Here’s the sequence of events, boys and girls. Two prominent non-Jewish academics, one from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government whose chair is funded by a Jewish benefactor and another from University of Chicago write a lousy academic paper. The paper, so shoddy that it is replete with factual errors, not to mention errors of omission intended to buttress a poor thesis, receives tremendous international play because it mines deeply into conspiracy theories accusing a powerful cabal of Jews – which includes virtually every American Jew who supports Israel – of war-mongering, immorality on a war-criminal scale, control of the world’s sole superpower, control of finance and control of media. To thicken the soup, the two prominent academics conduct a smear-job on Israel and Israel’s history that would make a Hamas member flush with joy. What follows? Attention, public speaking engagements, TV talk show interviews…and now a book.
The two academics, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, published their paper, The Israel Lobby, in England in the London Review of Books after the wise editors at The Atlantic rejected it. I have to think the mayor of London at least absolutely loved the paper. Lending credibility to their paper is the fact that both men not only come from prestigious universities, but are well respected in their field of International Relations where they are proponents of the school of Neorealism. Apparently they hold a right wing view of the world, dear readers.
The paper resonated, however, with some deeply held conspiracy theories of the international Left which hates the Bush Administration and now had an academic theory relating Jewish pressure from within and without the corridors of power in DC as a key factor in the disastrous war in Iraq. Never mind that 75% of Jews vote Democratic and a slightly higher percentage oppose and opposed the war.
The paper also resonated with the far Right because, well, because they think Hitler was a good person. One of the first public personas to heap praise upon the paper was none other than David Duke. It didn’t stop with him, however. The pro-Palestinian forces in the US latched on to the paper right away and within days the international media and Internet were awash with discussions about Jewish power. In fact, the greatest achievement of these two men, Walt and Mearsheimer, was to bring back to polite and not-so-polite society the false topic of Jewish power and influence and the purported evil to which it is directed.
Well, apparently we are about to witness nothing less than the mother of all hatchet jobs, dear readers, because a prominent – and I do mean prominent – publishing house with a long and established tradition of publishing superb books and authors, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, has agreed to publish a book version of Walt and Mearsheimer’s mediocre but tittilating paper.
To those who don’t know, here’s a little information about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a book(let) that has been an efficient vehicle throughout the world for dissemination of outright antisemitic conspiracy theories throughout the 20th Century. I guess it is fitting that at that time Russia had perhaps the largest Jewish population in the world and produced that book, and now that the largest Jewish population outside of Israel resides in the US, we are about to watch “The Israel Lobby,” Walt and Mearsheimer’s paper, become a book that updates and modernizes the Protocols.
It is truly incredible to me that I’m writing these lines in 2006, but this book is going to put the imprimatur of Harvard, U. of Chicago, Farrar, Straus and Giroux and two senior academics on a shallow and weak but resonant stew of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. It’s a free country and all, but one can only wonder in amazement on the one hand while also feeling that we’ve seen this story before…and it never ends well.
Hey, editors at Farrar, Straus and Giroux or any other enterprising publisher, if you want to simultaneously publish the antidote to this upcoming poison, I’m at the following email: themiddle [ at ] jewlicious.com.
Here are our previous discussions of these two. The comments include relevant points.
If you want to read how Mearsheimer was taken apart by some folks who know better, here is a report about a debate held with him, Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Shlomo Ben Ami and Tony Judt last week.
Oh, and folks, don’t worry, this will also end up on Broadway as a musical.