Readers will recall the controversy over the University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer’s endorsement of a recent anti-Semitic book, The Wandering Who, by notorious anti-Semitic provocateur Gilad Atzmon. When Atzmon’s background and anti-Jewish passages from the book were called to Mearsheimer’s attention, to even his harshest critics’ surprise instead of backing down he reaffirmed his endorsement. Almost no one defended Mearsheimer, save his University of Chicago colleague Brian Leiter, and, less prominently, libertarian activist Sheldon Richman (who I’ve known and otherwise liked for years, but who has a serious blind spot when Israel-related issues come to his attention.)
The latest news is that the “Electronic Intifada” website, which is exactly what its name suggests, has published an open letter signed by various self-described “Palestine Solidarity Activists,” calling for “the disavowal of Atzmon by fellow Palestinian organizers, as well as Palestine solidarity activists, and allies of the Palestinian people, and note the dangers of supporting Atzmon’s political work and writings and providing any platforms for their dissemination.” Perhaps to preempt Atzmon’s inevitable claim that this is further evidence of a Jewish conspiracy against him, all of the signers have noticeably Arab names.
Signators include such dubious characters as Columbia’s Joseph Massad. As the Elder of Ziyon blog puts it, these activists found “Atzmon’s nutty anti-semitic rantings too crazy – even for them.” But not, apparently, too crazy for Mearsheimer and friends.
H/T Reader Louis Offen
UPDATE: I missed an earlier letter along the same lines, signed by dozens of far left “Palestine Solidarity” activists. Apparently, though, not everyone has gotten the message–I see that Atzmon spoke today at the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church in D.C., and is speaking tomorrow at “Peace House.”
A postscript to this earlier letter states, “We wish to reiterate that we consider many of those promoting Atzmon’s work to be allies, but would ask that they reconsider their decision to do so. This is not a call for censorship, but for consistency and accountability.” Maybe it should occur to the letter writers that their “allies” might be supporting Atzmon not because they are unaware of his views, but because they are aware of them and agree with them, and that the source of their “anti-Zionism” is not “solidarity with Palestine” but something much uglier.