I Confess: I Am A Member Of Opus Judaei

by Martin Peretz | April 30, 2010

John J. Mearsheimer, who is co-author (with Stephen Walt) of The Israel Lobby, a who’s who they’d rather have called The Jewish Lobby, has finally come clean and done a morphology of American Jewry, splitting it into two schools each personified by perhaps a dozen individual Jews.

The first he calls “righteous Jews.” This list includes Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, a certified nutcase named Philip Weiss, and other more-or-less unknowns—Naomi Klein, for example. Given the thesis of his book—that the other lobby is more than indifferent to American interests—it’s illuminating to examine whom he considers upright, even seraphic, with regard to these interests. It is telling to note that Chomsky is the first of these supposed patriots. The others, please believe me, are roughly of the same ken. I’d bet anything that Professor Falk, just as one other instance, has never, ever paused to think of what might be an American interest he could support in a foreign controversy.

Mearsheimer’s morphology was made public on April 29 at his Hisham Sharabi Memorial Lecture to the Palestine Center in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Jerusalem Fund—I myself was for more than a decade chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation, another charitable organization with a different agenda that also included excellent medical facilities, schools, parks, batter women’s shelters, youth clubs, sports centers for the city’s Arab neighborhoods—the lectureship honored a professor at Georgetown who had left Palestine in 1947 (just like Edward Said’s family) even before there was a war in the country, refugees avant la guerre. These upper-class deserters carried the psychological burden of abandoning the cause and leaving the fellahin to fight for it. Said lived out his life with the at last exhausted dogma of “Orientalism” as his creed and screed.

Actually, Sharabi took another road. He compensated for his early defection from holy Palestine by becoming an Arab fascist. Nobody at Georgetown seemed to mind or, for that matter, to notice at a time when the university hired only virtual anti-Semites or real ones to teach the Middle East. So the professor’s membership in the Syrian Social Nationalist Party was actually an authentication of his intellectual credentials. If you want to know more about this paradigmatic Arab seer go to Fouad Ajami’s The Dream Palace of the Arabs and read.

What’s even more interesting than the Sharabi memorial setting is that Mearsheimer’s lecture, “The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. New Afrikaners,” should have on the morrow of its delivery been published in a publication called Monthly Review. How should I put this? The review is a communist magazine, except there are very few real communists of which to speak. Nonetheless, it is significant that such a magazine with such a disposition links up with one of the certified foreign policy realists of the age. So what is foreign policy realism according to Mearsheimer (and Walt)? It is actually American defeatism. Why else would folk who idealized the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China give such prominent space to an enemy of Israel?

Well, the truth is that the review is also an enemy of Israel. After all, that is progressive dogma these days, the progressive dogma also of the idiots who run to their computers—ignorance in their minds, bile in their hearts—as soon as I post a Spine.

Realist Mearsheimer is now among their idols.

Having enumerated for his listeners at the Sharabi fest and for readers of the Monthly Review the “righteous” Jews, he also provides a list of those he calls the “New Afrikaners.” And he adds that “it would be easy to add more names to this list.” It is a scummy trick, this linkage of Zionism with apartheid, because virtually everyone on his roster has been very critical of the actually tiny percentage of Jewish ultras in Israel whose views are racialist.

I am at the end of the Mearsheimer dozen, among whom are several friends. Not one of them fits his stereotype: Mort Zuckerman runs the New York Daily News, which has fought for black people in New York for years and years; Lester Crown is among the most progressive American businessmen of his generation (just ask Barack Obama); Abe Foxman runs the Anti-Defamation League to combat discrimination wherever and whenever it raises its ugly head; Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post runs the most sensible liberal editorial page in the country; Charles Krauthammer has never written (or said) a racist word, not one; Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal is not only brilliant but a real realist. He knows what the Palestinians and their Arab cousins intend for the Jews. And it is ugly.

Mearsheimer is not stupid. He also knows. But he does not care.

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