I was going to blog yesterday about the latest John Mearsheimer controversy, but, well, fantasy football got in the way. As a reminder, Mearsheimer was the co-author (with Stephen Walt) of “The Israel Lobby,” a book that was widely criticized as playing into old notions of a zionist global conspiracy. There was much debate over the book, and the fact that Walt and Mearsheimer are distinguished academics helped deflect the criticisms of anti-Semitism.
They were not, after all, Kevin MacDonald.
But now Mearsheimer has really stepped in it. And by not blogging this yesterday, I can now bring you his non-defense of himself.
Turns out that Mearsheimer provided a prominent and gushing book-jacket review for “The Wandering Who?” Mearsheimer’s blurb had this praise:
‘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.’
The book was written by Gilad Atzmon, a former Israeli and self-proclaimed “self-hating Jew”—and not in the sense that Larry David has been accused of on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
I haven’t read Atzmon’s book, but it’s widely been called anti-Semitic. Why? Because of passages like Atzmon’s take on the global financial mess, which obviously was going to be blamed on The Jews. Atzmon’s words, via the Volokh Conspiracy:
I don’t think it was a credit crunch, I think it was a Zionist punch.
This war in Iraq may have something to do with energy but largely it was America acting as an Israeli mission for fighting the last pockets of resistance, led tactically by Neoconservatives and the Federal Reserve.
Alan Greenspan’s job was to create a financial boom so America’s people were not concerned with the tactics used in the Middle East.
It should have worked but it didn’t work because the all-American boom was done at the expense of the most deprived Americans, and they just couldn’t pay the mortgages so it all collapsed.
It’s not only Jews that have adopted this world view either. Bush behaved Jewishly (ideologically) — he is a supremacist, he was a tribalist, but he is not a Jew as far as I’m aware.
Many more samplings of the anti-Semitism in Atzmon’s book at Jeffrey Goldberg’s blog and the Volokh Conspiracy. And yet, despite what you can read there, Mearsheimer endorsed this book.
Now, you might be wondering whether Mearsheimer really read the book or whether he gave such an endorsement. Certainly, not all book-jacket blurbs are the result of thorough study. But, when contacted by blogger Adam Holland seeking to verify Mearsheimer’s review, he said:
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.
I have to wonder how seriously anyone will be taking Mearsheimer going forward.