Tag Archives | John Mearsheimer

Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

Prompted by the controversy over Mearsheimer and Atzmon, Bob from Brockley has a good post on anti-Semitism, including this discussion of non-anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, with my added emphases:

Anti-Zionism that also takes a consistent opposition to all nationalisms (including Palestinian nationalism) is not antisemitic; Jewish religious anti-Zionism such as that of the Satmer Hasidim is not antisemitic; Jewish anti-Zionism which rejects the Zionist solution to the questions of Jewish survival and continuity (such as the position of the Jewish Socialist Group or others in the tradition of the Bund, folkism and other diasporist traditions) is not antisemitic [Editor: though one wonders about the relevance of these traditions in 2011, when there is an existing Jewish state with almost eight million citizens]; anti-Zionism from the perspective of Israeli citizens (Jewish or Arab) who want to see Israel as a democratic state for all its citizens (rather than a Jewish state) is not antisemitic; finally anti-Zionism which sees Zionism as a form of imperialism and takes a consistent opposition to all imperialisms without singling out Zionism as unique is wrong-headed, but not in itself antisemitic. All of these forms of anti-Zionism can be used as fig-leaves for antisemitism or be used to feed antisemitism, but they are not themselves antisemitic. [Editor: And I would add one more. Islamist anti-Zionism that is based on the idea that "Palestine" is Islamic territory that for theological reasons may not be governed by non-Muslims is not, by itself, anti-Semitic.]

Unfortunately, it’s increasingly the case that even those who approach anti-Zionism from one or more of these perspectives are at best tolerant of the anti-Semitism indulged in by some of their allies, and at worst engage in rhetoric that smacks of classical anti-Jewish themes, even if the individuals in question are not themselves anti-Semitic.

As I’ve noted [...]

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John Mearsheimer and Gilad Atzmon Update

A few days ago, I sent John Mearsheimer an email with my post inviting him to use the Volokh Conspiracy to defend some specific (and obviously anti-Semitic) quotations from Gilad Atzmon, given Mearsheimer’s insistence that Atzmon is not anti-Semitic. I have not heard back from Mearsheimer.

Meanwhile, Harry’s Place and Pejman Yousefzadeh have further documented Atzmon’s anti-Semitism, apparent both in his general writings and specifically in the book Mearsheimer blurbed.

Andrew Sullivan, who has turned harshly critical of Israel in recent years, seemed initially skeptical of the criticism of Atzmon. Eventually, however, did some additional research and concluded: “I still haven’t read the book but the excerpts are so vile and the mind behind them so patently warped and hateful, I really don’t care to. Why would anyone blurb a book like this?”

A group of far left British writers called on the publisher to withdraw Atzmon’s book given its overt anti-Semitism. The last few British leftists who were willing to have anything to with Atzmon at “Solidarity with Palestine” have renounced their ties with him (as discussed by leftist anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein in this post).

Mearsheimer and Atzmon have received support or defense from the far-leftist conspiracy-mongering Counterpunch website, from various Neo-Nazi and 9/11 conspiracy sites, and, bizarrely, from Mearsheimer’s Chicago colleague Brian Leiter.

But then again, maybe it’s not so bizarre–perhaps what Leiter wrote is exactly what one would expect. As a Jewish [and I assume] anti-Zionist , Leiter’s prescribed role by the Elders is to help “deliver an image of pluralism” while secretly pursuing the Jewish supremacist agenda (as Atzmon put it in a recent charming interview explaining how Jewish anti-Zionists are secretly in league with the Jewish Zionists to promote Jewish interests, an interview that I came across via a link from Leiter). [...]

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A Challenge to John Mearsheimer

John Mearsheimer has written a lengthy and somewhat rambling response on Stephen Walt’s blog to criticism of him, especially by Jeffrey Goldberg for endorsing an anti-Semitic book by a kooky fringe anti-Semite, Gilad Atzmon. One could go blow by blow through all the overwrought distortions in Mearsheimer’s post, but I’m going to focus on one. Mearsheimer is not content to argue, as he does, that he didn’t know Atzmon from a hole-in-the-head, and endorsed the book because he found it provocative and interesting. If he had limited himself to this, he could have then added that he wasn’t aware of Atzmon’s anti-Semitic background and didn’t read the book in that light. Now that he knows, he regrets his association with Atzmon and the book.

Nope. Mearsheimer actually defends Atzmon from the charge of anti-Semitism. So here’s my challenge to Prof. Mearsheimer: I will give you space on the Volokh Conspiracy to explain how you can absolve Atzmon from anti-Semitism after reading this excerpt from an interview with Atzmon, not coincidentally hosted on the website of notorious anti-Semite “Israel Shamir”.

“There is a lot of pressure on me to denounce Obama. He has done quite a few things that have made me suspicious of him – but I want to give him a chance.

“I could see that the Israelis were really concerned and were quick to evacuate their forces before he took office.

“They have a lot of people around him already and reading the Israeli press they know something about this man being ethically concerned, and this is something that didn’t happen in America for many years.

He wants to amend the damage caused by those Jewish political strategies such as Neoconservatism, such as the sub-prime mortgage crisis that was led by Alan Greenspan, who is [...]

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John Mearsheimer Update

Lots of folks couldn’t believe that John Mearsheimer, distinguished international relations professor at the University of Chicago, would endorse an anti-Semitic book by fringe kook anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon. Perhaps he was misquoted, or simply blurbed the book without realizing what he was doing? Surely he would retract once a public controversy erupted?

Nope. Blogger Adam Holland:

I had trouble believing that a distinguished professor at one of the world’s greatest universities would link himself to a hatemonger like Atzmon. So I sent Professor Mearsheimer an email quoting the blurb and asking him to verify it’s accuracy. I also gave him an opportunity to amend it or add to it.

But Mearsheimer didn’t take the opportunity to save what’s left of his reputation. He wrote back: “The blurb below is the one I wrote for ‘The Wandering Who’ and I have no reason to amend it or embellish it, as it accurately reflects my view of the book.” [...]

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John Mearsheimer Endorses Book by a “Proud Self-Hating Jew”

according to the publisher’s his publicist’s website [and confirmed by a search on Google books.] The proud individual in question would be Gilad Atzmon, who has remarked

I’m not only a self-hating Jew, I’m a proud self-hating Jew! When you try to think of the biggest humanists ever, Spinoza Marx [sic: Marx was born and raised a Christian, albeit of Jewish descent] and Christ were basically proud self-hating Jews also. Why? Because of growing up in this kind of racist, nationalist, tribalist, chauvinist, supremacist society – and this is exactly what they stood up against.

If the book, The Wandering Who? was about Atzmon’s vocation, jazz, that wouldn’t be news, but in fact the book in question seems to be what one might call a meditation on Jewish identity–but an anti-Semitic, or, if you prefer, self-hating one. (Among other things, we learn that his hero and role model is one of modern history’s best-known Jewish anti-Semites, Otto Weininger.)

Mearsheimer’s take: “a fascinating and provocative book …. Should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.” Says David Schraub: “we should recognize the tragedy of [Mearsheimer's] fall. It has been swift, shocking, and very, very ugly.”

I wrote five years ago that “many of [Mearsheimer and co-author Stephen Walt's] critics are erring in accusing the authors of anti-Semitism without supporting evidence.” That now seems hasty on my part, especially given that this isn’t Mearsheimer’s first foray into very questionable territory.

Added bonus: The Harry’s Place blog’s revelation of Mearsheimer’s endorsement of an anti-Semitic book by a self-described self-hating Jew came the same day that Glenn Greenwald wrote a post entitled The Mainstreaming of Walt and Mearsheimer, in particular expressing typical Greenwaldian sputtering outrage that some of their critics had accused them of [...]

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