Mis-applying a Problematic Paradigm: Soros Redefines “Deeply Superficial”

George Soros has a long piece in the New York Review of Books about the critical contribution of AIPAC to our disastrous foreign policy along with some major tilting at Alvin Rosenfeld. He proves himself a thorough and profoundly uninformed disciple of the Politically-Correct Paradigm (PCP1) but, as some have already pointed out, very wealthy people seem to think they can be an expert on every and anything… sort of like Donald Trump.

What’s so worrisome is how hollow – again – all this sounds. Just PCP bytes, strung together like Pallywood footage. If you just squint hard enough, you won’t see just how profoundly misguided the narrative, the analysis, and the recipe for resolving the problem. Even Barack Obama has distanced himself from this silliness.

It is way too long and poor to fisk from start to finish — how much more interesting to read articles that tackle real issues like Goldhagen on humiliation and terrorism (up next) — than this intellectually meager fare. What I do focus on below is the rant within the rant in which Soros tilts at Alvin Rosenfeld. Just understanding how mediocre his argument on this topic will give a taste of the overall, lengthy, diatribe.

What makes this particularly unfortunate is that it comes from the “pen” of a great admirer of the philosopher and scientist Karl Popper, a passionate advocate of the “Open Society” — after which Soros named his “democracy-promoting” Open Society Institute (of which I was a fellow back in the 1990s) — as well as an articulate spokesman for the exegetical modesty of scientists who must always remain open to the possibility that their formulae for understanding the universe may be wrong and need to be subjected to criticism. In this case we have an inability to see the difference between an extraordinarily open society — Israel — and its extraordinarily closed neighbors, on the one hand, and an unquestioning application of a highly questionable paradigm — “Land for Peace” — to a conflict where the contrary paradigm seems most operative — “Land for Jihad.” In pursuing such a misguided framework, and deriving a particularly harsh strategy — force the open society to make huge concessions to the closed societies in the hopes that these latter will keep promises they show no sign of intending to keep — Soros urges on a strategy that turns Israel into a sacrificial lamb (or a test-monkey in a space probe), and threatens terrible damage to the West’s ability to resist Islamism. Nor is he alone in such a foolish approach.

On Israel, America and AIPAC

By George Soros

The Bush administration is once again in the process of committing a major policy blunder in the Middle East, one that is liable to have disastrous consequences and is not receiving the attention it should. This time it concerns the Israeli–Palestinian relationship. The Bush administration is actively supporting the Israeli government in its refusal to recognize a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, which the US State Department considers a terrorist organization. This precludes any progress toward a peace settlement at a time when progress on the Palestinian problem could help avert a conflagration in the greater Middle East.

You would not know from Soros that Hamas’ charter cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion approvingly (article 32), and invokes a genocidal apocalyptic Hadith about killing every last Jew on the planet (article 7). “Hey. I’m sure they don’t really mean it. You know those Arabs… always exaggerating. They were democratically elected, no? That makes them legitimate representatives, no? We make peace with enemies with whom we negotiate, no?”

Now why would Soros act as if this were not an issue? What’s the purpose of whitewashing Hamas? Does he do his own research? Or does he get fed information by his handlers?

It goes on from there. If you feel like having the most simplistic, dusty Oslo logic thrown in your eyes for many paragraphs, go to the article and read it. It doesn’t get any better than this mediocre rehash in its analysis, all served up with a tone of complete confidence. At one point, he informs us that many don’t understand Hamas, but those (like himself) who do, know that the bad Hamas is in Damascus and the good Hamas, responsive to the Palestinian people who elected it, is in the West Bank and Gaza. One has to wonder how so stunningly gullible a man could have made so much money.

But then, after assaulting AIPAC for pushing the wrong policies, he goes after Rosenfeld. Now it gets interesting (sort of).

The case against those who disagree with Israel’s current policy is spelled out in detail by Alvin H. Rosenfeld in a pamphlet published by the American Jewish Committee. After reviewing the rise of new anti-Semitic currents, particularly in the Muslim world and Europe, Rosenfeld equates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and asserts that Jewish critics of Israeli policies reinforce both. He acknowledges that criticism by itself is not anti-Semitic; indeed, he writes, “the biblical prophets stood on the side of justice and were never hesitant to denounce their people’s behavior when they saw it deviating from the standards of justice.” But, he contends, “to condemn Israeli actions and, at the same time, to forego any realistic historical and political frameworks that might account for such actions” is not acceptable. The use of “exaggerated and defamatory terms,” he writes, renders Israel indistinguishable from the “despised country regularly denounced by the most impassioned anti-Semites.”

To call Israel a Nazi state…or to accuse it of South African–style apartheid rule or engaging in ethnic cleansing or wholesale genocide goes well beyond legitimate criticism. To talk about victims turning into aggressors falls in his view in the same category.

To buttress his case, Rosenfeld examines the writings of a number of critics. In particular, he focuses on a collection of essays whose authors, in his own judgment, make Noam Chomsky appear as an “almost conservative thinker,” but the list also includes Tony Judt, a distinguished historian, whose crime consists of suggesting a possible binational solution for Israel, and Richard Cohen, a Washington Post columnist, who wrote, among other things, that the “sanest choice for Israel is to pull back to defensible—but hardly injurious—borders” and to get out “of most of the West Bank”—a policy often advocated in Israel itself. Rosenfeld resorts, without any personal knowledge of the people he attacks, to primitive accusations of self-hatred, lumping all these critics together as people who are “proud to be ashamed to be Jews.” He concludes that “the cumulative effect of these hostile ideas, which have been moving steadily from the margins to the mainstream of ‘progressive’ opinion, has been to reenergize ugly ideas and aggressive passions long considered dormant, if not dead,” i.e., anti-Semitism.

Now this is the kind of tendentious summary that would get an F from me (certainly for the work of an advanced student). Rosenfeld nowhere uses the term “self-hating” Jews, nor does he equate (although he does relate) anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism.

    Anti-Zionism, in fact, is the form that much of today’s anti-Semitism takes, so much so that some now see
    earlier attempts to rid the world of Jews finding a parallel in present-day desires to get rid of the Jewish state.

And to give the reader the mildest statements of people like Judt and Cohen, rather than the ones that Rosenfeld attacked them for is just short of dishonest. These mis-representations of both Rosenfeld’s arguments and the objects of his criticism are straw men all around, the smiley-faced Judts and Cohens, the bad boy Rosenfeld. This is also preaching to the choir and the ignorant. And since when does someone need to know someone personally to criticize their writing? They are public personalities with a long track record. (For that matter, what does Soros know about what Rosenfeld knows about these people. )

Rosenfeld’s argument suffers from at least three elementary errors in reasoning. The first is guilt by association. The fact that constructive critics of Israel say things that, when taken out of context or paraphrased in provocative ways, can be made to sound similar to the comments of anti-Semites does not make them anti-Semitic or supporters of anti-Semitism in any way.

Vague. Inaccurate. The quotes Rosenfeld offers, like comparisons with the Nazis, have no “contexts” which can justify them. Here is his summary of Michael Neumann, one of the worst offenders:

    Neumann accuses Israel of committing “Zionist atrocities” and of waging “a race war against the Palestinians,” a war whose purpose is nothing less than “the extinction of a people.” Toward this end, Israel has embarked on “genocide” against the Palestinians—“a kinder, gentler genocide that portrays its perpetrators as victims.” The Palestinians “are being shot because Israel thinks all Palestinians should vanish or die…. This is not the bloody mistake of a blundering super-power but an emerging evil.”

Now just what “mitigating circumstances” explain the use of such language. Does Newmann want to plead moral insanity? Worse, were we to look at the the larger body of their writings (with possible exception of Richard Cohen who’s a Politically Correct Paradigmer placed in the company of Post-Colonial Paradigmers) makes these comments all the more grotesque since they inform an entire attitude and “screen” by which reality gets filtered. These comments are the provocative agents, not the critics.

And just what constitutes “constructive” criticism is a serious question, not something you can just claim for your side. One cannot just wave a hand and say “I’m helping you.” That’s what Kristof did, that’s what Soros has done in the passage I didn’t cite at length. It’s may be well-intentioned, but it’s not constructive. As for comparisons with the Nazis — that’s destructive. Especially in current conditions where it’s akin to yelling “the Jews killed a gentile boy” at a Kossack rally.

sf rally
Photo taken at “anti-War” rally in San Francisco, February 16, 2003 (taken and posted by Zombietime).

I’ve discussed the dangers of “prophetic self-criticism” and the deluded moral narcissism that informs current “Jewish” self-criticism. It’s one thing for Jews to do it (like Michael Lerner), and still another for non-Jews to jump on the bandwagon.

Second, there is a lack of factual evidence. Are the expressions used by the critics really “exaggerated and defamatory”? That depends on the facts. What is the more appropriate term, “Israel’s still incomplete security fence” or “an Apartheid Wall?” That can be determined only by considering the actual impact the wall is having on the lives of the Palestinians, a subject ignored by Rosenfeld and AIPAC.

Yes they are really exaggerated and defamatory. Imagine Soros writing about Islam in the ways people like Neumann and Rose write about Israel, and you’ll see that it would be considered wildly defamatory and Islamophobic, even though it’s far more accurate. And no, it’s not appropriate to determine whether “apartheid wall” is appropriate by considering its impact. The term “Apartheid” reflects on the racist motivation — a desire to oppress another people because they are genetically inferior. The motivation for the separation barrier is a direct response to the vicious attacks of Palestinians whose toxic culture regularly produces one of the most disgusting deeds imaginable — suicide terrorism (a dimension of “reality” that Soros’ PC Paradigm systematically filters out). In this framework, the Israelis barrier to protect themselves is a mild response compared to, say, the way any other nation in the Middle East would react to such base and violent provocation. To focus and define reality only in terms of how the Palestinians [say they] feel, without paying attention to what they do to get themselves in their messes, is nothing short of silly, and to pretend that theirs is a legitimate discourse which should trump Israeli defensive measures, when the Palestinians are the motors of the greatest hate-mongering machine since the Nazis, is nothing short of self-destructive.

Third, the professed respect for criticism is a sham when it is not permitted “to condemn Israeli actions and, at the same time, to forego any realistic historical and political frameworks that might account for such actions.” As presented by Rosenfeld, this formula implies that Israel’s actions have to be justified, right or wrong. The appeal to a “realistic framework” aims to rationalize the Israeli position. Criticism ought to be considered on its merits and not by any other yardstick. Suppressing criticism when it is deemed to be unpatriotic has been immensely harmful both in the case of Israel and the United States. It has allowed the Bush administration and the Sharon/ Olmert government to pursue disastrous policies.

Good grief. Fisking this would take weeks to unravel all the disguised inaccuracies and misconceptions. Briefly: looking at the larger historical and political framework does not mean “Israel’s actions have to be justified, right or wrong.” Is Soros serious about this restatement of Rosenfeld’s argument? Does he take us for idiots? If you don’t look at the “historical and political framework” you can’t pass judgments on what’s right or wrong. It’s precisely by ignoring the historical and political framework — land for Jihad — that leads Soros to confidently offer such bad advice.

What does Soros think people do when they excuse Palestinian terror by arguing, “they have no hope and live in despair.” That’s using the historical context to justify behavior that is unacceptable by any standards of what Soros says he labors to promote — an “open society.” Criticism indeed ought to be considered on its merits, and one of the judges of its merits is how much it understands the larger situation of the behavior it criticizes. Soros lives in the netherworld of PCP — if we’re nice to them they’ll be nice to us — and makes all of his judgments based on assumptions that have been disproven repeatedly in the last seven years. And yet, when Rosenfeld and others try and point out the larger problems, he wags his fingers and scolds. George, I assume you think you’re in good faith. But for heaven’s sake, a little intellectual and moral modesty.

The pro-Israel lobby has been remarkably successful in suppressing criticism. Politicians challenge it at their peril because of the lobby’s ability to influence political contributions. When Howard Dean called for an evenhanded policy toward Israel in 2004, his chances of getting the nomination were badly damaged (although it was his attempt, after his defeat in Iowa, to shout above the crowd that sealed his fate). Academics had their advancement blocked and think-tank experts their funding withdrawn when they stepped too far out of line. Following his criticism of repressive Israeli policy on the West Bank, former president Jimmy Carter has suffered the loss of some of the financial backers of his center.

This kind of argument — almost identical to a Kristof paragraph — is getting really tiresome. Is there a boiler plate out there for what promoters of PCP should say? The academic reality is that anti-Zionism dominates both campus life and academic research agendas. Just go to Columbia and look at the propagandists who get tenure and chairs. To pretend that because the “Jewish Lobby” has managed to draw some kind of line against the madness now in motion, it has the power to shut people, up is nothing short of mischievous. Just like the impression that the Palestinians are the David and the Israelis are the Goliath, this inversion of the realities of American political discourse so badly misinforms its readers as to render them incapable of navigating the dangerous shoals we now face in the coming decade.

Anybody who dares to dissent may be subjected to a campaign of personal vilification.

This is a jaw-dropper. People the world over are genuinely threatened with their lives by the demonizers who worry Rosenfeld (and me), journalists, , judges, monitors and bystanders, including children killed and kidnapped by them, their fatwas send Europeans into hiding (from Rushdie in 1989 to Redecker in 2007), but it’s the Jews, who mobilize intelligent criticism and honest indignation whom Soros would have us believe are the “intimidators”?

The example of intimidation that follows — serious criticism from Marty Peretz — illustrates the problem with Soros’ understanding of what “intimidation” is. Just like Erlanger doesn’t think he’s been intimidated, Soros has no idea what real intimidation is. Why should he. He’s saying just what the real intimidators want. Everybody in his circles is. It’s victory of that mimetic desire — follow the crowd — that produced the calamaty of the emperor’s new clothes. And here, Soros is a noisy courtier.

I speak from personal experience. Ever since I participated in a meeting discussing the need for voicing alternative views,

At least according to news reports — never credible, true — Soros is doing a whole lot more than “participating in a meeting.”

a torrent of slanders has been released including the false accusation in The New Republic that I was a “young cog in the Hitlerite wheel” at the age of thirteen when my father arranged a false identity to save my life and I accompanied an official of the Ministry of Agriculture, posing as his godson, when he was taking the inventory of a Jewish estate.[5]

Now here’s where cyberspace makes misrepresentation difficult. The footnote tells us to see Martin Peretz’s “Tyranno-Soros.” One of the key issues in Peretz’s article is a Davos interview that Soros gave in which he makes the following remark:

    “America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany. We have to go through a certain deNazification process.”

Now this does qualify Soros as a Moonbat. It’s pure “moral equivalence” of the Gitmo=Gulag or Blair=Ahmadenijad kind. To compare the US under Bush with the Nazis, especially from someone who, at 14, saw the Nazis in action, is stunning.

Granted that it’s fashionable. But we expect more from our culture critics than praise for the emperor’s new clothes. So Marty Peretz does have a valid criticism of Soros, in particular, his attack on Soros’ tendency to blithely make idiotic comparisons that assault democracies… something of great relevance in the context of the Rosenfeld controversy in question here.

So Peretz probes. What’s the story on Soros and the real Holocaust, the real Nazis. Here is the key passage which Soros cites so indignantly. You be the judge of Soros’ ability to report other people’s thoughts and arguments. It begins with an exchange between Soros and an interviewer for 60 Minutes, in which it comes out that Soros (aged 14) escaped the Holocaust not only by posing as a Christian, but participating in the confiscation of the property of Jews who were being sent off to their deaths. The interviewer wants to know if that ever produced any sense of guilt.

    Kroft: “And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.”

    Soros: “Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that’s when my character was made.”

    Kroft: “In what way?”

    Soros: “That one should think ahead. One should understand that–and anticipate events and when, when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a– a very personal threat of evil.”

    Kroft: “My understanding is that you went … went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.”

    Soros: “Yes, that’s right. Yes.”

    Kroft: “I mean, that’s–that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?”

    Soros: “Not, not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t … you don’t see the connection. But it was–it created no–no problem at all.”

    Kroft: “No feeling of guilt?”

    Soros: “No.”

    Kroft: “For example, that, ‘I’m Jewish, and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be these, I should be there.’ None of that?”

    Soros: “Well, of course, … I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn’t be there, because that was–well, actually, in a funny way, it’s just like in the markets–that is I weren’t there–of course, I wasn’t doing it, but somebody else would–would–would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the–whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the–I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.”

Peretz then comments on this stunning expression of what some clinical observers might call sociopathy.

    So this is the psychodrama that has been visited on American liberalism. We learn Soros never has nightmares. Had he been tried in a de-Nazification process for having been a young cog in the Hitlerite wheel, he would have felt that, since other people would have confiscated the same Jewish property and delivered the same deportation notices to the same doomed Jews, it was as if he hadn’t done it himself. He sleeps well, while we sleep in Nazi America.

This passage then appears in Soros’ plaint — remember, to illustrate the vicious character assassination that anyone who “crosses” the Israel lobby gets targeted with — in the following “summary”:

the false accusation in The New Republic that I was a “young cog in the Hitlerite wheel” at the age of thirteen when my father arranged a false identity to save my life and I accompanied an official of the Ministry of Agriculture, posing as his godson, when he was taking the inventory of a Jewish estate.

This is stunning. Peretz is addressing a key issue and a legitimate criticism, and Soros doesn’t seem to have felt the need to “explain” his behavior as “merely” accompanying his “godfather taking inventory” in the interview. In fact we know from other interviews that he delivered eviction notices and participated in confiscation of Jewish property. Nor did Peretz call Soros a “cog” as Soros claims, but presented an interesting hypothetical about how Soros would react to being called to account for his actions. And for Soros to respond by saying, “How dare he call me a cog in the Hitler machine, I just went around with him…” illustrates nicely just how accurate Peretz’s speculations are. I didn’t do anything wrong! How unfair of people to associate me with the Nazis. And this from the man defending a) people like Hamas who admire and want to finish the Nazi job, and b) people like Newmann who, rather than call this phenomenon to people’s attentions, prefer to call the Israelis Nazis.

This is scary. It looks like today Soros is replicating the behavior that marked his character as a silent, conscienceless “survivor.” “I, George Soros, big cheese, powerful player in both financial and political circles, Jew with no Jewish commitments (certainly not Zionism), have no problem with Israel turned into a sacrificial lamb, just like the evil I was a bystander to (at best). My way of avoiding evil today is like it was then. If I can get out of the way, I don’t see the evil. If someone else didn’t affirm the discourse of sacrifice, someone else would.”

But George, you’re a grown man now. Do you really think that you support “civil society” with this disembodied discourse. Don’t you think you should show some courage this time and face the real bullies? Or are you genuinely unaware of what’s going on?

It gets tedious again. He shows a glimmer of understanding for the Israeli predicament:

AIPAC is protected not only by the fear of personal retaliation but also by a genuine concern for the security and survival of Israel. Both considerations have a solid foundation in reality. The same two factors were at play in the United States after September 11 when President Bush declared war on terror.

But like Erlanger on Palestinian hate-mongering, that only gets a sentence (2 halves of 2 sentences). (How to discuss it in the same text with urging Israel to make peace with mortal enemies?) Sooner tar Israel with the brush of Bush in Iraq and argue — hey, since we’re really gaining speed with Bush, why not attack the defenders of Israel as well.

For eighteen months thereafter it was considered unpatriotic to criticize his policies. That is what allowed him to commit one of the greatest blunders in American history, the invasion of Iraq. But at that time the threat to our national security was greatly exaggerated by the Bush administration. Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney went so far as to warn that the threat would manifest itself in the form of a mushroom cloud. In the case of Israel today the threat to national security, even national survival, is much more real. Israel needs the support of the United States more than ever. Is this the right time to expose AIPAC’s heavy influence in American politics? I believe this consideration holds back many people who are critical of the way AIPAC conducts its business. While the other architects of the Bush administration’s failed policies have been relentlessly exposed, AIPAC continues to be surrounded by a wall of silence.

Now calling the chorus of criticism that has so alarmed so many Jews normally highly tolerant to criticism, from Walt and Mearsheimer, Carter, Baker, and the crew denounced by Rosenfeld, part of a “wall of silence,” calls into question either Soros’ sanity or his integrity. Like the hyper-critics screaming “You’re like Amalek trying to utterly eradicate our voice,” Soros pushes one of the most obviously false themes in the chorus of the emperor’s mimetic court. Just as the chorus reaches a new pitch of intensity, they shout, “You’re trying to silence us!”

I am not insensitive to this argument. It has held me back from criticizing Israel policies in the past. I am not a Zionist, nor am I am a practicing Jew, but I have a great deal of sympathy for my fellow Jews and a deep concern for the survival of Israel. I did not want to provide fodder to the enemies of Israel. I rationalized my position by saying that if I wanted to voice critical views, I ought to move to Israel. But since there were many Israelis who held such views my voice was not needed, and I have many other battles to fight.

So stay out George. You’re a babe in the woods in this sphere. If you insist, learn a little about the nature of “self-criticism” so you don’t fall over yourself to echo the moral perfectionists when the other side teems with corruption and hatred. You have taken sides in a fight that (at least so far) surpasses your understanding.

(And it shouldn’t. You’re a survivor of the last tsunami of Judeophobia that swept the world. You should know and understand a lot more, including about yourself.)

But now I have to ask the question: How did Israel become so endangered? I cannot exempt AIPAC from its share of the responsibility.

This is PCP purified with masochistic omnipotence complex. “It’s all our (in this case, Israel’s) fault, and if only we apologize and learn to live with those who hate us, things will get better.” So the clear culprits are the people like AIPAC who defend Israel and vociferously object to this strategy which, “objectively” as Marx would say, operates as a policy of appeasement to the Islamists who now scream for Israel’s extermination. Stop them, and we get going in the right direction.

I am a fervent advocate of critical thinking. I have supported dissidents in many countries. I took a stand against President Bush when he said that those who don’t support his policies are supporting the terrorists. I cannot remain silent now when the pro-Israel lobby is one of the last unexposed redoubts of this dogmatic way of thinking. I speak out with some trepidation because I am exposing myself to further attacks that are likely to render me less effective in pursuing many other causes in which I am engaged; but dissidents I have supported have taken far greater risks.

Oh good grief. Dissidents are gunned down daily in the Palestinian world. Children with them. Dissidents are a tiny, frightened, silent minority in the Arab and Muslim world. The Jewish world teems with dissidents. It’s one of the reasons why totalitarian cultures, like the Nazis, the Communists, and the Islamists, hate the Jews. It’s the core of the Protocol’s paranoia. The Jews, with their subversive attitudes, make social order impossible. So brave George will lift his head from his own Herculean labors and give a hand to the poor dissidents among the Jews who need his help.

I am not sufficiently engaged in Jewish affairs to be involved in the reform of AIPAC; but I must speak out in favor of the critical process that is at the heart of our open society. I believe that a much-needed self-examination of American policy in the Middle East has started in this country; but it can’t make much headway as long as AIPAC retains powerful influence in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Some leaders of the Democratic Party have promised to bring about a change of direction but they cannot deliver on that promise until they are able to resist the dictates of AIPAC. Palestine is a place of critical importance where positive change is still possible.

Where have you been for the last seven years, George? Whoever’s giving you intelligence on the Arab-Israeli conflict, fire him. What evidence makes you think that “positive change is still possible?” The Saudi Plan? The Geneva Plan? The Road Map? Do you even know that the Ptolomeian system has been radically undermined for some time now? When’s the last time you read Popper on exegetical modesty.

Iraq is largely beyond our control; but if we succeeded in settling the Palestinian problem we would be in a much better position to engage in negotiations with Iran and extricate ourselves from Iraq. The need for a peace settlement in Palestine is greater than ever. Both for the sake of Israel and the United States, it is highly desirable that the Saudi peace initiative should succeed; but AIPAC stands in the way. It continues to oppose dealing with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas.

I just can’t believe that you are thinking this simplistically about the political and religious fate of the planet. Consider just for a moment… what if you’re wrong? What if forcing the Israelis to yield still more to a ferocious global Jihad with an cosmic appetite means igniting the next stage in Jihad. What if this (awfully simplistic) thinking is actually counter-indicated? What if all this maneuvering in the hopes of a realitvely quick fix is actually catastrophic? Do you have the open mind to rethink? Or is it full steam ahead? Since no one can stop the minister of agriculture from taking inventory of Israeli property, why not make the best of it?

Whether the Democratic Party can liberate itself from AIPAC’s influence is highly doubtful. Any politician who dares to expose AIPAC’s influence would incur its wrath; so very few can be expected to do so.

Again with the false theme of “incurring Jewish wrath.” Part of our problem is that it’s so easy to dump on Jews and Israelis. As long as you’re not actually shooting at them they prefer to talk it out. It’s almost cost-free to attack the Jews verbally. As for Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians, you try criticizing them and see what happens.

It is up to the American Jewish community itself to rein in the organization that claims to represent it. But this is not possible without first disposing of the most insidious argument put forward by the defenders of the current policies: that the critics of Israel’s policies of occupation, control, and repression on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and Gaza engender anti-Semitism.

So this is the game plan. The Rube Goldberg machine is: convince the Israelis to go with the Saudi plan… then the Saudis, reliable rational self-interest actors, will easily handle their Wahhabi fanatics to accept Israel… we can normalize the area… permitting us to get out of Iraq… and negotiate a positive-sum solution with Iran. Now the only clog (sabot) in the wheel is AIPAC. If we can stop them, we can force Israel to make the move that we know is best for all of us. And the core of AIPAC’s ability to prevent us from turning government policies away from one-sidedly supporting Israel (like the Europeans) is pointing out how the critics of Israel engender anti-Semitism.

Now we can understand how Soros could be so remarkably insensitive to the problem. By his strategy, he can’t afford to notice the problem. He can’t allow awareness of the tsunami of anti-Semitism that has swept the Arab/Muslim world seep in. If he did, it would only get in the way of progress. Never mind that it’s precisely this anti-Semitism he blocks that provides the key to why his solution will backfire. To notice that would mean a level of critical thinking that, despite his protestations that that is what he likes, seems far beyond his meager capacity to add or detract.

The opposite is the case.

QED. Does he really believe this? What was he thinking as he accompanied his godfather in Hungary? That this “estate inventory” had nothing to do with the disappearance of his people?

One of the myths propagated by the enemies of Israel is that there is an all-powerful Zionist conspiracy. That is a false accusation.

Alright. Good to know you’re aware of this. Are you aware of how powerful this idea is right now? And of the damage believing it can bring to both the Jews and to those who believe it?

Nevertheless, that AIPAC has been so successful in suppressing criticism has lent some credence to such false beliefs.

Shades of Michael Lerner! There is no real anti-Semitism, but if the Jews go on this way, they’ll produce anti-Semitism.

Demolishing the wall of silence that has protected AIPAC would help lay them to rest. A debate within the Jewish community, instead of fomenting anti-Semitism, would only help diminish it.

Now this is again at the level of colossally wrong. Soros imagines that conspiracy theory is rational. That by proving the “Zionist conspiracy” vulnerable, it will “lay to rest” such silly notions. No, George, listen closely. People who believe in the Protocols do so not because they are rational observers, but because they are obsessed, paranoid, and eager to believe terrible things about the Jews to justify doing terrible things to the Jews. They are as concerned for consistency as the Arabs who in the same moment that they claim there was no Holocaust, accuse Jews of behaving like Hitler. The point is not rationality or empiricism, but Jew hating. Weakening the Jews will just whet their appetite.

Anticipating attacks, I should like to emphasize that I do not subscribe to the myths propagated by enemies of Israel and I am not blaming Jews for anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism predates the birth of Israel. Neither Israel’s policies nor the critics of those policies should be held responsible for anti-Semitism.

Why does this sound pro-forma? Why does it sound like a “however…” or a “nevertheless…” is on its way.

At the same time, I do believe that attitudes toward Israel are influenced by Israel’s policies, and attitudes toward the Jewish community are influenced by the pro-Israel lobby’s success in suppressing divergent views.

—March 15, 2007

Back to the suppressing of divergent views. And just what has George Soros written on the suppression of divergent views among the enemies of the Jews. I think one of Rosenfeld’s key arguments is that when your moral radar screen is set to the slightest violations among Jews and impervious to evidence of grotesque violations among their enemies you are contributing, whether you know it or not, to anti-Semitism. To which I would add, you are also contributing to the suicide of free societies around the world. Woe onto you George Soros if you ever got your foolish way.

3 Responses to Mis-applying a Problematic Paradigm: Soros Redefines “Deeply Superficial”

  1. Eliyahu says:

    Soros is shameless! That astounds me. btw, Carolyn Glick made some good comments on the Soros problem.

  2. Joanne says:

    It seems that people who have a lot of fame or money sometimes feel empowered to speak out on areas in which they have no real competence. You could say that they have a perfect right to do so, especially if they feel passionately about some cause or other. After all, it’s a matter of freedom of speech. You might even say that it’s their duty to “care.”

    OK, but I see the influence of someone like Soros as something very anti-democratic. He has questionable opinions that are given weight only because of the money he’s putting behind them. That money causes his influence to outweigh the wishes and opinions of many others. I think it’s far more fair to see political debates weighted in favor of the views of millions of people, and not one person with millions of dollars.

    We rue the corrupting influence of monied lobbies and multinational corporations on government decisions. Soros is just another example of how unequal resources can lead to unequal political power.

    Maybe he feels he’s using his money to “give something back.” That’s fine, but he’s only serving very debatable, tendetious causes. That’s not really the same as being a philanthropist.

  3. RL says:

    to Joanne,

    i’m a great believer in the marketplace of ideas — which is why i see the internet and blogosphere as so important, because they offer another means for the public to register its interests and concerns.

    let soros do what he wants. he’s open to criticism. if our public sphere — esp our academics — would do their job, his nonsense would be exposed to the ridicule it deserves and he’d be more careful. same holds for the ludicrous stuff the arabs say, which we continue to grant a legitimacy to that undermines our very basis of thinking and reality testing.

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