Philip Weiss and Muzzlewatch report that Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, authors of the forthcoming The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy have been disinvited from addressing Chicago’s Council on Global Affairs. Apparently, their views are just too incendiary for the audience to bear. Laughably, the Council suggested Walt and Mearsheimer could only attend if someone of the caliber of Abe Foxman were there to counterbalance their revolutionary flame-throwing anti-Israel rhetoric:
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has canceled a September speech on U.S.-Israel relations and Washington’s pro-Israel lobby by two prominent U.S. political scientists.
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt were scheduled to use the Sept. 27 address to outline their upcoming book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” which is expected to be released by Farrar, Straus & Giroux early next month. But the president of the Chicago Council, Marshall Bouton, canceled the event under pressure from critics who were uncomfortable with the academics’ arguments, according to a letter drafted by Mearsheimer and Walt to the Council’s board.
These opponents of the event argued that the two political scientists could only address the Chicago Council if someone from the opposing side, “such as Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, concurrently appeared on stage with the authors.
The Foxman ploy sounds suspiciously like the one they tried against Jimmy Carter when he was to speak at Brandeis. The University asked if instead of speaking alone he’d debate Alan Dershowitz, to which the former president said something like: “What? You must be kidding.” Brandeis caved and Carter spoke alone as was befitting a former president. Unfortunately, Walt and Mearsheimer don’t have quite the sway that ex-presidents do. It’s a bit harder to insult them and get away with it. But the pair’s revenge will be the phenomenal sales of their book when it comes out. As with Carter’s book, inveighing against it will only increase interest in it and sales. In fact, you can preorder it here.
Tony Judt, Joel Beinin and a number of other prominent progressive Mideast analysts have been similarly banned due to pressure from right-wing Jewish groups and their supporters.
If someone is opposed to the views of Walt and Mearsheimer than they’re right wing?
Who says? Who annointed you the “labeler”…
I don’t buy that label… I know many people who oppose their views and logic and wouldn’t by any means qualify as right wing……
If so perhaps 1 would label you Communist.
Richard Silverstein says
I’d be grateful if you want to disagree w. me that you be more precise in characterizing what I’ve said. I didn’t say that those opposed to W-M were right wing. I said that those who prevented them fr. speaking in Chicago & those who prevented Tony Judt & Joel Beinin fr. speaking were right wing. The main groups opposing their right to speak are AIPAC, AJC & ADL which are quite right wing on matters related to Israel.
There are some critics of W-M who ARE right wing. And there are some who are not. I myself have criticized some of the points in their original essay. But I am generally supportive of their efforts.
Walt and Mearsheimer Banned in Chicago
Mike 71 says
I see nothing wrong with a moderated debate between Mearsheimer and Walt and their critics on the role of AIPAC. Why not include a discussion of the anti-Israel lobbyists, such as CAIR, Paul Findley, Jimmy Carter, as well! Expand the program to include all lobbyists and their effects on American Foreign Policy in the Middle-East! Invite Alan Dershowitz and Abraham Foxman to participate, answer questions about their pro-Israel stance and question Mearsheimer and Walt about the role of anti-Israel lobbyists.
Then both sides will have to answer their critics, as well as make their case for their respective positions!
That is what Dershowitz wanted to do with Jimmy Carter at Brandeis, but Carter refused to go along! This time, the Wall Street Journal wanted to create a debate forum and Mearsheimer and Walt refused to agree to that format. It makes you wonder what they are afraid of. It is it the weakness of their position? Is it the strength of their critics positions? Mearsheimer and Walt apparently don’t want us to know!
Karole du Pont says
It seems that your American elasticity of freedom of speech in debating is more restricted than in Canada and it is not based on the possibilities of the American constitution but on pure unwillingness to debate with all sides present. Imagine in Canada, our elasticity goes to the limits of the possible in terms of political realm since we have the Bloc quebecois, a separatist party proning the independance of Quebec sitting at the Parliament in Ottawa and whose members will also benefit from their mps federal retirement funds. I am sure President Carter is very well aware of this. He and Castro were the main foreign dignataries at Trudeau’s funeral in 2000.
I agree that it could be interesting and illuminating for Walt and Mearsheimer to debate with apologists for Israel’s brutalization of the Palestinians like Mr. Foxman. I have no problem with that. If it was properly, objectively moderated, I’m confident W & M would soundly trounce whatever shrill Israel Firster they put up there with them. I just don’t think that Walt and Mearsheimer should be forced to share a stage with their opponents AS A CONDITION to be granted a public forum at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shindig. If you can’t see this as a kind of back-handed censorship/intellectual intimidation, then I would say you’re rather myopic. The fact is, Profs. Walt and Mearsheimer are respected foreign policy/international relations experts that should be able to give a speech at this forum without gratuitous strings attached, as any major professors and experts in the field would. If they wish to ALSO have a debate with these right-wing clowns on top of a regular speech, or in a different venue, then that’s fine, too. I watched the Israel lobby debate with Tony Judt, Rashid Khalidi, John Mearsheimer (on the side of sanity) v. Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross, and Shlomo Ben-Ami (this last critic of W&M was actually a pretty nuanced and reasonable guy) on the London Review of Books web-site and thought Mearsheimer held up pretty well. I’m all for more debate. The problem is that these issues aren’t addressed in the mainstream discourse ENOUGH. Bring it on!–to borrow an idiotic expression from the Current Occupant.
What Warren said..