John Mearsheimer's Disturbing Connection to a Notorious Anti-SemiteHistorians/History
Adam Holland is an investigative blogger.
"We have heard the comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany. I don't like this comparison because I really think that Israel is far worse than Nazi Germany."
Those are the words of Gilad Atzmon, a little known expatriate Israeli who divides his time between working as a jazz musician and campaigning against the Jewish community in all its manifestations. He has written that he not only opposes Israel and Zionism, but any Jewish collective enterprise, including even "Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist networks". In fact, he describes himself as someone who is proud of being a "self-hating Jew".
History teaches us that the most universally inspiring Jews, I mean, those who contributed something to humanity rather than merely to their own people or even just themselves, were motivated by some form of self hate. The first names that come to mind are Christ, Spinoza and Marx.
Of the Holocaust, Atzmon has written that he not only doubts it occurred as historians and survivors describe, he thinks that what did occur was justified.
It took me years to accept that the Holocaust narrative, in its current form, doesn’t make any historical sense. Here is just one little anecdote to elaborate on: If, for instance, the Nazis wanted the Jews out of their Reich (Judenrein - free of Jews), or even dead, as the Zionist narrative insists, how come they marched hundreds of thousands of them back into the Reich at the end of the war?
. . . (I)f the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? Why didn’t the Jews wait for their Red liberators?
I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws. We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place
65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz we should reclaim our history and ask why? Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their next door neighbours? Why are the Jews hated in the Middle East, surely they had a chance to open a new page in their troubled history? If they genuinely planned to do so, as the early Zionists claimed, why did they fail? Why did America tighten its immigration laws amid the growing danger to European Jews? We should also ask for what purpose do the holocaust denial laws serve? What is the holocaust religion there to conceal? As long as we fail to ask questions, we will be subjected to Zionists and their Neocons agents’ plots.
He not only doubts that the Holocaust actually occurred, and thinks that whatever did happen to the Jews of Europe was justified, he goes on to argue that opposition to those who think like him is the manifestation of an irrational intolerance of non-Jews which is at the core of the Jewish identity. (Read here.) Elsewhere, Atzmon has described the Nazi's treatment of Jews as an understandable response to Jewish aggression against Germany. (Read here.)
In spite of all this, Atzmon objects to describing his views as Holocaust denial, not because he believes what historians say about the subject, but because he dismisses the idea itself.
I ... find the notion of ‘holocaust denial’ to be meaningless, and on the verge of idiotic.
When put on the spot in an interview, Atzmon has said that he cannot be sure the Holocaust occurred because he "is not a historian".
Atzmon distinguishes himself from most anti-Zionists in that he admits that anti-Zionism is motivated by hatred of Jews, which he rationalizes in the following manner:
Unlike Uri Avnery and Norman Finkelstein who . . . argue that anti-Semitism is exaggerated, I actually believe that resentment towards Jewish politics is rising rapidly and constantly. However, I do differentiate between the Judeo-centric notion of anti-Semitism and political resentment towards Jewish ideology. I do not regard anti-Jewish activity as a form of anti-Semitism or racial hatred because Jews are neither Semites nor do they form a racial continuum whatsoever. The rise of hatred towards any form of Jewish politics and Jewish lobbies is a reaction towards a tribal, chauvinist and supremacist ideology.
Thus Atzmon argues that he and others like him cannot be bigoted against Jews because the belief in Jewish ethnicity itself is a manifestation of Jewish racism. By this twisted logic, Jews are inherently racist and those who hate them are inherently anti-racist.
Atzmon has also written at length that he believes anti-Semitic stereotypes to be accurate reflections of essential truths about the nature of Jews, even while disparaging the importance of real history. He writes:
Fagin is the ultimate plunderer, a child exploiter and usurer. Shylock is the blood-thirsty merchant. With Fagin and Shylock in mind Israeli barbarism and organ trafficking seem to be just other events in an endless hellish continuum. However, it is also obvious why the HET [British Holocaust Education Trust] is so thrilled by Anne Frank. On the face of it, and for obvious reasons, Frank is there to convey an image of innocence. And indeed not a single moral system could ever justify the ordeal this young girl went through along with many others. Yet, Anne Frank wasn’t exactly a literary genius. Her diary is not a valuable piece of literature. She wasn’t an exceptionally clever either. [sic]
In that spirit of valuing bigoted myths over historical facts, Atzmon actually goes so far as to defend the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as revealing essential truths about the Jews. (Read here.)
You may be wondering why I am boring you with a detailed examination of the thoughts of an obvious crank who would only find support for his deranged and cynical bigotry among others of similarly fringe views. You may be interested to learn that among Atzmon's supporters is Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago's Program on International Security Policy. Mearsheimer provided the following blurb for the back cover of Atzmon's most recent book, the contents of which are reportedly consistent with his previous hateful work:
‘Gilad Atzmon has written a fascinating and provocative book on Jewish identity in the modern world. He shows how assimilation and liberalism are making it incredibly difficult for Jews in the Diaspora to maintain a powerful sense of their ‘Jewishness.’ Panicked Jewish leaders, he argues, have turned to Zionism (blind loyalty to Israel) and scaremongering (the threat of another Holocaust) to keep the tribe united and distinct from the surrounding goyim. As Atzmon’s own case demonstrates, this strategy is not working and is causing many Jews great anguish. The Wandering Who? Should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.’
When I read that quote on the website of Atzmon's literary agent, I doubted it's veracity. I had trouble believing that a distinguished professor at one of the world's greatest universities would link himself to a hatemonger like Atzmon. So I sent Professor Mearsheimer an email quoting the blurb and asking him to verify it's accuracy. I also gave him an opportunity to amend it or add to it. Here's what he wrote back:
The blurb below is the one I wrote for "The Wandering Who" and I have no reason to amend it or embellish it, as it accurately reflects my view of the book.
Professor Mearsheimer has certainly reached the heights of achievement in his field and respect for this would be appropriate, regardless of whether one agrees with his opinions. Moreover, this world is increasingly filled with gratuitous ad hominem attacks, arbitrarily flung at ideological adversaries to divert attention from substantive arguments. In this instance, however, Mearsheimer is using his authority as an expert in his field to promote the work of a flagrant bigot and distorter of history. If denunciation in the strongest terms is not appropriate in response to this grossly misguided act, when would it be? Mearsheimer, in praising Atzmon, lends his name and that of his university to the promotion of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. That is simply inexcusable.
,,,I was asked to review Atzmon's book and see whether I would be willing to blurb it. This is something I do frequently, and in every case I focus on the book at hand and not on the personality of the author or their other writings. In other words, I did not read any of Atzmon's blog postings before I wrote my blurb. And just for the record, I have not met him and did not communicate with him before I was asked to review The Wandering Who? I read only the book and wrote a blurb that deals with it alone....
Atzmon says that AIPAC's behavior reminds him of the March 1933 Jewish boycott of German goods, which preceded Hitler's decision on March 28, 1933 to boycott Jewish stores and goods. His basic point is that the Jewish boycott had negative consequences, which it did. In Atzmon's narrative -- and this is a very important theme in his book -- Jews are not simply passive victims of other people's actions. On the contrary, he believes Jews have considerable agency and their actions are not always wise. One can agree or disagree with his views about the wisdom of the Jewish boycott -- and I happen to think he's wrong about it -- but he is not arguing that the Jews were "persecuting Hitler" and that this alleged "persecution" led to the Holocaust. In fact, he says nothing about the Holocaust in his post and he certainly does not justify in any way the murder of six million Jews....
Atzmon's basic point is that Jews often talk in universalistic terms, but many of them think and act in particularistic terms. One might say they talk like liberals but act like nationalists. Atzmon will have none of this, which is why he labels himself a self-hating Jew. He fervently believes that Jews are not the "Chosen People" and that they should not privilege their "Jewish-ness" over their other human traits. Moreover, he believes that one must choose between Athens and Jerusalem, as they "can never be blended together into a lucid and coherent worldview." (p. 86) One can argue that his perspective is dead wrong, or maintain that it is a lovely idea in principle but just not the way the real world works. But it is hardly an illegitimate or ignoble way of thinking about humanity....
In sum, [the] charge that Atzman is a Holocaust denier or an apologist for Hitler is baseless. Nor is Atzmon an anti-Semite. He has controversial views for sure and he sometimes employs overly provocative language. But there is no question in my mind that he has written a fascinating book that, as I said in my blurb, "should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike." Regarding [the] insinuation that I have any sympathy for Holocaust denial and am an anti-Semite, it is just another attempt in [the] longstanding effort[s] to smear Steve Walt and me.
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