Long after I thought the Walt/Mearsheimer anti-Semitic smear had been laid to rest, our good friends at the government-supported (that means taxpayer-supported) National Public Radio have given it a new, national forum. Has else to explain the endless interview Steve Inskeep gave Walt and Mearsheimer on today’s Morning Edition. I managed to listen for about 8 minutes, and then gave up as they lost themselves in a tangle of straw men, non-sequiturs, bootstrap arguments, factual errors, and other illogical rhetorical turns, all animated by their belief that the Jews control the world and that America suffers for it.
It is legitimate to argue that America’s foreign policy should not include vigorous support for Israel — although I believe that argument is completely wrong. Israel is the world’s proxy for America, in that she fights the same fights, only on the front lines. Every bomb that blows up in Israel is a bomb that does not blow up in America. If the US abandons Israel, the front line moves here. Poor Israel is America’s Kapparot, and it behooves us to support her in every way we can. But as I said, it’s legitimate to stake out that position, provided that you can make an honest argument, premised on actual facts, and valid, logical conclusions drawn from those facts.
It is not legitimate, however, to give a forum to every crackpot who comes along with a theory he cannot support. On the lighter side, you get ridiculous dinosaur theories. On the darker side, you get Holocaust deniers, eugenicists, neo-Nazis, the KKK and, if you listen to the radio station you and I are forced to fund, the new anti-Semites.
UPDATE: By the way, one of the things that really irritated me about the Walt/Mearsheimer argument was their point about Israel occupying Palestine — meaning she’s the bad actor in the piece. They seem to have forgotten that last year, Israel withdrew from Gaza, which ought to have ended that claim. What Charles Krauthammer has to say on the subject is much more to the point:
Cycles are circular. They have no end. They have no beginning. That is why, as tempting as that figure of speech is to use, in this case it is false. It is as false as calling American attacks on Taliban remnants in Afghanistan part of a cycle of violence between the U.S. and al-Qaeda or, as Osama bin Laden would have it, between Islam and the Crusaders going back to 1099. Every party has its grievances–even Hitler had his list when he invaded Poland in 1939–but every conflict has its origin.
What is so remarkable about the current wave of violence in Gaza is that the event at the origin of the “cycle” is not at all historical, but very contemporary. The event is not buried in the mists of history. It occurred less than one year ago. Before the eyes of the whole world, Israel left Gaza. Every Jew, every soldier, every military installation, every remnant of Israeli occupation was uprooted and taken away.
How do the Palestinians respond? What have they done with Gaza, the first Palestinian territory in history to be independent, something neither the Ottomans nor the British nor the Egyptians nor the Jordanians, all of whom ruled Palestinians before the Israelis, ever permitted? On the very day of Israel’s final pullout, the Palestinians began firing rockets out of Gaza into Israeli towns on the other side of the border. And remember: those are attacks not on settlers but on civilians in Israel proper, the pre-1967 Israel that the international community recognizes as legitimately part of sovereign Israel, a member state of the U.N. A thousand rockets have fallen since.
For what possible reason? Before the withdrawal, attacks across the border could have been rationalized with the usual Palestinian mantra of occupation, settlements and so on. But what can one say after the withdrawal?
The logic for those continued attacks is to be found in the so-called phase plan adopted in 1974 by the Palestine National Council in Cairo. Realizing that they would never be able to destroy Israel in one fell swoop, the Palestinians adopted a graduated plan to wipe out Israel. First, accept any territory given to them in any part of historic Palestine. Then, use that sanctuary to wage war until Israel is destroyed.
There’s no cycle here, no moral equivalence. There’s a country on one side of the line that wants to be left alone and be productive; and a country on the other side that first wants to destroy Israel and then wants to impose its Voldemort-like values on the rest of us. In a world like that, you have to pick sides, and the despicable Walt and Mearsheimer have picked the wrong one (and get to trumpet that fact with the help of your and my tax dollars).
UPDATE II: I just discovered that NPR did note in a separate story that the paper is controversial, although they don’t give that story much depth.