This is a guest post by Joseph Weissman.
By endorsing Gilad Atzmon’s new book, The Wandering Who, John Mearsheimer heaps praise upon the racist writings of an antisemite who argues that Fagin and Shylock accurately represent Jewish evil, and that Hitler could be proven right.
Stephen Walt allowed Mearsheimer a guest post on his Foreign Policy blog, to defend himself from “smears” suggesting Mearsheimer had endorsed an antisemite.
In order to defend Atzmon, Mearsheimer sanitised Atzmon’s arguments. Mearsheimer commends a passage in The Wandering Who, where Atzmon draws similarities between AIPAC lobbying in the USA and Jewish lobbying in Nazi Germany. Mearsheimer wrote:
Goldberg refers to a blog post that Atzmon wrote on March 25, 2010, written in response to news at the time that AIPAC had “decided to mount pressure” on President Obama. After describing what was happening with Obama, Atzmon notes that this kind of behavior is hardly unprecedented.In his words, “Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even superpowers.” There is no question that this statement is accurate and not even all that controversial; Tom Friedman said as much in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago.
In the second half of this post, Atzmon says that AIPAC’s behavior reminds him of the March 1933 Jewish boycott of German goods, which preceded Hitler’s decision on March 28, 1933 to boycott Jewish stores and goods. His basic point is that the Jewish boycott had negative consequences, which it did.
Writing days later in Foreign Policy, David Rothkopf deconstructed Mearsheimer and Walt’s backing of Gilad Atzmon.
A professor at the University of Chicago, Mearsheimer has given his academic endorsement to Atzmon. To date, there has been no official reaction from the University of Chicago.
However, a philosopher of law from the University of Chicago, Brian Leiter, has accused Mearsheimer’s critics of opposing “academic freedom”, and of spreading “right-wing smears.”
Universities have a duty of care towards their students, and the university campus should be safe for Jews. The University of Chicago is clearly a safe environment for Jewish students. Yet two U. Chicago professors are now dismissing anyone concerned about the antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon, as anti-freedom and anti-intellectual.
Now, the university’s student paper The Chicago Maroon, has published an article defending Mearsheimer for endorsing Atzmon, on “academic freedom” grounds. U. Chicago student Colni Bradley writes:
There is no reason to condemn Mearsheimer based on Atzmon’s previous controversial comments. The only acceptable criticism would be if he could prove that The Wandering Who? is itself anti-Semitic, and that Mearsheimer is guilty of praising those hateful elements. Goldberg does no such thing.
However, by far the worst comment Atzmon has ever come out with, is found on p.179 ofThe Wandering Who.
Read this paragraph:
“The present should be understood as a creative dynamic mode where past premeditates its future. But far more crucially, it is also where the imaginary future can re-write its past. I will try to elucidate this idea through a simple and hypothetical yet terrifying war scenario. We, for instance, can envisage a horrific situation in which an Israeli so-called ‘pre-emptive’ nuclear attack on Iran that escalates into a disastrous nuclear war, in which tens of millions of people perish. I guess that amongst the survivors of such a nightmare scenario, some may be bold enough to argue that ‘Hitler might have been right after all.”
Atzmon is trying to prove, that there are scenarios which may well prove Hitler had the right idea all along.
In Atzmon’s scenario, Israel goes to war with Iran, and some Iranian survivors of Israeli attacks conclude that “Hitler was right”. They are bold to do so. For Atzmon, this is just one scenario in which “the imaginary future can re-write its past” – and future events could justify Hitler.
Atzmon is arguing that eventually, the terrible behaviour of Israel will cause some people to realise that Hitler might have been right after all. But for now, alas, the “Holocaust religion” prevents us in the present from realising this.
U. Chicago student Bradley also writes:
I think we should commend anyone who seeks to push the boundaries and uncover the difficult truths, particularly when the questions are so messy. I am not saying I agree with Mearsheimer’s opinions on these issues: I don’t even know all of them. But I don’t care. For probably the first time since coming to this University, the words “academic freedom” mean more to me than justifying questionable investment practices. Atzmon may very well be an anti-Semite, but John Mearsheimer is not.
How is it “academic freedom” to endorse a racist book?
How is it “pushing the boundaries”, to suggest that Israeli evil couldl eventually prove to the world that Hitler was right all along? Why should Mearsheimer commend such a work?
How would we feel about someone endorsing Mein Kampf itself – would we say they are being edgy, and making the full use of their academic freedom? Or would we say they are knowingly pushing a racist text?
This is not a rhetorical question.
In Gilad Atzmon’s recent interview with Keith Barrett, he tells his host (from 13:00):
“Mein Kampf is an interesting read, a very important document, I could hardly find anything about the Jews – only 2 and a half pages out of 400 about the Jews. This book was a major bookseller, and I didn’t want to think the Germans were all stupid, they were one of the most advanced societies. It was a very very interesting read. I, for the first time, understood why Hitler managed to impress so many Germans.”
Here are some of Hitler’s quotes on Jews from Mein Kampf:
Here he stops at nothing, and in his vileness he becomes so gigantic that no one need be surprised if among our people the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew.
The ignorance of the broad masses about the inner nature of the Jew, the lack of instinct and narrow-mindedness of our upper classes, make the people an easy victim for this Jewish campaign of lies.
While from innate cowardice the upper classes turn away from a man whom the Jew attacks with lies and slander, the broad masses from stupidity or simplicity believe everything. The state authorities either cloak themselves in silence or, what usually happens, in order to put an end to the Jewish press campaign, they persecute the unjustly attacked, which, in the eyes of such an official ass, passes as the preservation of state authority and the safeguarding of law and order.
Slowly fear and the Marxist weapon of Jewry descend like a nightmare on the mind and soul of decent people.
For a racially pure people which is conscious of its blood can never be enslaved by the Jew. In this world he will forever be master over bastards and bastards alone.
Now begins the great last revolution. In gaining political power the Jew casts off the few cloaks that he still wears. The democratic people’s Jew becomes the blood-Jew and tyrant over peoples. In a few years he tries to exterminate the national intelligentsia and by robbing the peoples of their natural intellectual leadership makes them ripe for the slave’s lot of permanent subjugation.
The end is not only the end of the freedom of the peoples oppressed by the Jew, but also the end of this parasite upon the nations. After the death of his victim, the vampire sooner or later dies too.
Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: ‘by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.’
Atzmon channels Hitler, plays down the racism of Mein Kampf, and argues that a nightmare scenario involving Israeli evil could eventually prove Hitler right.
Mearsheimer and Walt then channel Atzmon, arguing that his book is “fascinating” and “Jews and non-Jews alike” must read it.
Where will this end?