Tony Judt had worn his Ralph Black Label – if only ADL’s Foxman had let him

Last nite I saw on satellite tv the german movie SCHLÄFER DER GEKRÄNKTE; I liked the prayer at the end and enjoyed the masochistic subtext throughout, imagining myself belittled: by women, by men, by grandmother, by rats – but is this the New German Wave? is this it?? come on! you can do better.

Then I saw a 90 minutes documentary on the french ELLE magazine; that was great, much better than DER GEKRÄNKTE and totes unthinkable over here in the states.
Arielle Dombasle (hope I have the spelling right) cooked, a charming guy sold ELLE’s for “deux trente” time and again to beautiful young french street-fashionistas, Jeanne Moreau pretended to answer letters (great voice!), and, the best, Sonia Rykiel pointed out, once and for all, that equal rights refer only to pants, not to human beings.

And then came ELLE, she: Judith. Butler. Totes butchy. Great shape, new book, french audience. Great stuff. Undoing everything. The german subtitle had “dekonstruieren” for “undoing” – not sure about that. But Judith was great, and – and this is the reason why me watching foreign television via satellite can act as an opener for the maindish of today – Judith talked about Israel and the WorldPride and why many of her friends didnt go. AND SO ON . . .

Basically, we have arrived at the case of Tony Judt. Enjoy.

Dear Mr. Foxman:

As you know, on October 3, Professor Tony Judt of New York University was scheduled to give a lecture titled “The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy” before a public audience, at the invitation of Network 20/20, which sponsors many forums in New York City. The lecture, like many others presented by this organization, was to be held at the Polish Consulate of New York, which rented its facilities but in no way sponsored the event. Shortly before the lecture was scheduled to begin, however, it was abruptly cancelled by Consul General Krzysztof Kasprzyk, who later told a reporter, “I don’t have to subscribe to the First Amendment.”[1] Patricia Huntington, director of Network 20/20, informs us that when she received a telephone call canceling the event, scheduled to place within the hour, she was told that ADL President Abe Foxman was on the other line to the Consul General.

Ms. Huntington has now accused the Anti-Defamation League of having “forced,” “threatened,” and exerted “pressure” on the consulate to cancel the talk. Although the deputy counsel general has disputed this claim, he did tell the New York Sun that the consulate received calls from “a couple of Jewish groups” as well as “representatives of American diplomacy and intelligentsia” expressing “concerns” over the lecture. In the event, the lecture was cancelled, a move then welcomed by David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, who remarked, “Bravo to them for doing the right thing.”[2]

These facts argue against the press release the ADL circulated on October 5, 2006, disclaiming any role in the cancellation of Professor Judt’s lecture. The ADL has recently been very critical of those academics and intellectuals, like Professor Judt, who have raised questions about the Israel lobby and American foreign policy, an issue on which reasonable people have disagreed. This does not surprise us or disturb us. What does surprise and disturb us is that an organization dedicated to promoting civil rights and public education should threaten and exert pressure to cancel a lecture by an important scholar, as Ms. Huntington says happened.

In a democracy, there is only one appropriate response to a lecture, article, or book one does not agree with. It is to give another lecture, write another article, or publish another book. For much of its hundred-year history your organization worked side by side with other Americans who wanted to guarantee that freedom for all, and your mission statement still declares: “the goal remains the same: to stand up for the core values of America against those who seek to undermine them through word or deed.”[3]

Though we, the undersigned, have many disagreements about political matters, foreign and domestic, we are united in believing that a climate of intimidation is inconsistent with fundamental principles of debate in a democracy. The Polish Consulate is not obliged to promote free speech. But the rules of the game in America oblige citizens to encourage rather than stifle public debate. We who have signed this letter are dismayed that the ADL did not choose to play a more constructive role in promoting liberty.

Mark Lilla, University of Chicago
Richard Sennett, London School of Economics and NYU and

Bradley Adams, Columbia University
Hasan Ali Karasar, Bilkent University
Mark M. Anderson, Columbia University
Neven Andjelic, University of California, Berkeley
David Antin, UCSD
Lisa Appignanesi, PEN
Alexandra Barahona de Brito, Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Lisbon
Benjamin R. Barber, University of Maryland
Jiri Barta, Nadace Via
Peter Beinart, The New Republic
Nelly Bekus, writer
Thomas Bender, New York University
Seyla Benhabib, Yale University
Edward Berenson, New York University
Sheri Berman, Columbia University
Sara Bershtel, Metropolitan Books
Paul Boghossian, New York University
Ian Buruma, Bard College
Astrid von Busekist, Institut d’études politiques de Paris
Peter Carey, Hunter College, New York
Flora Cassen, New York University
Herrick Chapman, New York University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Jerome Eric Copulsky, Virginia Tech
Krzysztof Czyzewski, Borderland Foundation
Richard Danbury, writer
Alain Deletroz, International Crisis Group
Donald Francis Donovan, attorney
Constance Ellis, New York University
Cecile Fabre, London School of Economics
Franklin Foer, The New Republic
Christopher Fowler, novelist and journalist
Timothy Garton Ash, University of Oxford
Michael Gilsenan, New York University
Joseph Giovannini, writer and architect
Todd Gitlin, Columbia University
David J. Goldberg, The Liberal Jewish Synagogue, London
Barbara Goldsmith, PEN
Michael Greenberg, writer
Jan T. Gross, Princeton University
Atina Grossmann, Cooper Union
Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College
Pieter Hilhorst, writer
Eva Hoffman, Hunter College
Shpend Imeri, Association for Democratic Initiatives, Gostavar, Macedonia
Yves Andre Istel, Remarque Institute
Peter Jukes, author and screenwriter, London
Aleksander Kaczorowski, journalist
Michael Kazin, Georgetown University
Chris Keulemans, writer and journalist
Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University
Charles D. Klein, private investor
Ivan Krastev, Center for Liberal Strategies, Sofia
Hartley Lachter, Muhlenberg College
Denis Lacorne, Institut d’études politiques de Paris
Jörg Lau, die Zeit, Berlin
Teresa Leger de Fernandez, Nordhaus Law Firm, Santa Fe
John Leone
Wendy Lesser, The Threepenny Review
Damon Linker, author
Steven Lukes, New York University
Philippe Manière, Institut Montaigne, Paris
Avishai Margalit, Institute for Advanced Study
Michael Massing, writer
Mark Mazower, Columbia University
Malini Mehra, Centre for Social Markets, Kolkata and London
Richard Mitten, Baruch College, City University of New York
Sid Mukherjee, Harvard Medical School
Estep Nagy, playwright
Susan Neiman, Einstein Forum, Potsdam
Shervin Nekuee, writer
Bernadette Nirmal-Kumar, University of Oslo
Mary Nolan, New York University
Edward Orloff, The Wylie Agency
Marcia Pally, New York University
Samantha Power, Harvard University
Eyal Press, The Nation
Anson Rabinach, Princeton University
Jacqueline Rose, Queen Mary University of London
Gideon Rose, Foreign Affairs
Nils Rosemann, Human Rights and Development Consultant
Peter Rosenbaum, Trinity College
Nancy Rosenblum, Harvard University
Elizabeth Rubin, Contributing Writer, The New York Times Magazine
Daniel Sabbagh, Institut d’études politiques de Paris
Renata Salecl, University of Llubljana and London School of Economics
Armando Salvatore, Humboldt University, Berlin
Domenico Scarpa, Universita degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”
Patricia Schramm
Lynne Segal, Birkbeck College, University of London
Adam Shatz, The Nation
Bashkim Shehu, writer
Laila Sheikh, Geneva
Elisabeth Sifton, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Martin M. Simecka, writer
Jim Sleeper, Yale University
Ruslan Stefanov, Center for the Study of Democracy, Sofia
Jean Stein, author
Constanze Stelzenmueller, Berlin
Tracey Stern, television writer and producer
Fritz Stern, Columbia University
Zeev Sternhell, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Andrew Sullivan, The New Republic
Moshik Temkin, Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall
Mustapha Tilli, New York University
Michael Tomasky, The American Prospect
Gesine Weinmiller, Weinmiller Architekten, Berlin
Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic
Alan Wolfe, Boston College
Richard Wolin, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Marilyn B. Young, New York University

[1] Larry Cohler-Esses, “Off Limits? Talk by Israel Critic Canceled,” The Jewish Week, October 6, 2006.

[2] Ira Stoll, “Poland Abruptly Cancels a Speech by Local Critic of the Jewish State,” The New York Sun, October 4, 2006.

[3] See

courtesy of The New York Review of Books, Volume 53, Number 18 · November 16, 2006


The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt
Working Paper Number:RWP06-011
Submitted: 03/13/2006
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In this paper, John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago’s Department of Political Science and Stephen M.Walt of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government contend that the centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy is its intimate relationship with Israel. The authors argue that although often justified as reflecting shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, the U.S. commitment to Israel is due primarily to the activities of the “Israel Lobby.” This paper goes on to describe the various activities that pro-Israel groups have undertaken in order to shift U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.

To view responses to this paper from Harvard University faculty members [i.e., of course, of the ever so eager Alan; ed.], click here, also HERE

Tony Judt, A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy

Tony Judt, The Alternative


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