THE BLOG
11/03/2006 02:08 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Challenge to Walt and Mearsheimer's Publisher

Once again, Steven Walt and John Mearsheimer have disproved their own thesis.

Central to Walt and Mearsheimer's hate-filled screed against Jewish participation in American politics was their assertion that it is perilous to speak out against Israel. Anyone who does so, wrote the authors, faces squashing at the hands of the "Israel Lobby," a shady conglomeration of lobbyists, journalists, philanthropists, academics, and public servants. "The core of the Lobby is comprised of American Jews who make a significant effort in their daily lives to bend U.S. foreign policy so that it advances Israel's interests" over those of the United States.

One has to wonder just how powerful this Israel Lobby is if, since exposing the Lobby and decrying its tactics and objectives, Walt and Mearsheimer have become international celebrities and campus rock-stars. In fact, things have gotten so bad for Walt and Mearsheimer that just last week The Forward announced their book deal with Farrar, Straus and Giroux to publish an expanded version of their Israel Lobby paper.

Apparently, like God, the Israel Lobby works in mysterious ways. (Perhaps that explains Walt and Mearsheimer's ascribing vengeful omnipotence to Jews.)

We now see that Caroline Glick was right after all:

Walt and Mearsheimer - who are both rational men - undoubtedly considered the likely consequences of publishing their views and concluded that the anti-Israel nature of their article would shield them from criticisms of its substandard academic quality. That is, they believe that hostility towards Israel is so acceptable in the US that authors of shoddy research whose publication would normally destroy their professional reputations can get away with substandard work if it that work relates to Israel.

Soon after Walt and Mearsheimer published their rant, I responded with a 44-page catalogue of errors (longer than the text of their original paper). You can find my rebuttal here:
http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/research/working_papers/dershowitzreply.pdf

I'll briefly review only a few representative mistakes:

• Walt and Mearsheimer update the centuries-old "blood libel" by claiming that citizenship in Israel is based on "blood kinship."
• On two separate occasions, Walt and Mearsheimer intentionally quote David ben-Gurion out of context so as to make it appear that he is saying the exact opposite of what he actually said.
• The authors claims that "Contrary to popular belief, the Zionists had larger, better-equipped, and better-led forces during the 1947-49 War of Independence...."
• They insist that "The mainstream Zionist leadership was not interested in establishing a bi-national state or accepting a permanent partition of Palestine."
• They repeat Yasir Arafat's "Bantustan" accusation - that Prime Minister Barak didn't offer the Palestinians a contiguous West Bank in 2000 - concluding, contrary to the published maps, that "no Israeli government has been willing to offer the Palestinians a viable state of their own."

Regardless of one's views on the validity of Walt and Mearsheimer's conclusions, no one who has commented on the Israel Lobby paper - aside from perhaps David Duke, who supported it wholeheartedly - has failed to mention that the writers' scholarship was sloppy and that they included numerous factual inaccuracies.

And these are only some of the errors of commission. There are countless errors of omission, such as a failure to take account of the influence of Saudi and oil lobbyists on American foreign policy. The worst offense of all in the Walt-Mearsheimer paper is their conspiratorial worldview, in which Jews dupe Gentiles into "fighting, dying ... and paying" for wars that are not in America's interest. Indeed, they refer to Jewish "influence" and "manipulation" thirty-four times in the span of their paper. As an editorial in The Forward concluded:

Countless facts are simply wrong. Long stretches of argument are implausible, at times almost comically so. Much of their research is oddly amateurish, drawn not from credible [sources].... Some are wildly misquoted. An undergraduate submitting work like this would be laughed out of class


I concluded my own rebuttal like this: "I challenge Mearsheimer and Walt to look me in the eye and tell me that because I am a proud Jew and a critical supporter of Israel, I am disloyal to my country." Despite my many challenges to debate, Walt and Mearsheimer have refused to defend their ideas against critical peer review. Their public appearances have tended to be in front of fawning crowds, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, where, the Washington Post reported, Mearsheimer did not even make a pretense of distinguishing between Jews and Israel: "Mearsheimer made no such distinctions as he used 'Jewish activists,' 'major Jewish organizations' and the 'Israel lobby' interchangeably." Only recently did Mearsheimer agree to appear in an actual debate, held at Cooper Union late last month.

Since Walt and Mearsheimer will not answer my challenge, I now issue a new one to their publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Read my rebuttal and those published elsewhere so that you can ensure that the same errors are not included in the book form of The Israel Lobby. You are now on notice of the type of research and scholarship Walt and Mearsheimer put into their initial paper. If you let them include the same false facts and distorted quotations, you will be as guilty of academic fraud as they are. If you insist that they remove or correct their blatant falsehoods, and if they do so, that will be a long overdue acknowledgement that their original paper was riddled with errors - all of which went against Israel.

Let's see how Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Walt and Mearsheimer deal with this challenge.

www.alandershowitz.com