Harvard Distancing Itself From Paper Blaming Jews For US Woes

Harvard U. is distancing itself from a paper by a dean of its school of government which blames a network of powerful Jews for the war in Iraq and other policies contrary to American interests.

Ezra HaLevi, | updated: 20:45

The study by professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer runs through a list of recent and not-so-recent events, purporting to explain how the US was influenced by powerful Jews to act on behalf of Israel, at its own expense.

The paper begins with the caveat, “Some readers will find this analysis disturbing, but the facts recounted here are not in serious dispute among scholars.” It goes on to outline the “perfidy” of what it calls the “Israel Lobby,” which consists of Jewish organizations, major newspapers, politicians on both sides of the political divide, think tanks, academics, Jewish congressional aids, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and most American Jews. The authors insist, though, that they are not suggesting "the sort of conspiracy depicted in anti-Semitic tracts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

The Jewish Forward newspaper, quoted together with Haaretz and B'tzelem to support some of the paper’s claims, warned that the authors could not simply be dismissed as a fringe voice. The Forward writes:

“What is new and startling is the document's provenance. Its authors are not fringe gadflies but two of America's most respected foreign-affairs theorists. One, Mearsheimer, is a distinguished professor at the University of Chicago. The other, Walt, is academic dean of the nation's most prestigious center of political studies, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Though it's tempting, they can't be dismissed as cranks outside the mainstream. They are the mainstream.

“The Mearsheimer-Walt paper shows how far the notion that Israel is to blame for the Iraq War has moved from the crackpot fringe to the center. Three years ago it was heard mainly from campus radicals. Two years ago it started getting picked up by a handful of Washington insiders, memorably including Senator Ernest Hollings and General Anthony Zinni. Now it's reached the heart of the academic establishment.”

Some of the report’s claims include:

* “…since the Six Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering U.S. support for Israel and the related effort to spread democracy throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized U.S. security… Why has the United States been willing to set aside its own security in order to advance the interests of another state?”

* “…the overall thrust of U.S. policy in the region is due almost entirely to U.S. domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’…no lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical.”

* “... the United States has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around. U.S. support for Israel is not the only source of anti-American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on terror more difficult. There is no question, for example, that many al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, are motivated by Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians. According to the U.S. 9/11 Commission, bin Laden explicitly sought to punish the United States for its policies in the Middle East, including its support for Israel, and he even tried to time the attacks to highlight this issue.”

* Israel had a military edge in the War of Independence and all subsequent wars.

* “AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress,”

The report, though complaining bitterly of a new effort to endow Israel studies chairs at US universities, does not mention the large Saudi Arabian investment in U.S. colleges and universities, including Harvard, which received a donation of $20 million from Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal to create a program on Islamic studies.

Alan Dershowitz, also a professor at Harvard, called the study “ignorant propaganda," saying that nothing in the paper is original, but identical to the half-truths that appear on hate sites across the Internet.

“It could have been written by Pat Buchanan, by David Duke, Noam Chomsky, and some of the less intelligent members of Hamas,” Dershowitz told the New York Sun. “An intelligent member of Hamas would not have made these mistakes.”

CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, which is cited by name in the paper, wrote a point-by-point refutation of the article. CAMERA demanded that "Harvard should remove the report from its website - and therefore remove from the report the Harvard imprimatur - until the authors fix its manifold deficiencies." In fact, both Harvard and the University of Chicago later removed their logos; see below.

White supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan chief David Duke heaped praise upon the paper. “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,” Duke told the New York Sun. “The task before us is to wrest control of America’s foreign policy and critical junctures of media from the Jewish extremist Neo-cons that seek to lead us into what they expectantly call World War IV.”

The Palestinian Authority’s American mission has begun distributing the report widely, and a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood heaped praise upon it as well. “I think that the people who wrote that report were working for the interest of the American people,” senior Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood guidance council member Abdulmo’em Abulfotah said. “I ask a question here: Is it in the interest of the American people to clash with 1.3 billion people in favor of 5 million people who represent the Zionist project? Not even the Jews, but the Zionists.”

The full report is posted on Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government website, though, as mentioned, the cover of the report has been altered, with Harvard’s logo removed.

The report’s cover originally said:
“The views expressed in the KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the John F. Kennedy School of Government or Harvard University. Copyright belongs to the author(s). Papers may be downloaded for personal use only.”

The new disclaimer, written in a larger font, reads:
“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 institution.”