A Mearsheimer Falsehood, and Other Reactions to Atzmon

John Mearsheimer writes on Stephen Walt's Foreign Policy blog:

"...Goldberg's assault on me steers clear of criticizing Atzmon's book, which is what I blurbed. In short, he falsely accuses me of lending support to a Holocaust denier and defender of Hitler on the basis of writings that I did not read and did not comment upon."

Dr. Mearsheimer is not telling the truth. Two of the three Atzmon quotations I published in this post appear in the very same Atzmon book praised by Mearsheimer. From Harry's Place:

Of all the ridiculous points made by Walt and Mearsheimer in their latest Foreign Policy article, this sentence is the most ludicrous:

Goldberg's indictment of Atzmon does not rely on anything that he wrote in The Wandering Who?

Goldberg's piece quotes from Atzmon three times.

Two of the three quotes in Goldberg's article about Atzmon are also found in The Wandering Who:

- see page 175 for the "65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz" comment
- see page 51 for the Fagin/Shylock comment

Whatever next?

What's next is Jon Chait:

Now, obviously, the fact that Mearsheimer endorsed Atzmon's book does not mean Mearsheimer has endorsed every one of Atzmon's beliefs. Mearsheimer could certainly choose to endorse this particular book without defending Atzmon as a general thinker. Yet here is Mearsheimer today, writing on Walt's blog, defending Atzmon as a general thinker. And the book itself contains such charming observations as:

 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.


 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.

Now, I haven't read the book and I don't know the context of these quotes. But unless the context is something like, "The following paragraph was inserted surreptitiously by a Nazi infiltrator at the printing house and it's too late to excise it but please don't associate me with these crazy statements," then it probably can't help much.

And Adam Holland files this report about another bizarre aspect of Mearsheimer's Atzmon defense:

The strangest thing about Mearsheimer's very strange defense of Atzmon against charges that Atzmon is anti-Jewish is that it runs counter to Atzmon's own statements about himself.  Atzmon actually calls himself a "proud self-hating Jew".

Such ideas, and far worse, appear throughout Atzmon's writings and interviews.  Joseph W, writing at Harry Place, points to a recent interview in which Atzmon made the following astounding declaration of anti-Jewish sentiment:

Interviewer: I tell people we are almost getting into a Weimar situation, do you see that happening?

Atzmon: Absolutely. It is very tragic to say, but I can see it. And the only thing that can save the Jews from themselves is if we, the goyim, let's say --

Interviewer: I heard you joined the goyim a few years ago, you are on the goyim team now.

Atzmon: Yes -- if the goyim, the gentiles, basically -- find within ourselves the powers to contain this sinister ideological collective.

Presented by

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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