- The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer, Stephen M. Walt. – Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 11, 2007.
Widespread Censorship in the “Land of the Free”, Including Interference in Polish-Jewish Dialogue, and the Control of Holocaust-Related Discourse
This book expounds, in great detail, on how the Israeli Lobby in the USA has worked to produce and sustain American support for the State of Israel. Many other reviewers have elaborated on this. My review instead focuses on how the Israeli Lobby controls the discourse on the Holocaust, and sometimes uses censorship for this purpose.
I use the term censorship to refer to any organized attempt to obstruct the free exchange of ideas, and not in the narrow sense of the use of government power for such ends. The authors describe quite a few instances of such censorship, and I focus on a few of them.
POLISH SELF-CENSORSHIP: CERTAIN INFLUENTIAL JEWS TELL POLES, “JUMP!” POLES ASK “HOW HIGH?”, AND COMPLY
Mearsheimer and Walt write, “Consider what happened in October 2006 to Tony Judt, a New York University Historian who is Jewish but frequently critical of Israel’s actions. He was scheduled to give a lecture at the Polish consulate in New York City, ‘The Israel Lobby and U. S. Foreign Policy.’ The Polish government was not sponsoring the event; the consulate had merely rented its facilities to Network 20/20, an independent group that sponsors lectures on a wide range of topics. David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, got wind of the event and contacted the Polish consul general. Harris later explained that he had called as a ‘friend of Poland’ and said that the lecture ‘was going to be entirely contrary to the spirit of Polish foreign policy.’ The consul general also received two inquiries from the ADL, and he later described the calls as ‘exercising a delicate pressure…We are adults and our IQ’s are high enough to understand that.’ The consulate canceled Judt’s lecture at the last minute, which led to a group of prominent American intellectuals to issue an open letter denouncing this obvious effort to stifle free discussion. Judt also reported receiving death threats against him and his family on other occasions, inspired by his previous criticisms of Israeli policy.” (pp. 185-186).
DISCUSSION OF “COMPLICITY IN THE HOLOCAUST” IS FINE; DISCUSSION OF JEWISH CRIMES IS VERBOTEN
The French embassy in the USA had scheduled a reception to celebrate the publication of Carmen Callil’s BAD FAITH, which focused on a Vichy French official (Louis Darquier) that had dispatched French Jews to their deaths at Auschwitz. So far so good. But then it got censored for forbidden content, as described by the authors, “Although the book is a passionate and moving indictment of French complicity in the Holocaust, the embassy reportedly received complaints about a brief passage in Callil’s postcript: ‘What caused me anguish, as I tracked down Louis Darquier, was to live so closely to the helpless terror of the Jews in France, and to see what the Jews of Israel were passing on to the Palestinian people.’ Bowing to the pressure, the French embassy said that ‘it could not endorse a personal opinion of the author expressed in the postscript of the book’ and canceled the reception.” (p. 186). Score one for thought control. Evidently, “coming to terms with the past” is good for some people but not others.
THE PEDAGOGIKA WSTYDU (NAME AND SHAME): WHY CHRISTIANITY IS BLAMED FOR THE HOLOCAUST INSTEAD OF THE GUILTY PARTY–THE GERMANS
Most of the time, censorship is not necessary in order to maintain control of the discourse on the Holocaust: The self-censorship imposed by name and shame tactics, and other entrenched forms of political correctness, are usually sufficient. Apropos to this, Stephen Steinlight, former director of national affairs of the American Jewish, in addressing the dual loyalty of American Jews simultaneously supported Israel and the USA, makes the following revealing comment about the value of keeping non-Germans feeling guilty for the Holocaust, “We have no less difficult a balancing act between group loyalty and a wider sense of belonging to America. That America has largely tolerated this dual loyalty—we get a free pass, I suspect, LARGELY OVER CHRISTIAN GUILT ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST—makes it no less a reality.” (p. 149; Emphasis added).
However, there is much, much more to gain, by blaming Christianity for the Holocaust, than just diffusing any questions about Jewish dual loyalties in the USA! As I write this (March 2019), there is a major media effort to blame Poles and Polish Catholicism for the mythical so-called Polish complicity in the Holocaust. This follows decades of propaganda linking Polish Catholicism, and Christianity in general, with the German-made Holocaust.
THE CENSORSHIP OF AUTHORS JOHN J. MEARSHEIMER AND STEPHEN M. WALT
The authors describe their own experiences after they had been invited to speak at the U. S. Naval College annual Current Strategy Forum, “Following the publication of our original article, ‘The Israeli Lobby’, in March 2006, the president of the War College received phone calls from several members of Congress who questioned whether it was appropriate to have us speak at the conference. To his credit, the president took no action in response to these calls and we appeared without incident. A subsequent invitation to Walt to speak in a lecture series at the University of Montana also provoked heated denunciations by several faculty members, who began a protracted but unsuccessful campaign to have the faculty coordinator of the lecture series removed from his post.” (p. 184).
THE CENSORSHIP OF NORMAN GARY FINKELSTEIN
The authors describe the efforts, of the likes of the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), and Alan Dershowitz, to try to prevent the publication of several named books by Norman G. Finkelstein. (p. 184).
THE CENSORSHIP OF PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN HISTORIAN RASHID KHALIDI
Authors Mearsheimer and Walt point out that, “The campaign to keep Americans from reading or hearing critical views about Israel even occurs at the high school level. In February 2005, for example, the NEW YORK SUN reported that Columbia’s Khalidi was involved in a lecture program for high school teachers sponsored by New York City’s Department of Education. The SUN and some local politicians immediately went to work to get him fired…Joel Klein, the chancellor of the Department of Education, dropped him from the program the next day…” (pp. 184-185). Had historian Rashid Khalidi been running down Poland on behalf of the standard narrative on the Holocaust, he would have been made into a hero.
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