Abraham Foxman is at it again. He threatened to smear the Polish consulate in every paper in the city of New York if they went ahead and allowed NYU professor Tony Judt to make a speech on the Israeli lobby and US foreign policy at an event held at the Polish Consulate in New York just hours before the event was to have taken place. Judt says

I was due to speak this evening, in Manhattan, to a group called Network 20/20 comprising young business leaders, NGO, academics, etc, from the US and many countries. Topic: the Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. The meetings are always held at the Polish Consulate in Manhattan.

I just received a call from the President of Network 20/20. The talk was cancelled because the Polish Consulate had been threatened by the Anti-Defamation League. Serial phone calls from ADL President Abe Foxman warned them off hosting anything involving Tony Judt. If they persisted, he warned, he would smear the charge of Polish collaboration with anti-Israeli anti-Semites (= me) all over the front page of every daily paper in the city (an indirect quote). They caved and Network 20/20 were forced to cancel.

Whatever your views on the Middle East I hope you find this as serious and frightening as I do. This is, or used to be, the United States of America.

The New York Sun reports it slightly differently. Foxman claims he only called the embassy to look into the matter and saw no objection to the speech when he was told that the consulate was merely renting space to an outside group. He feigns surprise when told of the cancellation. Judt says that the ADL pressured the consulate all afternoon.

In true macchiavellian style, Foxman accuses those who believe that he is to blame for the cancellation as “the conspiratorial nonsense that Mearsheimer and Walt are spinning with the support of Tony Judt.”

Mearsheimer and Walt addressed this very tactic in their paper on the Israeli lobby claiming that the Lobby works ruthlessly to suppress questioning of its role, to blacken its critics and to crush serious debate about the wisdom of supporting Israel in US public life.

“Silencing skeptics by organizing blacklists and boycotts — or by suggesting that critics are anti-Semites — violates the principle of open debate on which democracy depends,” Walt and Mearsheimer write.

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee chimes in “The Polish government made up its own mind… Tony Judt can try and frame this however he wants for his own marketing purposes… No one is stopping the event from being held elsewhere.” Nope. But the Jewish Lobby stopped the event from happening at the Polish Consulate.

So why then did the Polish Consulate wait until the afternoon of the day the talk was scheduled to cancel?