Authors love solid plugs for their books, whenever and however they can get them. But it’s awkward when Osama bin Laden comes out as a fan—particularly if he chooses to do it in his regular September 11 video messages. A few years ago, bin Laden endorsed Imperial Hubris, a book by former CIA analyst and fierce Bush Administration critic Michael Scheuer, who wound up going on Fox News to explain that the feeling wasn’t mutual, but that, yes, Americans really, really should read his book.
Over the weekend, a new bin Laden tape surfaced, and this time he recommended that Americans read “another book, titled The Israel Lobby, by professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.” The book famously argued that American policy in the Middle East is captive to Israeli interests, at the expense of America’s—and, unsurprisingly, has become a favorite among the anti-Zionist crowd, both in the United States and, apparently, in deepest Waziristan (or, you know, wherever).
Walt responded on his Foreign Policy blog that he wished bin Laden had been captured already, but goes on to add that, as long as bin Laden was drawing attention to the issue, Americans should really take a minute to remember that “unconditional U.S. support for Israel and Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians is a source of great resentment in the Arab and Islamic world.” Walt went on reiterate his call for a get-tough policy with Israel—which of course gets to the heart of what freaked people out about his book in the first place. Walt’s Foreign Policy colleague David Rothkopf has, in the past, noted that while there’s no reason to think Walt and Mearsheimer are themselves anti-Semites, they’ve done relatively little to repudiate the wilder anti-Semitic views of those who also champion the book. Now, with the Obama Administration making no bones about its willingness to pressure Benjamin Netanyahu to do things he may not, politically or philosophically, want to do, Rothkopf writes, a little hysterically, that “Walt and Mearsheimer have achieved a near miracle, creating one thing on which both the current Washington establishment and Bin Laden can agree on.” Yoo hoo, J Street! Are you listening?
Bin Laden’s Book Club [Stephen M. Walt/FP]
On the latest great selection from Osama’s Book Club [David J. Rothkopf/FP]
Earlier: AIPAC and Obama Headed for a Showdown?