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A Statement in Support of Open and Free Discussion about U.S. and Israeli Foreign Policy and Against Suppression of Speech

Professor Tony Judt of New York University is an historian of the modern age with an entirely merited international reputation. His recent book on the past fifty years in Europe, Post War, was recognized upon its publication as a modern classic. Professor Judt is also a severe critic of the policies of the State of Israel, especially of the ethnic nationalism which defines much of its culture and politics. He has engendered the special hostility of some of Israel’s organized supporters in the United States. He has expressed views, however, voiced in Israel itself not only by writers and scholars but also by experienced political figures, and by retired senior officers and intelligence officials. He has also asked whether the present U.S. alliance with Israel, which he thinks gives a free hand to the Israelis and takes very little account of the legitimate claims of the Palestinians, is in the long-term interest of our nation. There, too, he is not alone: many Americans with experience and knowledge of the Mideast, including many distinguished public officials, have raised the identical question.

These are, clearly, not matters of concern only to the American Jewish community. Yet some groups within it claim the right to set the agenda for the entire nation’s discussion of the problem. They insist, further, that they have the right either to certify or to declare illegitimate each and every participant in the debate. The American universities have been placed on permanent trial by these groups: no conference, guest speaker or teacher escapes their scrutiny. Indeed, students (in a practice reminiscent of the most sordid aspects of the McCarthy years) have been enlisted to act as informers on their teachers. Institutions deemed to be insufficiently supportive of Israel have been subjected to pressure by state legislatures or private donors.  The ombudsmen and ombudswomen at our major newspapers report that they spend much of their energy and time dealing with the incessant demands of Israel’s supporters, who often act not as individual readers but in an entirely organized manner. Finally, the U.S. Congress is under surveillance far more intense than the usual sort of lobbying—and government officials deemed insufficiently pliable are given to understand that their careers are at risk. When did we last hear from candidates for public office who did not profess fervent attachment to the state of Israel?

These activities require a good deal of coordination and a large amount of funding. The organizations involved, when seeking donations, are hardly modest about their capacities to influence national debate. Yet when two distinguished academics, Professors Mearsheimer and Walt, suggested that there was an Israel lobby with a pervasive role in our entire foreign and military policy, they were promptly accused of promoting absurd and hateful views of a “Jewish conspiracy.” One has only to turn to the home pages of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, or the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to see that there is indeed no covert conspiracy. Rather, there is a very well organized and continuous campaign on behalf of Israel, openly coordinated with the work of the Israel embassy and with the government in Jerusalem. Those who question its projects are, if not Jewish, in considerable danger of being publicly declared “anti-Semitic.” If Jewish, they incur the charge of “self-hatred.” These groups insist that they accept, even welcome, “legitimate” criticism of Israel. They reserve for themselves the right to declare what criticism, indeed what turns of phrase, are “legitimate.” We recall the frenzy when Howard Dean, as Presidential candidate, called for more “even handedness” in U.S. policy in the Mideast.

Against this background, a group of younger citizens of New York recently invited Professor Judt to open a discussion on the Israel lobby. The group usually meets at the Polish Consulate in New York. Dr. Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League took exception to the invitation and induced the Polish Consulate to deny its premises to the group. We consider this to have been an act of political vigilantism, and entirely incompatible with the culture of a democracy. Dr. Foxman has compounded the offense by defaming Professors Mearsheimer and Walt after learning that the publishers Farrar Straus & Giroux had invited them to write a book on their views of the Israel lobby and U.S. policy. He compared these scholars to the racist demagogue, David Duke.

Dr. Foxman has comported himself as an adversary of our traditions. His behavior is all the more regrettable, since the ultimate security of the American Jewish community depends upon the maintenance of our traditions of openness and pluralism. The leaders of that varied community would do well to reflect upon the damage caused by allowing Dr. Foxman and those who act like him to attack with unreason and distortion. By invoking anti-Semitism and the Holocaust at every opportunity, they are in fact trivializing the real dangers of anti-Semitism and profaning the memory of the victims of that catastrophe.

We express our solidarity with Professor Judt and Professors Mearsheimer and Walt. We consider that this nation’s public sphere will be strengthened by a full discussion of both the American alliance with Israel and Israel’s policies.  In a historical moment when the “War On Terror” serves as an excuse for an American version of authoritarianism, we invite our fellow citizens to renew their own attachment to the Constitutional traditions of American freedom of speech and thought.


David L. Mandel, Jewish Voice for Peace Sacramento

Jo Neace Krause, widow of Professor John T. Krause, State University of New York at Buffalo

Paul H. Verduin, Marylanders for Middle East Peace, Silver Spring, Maryland

Norman Birnbaum, University Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University Law Center

Chas W. Freeman, Jr., Ambassador, U.S.F.S. Ret.

Dr. Anatol Lieven, Senior research fellow, New America Foundation, Washington D.C.

Katherine McNamara, Editor and Publisher,

Abbott Gleason, Keeney Professor of History Emeritus, Brown University

Ambassador Carleton S. Coon, Jr. (ret.)

Samuel M. Hoskinson, Former Vice Chairman, National Intelligence Council; former senior staff member, N.S.C.

Graham E. Fuller, former Vice-Chair of the National Intelligence Council, C.I.A.

Naoko Shibusawa, Assistant Professor of History, Brown University

Cynthia Franklin, Deptment of English, University of Hawai'i

Joan W. Scott, Harold F. Linder Professor, School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Louise McReynolds, Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

William H. Hudnut III, Sr. Fellow, the Urban Land Institute, Washington, D.C.

Samuel H. Wyman, Washington, D. C.

Wendy Brown, Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

Ronald Grigor Suny, Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History, The University of Michigan

Sheila Suess Kennedy, School of Public & Environmental Affairs, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Steven Beller, Washington, D. C.

Wm. E. Odom, Lieutenant General, USA (retired)

John Womack, Jr., Professor of  History, Harvard University

Joshua Cohen, Professor of Political Science, Philosophy, and Law, Stanford University; Co-editor, Boston Review

Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley

Richard E. Rubenstein, Professor of Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University

The Hon. Terrell E. Arnold, Minister Counselor for Foreign Affairs (ret.)

Gareth Porter, independent historian and news analyst for Inter Press Service

Gordon Fellman, Professor of Sociology and Chair, Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies, Brandeis University

The Hon. William Harrop, Ambassador to Israel (Ret.); former Inspector General, U.S. Department of State

Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University

Geoff Eley, Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History, Chair,  Department of German, Dutch, and Scandinavian Studies, University of Michigan

Marion Berghahn, DPhil, PhD, Publisher, Oxford and New York

Thomas J. Biersteker, Henry R. Luce Professor, Brown University

Richard Levins, Harvard School of Pubic Health, Boston

Stanley N. Katz, Lecturer with the rank of Professor, Director, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

Dr. Eleanor Abdella Doumato, Visiting Fellow, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University,

Charles Ingrao, Professor of History, Purdue University

Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., Stillé Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University

Diane Singerman, Department of Government, School of Public Affairs, American University

Mary Ann Tetreault, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas

Stephen O'Shea, author of Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval  Mediterranean World

Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Ph.D., International Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), School of International Service (SIS), American University

Barbara Aswad, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Wayne State University

Cindy Cooke, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Ellen Fleischmann, Associate Protessor, Department of History, University of Dayton

John L. Esposito, Georgetown University

Matthew Abraham, DePaul University, Chicago, Ill.

Kenneth Mostern, Ph.D.

Paul M. Lubeck, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz

Keya Ganguly, Associate Professor, Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota

Lisa Pollard, Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Thomas A. Brady, Peder Sather Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley

L. Ling-chi Wang, Asian American Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Randi Deguilhem, Historian, Professor, CNRS, France

Martin Jay, History Department, University of California, Berkeley

Paul Freedman, Department of History, Yale University

Dr. Neve Gordon, Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University

Laurie King-Irani, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, The Catholic University of America

Dr. Elaine C. Hagopian, Prof. Emerita of Sociology, Simmons College, Boston

Charles E. Butterworth, Department of Government & Politics, University of Maryland

Lila Abu-Lughod, Professor, Columbia University

John Borneman, Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University

Andrew N. Rubin, Director, Lannan Symposium, Ass‘t Professor of English, Georgetown University

Renate Bridenthal, Professor Emerita of History, Brooklyn College, CUNY

Ilene P. Cohen, Princeton, N. J.

John Alden Williams, Wm. R. Kenan Professor of the Humanities (Emeritus), The College of William and Mary

Racheli Gai, Women in Black, Tucson, Ariz.

Prof. Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv

Akram Khater, Director of Middle East Studies Program, Associate Professor of History, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Tom Mertes, Administrator, Center for Social Theory and Comparative History, UCLA

Ellen Schrecker, Professor of History, Yeshiva University

Sam Kharouf

John L. Hammond, Hunter Cllege and Graduate Center, CUNY

Frank Snowden, Professor of History, Yale University

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Rabbi Emeritus, Nahalat Shalom

Philip Farah, Economist, Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace

Edmund Burke, III, Dept. of History, University of California, Santa Cruz

Judith E. Tucker, Professor of History, Georgetown University; Editor, International Journal of Middle East Studies

Erika Anne Kreider, Tucson, Ariz.

Mouna Schaheen, Middle East Justice Now, Tucson, Ariz.

Ted Warmbrand, Tucson, Ariz.

Rev. Susan P. Wilder, Springfield, Va.

Marvin E. Gettleman, Professor emeritus, Brooklyn Polytechnic University

John O. Voll, Georgetown University

Deborah Agre, Berkeley, Ca.

Yektan Turkyilmaz, Ph.D Cadidate, Department of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University

Professor Louis J. Cantori, University of  Maryland, Baltimore County

Prof. Judith Norman, Trinity University

Dr. Elise G. Young, History Department, Westfield State College

Jerri Bird, Partners for Peace

James K. Galbraith, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin

Sandi E. Cooper, Professor of History, College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Lawrence Davidson, Professor of History, West Chester University, Pennsylvania

Kay Halpern, Jewish member, Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace

Natalie Zemon Davis, Professor of History Emerita, Princeton University

Ramsay MacMullen, Dunham Professor of History (emeritus), Yale University

Ilham Makdisi, Assist prof, History, Northeastern University, Boston

Henry Munson, Professor of Anthropology, University of Maine, Orono

Ahmad Dallal, Georgetown University

Cheryl A. Rubenberg

John Rodenbeck, Professor Emeritus, The American University in Cairo

Calvin MacKerron, Berlin, Germany

Yusra Tekbali, student, University of Arizona

Alan Richards, University of California, Santa Cruz

Dorothy Naor PhD, Herzliah, Israel

Mary Christina Wilson, Professor, Dept. of History, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Paul Wapner, Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University

David R. Applebaum, Professor of History, Rowan University

Rabab Abdulhadi, Ph.D., Director, Center for Arab American Studies, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan-Dearborn

Nancy Gallagher, Chair, Middle East Studies Program andCo-Director, Center for Middle East Studies, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Beshara Doumani, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley

Jessica Weinberg, Tucson, Ariz.

Dr. Thomas M. Ricks, Havertown, Pa.

Michael Marcus, Dept. of Mathematics, City College, New York

Paul Montagna, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Brooklyn College & CUNY Graduate Center

Nikki Keddie, Prof. Emerita of History, UCLA

Alan Dawley, Professor of History, The College of New Jersey

Roane Carey, Senior Editor, The Nation

Van Gosse, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Franklin and Marshall College

Jeffrey Blankfort, Former Editor, Middle East Labor Bulletin

Professor Dina Al-Kassim, University of California at Irvine

Betts Putnam-Hidalgo, Women in Black, Tucson, Az.

John J. Fitzgerald, Co-Author:  The Vietnam War:  A History in Documents; Department Chair (Retired); Longmeadow High School. Mass.

Sara Roy, Cambridge, Mass.

Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, University of California, Berkeley

Dennis Deslippe, Associate Professor. American Studies/WGS, Franklin & Marshall College

Shelley Wanger, Senior Editor, Pantheon and Knopf

Carolyn Eisenberg, Professor of History, Hofstra University

Wael Salameh, M.D.

Margaret Lavinia Anderson, Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley

Nadia Hijab, author

Stuart Porter, Editor, Directors Guild of Canada,Toronto, Canada

Thomas Saleh

Dr Karma Nabulsi, Fellow in Politics St Edmund Hall, Oxford University

Prof. Donald Sassoon, Dept of History, Queen Mary, University of London

Khalid Cherkaoui Semmouni, President, Moroccan Center for Human Rights, Rabat, Morocco

Ivo Banac, Dept. of History, Yale

Barbara Rosenbaum, Co-Editor, Patterns of Prejudice, London

Dr Mark Levene, Reader, Parkes Centre for Jewish/non-Jewish Relations,University of Southampton, U.K.

Eric Zolov, Associate Professor, Department of History, Franklin and Marshall College; Associate Editor, The Americas, a Quarterly Review of inter-American Cultural History

Susan Laxton, New York City

Catherine Snow, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

J.B. Neilands, Prof. Emeritus, Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Margaret Power, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities, Illinois Institute of Technology; Co-Chair, Historians Against War

Rutie Adler, Coordinator Hebrew Language Program, Near Eastern Studies Department, University of California, Berkeley

Bruce Western, Professor of Sociology, Princeton University

Alex Grab, Dept. of History, University of Maine, Orono

Dr. Anis B. Salib, Retired Professor

Dr. Hatem Bazian, Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Irwin Wall

Judy Wall

Marcus Raskin, Staff, National Security Council (John F. Kennedy)

Beatrice S. Bartlett, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Yale University

Bella Freud

Andrew Winnick, Professor of Economics, California State University, Los Angeles

Dr. Hatem Bazian, Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley

(The signers are serving and retired scholars and academics, policy analysts, diplomats, in the military, writers, editors, publishers, clergy, medical people, and others, including private citizens. Affiliations are for purposes of identification.)