Ever since this article by Jeffrey Goldberg, a controversy has raged about John Mearsheimer’s jacket blurb for the viciously antisemitic book “The Wandering Who?” by the vicious antisemite Gilad Atzmon.
Clearly, I am taking sides in the ridiculous debate, which, unfortunately, serves to promote the works of Atzmon and Mearsheimer. If you think that perhaps there is a way to defend Mearsheimer (Atzmon is far beyond defense), Alan Dershowitz cleans his clock here. Even Mearsheimer’s fans have trouble swallowing this.
I’m not going to repeat quotations from Atzmon’s book or attack Mearsheimer; the articles linked above do it more than adequately. I want to talk about one of Atzmon’s other supporters. Dershowitz mentions him in passing:
James Petras, Bartle Professor of Sociology Emeritus at Binghamton University, called The Wandering Who? “a series of brilliant illuminations” and praised Atzmon’s “courage.”
Petras is a Marxist anti-Zionist who holds the most extreme anti-Israel positions. He also is a “Jewish (or Zionist) conspiracy” theorist of the highest order. His anti-Zionist extremism crosses the line into antisemitism, and his writing explicitly evokes traditional antisemitic themes, such as Jewish control of the US government and media and the disloyalty of Jewish Americans, as well as the distortion of Jewish religious concepts like ‘the chosen people’ and matrilinial descent for antisemitic purposes.
Petras is very prolific and I can only scratch the surface in a blog post. I’m sure a diligent search (which would need to be followed by a good hot shower) would expose even more ugliness.
Petras does not deny the Holocaust like Atzmon — he just thinks that it has been cynically exploited for financial and political purposes. In a 2006 article (“Modernity and Twentieth Century Holocausts: Empire-Building and Mass Murder“), Petras argues that
The claims by mainly, but not exclusively, Jewish scholars of the ‘uniqueness’ of the Jewish-Nazi victims flies in the face of vast historical data and in fact serves as a justification for continued large-scale monetary compensation (1) and for the exercise of colonial expansion in Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East, using the same techniques as were practiced by their Nazi oppressors (practices of collective guilt, racially based legislation, legalized mass torture, and ethnic cleansing).
His argument appears to claim that writers about the Holocaust do not take into account other genocides and racially-based mass murders, and he provides a list of such. Of course whether or not the Holocaust was ‘unique’ in some sense is irrelevant to the question of whether its survivors deserve compensation. And the Holocaust is not used as a justification for the creation of the state of Israel, which anyway was not a case of ‘colonial expansion’ and does not use Nazi techniques. I am not sure why the fact that some scholars of the Holocaust have been Jewish needs to be mentioned here, either.
He continues, mixing vicious ahistorical slanders against Israel with traditional antisemitic interpretations of Judaic concepts, in order to support his view that Israel is a Nazi-like state:
The Israeli-Palestinian Holocaust (IPH) has all the substantive features of previously mentioned holocausts: long-term, large-scale use of state terror; dispossession of over 4 million Palestinians; forcing over 3 millions Palestinians in ghettos; racial ethnic segregation and separation in all spheres of justice, property ownership, transportation and geographical movement; citizen rights based on ‘blood ties’ (maternal lineage); legalized and quasi-legalized torture and systematic use of collective punishment; a highly militarized society given to perpetual military assaults on neighboring Palestinian communities and other Arab states; unilateral extra-territorial, extra-judicial assassinations; chronic and systematic rejection of international law; an ideology of permanent warfare and international paranoia (‘anti-Semitism’ is everywhere) and an ideology of ethnic superiority (the Chosen People’) .
Petras thinks that ‘Zionists’ in the US constitute a disloyal fifth column which is responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our economic crisis. In a 2010 article called “War with China?“, Petras wrote:
…In contrast to the disloyal role of ZPC [Zionist Power Configuration; viz. this article] which serves as a political-military instrument of Israel, the Chinese Diaspora serves as an economic ally of he Chinese state. Overseas Chinese facilitate market opportunities for mainland business groups, engage in joint ventures inside and outside of China, but do not shape the foreign policy of the state in which they reside. The Chinese Diaspora do not act as a “fifth column” against the national interest of their countries of residence, unlike American Zionists whose mass organization put all of their efforts into the singular goal of subordinating US policy to maximize Israel’s colonial policies.
…by the beginning of the new millennium all the political, military and ideological pieces were in place for the launching of a series of imperial-zionist driven wars, which would further sap the US economy, profoundly deepen its budget and trade deficits and open the way for the rise of new dynamic economic-market driven empires…
Under the direction of a highly militarized elite, including influential Zionist policymakers, Washington has moved inextricably into multi—trillion dollar wars of colonial occupation in the Middle East and South Asia, under the mistaken assumption that “shows of strength” will intimidate nationalist and independent states and buttress the US economic presence. On the contrary, the wars have decreased US influence, increased local nationalist and pan-Moslem rejection especially in light of Zionized Washington’s unconditional backing of Israeli colonialism. More than any other move to bolster the empire, the prolonged colonial wars have massively mis-directed economic resources which, theoretically, could have revitalized the US global economic presence and increased its competitive position via China, into non-productive military expenditures…
The US unconditional embrace of the racist colonial militarist state of Israel as its principal ally in buttering [sic] colonial wars in the Middle East, has in fact had the opposite effect: alienating 1.5 billion Islamic peoples, eroding support among former allies (Turkey and Lebanon) and strengthening Zionists policy influentials advocating a ‘third military front’ – a war with Iran, with its two million person armed forces…
Over the long run, something will have to break; militarism and Zionist power will so bleed and isolate the United States that necessity will induce a forceful response…
This last threat could be straight from a speech by Herr Hitler, couldn’t it?
In case any more evidence is needed that Petras is a Jewish-conspiracy theorist, here is a quotation from a 2002 article (“Israel and the U.S.: A unique relationship“):
…it is the lesser regional power which exacts a tribute from the Empire, a seeming unique or paradoxical outcome. The explanation for this paradox is found in the powerful and influential role of pro-Israeli Jews in strategic sectors of the U.S. economy, political parties, Congress and Executive Branch. The closest equivalent to past empires is that of influential white settlers in the colonies, who through their overseas linkages were able to secure subsidies and special trading relations.
The Israeli “colons” in the U.S. have invested and donated billions of dollars to Israel, in some cases diverting funds from union dues of low paid workers to purchase Israel bonds used to finance new colonial settlements in the occupied territories. In other cases Jewish fugitives from the U.S. justice system have been protected by the Israeli state, especially super rich financial swindlers like Mark [sic] Rich and even gangsters and murderers. Occasional official demands of extradition from the U.S. Justice Department have been pointedly ignored.
The colonized Empire has gone out of its way to cover up its subservience to its supposed ally, but in fact hegemonic power.
What makes all this possible? Why, the Jewish control of the media, of course. In a 2008 interview, he says,
…it’s one of the great tragedies that we have a minority that represents less than 2% of North American’s population but has such power in the communications media…
…it’s not just economic [power], they’re organized, they’re present in all the communications media, they’re well situated in Congress, they have officials in the presidency, in the Executive branch; it’s not simply a matter of Jewish millionaires but that it’s all configured in important posts in the media, in the Congress, in the Executive branch, in all local governments, towns, dentists, doctors, lawyers, professionals, academics, all united in a crusade, all for Israel. When Israel says “we’re going to attack Iran,” these activists, respectable Jews, are the first to support it. Not all, because there are plenty of Jews who aren’t interested in Israel nor the politics of the communal organizations, but those who are active and present have definitely taken the most bellicose positions. They support a government that tortures and imprisons thousands of Palestinians.
I’m reminded when the Jews speak of the complicity of the Germans, what are they themselves if not complicit with the great and savage crimes of the State of Israel? What difference is there between German complicity and that of the professors and doctors? …
Whew. Even a Zionist conspirator like me wasn’t aware of the power of Jewish dentists (possibly because most of the dentists in Fresno are Armenian).
There’s one thing that one should ask and that is why the North American public doesn’t react against the manipulations of this minority. It’s because the Jews control the communications media and present Obama’s speeches in favor of Jerusalem and Israel as though they were something normal, just another speech. And there’s no commentary when Israel says that it’s going to hurl bombs at Iran. No editorial whatsoever criticizing Israel.
No editorial criticizing Israel? Does he read the NY Times, TIME Magazine, or any of the editorials masquerading as news stories written by the AP? Does he listen to NPR or watch CNN? He certainly must listen to the Pacifica network (after all, he got his doctorate at Berkeley)! How did he miss all this?
You may wonder why I care about one more Israel-hating and antisemitic professor. Here’s why: I am an alumnus of Harpur College, which later grew into ‘Binghamton University’ (slogan: “Bold. Brilliant. Binghamton.” — I didn’t make this up), which granted Petras its Bartle chair in Sociology. I even met Dr. Glenn G. Bartle, after whom it’s named, when I went there in 1960.
I have no idea of what Dr. Bartle, a nice man who died in 1977, would have thought about James Petras. I like to imagine that he would turn over in his grave at the way the university that his little college became besmirched his name.