certain nationality, that they cannot possibly be great humanitarians.

Zionism, Irrelevant Within A Generation


06.06.2006 21:57

It's unintersting that Jordan the anti-semite troll has nothing but accusations of being a jew as his stance.

Duddy Kravitz

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