Mearsheimer backs book by antisemite

By Jessica Elgot, September 22, 2011
Follow Jessica on Twitter
Hate writer: Gilad Atzmon

Hate writer: Gilad Atzmon

A US academic who co-wrote a controversial book about the Israel lobby has praised a new work by the Jewish antisemitic writer Gilad Atzmon.

Mr Atzmon, a jazz musician and vociferous critic of Israel and Judaism, has written a book called The Wandering Who? published by The Susjin Agency.

The book was recommended on the publisher's website by University of Chicago professor, John Mearsheimer, an international relations expert and co-author, with Stephen Walt, of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy.

In his book, Mr Atzmon writes: "The Holocaust religion is probably as old as the Jews themselves. I believe the Holocaust is engraved in Jewish culture, discourse and spirit."

Elsewhere, he writes: "I think 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start asking questions."

He writes fulsome praise for Otto Weininger, a Jewish antisemite admired by Hitler, who supposedly said: "There was one decent Jew, and he killed himself."

Mr Atzmon writes that Weininger was "an antisemite as well as a radical misogynist". But he goes on to call him an "astonishing thinker" who "helped me grasp who I am".

David Hirsh, a sociologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, and former Yale research fellow, said: "In their work on the 'Israel Lobby', I thought Mearsheimer and Walt slipped into antisemitic ways of thinking but I understood the view that perhaps this was an over-reaction.

"Now, however, Mearsheimer is legitimising an unambiguously antisemitic book. He started by stumbling into antisemitism but is now openly embracing it. Mearsheimer, and even Atzmon, will be accepted amongst some sections of academia in a way that bigots against black people, Muslims or women would never be.

"Many scholars are nowadays incapable of recognising antisemitism; some others simply don't care about it; lots of people who do get it will remain silent."

SOAS Professor Colin Shindler said: "Gilad Atzmon is entitled to express his views but, judging by his previous writings, few academics regard him as a serious writer. Such endorsements situate Atzmon as an exponent of the megaphone war between Israelis and Palestinians rather than as an independent thinker with an opinion. The cause of peace in the Middle East deserves better."

Professor Mearsheimer could not be reached for comment.

    Last updated: 2:06pm, September 22 2011