However, another Harvard professor, Alan Dershowitz, is offering sharp criticism of the paper. The New York Sun is covering the story. Dershowitz makes some claims in this article that I find a bit difficult to swallow, but that is no doubt reflective of my lack of understanding of the Middle East. One claim, for instance, appears here:
Those mistakes for Mr. Dershowitz include, for example, the assertion that "There is no question, for example, that many Al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, are motivated by Israel's presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians," which Mr. Dershowitz says "is just absurd."
If Dershowitz is correct, then this view presented by the paper that al Qaeda is motivated by Israel's presence and policies is a common misconception not based on fact. But is it a misconception? Is it true that Israel's presence and policies in the Middle East is not a prime motivator for al Qaeda?
I am particularly confused by the next paragraph in the Sun article:
Mr. Dershowitz was particularly troubled by the claim in the paper that Israeli "citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship." He pointed out that the authors had conflated Israel's law of return with its criteria for citizenship. "That's right from the neo Nazi Web sites. Anybody can be a citizen of Israel. He confuses the law of return for the criteria for citizenship. He never mentions that a Jew cannot be a citizen in Jordan and Saudi Arabia," Mr. Dershowitz said.
Aside from the obvious red herring concerning Jordan and Saudi Arabia, what is this hair that is being split between Israel's "law of return" and its "criteria for citizenship." Is this another common misconception about Israel? Does Israel not discriminate in favor of Jews in its citizenship laws? Or am I simply misunderstanding Dershowitz?
Among other things, Dershowitz calls the authors of the paper "two bigots" and compares the paper to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
But here's a good quote from the Sun article. Quoting Martin Peretz who is referring to the paper in question:
"This goes from the lobby in capital letters, from Jerry Falwell to every left wing Jewish Democrat in the House. It is the imagining of a wall to wall conspiracy and therefore it's nutsy."
So the problem with the paper is that it proposes a conspiracy theory. That claim should defuse the paper. The authors are nuts.
The Sun article concludes with this paragraph:
A former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Morris Amitay, who is quoted in the Kennedy School paper, minimized the document's significance. "I would be worried if Henry Kissinger was saying this. But who are these guys?" Mr. Amitay said. "As far as I'm concerned this is a tribute to the Jewish community. We couldn't do anything about Auschwitz, but look, we now control foreign policy for a region of the world so vital to American interests."
Say what? Isn't that exactly the point the Mearsheimer/Walt paper was trying to make?