Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stephen Walt is Throwing Stones

Stephen Walt, writing in Foreign Policy, questions whether or not Harvard should go ahead and allow a chair to be endowed on behalf of Martin Peretz the publisher of New Republic, former professor and owner of a couple of poorly phrased comments about Muslims in a recent blog post about First Amendment rights and the Ground Zero Mosque (not). Peretz has since posted a sincere, heartfelt apology without any of the usual caveats apologists are known for. Ironically, several months ago Walt, Mr. Harvard professor, was asked how he felt about his blog becoming the go-to address for anti-Semitic comment writers. Surely his hard-on for Israel was making itself popular with the Hitler/Stalin crowd. He shrugged this off as not his problem.

As we know, Stephen Walt along with John Mearsheimer wrote, under the cover of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, that seriously tendentious and, some would say, anti-Semitic screed, The Israel Lobby. After the first edition Harvard distanced itself from the book and asked that the Kennedy School logo be removed from later editions.

Further, according to the NY Sun, many donors to Harvard complained about the university's relationship to the article that became The Israel Lobby. "One of the angered contributors is said to be the donor who underwrote the chair occupied by Dean Walt, Robert Belfer. Mr. Belfer, a 1958 graduate of Harvard Law School, endowed a faculty chair as part of a $7.5 million gift to the Kennedy School in 1997. In addition to bearing the title of academic dean of the Kennedy School, Mr. Walt is also the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Politics. According to the observer, "Since the furor, Bob Belfer has called expressing his deep concerns and asked that Stephen not use his professorship title in publicity related to the article." 

One wonders if this is Walt's chance to vent against someone who is apparently far more popular with Harvard's philanthropic community.

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