Submitted by Jeff Buster on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 10:12.

After the presentation by authors  John Mearsheimer (left) and Stephen Walt (right)  of the The Israel Lobby at Case’s Ford Auditorium last night,  I approached  Alice Bach, the tenured Case prof  (on the stage between the authors) and complimented her on her perspicacity shown in arranging  Mr. Mearsheimer's and Mr. Walt's visit to Cleveland.


Frankly, her facial expression gave me the impression she was a little shell-shocked. 


She didn’t say “thank you”, instead she blurted out almost involuntarily:


 “You know how many threatening phone calls I’ve gotten in the last week!?”


She appeared visibly upset.


And  it is that emotional undercurrent – of discussing in public a topic which is out of bounds – which surrounded the evening  and made the event pretty edgy  - 


For me it wasn’t the topic of APAC lobbied US support for Israel which was the crucial element of the evening,   I was more captured by the guts of the authors and Ms. Bach.  Why would they expose themselves to public animosity and derision from certain quarters?   (Not for the money - about 35 books were sold at $27.50 and signed after the presentation.)


Though, in the Q and A afterward, only one member of the public had the mic taken away by Case security -  the fellow was reading a diatribe and suggesting the David Duke comparison and was roundly boo’d – there was, at least for me (and I’ve been around for a few decades attending these types of things) a pregnant nervousness in the air.


When the doors banged at the rear of the auditorium in the middle of the lecture,  heads in the audience looked back – collectively wondering - is this a disturbance starting?  Sitting directly in front of me was a plain cloths Case cop (Steve).   When the 50 year old guy two seats to my left continued to talk after he had spoken at the mic, Steve swiveled in his seat and told him “shut up or you’ll be removed”.


The background about the book’s genesis  describes a real problem  today in America :


The concept for the book came originally from the Atlantic Monthly.  The Atlantic contacted Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt and contracted with them to research and write the piece.  Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt worked on the material for 2 and a half years, going through different variations in an effort to accommodate the Atlantic’s publishing objectives. 


Finally the Atlantic told Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt that the magazine would not be publishing the piece.  So the authors went out and contacted every known, reputable publisher in the USA.  No publisher was willing to stick their neck out. 


So the authors put the manuscript on the back shelf and worked on other matters.  About a year after they had given up on seeing their work published, Mr. Mearsheimer was contacted by a significant un-named person who had somehow obtained a copy of the un-published manuscript.   That un-named person asked if  Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt would allow their work to be published by the London Review of Books


 THIS IS AMERICA? LAND OF THE FREE?  And discussion of Israel and our US national security is a topic out of bounds?  Haaretz can discuss it in Israel but here in the US people call you at home telling you to pull your speakers?

Frankly, there couldn’t be a more profound real-world proof of the Mearsheimer-Walt thesis.





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