Weber Speaks on the Israel Lobby at the University of Oregon
News from the Institute for Historical Review
In spite of protests, media smears and a delay caused by a flight cancellation, Mark Weber addressed a spirited meeting at the University of Oregon in Eugene on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 3, 2007.
The Pacifica Forum, a campus public affairs discussion group, had invited the IHR director, and organized the meeting. Weber's appearance generated wide media attention, and prompted a protest demonstration.
In his address, entitled "The Israel Lobby: How Powerful is It?," Weber said that awareness of the role and impact of the Israel lobby is growing everywhere. (The text of the address is posted here.)
A major factor contributing to this trend is the recent publication of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, an important new book by professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. "I challenge any fair-minded person," said Weber," to read just the chapter on Israel's invasion last year of Lebanon, and the role of the US and the Israel lobby in that invasion, without a feeling of rage over America's support for and complicity in the Zionist state's criminal rampage of Lebanon ... I challenge any caring American to read this book without feeling shame over the leadership of this country, and disgust over the immorality and corruption of the compliant politicians of both major parties."
The Walt-Mearsheimer book, Weber said, "is much more than a penetrating analysis or persuasive critique of a particular lobby. It is implicitly a damning indictment of the American social-political system." The Israel lobby is no ordinary interest group, he went on, and it is more accurate to speak instead of the Jewish lobby, or of Jewish-Zionist power.
During the lively question and answer period that followed the main address, a veteran "anti-hate" activist and vociferous critic of the Pacifica Forum named Michael Williams told the audience that Weber's talk was "without merit." However, in response to questioning by Weber, the critic was not able to cite even a single untrue or inaccurate statement in the address.
Perhaps the most moving moment was when a young woman in a wheel chair told how she had been nearly killed in an explosion while serving with US forces in Iraq, and then poignantly asked about the meaning of her sacrifice. "Why did this happen to me?," she said.
Weber responded by saying that she can be proud of her devotion to duty and her courage, but stressed that her idealism and dedication had been betrayed by political leaders who sent her and many other young Americans to Iraq on the basis of deceit and lies, and for an unworthy cause. Nothing is more painful, he added, than the thought that the life of a loved one has been sacrificed in vain.
Weber was introduced by Orval Etter, a retired University of Oregon faculty member who founded the Pacifica Forum. The Associate Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs and Administration is a life-long pacifist and peace activist, a skilled cellist, and co-founder of the Eugene Symphony.
Weber's Saturday presentation was recorded for later broadcast on local public access television. Among the 40-45 men and women who gathered in the campus meeting hall for the event were reporters from a local radio station and from the Daily Emerald, the university student newspaper. The Emerald's report on the meeting appeared two days later.
Prior to his arrival in Eugene, media coverage of Weber's appearance included two op-ed opinion essays in the local Register-Guard newspaper, one of which was supportive of the appearance, as well as several readers' letters. Jewish community leaders protested Weber's appearance, denouncing the historian as a "Holocaust denier" and an "anti-Semite."
A provocative quarter-page advertisement promoting Weber's talk had appeared in the local Eugene Weekly, and posters and flyers announcing the Pacifica Forum meeting were posted around the campus.
In connection with the Eugene event, Weber was a guest on a half-hour segment of the popular "Lars Larson" talk radio show, broadcast on Portland radio station KXL. (The segment can be heard through the IHR website's "Audio Archive" section).
A cancelled connecting flight prevented the IHR director from addressing the originally scheduled meeting on Friday evening. Among the many disappointed men and women who had arrived to hear him speak were persons who had driven many miles, including as far away as Portland.
Encouraged by a hostile Register-Guard editorial, several dozen men and women gathered for a Friday evening "vigil" to protest Weber's appearance and to denounce "hate."