The Corner

Judis’s Goat

The Wall Street Journal has a pretty brutal review of John Judis’s new book on Israel which, if Jordan Chandler Hirsch is right, sounds like a travesty. Sociologically, the disintegration of support for Israel and/or Zionism among politically liberal Jews (or at least politically liberal Jewish journalists) is as fascinating as it is dismaying. Obviously, it’s a complex thing without mono-causal explanations to be found. But it’s hard not to see the liberal and Jewish propensities for self-loathing — not necessarily in a psychological sense, but in a political and cultural sense — being part of the equation. The assumption that America, or liberals, or Jews — or all three! — are to blame for all of their problems, and the world’s problems,  is rarely far from the scene. The endless search to find new and clever ways to blame “us” first is both arrogant and unfair. It’s arrogant because it assumes the Americans, or Jews, or liberals have special access to the divine truth and the implicit power to act on it. It’s unfair because it assumes that other human actors can’t be to blame for their own problems. The great narcissistic fun of always blaming yourself for everything is that you make everything about you 

Sometimes this tendency leads people to credit the most outlandish critics and theorists because, unlike the reasonable ones, they’re talking about you. Hence the tendency of many on the fevered left and right to pay attention to ridiculous foreign “news” outlets and obscure websites. They’ve got the “real story” about how the government or the Jews or Colonel Sanders are really to blame for things. The same tendency has a more sophisticated form. For instance, I particularly liked this bit:

The author traces the sinister sway of Zionism to the drafting of the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 document in which Britain pledged to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine. Chaim Weizmann, a chemist whose scientific discoveries greatly aided the British during World War I, “charmed his way up the ladder of authority until he reached the top,” Mr. Judis writes, and then suckered some key British figures into supporting the Zionist cause. When, after the war, others attempted to dilute Britain’s commitment to the Balfour Declaration, Zionist activists in Britain consistently “blocked” their efforts.

A running theme is that had these Jews been patriotic Britons, they wouldn’t have lobbied for Zionism. Mr. Judis uncritically cites Prime Minister H.H. Asquith receiving a pro-Zionist memo from Herbert Samuel, a Jewish cabinet member, and noting in a private letter that “it is a curious illustration . . . that ‘race is everything’ to find this almost lyrical outburst proceeding from the well-ordered and methodical brain of [Samuel].” Mr. Judis thus deploys the bigotry of yesteryear to bolster his contemporary arguments.

You do have to wonder what poor Marty Peretz is thinking these days. 

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More