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"Of Israel, Harvard and David Duke" (WP, March 26)

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Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2006 17:37:22 +0300
From: John Whitbeck
To: Robert Keeley

Dear Bob,

Since I presume that you still grit your teeth and read the Post, I
would be grateful if you would keep an eye out to see whether the
ombudsman dares to deal with this disgrace.

All the best,

----- Original Message -----
*From:* John Whitbeck <mailto:jvwhitbeck@awalnet.net.sa>
*To:* ombudsman@washpost.com <mailto:ombudsman@washpost.com>
*Sent:* Tuesday, March 28, 2006 6:16 PM
*Subject:* "Of Israel, Harvard and David Duke" (WP, March 26)

TO: The Ombudsman, The Washington Post
FM: John Whitbeck (Jeddah and Paris)

The /Washington Post/ has finally decided to cover the Mearsheimer/Walt
"controversy". How it has chosen to do so is bizarre but revealing.

Under the title "Of Israel, Harvard and David Duke" (a headline at the
same bottom-crawling journalistic level as the /New York Sun's/
"Neo-Nazi" headline), this unsigned piece first lists, under the heading
"The Essay", five rather uninteresting quotations from the study (the
first three non-controversial statements of fact and the last two
potentially controversial only in the United States).

Then, under the heading "The Controversy", it provides commentary from
eight mostly peculiar sources -- of which only two (of which one is the
now inevitable David Duke) are favorable while the other six are
scathing (using fine analytic terms like "ignorant propaganda",
"masquerading as scholarship", "biased, one-sided, foolish, repetitive",
"academic garbage", "piss-poor", "riddled with errors" and my personal
favorite -- "ignores previous serious work on the subject").

In conclusion (and without any attributable comments of its own), under
the heading "The Fallout", this cowardly, unsigned hatchet job simply
notes that Harvard has, "following the uproar", disassociated itself
from the study -- /without/ revealing, as the far more honest and
grovel-resistant /Ha'aretz/ did, that Harvard did so "due to pressure
applied by pro-Israel donors". (Frankly, my /alma mater/ should change
its motto from "VERITAS" to "MONEY".)

The /Post/'s objective in assembling this odd pastiche was clearly not
to inform but, rather, to dismiss -- to suggest (without the courage to
say so directly) that there is nothing of interest in the study, that it
is a shameful document and that only Klansmen (or at least no
right-thinking person) should have any interest in reading it.

In a perverse way, I suppose that all genuinely patriotic Americans
could be grateful to the /Post/. In a dazzling display, it has provided
high-level confirmation of the validity of the fundamental truth which
Mearsheimer and Walt have courageously dared to bring out of the closet
and into the light of day.

Unfortunately, if all that most Americans know about the study is what
they read in captive newspapers like the /New York Sun/, the /Boston
Globe/ (whose article yesterday blasted it as "a bitter anti-Israel
screed") and the /Washington Post/, the truth will not set them free --
and the brutal ease with which it was suppressed will ensure their
continuing servitude for many years to come.


*Of Israel, Harvard and David Duke*

Sunday, March 26, 2006; B05

/International relations scholars John J. Mearsheimer of the University
of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University ignited a furious
debate last week with their lengthy essay "The Israel Lobby," appearing
in the London Review of Books. Their argument -- that the influence of a
powerful pro-Israel lobby in the United States threatens U.S. national
security -- has reverberated through academic and policy circles, the
media and the blogosphere. A sampling of their article and the ongoing


"Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a
level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the
largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance
since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War II, to
the tune of well over $140 billion (in 2004 dollars). Israel receives
about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of
the foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. . . .

Other recipients get their money in quarterly installments, but Israel
receives its entire appropriation at the beginning of each fiscal year
and can thus earn interest on it. Most recipients of aid given for
military purposes are required to spend all of it in the U.S., but
Israel is allowed to use roughly 25 percent of its allocation to
subsidize its own defense industry. It is the only recipient that does
not have to account for how the aid is spent, which makes it virtually
impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the U.S.
opposes, such as building settlements on the West Bank. Moreover, the
U.S. has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons
systems, and given it access to such top-drawer weaponry as Blackhawk
helicopters and F-16 jets. Finally, the U.S. gives Israel access to
intelligence it denies to its NATO allies and has turned a blind eye to
Israel's acquisition of nuclear weapons. . . .

Since 1982, the U.S. has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical
of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other
Security Council members. . . .

[S]aying that Israel and the U.S. are united by a shared terrorist
threat has the causal relationship backwards: The U.S. has a terrorism
problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not
the other way around. . . .

[T]he Lobby's campaign for regime change in Iran and Syria could lead
the U.S. to attack those countries, with potentially disastrous effects.
We don't need another Iraq. . . ."


/Harvard Law professor Alan M. Dershowitz:/ "These are two serious
scholars and you need to expose what they have done as ignorant
propaganda." (Jerusalem Post)

/Juancole.com:/ "Political scientists John Mearsheimer (University of
Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Harvard) bravely take on the issue of the
pro-Israel lobby in Washington and the way it distorts U.S. foreign
policy in the Middle East. Most American Jews deeply disagree with the
policies advocated by the American Enterprise Institute, the Jewish
Institute for National Security Affairs, etc., but a sliver of the
political spectrum, falsely insisting that it represents all American
Jews, manages to skew U.S. politics and reporting on the issue of

/Dennis Ross, President Clinton's Middle East envoy:/ "It is basically a
series of assertions. They quote only those people who basically have
this point of view and don't take a serious look at anything in a more
profound way. It is masquerading as scholarship." (New York Sun)

/Rosner's Blog:/ "The new study . . . presents an interesting dilemma to
the writer: Do you ignore it -- having concluded it is biased,
one-sided, foolish, repetitive, and most of all, has nothing new to
offer -- or do you write about it, knowing that the 'Harvard,'
'Chicago,' 'professors,' 'Kennedy School' labels will make it acceptable
anyway, even newsworthy, in the eyes of many. In short: Does one need
cooperate with the advancement of the cause of academic garbage?"

/David Duke:/ "It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier
American university essentially come out and validate every major point
I have been making since even before the war even started." (New York Sun)

/Danieldrezner.com/ : "Walt and Mearsheimer should not be criticized as
anti-Semites, because that's patently false. They should be criticized
for doing piss-poor, monocausal social science."

/Ruth R. Wisse:/ "[I]t would be a mistake to treat this article on the
'Israel Lobby' as an attack on Israel alone, or on its Jewish defenders,
or on the organizations and individuals it singles out for condemnation.
Its true target is the American public, which now supports Israel with
higher levels of confidence than ever before." (Wall Street Journal)

/Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America:/ "Even a
cursory examination of 'The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy'
reveals that it is riddled with errors of fact, logic and omission, has
inaccurate citations, displays extremely poor judgment regarding
sources, and, contrary to basic scholarly standards, ignores previous
serious work on the subject."


Mearsheimer and Walt's study appeared earlier this month as an 83-page
"Faculty Research Working Paper" on the Web site of Harvard's John F.
Kennedy School of Government, where Walt serves as academic dean.
Following the uproar, the Kennedy School discreetly removed its logo
from the paper, and the document now features a more detailed and
prominent disclaimer: "The two authors of this Working Paper are solely
responsible for the views expressed in it. As academic institutions,
Harvard University and the University of Chicago do not take positions
on the scholarship of individual faculty, and this article should not be
interpreted or portrayed as reflecting the official position of either

2006 The Washington Post Company