From the NY Sun:
"Harvard's Paper on Israel Drew From Neo-Nazi Sites"
By MEGHAN CLYNE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
WASHINGTON - A prominent Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, is alleging that the authors of a Harvard Kennedy School paper about the "Israel lobby," one of which is the Kennedy School's academic dean, culled sections of the paper from neo-Nazi and other anti-Israel hate Web sites.
"What we're discovering first of all is that the quotes that they use are not only wrenched out of context, but they are the common quotes that appear on hate sites," Mr. Dershowitz, who is identified in the paper as part of the "lobby," told The New York Sun yesterday...
The paper, the law professor said, was "simply a compilation of hateful paragraphs lifted from other sources and given academic imprimatur." Mr. Dershowitz said that he and his research assistants were currently working on a comparative chart showing the parallelism between parts of the Walt-Mearsheimer paper and quotes available on neo-Nazi Web sites.
While Mr. Dershowitz stressed that the comparison project was a "work in progress," one particularly noticeable example of the authors' alleged culling from hate sites was found in the Walt-Mearsheimer paper's use of a quote from a former executive editor of the New York Times, Max Frankel.
Under the section "Manipulating the Media," on pages 19 and 20 of the paper, Messrs. Walt and Mearsheimer write: "In his memoirs, for example, former Times executive editor Max Frankel acknowledged the impact his own pro-Israel attitude had on his editorial choices. In his words: 'I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert.' He goes on: 'Fortified by my knowledge of Israel and my friendships there, I myself wrote most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers recognized, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective.'" The footnote cites Mr. Frankel's 560-page book, "The Times of My Life and My Life with the Times," published in 1999.
Yet the Frankel quote used by Messrs. Mearsheimer and Walt, Mr. Dershowitz said, is nearly identical to the quote used by a neo-Nazi Web site in its own take on Jewish press influence, "Jewish Influence in the Mass Media." The document, posted on Holywar.org, quotes more extensively from the same section in Mr. Frankel's memoir.
The smoking gun!
(Amusingly, Norman Finkelstein has accused Dershowitz of the same thing. Finkelstein says that Dershowitz's latest book on Israel lifts, unattributed, 20 quotations purportedly from primary sources but actually from a discredited secondary book. You can read about it at Wikipedia if you really want to, but it strikes me as a pretty small bore scandal.)
To refresh your memory on why Alan Dershowitz, of all people, shouldn't be throwing stones accusing others of guilt by association:
An acclaimed Harvard Law School professor, Alan Dershowitz had an enviable life filled with book deals, speeches, and wealthy clients. He frequently appeared as a guest on network and cable television shows, often staking out controversial positions on issues relating to the criminal justice system. His appetite for publicity seemed insatiable.
At the time of the murders, Dershowitz was just finishing a book called The Abuse Excuse--and Other Cop-Outs, Sob Stories, and Evasion of Responsibility. Concerned that Dershowitz's thesis may negatively impact Simpson's case, Shapiro decided to hire Dershowitz, in part to "shut him up." Rarely present in court, Dershowitz spent most of his time handling motions and other support documents. His main assignment was to prepare for possible appellate review of an adverse trial outcome.
In his book, The Best Defense, Dershowitz gave a view of the approach he would later take in the Simpson case. "Once I decide to take a case," Dershowitz wrote, "I have only one agenda: I want to win. I will try, by every fair and legal means, to get my client off--without regard to the consequences." In his memoir The Best Defense, Dershowitz noted that "almost all of my clients have been guilty."
As you may recall, Dershowitz's client virtually decapitated a young Jewish man, Ron Goldman, yet O.J. Simpson is a free man today, thanks to Dershowitz and the other members of the Dream Team.
Obviously, the ludicrousness of the arguments used in the Lobby's frenzied attack on Mearsheimer and Walt shows the weakness of their case. But the point of making these humiliatingly stupid arguments against the two scholars is not to win a rational debate but to intimidate everybody else. The purpose is to demonstrate to bystanders that the Lobby is willing to do whatever it takes to smear anybody who calls attention to its power, and so, if they know what's good for them, they'll keep their mouths shut.
In an editorial called "The Belfer Declaration," the NY Sun praises various zillionaire donors to Harvard for threatening to withhold support and demands that Leslie Wexner ("The Gap") do the same. It writes:
For those covering the effort of anti-Israel academics to demonize the Jewish state in the American academy, things don't get more dramatic than the scandal at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. It turns out that the Kennedy School's academic dean, Stephen Walt, whose shoddiness and biases in a paper he co-wrote called "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" ignited the scandal, holds a chair called the Robert and Renee Belfer professorship in international affairs. When we called Mr. Belfer to get his reaction, he clammed up tighter than a conch in a mudslide. But the skivvy around New York, where Mr. Belfer lives, is that the billionaire former Enron director, who has been generous to Jewish causes, was so infuriated and mortified by what Dean Walt was doing that he asked that Dean Walt not use the title of the Belfer professorship in promoting the article.
I like the part about Mr. Belfer being a "billionaire former Enron director." I guess the reason for mentioning their hero's tangential Enron connection (which was hardly his primary business interest) is to imply that he will not be restrained by any sense of morality, decency, or fairness, so you'd better not cross him or his friends.
By the way, if you are interested in an even-handed assessment of this paper, long-time Israeli foreign policy official Daniel Levy's commentary in the Israeli paper Ha'aretz is sensible:
The tone of the report is harsh. It is jarring for a self-critical Israeli, too. It lacks finesse and nuance when it looks at the alphabet soup of the American-Jewish organizational world and how the Lobby interacts with both the Israeli establishment and the wider right-wing echo chamber.
It sometimes takes AIPAC omnipotence too much at face value and disregards key moments - such as the Bush senior/Baker loan guarantees episode and Clinton's showdown with Netanyahu over the Wye River Agreement. The study largely ignores AIPAC run-ins with more dovish Israeli administrations, most notably when it undermined Yitzhak Rabin, and how excessive hawkishness is often out of step with mainstream American Jewish opinion, turning many, especially young American Jews, away from taking any interest in Israel.
Yet their case is a potent one: that identification of American with Israeli interests can be principally explained via the impact of the Lobby in Washington, and in limiting the parameters of public debate, rather than by virtue of Israel being a vital strategic asset or having a uniquely compelling moral case for support (beyond, as the authors point out, the right to exist, which is anyway not in jeopardy). The study is at its most devastating when it describes how the Lobby "stifles debate by intimidation" and at its most current when it details how America's interests (and ultimately Israel's, too) are ill-served by following the Lobby's agenda.
The bottom line might read as follows: that defending the occupation has done to the American pro-Israel community what living as an occupier has done to Israel - muddied both its moral compass and its rational self-interest compass.