Neither Gilad Atzmon's well-established reputation for anti-Semitism nor the copious anti-Semitic filth that fills The Wandering Who? has deterred University of Chicago Professors John Mearsheimer and Brian Leitner from endorsing Atzmon's work. Pictured: The Hyde Park Campus of the University of Chicago. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
It is an honor to be attacked or mocked by anti-Semites or enablers of anti-Semitism. As a frequent target of such bigots, I generally ignore their garbage. But when the enablers are professors at a distinguished university, it is essential to expose them and respond.
The University of Chicago has two professors who fit into this sordid category. To understand why the shoe fits, we must go back to the publication a few years ago of an overtly anti-Semitic book, The Wandering Who, by an admitted Jew-hater named Gilad Atzmon.
Atzmon declared himself a "proud, self-hating Jew," with "contempt" for "the Jew in me." His writings both online and in his book brim with classic anti-Semitic motifs borrowed from Nazi publications.
Throughout his writings, Atzmon argues that Jews "do try to seek to control the world."
Here are a few of Atzmon's statements:
- That Jews are "evil and a "menace to humanity."
- "With Fagin and Shylock in mind, Israeli barbarism and organ trafficking seem to be just other events in an endless hellish continuum."
- "The Homo Zionicus quickly became a mass murderer, detached from any recognized form of ethical thinking and engaged in a colossal crime against humanity."
- If Iran and Israel fight a nuclear war that kills tens of millions of people, "some may be bold enough to argue that Hitler might have been right after all."
- Children should question, "how the teacher could know that these accusations of Jews making Matza out of young Goyim's blood were indeed empty or groundless."
- "The Holocaust religion is probably as old as the Jews themselves."
- The history of Jewish persecution is a "myth," and if there was any persecution the Jews brought it on themselves.
- "Jews may have managed to drop their God, but they have maintained goy-hating and racist ideologies at the heart of their newly emerging secular political identity. This explains why some Talmudic goy-hating elements have been transformed within the Zionist discourse into genocidal practices."
Finally, Atzmon repeatedly declared that Israel is worse than the Nazis, and he actually "apologized" to the Nazis for having earlier compared them to Israel:
"Too many of us including me tend to equate Israel to Nazi Germany. Rather often I myself join others and argue that Israelis are the Nazis of our time. I want to take this opportunity to amend my statement. Israelis are not the Nazis of our time and the Nazis were not the Israelis of their time. Israel, is in fact far worse than Nazi Germany."
In light of the manifestly unhinged bigotry, it should come as no surprise that even some of the most hardcore anti-Israel activists have shunned Atzmon out of fear that his naked anti-Semitism will discredit their cause. Tony Greenstein, a self-styled "anti-Zionist," denounced The Wandering Who? as "a poisonous anti-Semitic tome." Sue Blackwell, who co-wrote the Association of University Teachers' motion to boycott Israeli universities in 2005, removed all links to Atzmon from her website. Socialist Worker, a website that frequently refers to Israeli "apartheid" and publishes articles with titles such as "Israel's Murderous Violence," removed an interview with Atzmon and called the evidence of Atzmon's anti-Semitism "damning." At least ten authors associated with the leftist publisher of The Wandering Who? have called on it to distance itself from Atzmon's views, explaining that the "thrust of Atzmon's work is to normalize and legitimize anti-Semitism."
Hardcore neo-Nazis, racists anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, on the other hand, have happily counted Atzmon as one of their own. David Duke, America's premier white supremacist, has posted more than a dozen of Atzmon's articles on his website, praising the author for "writ[ing] such fine articles exposing the evil of Zionism and Jewish supremacism." Israel Shamir, a Holocaust denier -- who has said that "we must deny the concept of Holocaust without doubt and hesitation," has argued that Jews ritually murdered Christian children for their blood, and has proclaimed that "the rule of the Elders of Zion is already upon us" -- refers to Atzmon as a "good friend" and called him one of "the shining stars of the battle" against "the Jewish alliance."
But neither Atzmon's well-established reputation for anti-Semitism nor the copious anti-Semitic filth that fills The Wandering Who? has deterred Professors John Mearsheimer and Brian Leitner from endorsing Atzmon's work.
Mearsheimer, the Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, wrote a blurb for The Wandering Who?, calling it a "fascinating" book that "should be read widely by Jews and non-Jews alike."
Brian Leiter, the Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Chicago Law School, dismissed the reaction to the book and to Mearsheimer's endorsement as "hysterical" and not "advance[ing] honest intellectual discourse," though he acknowledges not having read Atzmon's book. On the basis of having perused one brief interview with Atzmon, Leiter was prepared to defend him against charges that he is an anti-Semite as well as a Holocaust denier, calling him a "cosmopolitan."
These professors are not merely defending Atzmon's right to publish such a book, they are endorsing its contents and denying that its author is an anti-Semite.
Mearsheimer has defended his endorsement against attacks by me and others by questioning whether his critics have even read Atzmon's book. Well, I have read every word of it, as well as many of Atzmon's blog posts. No one who has read this material could escape the conclusion that Atzmon freely admits: his writings cross the line from anti-Zionism to crass anti-Semitism.
Not content to defend Atzmon against charges that he is an anti-Semite or Holocaust denier, Leitner has made it his calling to attack and mock me. In his most recent screed, he suggests that I never "publish" anything besides "op-eds, blog posts and Tweets." He deliberately ignores the more than 45 books I have published on subjects ranging across terrorism, criminal law, the Fifth Amendment, the Declaration of Dependence, Thomas Jefferson, human rights, freedom of speech, law and psychiatry, freedom of religion, the Bible, and the two subjects he most abhors -- Israel and the Jewish future. He also ignores the dozens of law review articles published in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, and many others. One hallmark of the classic anti-Semite and enabler of anti-Semitism is to omit the positive contributions of Jews and to distort and mock their accomplishments.
When Mearsheimer and Leitner first manifested their bigotry, I challenged them to a debate. Neither accepted. I repeat my challenge now. It is easy to come down on the side of anti-Semitism, especially today on university campuses. One can only imagine the reaction if Chicago professors wrote in praise of David Duke, denying he is anti-Black. Atzmon is every bit the bigot as Duke. The only difference is that Atzmon targets only Jews. And today that seems to make a difference. So, let us see if Mearsheimer and Leitner have the courage to defend their complicity with Jew-hatred.
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School and served on the legal team representing President Donald Trump for the first Senate impeachment trial. He is the author of numerous books, including his latest, The Case for Color-Blind Equality in an Age of Identity Politics. His podcast, "The Dershow," is available on Spotify and YouTube. He is the Jack Roth Charitable Foundation Fellow at Gatestone Institute.