John Mearsheimer Further Beclowns Self. Film at Eleven.

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 26, 2011

David Bernstein calls this a “rambling” reply to charges of anti-Semitism leveled against John Mearsheimer, but that doesn’t go far enough. Mearsheimer’s “response” is a selective one that doesn’t even come close to touching on the most appalling and disgusting of Gilad Atzmon’s past remarks on Jews.

Fortunately, commenters to Mearsheimer’s post do an admirable job of calling him out. See here, here, here, here, here, and here. I am sure that there will be others after I finish writing this blog post, of course.

I wrote previously that “[e]ither, John Mearsheimer–via his endorsement of the vile and repulsive ‘ideas’ of the loathsome Gilad Atzmon–has outed himself as an anti-Semite, or he is completely ignorant of what Atzmon professes, and Mearsheimer has outed himself as a fool. I can’t see a third option.” I cannot believe that Mearsheimer hasn’t taken the time by now to fully acquaint himself with Atzmon’s oeuvre–assuming that he didn’t know much about Atzmon’s writings and speeches before offering a favorable blurb to Atzmon’s book–so while I can still accuse Mearsheimer of foolishness, I am forced to conclude that I have to accuse him of a whole lot more.

This is a pathetic and despicable turn of events for a once-highly renowned scholar. I would ask Mearsheimer to be ashamed of himself, but it appears that neither he, nor Stephen Walt–who offered Mearsheimer space to write out his wholly inadequate explanation–are capable of that.

UPDATE: Somewhat defying my earlier expectations, Andrew Sullivan addresses Mearsheimer’s remarks. I write the words “somewhat defying,” because while Sullivan surprises me by (a) addressing this issue at all, (b) admitting that Atzmon is an “avowed anti-Semite,” and (c) further admitting that “Atzmon strikes me as a disturbed figure wont to write obviously explosive things,” he still states that he has “a hard time commenting on this since [Sullivan has] not read the book in question.”

Bear in mind, however, that Mearsheimer’s attempts to explain away Atzmon’s remarks should not merely be confined to addressing comments made in the book Mearsheimer favored with a complimentary blurb. In Mearsheimer’s post, he states that he “cannot find evidence in [Atzmon's] book or in his other writings that indicate he ‘traffics in Holocaust denial.’” But if the following doesn’t qualify as Holocaust denial, then I don’t know what does:

I am left puzzled here; if the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? Why didn’t the Jews wait for their Red liberators?

I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws. We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place.

Emphasis provided by ModernityBlog, which quite properly adds the following: “I hope that those who previously supported Atzmon, or maybe made excuses for him, will see the implicit holocaust denial embedded in his words, when he writes: ‘…if the Nazis …’.”

And from Wikipedia:

In a 2005 opinion piece David Aaronovitch criticized Atzmon for writing in his essay “On Anti-Semitism”[54] that “We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously.” and “American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion‘ are an authentic document or rather a forged irrelevant. American Jews do control the world, by proxy. So far they are doing pretty well for themselves at least”; Aaronovitch said Atzmon was “a silly boy advancing slightly dangerous arguments.”[55] Aaronovitch also criticized Atzmon for circulating an essay by Paul Eisen defending Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel and supporting many aspects of Zündel’s Holocaust denial theories. Aaronovitch wrote that Atzmon said he had a “slightly different” view than Eisen: “the Holocaust like any other historical narrative is a dynamic process of realisation and interpretation.”[55] Atzmon has said he does not deny the Holocaust or the “Nazi Judeocide” but insists “that both the Holocaust and World War II should be treated as historical events rather than as religious myth. . . . But then, even if we accept the Holocaust as the new Anglo-American liberal-democratic religion, we must allow people to be atheists.”[56] In a 2006 opinion piece in The GuardianDavid Hirsh cited Atzmon’s “On Anti-Semitism” essay, and particularly its Jewish deicide claim that “the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus,” as an example of Atzmon’s “openly anti-Jewish rhetoric.”[57] In response to a question about this quote from Lenni Brenner, Atzmon replied that he meant “I find it astonishing that people today happen to be offended by such accusations.”[58]

Emphasis mine, and the bolded part undermines Atzmon’s claims later in the paragraph that he really doesn’t deny that the Holocaust happened. Atzmon, by the way, has stated in the past that he is “happy” to have circulated Holocaust denial claims.

From Jeffrey Goldberg, who Mearsheimer–and Stephen Walt, for that matter–would do better to listen to than to viciously attack, we have the following words from Atzmon:

I must admit that I have many doubts concerning the Zionist Holocaust narrative. Being familiar with many of the discrepancies within the forcefully imposed narrative, being fully familiar with the devastating tale of the extensive collaboration between the Nazis and the Zionists before and throughout the Second World War, I know pretty well that the official Holocaust narrative is there to conceal rather than to reveal any truth.

Still more, and the following is directly from The Wandering Who?. You know, the book Mearsheimer says he read. The book he gave a favorable blurb to. The one which Mearsheimer “found it thought provoking and likely to be of considerable interest to Jews and non-Jews.” The one that supposedly didn’t contain a hint of Holocaust denial, or justification:

The Holocaust religion is, obviously, Judeo-centric to the bone. It defines the Jewish raison d’etre. For Zionist Jews, it signifies a total fatigue of the Diaspora, and regards the goy as a potential irrational murderer. This new Jewish religion preaches revenge. It could well be the most sinister religion known to man, for in the name of Jewish suffering, it issues licences to kill, to flatten, to nuke, to annihilate, to loot, to ethnically cleanse. It has made vengeance into an acceptable Western value.

[. . .]

To a certain extent, we are all subject to this religion; some of us are worshippers, others are just subject to its power. Those who attempt to revise Holocaust history are subject to abuse by the high priests of this religion. The Holocaust religion constitutes the Western ‘real’. We are neither allowed to touch it, nor are we permitted to look into it. Very much like the ancient Israelites who were to obey their God but never question Him, we are marching into the void.

[. . .]

From this point onward, I shall maintain that the Holocaust religion was well-established a long time before the Final Solution (1942), well before Kristallnacht (1938), the Nuremberg Laws (1936) and even before Hitler was born (1889). The Holocaust religion is probably as old as the Jews themselves.

And of course, when The Wandering Who? isn’t busy implicitly or explicitly denying the Holocaust, it is busy implicitly or explicitly trying to justify it:

65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz we should be able to ask – why? Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their neighbours? Why are the Jews hated in the Middle East, surely they had a chance to open a new page in their troubled history? If they genuinely planned to do so, as the early Zionist claimed, why did they fail? Why did America tighten its immigration laws amid the growing danger to European Jews? We should also ask what purpose Holocaust denial laws serve? What is the Holocaust religion there to conceal? As long as we fail to ask questions, we will be subjected to Zionist lobbies and their plots. We will continue killing in the name of Jewish suffering. We will maintain our complicity in Western imperialist crimes.

[. . .]

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.’

So much then for Mearsheimer’s claim that he “cannot find evidence in [Atzmon's] book or in his other writings that indicate he ‘traffics in Holocaust denial.’” Either Mearsheimer didn’t use Google with the proficiency a five-year old would display in searching for information on the Internet, or he tried to pretend that the evidence of Atzmon’s Holocaust denial doesn’t exist. Both in The Wandering Who?, and in other writings, Atzmon traffics in both Holocaust denial, and Holocaust justification. To say otherwise, while at the same time being aware of the passages I cited is to lie. And given that Mearsheimer says he read Atzmon’s book, he is charged with actual and constructive knowledge of its contents, including those passages–which frankly, are too shocking for any reasonably intelligent person to miss.

We also have the following from Mearsheimer:

Let me now turn to the specific claim that Atzmon is an “apologist for Hitler.” Again, I am somewhat reluctant to do this, because this charge forces me to defend what Atzmon said in one of his blog posts. But given the prominence of the charge in [Jeffrey] Goldberg’s indictment of Atzmon (and me), I cannot let it pass.

Plus, I see that Walter Russell Mead, who is also fond of smearing Steve Walt and me, has put this charge up in bright lights on his own blog. Picking up on Goldberg’s original post, Mead describes Atzmon’s argument this way: “poor Adolf Hitler’s actions against German Jews only came after US Jews called a boycott on German goods following Hitler’s appointment as German Chancellor. Gosh — if it weren’t for those pushy, aggressive Jews and their annoying boycotts, the Holocaust might not have happened!”

It is hard to imagine any sane person making such an argument, and Atzmon never does. 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.

From that same March 25th post of Atzmon’s that Mearsheimer cited–which I am sorry I am compelled to have to link to–we have an excerpt that indisputably shows that Goldberg’s and Mead’s characterization of Atzmon’s comments (and Atzmon himself) was correct:

“The Obama administration’s recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel is a matter of serious concern,” AIPAC said in its statement. AIPAC’s reaction came after a weekend of U.S. recriminations and demands, following Israel’s provocative announcement that it had given preliminary approval for the construction of 1,600 more apartments for Jewish settlers in a Palestinian neighborhood of eastern occupied Jerusalem. Unlike President Obama, who seems to be prioritizing issues like the health care reform bill and United States economic recovery, AIPAC claims to know what America’s ‘real’ interests are and how to achieve them. “The administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests”. AIPAC also suggested that the American leadership should concentrate on a confrontation with Iran. “The escalated rhetoric of recent days only serves as a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done with regard to the urgent issue of Iran’s rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons”.

Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even super powers. AIPAC’s behavior last week reminded me of the Jewish declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933.

Not many people are aware that in March 1933, long before Hitler became the undisputed leader of Germany and began restricting the rights of German Jews, the American Jewish Congress announced a massive protest at Madison Square Gardens and called for an American boycott of German goods.

I obviously do not think that Obama has anything in common with Hitler. There is not much the two leaders share in terms of their philosophy, their attitude to humanism or their view of world peace.(1) However, it is hard to turn a blind eye to the similarity between AIPAC’s behaviour last week and the Jewish American Congress’ conduct in 1933.

On March 24, 1933, The Daily Express (London) published an article announcing that the Jews had already launched their boycott against Germany and threatened a forthcoming “holy war”. The Express urged Jews everywhere to boycott German goods and demonstrate actively against German economic interests.

The Express said that Germany was “now confronted with an international boycott of its trade, its finances, and its industry….in London, New York, Paris and Warsaw, Jewish businessmen are united to go on an economic crusade.”

Jewish texts tend to glaze over the fact that Hitler’s March 28 1933, ordering a boycott against Jewish stores and goods, was an escalation in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership. In fact the only Jewish enclave that is willing to admit the historical order of events that led to the destruction of European Jewry, is the anti Zionist Jewish Orthodox sect known as the Torah Jews. I assume that, similarly, once things turn sour between America and its Jewish lobbies, Jewish tribal ideologists will be the first to forget that it was the Jewish American establishment that worked so hard to nourish the inevitable animosity.

The line that Jews issued a “declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933″ should alone be sufficient to show that Atzmon was engaged in excuse-mongering on behalf of Hitler and the Nazis. If that’s not enough, we have a long passage from Atzmon which is clearly meant to convey the message that the restriction of the rights of Jews by Hitler was a direct and foreseeable response to the supposed Jewish “declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933,” which caused Germany to be “confronted with an international boycott of its trade, its finances, and its industry….in London, New York, Paris and Warsaw.” The notion that the Jews provoked Hitler is clear in Atzmon’s writing when he states that “Jewish texts tend to glaze over the fact that Hitler’s March 28 1933, ordering a boycott against Jewish stores and goods, was an escalation in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership,” and that in essence, Jews started “the historical order of events that led to the destruction of European Jewry.”

Of course, Mearsheimer doesn’t excerpt all of this language in his blog post; just a part of it. He evidently believes that his readers are too lazy, and too stupid to click on the link he provided to Atzmon’s site, to read Atzmon’s words in whole, and to conclude–as Goldberg and Mead quite accurately did–that Atzmon was indeed stating that when it came to Hitlerian persecution of the Jews, the Jews asked for it. Concerning the language, Mearsheimer only states in passing that “the Jewish boycott had negative consequences,” and that Atzmon simply believes that “Jews are not simply passive victims of other people’s actions. On the contrary, he believes Jews have considerable agency and their actions are not always wise.” Mearsheimer assures us that he thinks that this view is incorrect, but he wants you and me to believe that it is not controversial, and not meant to state that the Nazis only persecuted the Jews because they were provoked by “the worldwide Jewish leadership.” Atzmon’s own words undermine Mearsheimer’s attempt to paper over their meaning.

Later on, Mearsheimer states that he does not believe that Atzmon is an anti-Semite, despite Mearsheimer’s belief that Atzmon is “unequivocally” a self-hating Jew. I don’t know how anyone who says the following could not be considered an anti-Semite:

It seems I didn’t learn the necessary lesson because when we studied the middle age blood libels, I again wondered out loud how the teacher could know that these accusations of Jews making Matzo out of young Goyim’s blood were indeed empty or groundless. Once again I was sent home for a week. In my teens I spent most of my mornings at home rather than in the classroom.

And more:

I asked the emotional tour guide if she could explain the fact that so many Europeans loathed the Jews so much and in so many places at once. I was thrown out of school for a week.

And more:

Otto Weininger helped me grasp who I am, or rather who I may be, what I do, what I try to achieve and why my detractors invest so much effort trying to stop me.

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.

And more:

You may wonder at this stage whether I regard the credit crunch as a Zionist plot or even a Jewish conspiracy. In fact the opposite is the case. It isn’t a plot and certainly not a conspiracy for it was all in the open.

And more on classical anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews–and note, the following is from The Wandering Who?. You know, the book Mearsheimer says he read. The book he gave a favorable blurb to. The one which Mearsheimer “found it thought provoking and likely to be of considerable interest to Jews and non-Jews.”

Fagin is the ultimate plunderer, a child exploiter and usurer. Shylock is the blood-thirsty merchant. With Fagin and Shylock in mind, the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians seems to be just a further event in an endless hellish continuum.

And more–also from The Wandering Who?:

Anne Frank wasn’t exactly a literary genius. Her diary is not a valuable piece of literature. She wasn’t exceptionally clever either. She was in fact a very ordinary girl and this is exactly her power within the post WWII Western cultural discourse. She was just an innocent, average girl. In fact, the attempt to make Anne Frank into a cultural hero may be a genuine reflection of the Jewish ideological inclination towards sameness. Frank mirrors the desperate attempt to prove to the world that ‘we, the Jews’ are people like other people. Moreover, the success of Anne Frank’s Diary is there to suggest the West’s willingness to accept Jews as people amongst other people.

Still more from The Wandering Who? regarding David Rosenberg, and Julia Bard, two non-religious Jewish socialists:

In spite of Julia and David’s dismissal of the Jewish faith, they still very much want to be part of the Jewish community. I wonder why? What is it that they need from the Jewish community? Why don’t they just ‘get on’ with their ‘socialist agenda’ and join the human family as ordinary people?

Evidently, Jews aren’t part of “the human family as ordinary people.”

Is it any doubt that these are the words of an anti-Semite? Bear in mind that throughout Mearsheimer’s essay, he claims that people like Jeffrey Goldberg have to resort to attacking Atzmon’s blog posts to attack Atzmon, and by extension, Mearsheimer. The implication–and it’s more than an implication, really–is that there is nothing in The Wandering Who? that should have set off alarm bells in Mearsheimer’s brainpan, and that as a consequence, Mearsheimer cannot be accused of explicitly or implicitly endorsing anti-Semitic claptrap. Quite clearly, that Mearsheimerian line of attack–along with his entire defense of his actions–has fallen apart.

Mearsheimer, of course, addresses none of Atzmon’s offensive and sickening comments in their totality. I don’t know how anyone can claim that he didn’t beclown himself, given the pathetically weak nature of his defense of Atzmon, and of his own decision to give a favorable blurb to The Wandering Who?. As for Sullivan, remember that he has “a hard time commenting on this since [he has] not read the book in question.” The offensive passages in The Wandering Who? are all available via a Google search, and I have excerpted them, and other Atzmonian writings in this blog post (there is more that I could have excerpted, but I frankly didn’t have the stomach for it). I don’t know if Sullivan will continue to have “a hard time commenting on this,” given the availability of the offensive passages for all to read, but given Sullivan’s ability to deny superb and compelling arguments debunking the fatuous school of Trig Trutherism, I wouldn’t put it past him to try to concoct some kind of weird excuse for Mearsheimer’s plainly reprehensible stance on this issue.

ANOTHER UPDATE: An unequivocal condemnation of both Atzmon and Mearsheimer from Sullivan. Good for him; I am relieved that for all of our disagreements, we appear to be of one mind on this issue.

  • QLineOrientalist

    This just confirms the worst suspicions about Mearsheimer and Walt.
    Please, for goodness sake, M & W, own up to it: You are not being
    “smeared”. You’re being chastised for doing something of infathomable
    stupidity at best.

  • t-dahlgren

    Judging from the provided quotes Atzmon would indeed appear to be a loathsome antisemite.  What is more telling is the degree of duplicity required for Mearsheimer to construct his arguments.  The word for that is villainy.

    Reading just these excerpts I cannot fathom how you manage to, as they say, read the whole thing.  It is so off putting that I doubt I would be up to the task.   Perhaps that is part of their intent?

  • Rob Crawford

    “Atzmon strikes me as a disturbed figure wont to write obviously explosive things”

    If Sullivan looked in a mirror with an open mind, that’s precisely the type of person he’d see staring back.

    (I can’t be the only person who has noticed Sullivan’s playing around the edges of antisemitism since his “awakening”.)

  • Rob Crawford

    “Atzmon strikes me as a disturbed figure wont to write obviously explosive things”

    If Sullivan looked in a mirror with an open mind, that’s precisely the type of person he’d see staring back.

    (I can’t be the only person who has noticed Sullivan’s playing around the edges of antisemitism since his “awakening”.)

  • Anonymous

    Eisenhower ordered a great many photos taken and also that the local villagers conduct the clean-up and mass burials for just this reason. He knew that sometime in the future some SOB would claim it never happened.  The physical and photographic evidence prove the contrary.

  • Bharris

    Loathsome anti-Semite indeed. But based on the excerpts quoted here, he seems to be engaging in Holocaust justification rather than Holocaust denial–it’s the Jews’ fault we killed them!

  • Ron Coleman

    Atzmon is less a loathsome antisemite — though he is that — than a loathsome extreme left-winger who realizes that the only ticket that will get him into the first class cabin is the antisemitism card.  He is merely going a step or two beyond the vast majority of left-wing Jews who make comfortable peace with those who think but do not quite say these things, sentiments that are not the least bit controversial among the Free Palestine left.

    The self-hatred is deeper than Atzmon acknowledges.  Desperate for the approval of the Mearsheimers, Walts and Sullivans of the world, his posturing only proves that he is no better, and quite a bit worse, than the pathetic ghetto Jew whose weakness, lack of acceptance and stubborn insistence on non-conformity he loathes.  Atzomon desperately graves the goy’s acceptance of his submission to universal (i.e., antisemitic) norms, of his contempt for himself and of his willingness to be a political Kapo.

    If God hadn’t given us Atzmon, neoconservatives, right-wing Jews and we “Torah Jews” would have to invent him.  We never have any to come on to that, however.  There’s one in every shtetl.

  • Anonymous

    Good grief, if Atzmon isn’t an anti-semite then what standard do Walt and Mearsheimer use when judging anti-semitism? Anything at all?

    I had agreed originally with the inestimable Walter Russell Mead in his review of their work that the two men weren’t anti-semites. But that agreement is now void.

    Who are these men?

  • Anonymous

    Mearsheimer and Walt have have been dancing to that song for some time.  There is a certain odor that anti-semitism has and it emanates from Mearsheimer.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome article. Thank you.

Previous post:

Next post: