Anti-Semitism may not yet be a litmus test for social acceptability in the US, but it has certainly become acceptable.
Proof of this dismal state of affairs came this week with the publication of a supportive profile of University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer in The Atlantic monthly written by the magazine's in-house foreign policy guru Robert Kaplan.
Mearsheimer is the author, together with Harvard's Kennedy School of Government's Prof.
Stephen Walt, of the infamous 2007 book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. Since the book's publication, Mearsheimer has become one of the most high-profile anti-Semites in America.
Kaplan's article was a clear bid to rehabilitate Mearsheimer in order to advance his pre-Israel Lobby theory of realism in international affairs.
Mearsheimer's realist theory argues that the international arena exists in a state of perpetual anarchy. As a consequence, the factor motivating states' actions in international affairs is their national interests. Morality, he claims, has no place in international affairs.
This theory's considerable intellectual underpinning rendered Mearsheimer one of the most prominent political scientists in America during the 1990s. As a realist himself, particularly in relation to the rise of China as a superpower, Kaplan perhaps believed that by rehabilitating Mearsheimer, he would advance his goal of convincing US policy-makers to adopt a realist approach to China.
But whatever his motivations for writing the profile, and whatever its eventual impact on US policy towards China, Kaplan's profile of Mearsheimer served to mainstream a Jew-hater and in so doing, to give credibility to his bigotry.
It has become necessary to rehabilitate Mearsheimer because in the years since he and Walt published their conspiracy theory against Israel and its American supporters, Mearsheimer has actively embraced fringe elements in the US and the world in order to advance his campaign to discredit Israel and its supporters. As Alan Dershowitz highlighted in November, Mearsheimer wrote an enthusiastic endorsement of a psychotically anti-Semitic book written by British jazz musician and prolific anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon.
The book, titled The Wandering Who? is replete with Holocaust denial, claims that Jews control the world and America, characterizations of the Jewish God as evil and corrupt, and claims that Israel is worse than Nazi Germany.
In his endorsement, Mearsheimer called the book "fascinating," and said it "should be read widely by Jews and non-Jews alike."
As far as Kaplan was concerned, Mearsheimer's embrace of Atzmon was a simple mistake. But it wasn't. It was part of an apparent decision on Mearsheimer's part to use his own celebrity to legitimize his anti-Semitic views.
In a speech to the Palestine Center in April 2010, for example, Mearsheimer distinguished between "righteous" Jews and "New Afrikaner" Jews. The former are Jews who oppose and attack Israel and the latter are Jews who support and defend Israel.
By sanitizing Mearsheimer's bigotry in his sympathetic profile, Kaplan mainstreamed his hatred.
And Kaplan is not alone.
KAPLAN'S PROFILE of Mearsheimer is part of a larger trend in US letters, politics and culture in which anti-Semitism is becoming more and more acceptable. As Adam Kirsch noted in an article in the Tablet online magazine this week, The Israel Lobby's central contention, that a cabal of disloyal Jews and sympathizers has forced the US to adopt a pro-Israel policy against its national interests, has found recent expression in the writings of mainstream journalists including New York Times' columnist Tom Friedman and Time's Joe Klein.
Last week, The Washington Post-owned online magazine Foreign Policy - which publishes a regular blog by Stephen Walt, published an article by Mark Perry claiming that in 2007 and 2008 Mossad agents posed as CIA agents in a false-flag operation whose aim was to build a cooperative relationship with the Pakistani/Iranian Baluchi anti-regime Jundallah terror group.
Perry's report was based solely on anonymous sources. Its obvious purpose was to discredit the very notion of Israeli-US intelligence cooperation on Iran.
Following the publication of Perry's article, Israel abandoned its general policy of never commenting on intelligence issues. The Foreign Ministry denounced his report as "utter nonsense."
What Foreign Policy failed to tell its readers is that Perry is not an objective reporter. He is a former adviser to Yassir Arafat and an advocate of US engagement with Hamas and Hezbollah. By failing to mention his biases, Foreign Policy became an accessory to the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism. Like The Israel Lobby, Perry's report in Foreign Policy adds to the legitimacy of the attitude that there is something fundamentally wrong with having close relationship with the Jewish state.
Perhaps if Mearsheimer and Walt had published their updated version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in 1997 instead of 2007 they would have been received in the same manner.
That is, they would have sat in the mainstream doghouse for a few years but then gradually acceptance and support for their bigotry would have moved from the margins to the mainstream.
And within five years they would have been rehabilitated by the establishment. But in all likelihood, that wouldn't have been the case.