4 thoughts on “JTA: Foxman As Defender of Tutu’s Free Speech Rights – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. For some insight into the mind of JTA main man, Ron Kampeas, read this extended piece on the subject of M&W–

    It was carried on very few sites, most of which just used his shorter no-nonsense interview with the authors. But in this piece he stretches out and lets us see what’s on his mind.

    “Rant” is used pretty recklessly these days, but in this case it’s the only word that fits.

  2. Walt Mearsheimer “on drugs?” That’s wild stuff.

    I’m sorry to hear this as Kampeas was one of the JTA reporters I felt tried to straddle a middle ground position in his reporting.

    Actually, I think it’s the reviewers like Samuel Freedman, Jeffrey Goldberg & Kampeas who’ve “gone off the rails” (to use Kampeas’ own criticism of W-M) in their bilious response to a formidable work that will triumph over all the negative reviews, find its audience, & have a huge impact on political & intellectual discourse.

  3. Read it again. I said they’re clearly not on drugs. I was just wondering where they came up with the Iraq war and unseating Assad allegations, which are utterly unfounded – check out the story for why. Every argument is evidence-based. And my concern – if you read through to the end – is that the book is so profoundly flawed it actually undermines any open discussion about the pro-Israel lobby, something I favor.
    Really, I thought that if the last seven years taught us anything, it’s that when a reporter actually knows the material, he should challenge errors. That’s what I tried to do here – ad hominem snark about “rants” and “stretches out” doesn’t really add much.
    How about a point by point refutation? It’s what I attempted.
    And “triumph over all negative reviews?” Is this a book or a belief-set for you?
    (Okay, I allowed myself some snark.)

  4. First, I’d like to welcome Ron to the comment thread. I’m glad that someone at JTA actually pays a bit of attention to this blog instead of ignoring it as usually happens.

    With regards to the “on drugs” issue, here’s what Ron wrote: “Is this guy on drugs, you might wonder.” In the next paragraph he concludes: “I recognized that these guys are not on drugs. But why did they make up stuff?” So in truth, Ron has introduced the idea that one might legitimately wonder whether they were on drugs only to reassure people that while they aren’t really on drugs, they’re “making up stuff.” Pardon me for wondering which is a worse smear, the idea that they’re hallucinating or that they simply make it all up as they go along.

    The book is NOT profoundly flawed. Every issue you raise in rebuttal is not really evidence based as you claim but rather a judgment call. You judge Walt-Mearsheimer’s statements one way while the book’s supporters–of whom there are many more than the number of negative Jewish reviewers writing about it–judge it another.

    Take the statement you criticize:

    “There is considerable evidence that Israel and pro-Israel groups—especially the neoconservatives—played important roles in the decision to invade.”

    You then go on to make the preposterous (at least to me and perhaps many others) statement that Paul Wolfowitz’s pro-Israel position is “rumored.” Can anyone doubt that Wolfowitz is “pro-Israel??”

    I think it’s almost a moot point as to whether the Jewish neocons merely endorsed Bush’s Iraq invasion plans after he’d made them or were seminal forces in initiating them. There is certainly much evidence that these individuals were supporting these notions at least as long as Bush or Cheney. You neglect to mention the 1998 letter written to Bill Clinton by Bill Kristol’s Project for a New American Century and signed by prominent Jewish neocons Wolfowitz, Kristol, Elliot Abrams, William Schneider, Richard Perle, Robert Zoellick (& even a few non-Jewish neocons as well I concede) calling on him to overthrow Saddam & invade Iraq. Which came first? Did these neocon persuade Bush & Cheney in 1998 that Saddam had to go or did the two already believe that and merely find convenient allies in PNAC for advancing their goals? Personally, I don’t think it much matters. But I don’t find Walt-Mearsheimer’s sentence which you criticize to be out of bounds at all & certainly not “making it up” as you claim.

    So I think yr review & those of the other Jews who panned the book have been entirely selective in what they focussed on.

    when a reporter actually knows the material, he should challenge errors.

    As I think I’ve just shown, what you claim to be an error isn’t. So how are we to judge whether you’ve merely pointed out issues in the book you objected to because of yr own perception that the book threatens a U.S. consensus supporting Israel and Israeli policy?

    And “triumph over all negative reviews?” Is this a book or a belief-set for you?

    There are times when a book crystallizes a set of attitudes and embodies them so well that it speaks for a large number of people & has influence far beyond what an ordinary book might have. Undoubtedly, The Israel Lobby already has done that in article form & continues to do it in its current form. The book indeed does indeed largely represent my beliefs on the issue. Though I should say I wrote critically about the essay when it was published & didn’t accept everything in it lock stock & barrel.

    However, I think most of the negative reveiws are cheap shots. I don’t deny the sincerity of the reviewers. But I think they are alarmed by what they see the book represents (a gradual tearing asunder of the AIPAC-like pro-Israel consensus in the American polity) & so their reviews have largely been an attempt to lay obstacles in the road to stop the steamroller effect of its popularity. And this hasn’t succeeded nor will it.

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