A top British scientist drew fire from American Jewish organizations on Monday, after remarking that the American Jewish lobby is "monopolizing American foreign policy."
Professor Richard Dawkins, a leading evolutionary biologist at Oxford University, was quoted by the British Guardian newspaper as saying last week: "When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told - religious Jews anyway - than atheists and (yet they) more or less monopolize American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place."
Dawkins is currently touring the US to promote an atheist organization he helped set up. His visit is aimed at curbing the influence of religion in America.
Responding to the remarks, Abe Foxman, National Director of the ADL, told Ynetnews: "This is classical anti-Semitism. Just because it's wrapped around an issue of atheism doesn't make it any less virulent, anti-Semitic and dangerous."
Malcom Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations, said that Dawkins' comments show "that even great scientists can demonstrate ignorance and fall victim to disinformation and misinformation, either willingly or unwillingly."
"I can't judge whether it's anti-Semitism," Hoenlein told Ynetnews, "but this shows the danger of what I call the poisoning of the elite, and how this impact spreads within the intellectual community, and then trickles down to the general populace," he added.
Hoenlein drew parallels between Dawkins's comments and a recent attack on the American Jewish lobby by US academics Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, who co-authored a book on 'the Israel lobby.'
"We see it in the Walt-Mearsheimer phenomenon. The marginal fringes are increasingly acceptable in mainstream. That he would express such a view is a reflection of this," Hoenlein said.
London Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein, who is Jewish, also expressed concern at the apparent mainstreaming of Judeophobic sentiments. "I have just come across the most extraordinary statement by Richard Dawkins. It is right there on the Guardian website without a sentence even questioning it... Dawkins, a liberal hero, believes that Jews control world power. And, judging from the Guardian, it is now a part of mainstream debate to say so. Perhaps you think I am overreacting, but I am a little bit frightened," Finkelstein wrote.
Five years ago, Dawkins reportedly added his name to letter calling for an academic boycott against Israelis, and was quoted by the Guardian then as saying that he "can no longer in good conscience continue to cooperate with official Israeli institutions, including universities."