As the antizionist Left praises his conspiracy theory, John Mearsheimer endorses a Nazi-like book : Joseph Weissman

When Mearsheimer and Walt started publishing on the “Israel Lobby” many of us thought that their discourse facilitated a slippage from social science into antisemitic conspiracy theory.  Others found that to be insufficiently careful and they took the argument seriously, even saying that there should be further debate on the issue.  Now, Mearsheimer has decided to legitimize an unambiguously antisemitic book.  He started by stumbling into antisemitism but is now openly embracing it. Mearsheimer, and even Gilad Atzmon will be accepted amongst some sections of academia in a way that bigots against black people, Muslims, or women would never be.  Many scholars are nowadays incapable of recognising antisemitism; some others simply don’t care about it; lots of people who do get it will remain silent. [dh]
This is a guest post by Joseph Weissman:

Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer are two American professors who push the theory that a powerful Israel lobby distorts US foreign policy, taking American presidents down dangerous political paths that they could otherwise avoid.

Robert Fine observed of Walt and Mearsheimer on Engage, in 2006,

While the US does the fighting, dying and paying, they write, Israel is the beneficiary. The Lobby’s influence increases the danger of terrorism, fuels Islamic radicalism, raises the spectre of further wars in Syria and Iran, makes impossible any resolution of Palestinian suffering, undercuts US prestige abroad and its efforts to limit nuclear proliferation, and erodes democracy within the US. All for Israel. What is needed is ‘candid discussion of the Lobby’s influence’, a return to reality and the advancement once more of US interests. […]

Slippage from criticism of American foreign policy to wild eyed conspiracy theory punctuates this whole narrative. The question of why Israel should have these maniacal aims and why the Lobby should echo them is simply not addressed. It would seem that this article has no merit beyond that of translating into one academically authenticated product all the conspiratorial clichés of a demonic power exercising its evil behind the scenes.

This week, whilst discussing Middle Eastern politics, the New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman has made reference to a “powerful pro-Israel lobby”:

This has also left the U.S. government fed up with Israel’s leadership but a hostage to its ineptitude, because the powerful pro-Israel lobby in an election season can force the administration to defend Israel at the U.N., even when it knows Israel is pursuing policies not in its own interest or America’s.

In reaction, some antizionists commentators are claiming that this phrase has somehow legitimised Walt and Mearsheimer’s opinion.

See Philip WeissGlenn Greenwald and Stephen Walt himself.

Thomas Friedman has a reputation of being sympathetic to Israel in his writings. Therefore, his sentence about the “powerful pro-Israel lobby” strikes me as rather clumsy and awkward, especially when you consider how antizionist conspiracists understand the “lobby”.

One badly thought-out sentence from a journalist, hardly proves a conspiracy theory. Before antizionist-“progressive” types laud Walt and Mearsheimer, they should stop to consider Mearsheimer’s ringing praise of Gilad Atzmon. Atzmon is a man who has already doubted the gas chambers in Auschwitz, says he “doesn’t know” if the Holocaust happened, and blamed Jews for their persecution at the hands of the Nazis.

We read in Gilad Atzmon’s new book The Wandering Who:

“some may be bold enough to argue that ‘Hitler might have been right after all’

Some Jews are rather unhappy with Charles Dickens’ Fagin and Shakespeare’s Shylock, who they regard as ‘anti-Semitic.’

“Thanks to Weininger, I realised how wrong I was – I was not detached from the reality about which I wrote, and I never shall be. I am not looking at the Jews, or at Jewish identity, I am not looking at Israelis. I am actually looking in the mirror. With contempt, I am actually elaborating on the Jew in me.”

[Weininger] adored Aryan masculinity because he probably lacked that quality in any significant amount in his own being. This revelation probably led Weininger to kill himself, just a month after the publication of his book. Very likely, he had managed to understand what his book was all about.”

Here is John Mearsheimer on Atzmon’s new book:

Gilad Atzmon has written a fascinating and provocative book on Jewish identity in the modern world. He shows how assimilation and liberalism are making it incredibly difficult for Jews in the Diaspora to maintain a powerful sense of their ‘Jewishness.’ Panicked Jewish leaders, he argues, have turned to Zionism (blind loyalty to Israel) and scaremongering (the threat of another Holocaust) to keep the tribe united and distinct from the surrounding goyim. As Atzmon’s own case demonstrates, this strategy is not working and is causing many Jews great anguish. The Wandering Who? Should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.’

Far from welcoming Walt and Mearsheimer uncritically, liberals should be alarmed at John Mearsheimer’s recommendation of Gilad Atzmon’s new book, which sees Jewish identity, essentially through a Nazi lens.

A brave campaign from the Union of Jewish Students

This is a cross post from Jak at Reduard

The Union of Jewish Students have announced a new Israel campaign for the upcoming academic year, one which signals a radical break from past UJS hasbara efforts.

As the JC reports:

Jewish students arriving at universities in the next fortnight will be asked to pledge their support to “two states for two peoples”, hand out Israeli and Palestinian flags, and support “freedom, justice and equality” for all.
There is a belief within UJS that standard advocacy efforts “do not cut it any more” because “students are not stupid”. Students will be encouraged to back the “liberation” of Israelis from Palestinian terror, and Palestinians through the formation of a new state.

To say this has stoked up debate online would be the understatement of the year. A Facebook group is doing the rounds, calling the campaign ‘disgraceful’ and ‘utterly crazy’.

Now, I was on campus for four years at a university widely consider to be a hotbed of extreme anti-Zionism and led a wide variety of Israel campaigns. We did all the standard campaigns that anyone who has been on a UK campus will recognise – we handed out falafel, had speakers from the Israeli Embassy, had film showings, talked about how welcoming Israel was to women/homosexuals/religious minorities etc etc. All were good campaigns, well organised and relatively successful. But what they didn’t do is change the narrative on campus. Hateful  anti-Israel diatribes would still appear in the student rag on a weekly basis, the Palestine society would still shout outside university buildings about the ‘holocaust’ in Gaza, and any ordinary student with any sense whatsoever simply ran a mile in the opposite direction – and understandably so. We are facing a new reality on our campuses – the old arguments about settlements or the security barrier are being replaced by a debate about the mere existence of Israel as a Jewish state. Zionism is a dirty word for many students – associated with oppression rather than liberation. Explaining Israel is no longer enough – what is needed is a dialogue, not just about Israel but about the very ideas behind Israel – Zionism, liberation, and self determination for the Jewish people. UJS is in a sense implementing is a back to basics campaign, focusing on ideas and concepts rather than specific policies.

As for those annoyed that UJS is advocating a Palestinian state, I would say this: it is morally dishonest to advocate self-determination for one group of people and not the other. Jews and Palestinians both need and deserve a homeland. Yes there may be a debate about the future borders or composition of those states, but the idea of self-determination is a universal one. It’s why groups like the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and their ilk will always be hypocritical, bigoted and discriminatory organisations – they vehemently support the self-determination of one nation whilst completely ignoring the rights of others. UJS should be proud of taking such a principled stance on the issue, especially as they must have been aware of the potential backlash it could cause.

The campaign is a brave step for UJS, and it may or may not work. But at least it is attempting something different. The naysayers and critics should step back and honestly ask themselves whether they really think the current strategy is working. Surely all evidence suggests that it is not? Burying heads in the sand and pointing to Golda Meir being a female as an example of Israeli progressiveness frankly no longer cuts it.