STILL A PROBLEM.

STILL A PROBLEM. One of the more interesting aspects of the criticisms of Mearsheimer and Walt's The Israel Lobby is the way that, despite the authors' specific and strenuous disavowal of the idea of a "Jewish conspiracy," some critics still accuse the authors of describing a "Jewish conspiracy." (Am I supposed to hold the book sideways, or read it by the light of the full moon in order to translate "there is no conspiracy" into "there is a conspiracy"? I’m not sure.) Indeed, Mearsheimer and Walt's continued insistence that they are not engaged in conspiracy-mongering is simply taken by their critics as more proof that they are engaged in conspiracy-mongering, something which, ironically, is characteristic of conspiracy-mongering. But never mind.

Now, I think it's pretty obvious to reasonable people that the charge of anti-Semitism against Mearsheimer and Walt is not serious, except in so much as it indicates the unfortunate tendency of some among the hard-line pro-Israel community to sling it with dangerous abandon. The intent of this, of course, is to "dirty up" anyone who questions the preferred "peace-loving Israel under siege" narrative, and to make sure that right-thinking people are afraid to be associated with such characters. We saw this attempted against Jimmy Carter last year, and a few weeks ago against Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Marty Peretz is at the front of this gang, and has regularly engaged in and, from his perch as editor in chief of The New Republic, promoted these kinds of attacks against Carter, Brzezinski, Walt and Mearsheimer, as well as against hundreds of other supposed Israel-haters who reside at the State Department, at the CIA, in Peretz's television, and in the heating vents of Peretz's house. A few months ago, Eric Alterman wrote a piece for TAP in which he discussed, among other things, Peretz's "obsessive and unapologetic hatred of Arabs, the evidence of which is visible nearly every day on Peretz's [blog] The Spine." Glenn Greenwald has also commented on this, as has Matt Yglesias. I myself, tired of encountering people who were either unaware or in denial of Peretz's tendencies, gathered a bunch of Peretz's riper quotes together on a blog (it was, needless to say, not particularly edifying work) to serve as a demonstration. Judge for yourself. (Note: It's a bit easier to take if you read it in Archie Bunker's voice.)

I've written all this to ask a question: Leaving aside one's opinion of their overall thesis, given that nothing that Walt and Mearsheimer have written about either Israel or Jewish people comes anywhere close to the kind of open contempt and racist invective that Marty Peretz regularly directs towards Arabs, why have Walt and Mearsheimer been pilloried, while Peretz gets a pass? Understand, Peretz as been at this for decades, yet his fanatical prejudice is treated by the commentariat, at worst, as an unfortunate tic. Why is this?

--Matthew Duss

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