The furor over a paper co-authored by the academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government about what is described as the far-reaching influence of an "Israel lobby" intensified yesterday, as it drew sharp criticism from a prominent Kennedy School scholar, President Clinton's special coordinator for the Middle East negotiations, and figures identified in the paper as members of the "lobby."
The paper, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," was written by the Kennedy School's Stephen Walt and a political science professor and the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, John Mearsheimer, and published by the Kennedy School.
In the 83-page "working paper," the professors allege that a vast network of journalists, think tanks, lobbyists, and largely Jewish officials have seized the foreign policy debate and manipulated America to invade Iraq. Components of the purported network include nine major publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal; "Christian evangelicals" including Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson; top-ranking officials in the Bush administration, and scholars at nine think tanks, including the Brookings Institution.
The paper has won praise from anti-Semite and white supremacist David Duke, is being distributed by the Palestine Liberation Organization's mission to Washington, and has been lauded by a senior member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization.
Less thrilled with the Harvard dean's work is one of his colleagues, Marvin Kalb, a lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School and a senior fellow and founding director at the school's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy.
"I do not regard this as a Kennedy School Research Paper, because it clearly does not meet the academic standards of a Kennedy School research paper," Mr. Kalb, who is also the faculty chair for the Kennedy School's Washington programs, told The New York Sun in an e-mail yesterday after reading the paper.
"It is a rather sensational example of 'realist' journalism," he continued. "My sense is that Dean Walt would be better advised to stick to scholarship and leave journalism to journalists, who generally check their 'facts' before publishing them."
Also critical of the paper's academic quality was one of the figures mentioned in it as part of the "lobby," President Clinton's special Middle East envoy, Dennis Ross, who said the authors displayed "a woeful lack of knowledge on the subject."
"The part I've read I find remarkable for its lack of seriousness," Mr. Ross told the Sun yesterday. "It is basically a series of assertions. They quote only those people who basically have this point of view and don't take a serious look at anything in a more profound way. It is masquerading as scholarship.
"I would say this is an effort to take a point of view and give it academic legitimacy," he continued.
One of the "Lobby's" alleged media manipulators and the publisher of the New York Daily News, Mortimer Zuckerman, said yesterday about being identified in the paper: "I would just say this: The allegations of this disproportionate influence of the Jewish community reminds me of the 92-year-old man sued in a paternity suit. He said he was so proud, he pleaded guilty."
The Walt-Mearsheimer paper, Mr. Zuckerman said, was "wrong and wrong-headed," adding: "Not only do I disagree with the opinions in it, unfortunately, there are a lot of factual errors in it." Still, Mr. Zuckerman, who finances a leadership program at the Kennedy School, said he would not cut his donations to the school in response to the paper, citing principles of "academic freedom."
Also concerned about factual errors in the Walt-Mearsheimer paper was another alleged "Lobby" leader and a former board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace, Daniel Pipes, who has issued on his Web site a public challenge to the scholars to prove claims that Mr. Pipes founded Campus Watch - an organization headed by Mr. Pipes that tracks anti-Israel bias in university Middle East programs - at the behest of the "Lobby." Mr. Pipes said yesterday that he had issued a similar challenge to the London Review of Books, which published a version of the "Lobby" paper.
Mr. Pipes, who also writes a column in the Sun, said yesterday that he had established Campus Watch under his own initiative and said allegations that he had acted on orders from any "Lobby" were "sloppiness, carelessness, fantasy."
Meanwhile, the growing hubbub yesterday over the Walt-Mearsheimer paper also provoked outrage from an unlikely critic who had previously heaped praise on the professors' work. On his "official website," Duke faulted the academics for a lack of originality, writing that "the Harvard report contains little new information."
"I and a few other American commentators have for years been making the same assertions as this new paper," the anti-Semite continues. "The great thing is that now the most prestigious school of government in the United States has adopted the same position that I took even before the start of the Iraq War, that Jewish extremists have taken over America's foreign policy, harm America's interests on behalf of Israel, and are the driving force behind the Iraq War and America's disastrous Mideast policy."
Duke also lambastes the Sun for its critical coverage of the Walt-Mearsheimer paper, opining: "Although the Sun and many other mainstream publications have attacked this new report, in actual fact the report does not go nearly far enough in exposing the perfidy of Israel and its fifth columnists in America."
William Rapfogel, CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, said the Sun "should be commended for exposing the Harvard Kennedy School's entry into the contest to succeed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. To imply, as the report does, that there is a disloyal American Jewish population is a disgrace that Harvard and Kennedy should disassociate from immediately."
Last night Dean Walt responded to the furor his paper has caused:
"I have discussed your inquiry with my co-author, Professor Mearsheimer," he told the Sun." We appreciate the invitation to respond to the comments, but prefer not to."