Inside higher ed

Monday’s Inside Higher Ed carried a good recap of the publication of “The Israel Lobby” paper by University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer and Kennedy School Dean Stephen Walt: “War of words over paper on Israel.” The article reports:

In a phone interview, Walt said that the authors stood behind their work and looked forward to scholarly discussion of it, but he also declined to respond to specific criticisms being raised.

He said he wasn’t surprised by the strong reaction the article is receiving. “Anybody who writes on a controversial topic is bound to face criticism and may also face personal attacks of various kinds,” he said. “Our purposes in writing the piece was to open up a broader discussion of American policy in the Middle East. We hope people will read what we wrote and engage in a serious discussion of the arguments.”

Variations of that response have further angered some of the authors’ critics.

“So let me get this straight: the authors have written and published a paper because they want to provoke an open debate — and then decide not to respond to any of the critiques made of the paper,” wrote Daniel W. Drezner, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago.

In today’s Los Angeles Times, Max Boot picks up the Mearsheimer/Walt-style evidence that links Walt himself to the Israel Lobby:

After finishing their magnum opus, I was left with just one question: Why would the omnipotent Israel lobby (which, they claim, works so successfully “to stifle criticism of Israel”) allow such a scurrilous piece of pseudo-scholarship to be published? Then I noticed that Walt occupies a professorship endowed by Robert and Renee Belfer, Jewish philanthropists who are also supporters of Israel. The only explanation, I surmise, is that Walt must himself be an agent of those crafty Israelites, employed to make the anti-Israel case so unconvincingly that he discredits it. “The Lobby” works in mysterious ways.

Indeed.

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