Remnick joins the ASHamed Jews

This post is a joint effort by RL and Elisa Vandernoot.

‘So how can they be ashamed? How can you be ashamed  of a country that’s not yours?’ Treslove  was truly puzzled.

‘It’s because they’re Jewish.’

‘But you said they’re not ashamed of being Jewish.’

‘Exactly. But they’re ashamed as Jews.’

‘Ashamed as Jews of a country of which they are not citizens…?’

Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question

Last week Ron Radosh wrote an excellent piece entitled: David Remnick Joins the Israeli Haters and the Leftist British Intellectuals . Radosh laments the great writers, the   ‘New York Intellectuals’ of the 1940s and 1950s; writers such as Irving Howe, Irving Kritsol, Mary McCarthy, Lionel Trilling and others. These men and women were giants in their day.

Today, what passes for ‘New York Intellectuals’ are writers paid very well associated with big name publications such as the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books.

Both publications pay their writers well, and their editors and writers on the staff get high salaries, many perks, and have great influence on the culture at large. Both of them, although the NYRB is more similar in its leftism to The Nation, while The New Yorker makes a pretense of being more independent and gives off a pretentious air of would-be objectivity and nuance, runs pieces by people like the discredited Seymour Hersh with regularity, and is outspoken as the single most pro-Obama magazine in existence.

He criticises current editor David Remnick who is both a journalist and writer and the latest, amongst ‘liberal’ thinking Jews to join the fashionable Israeli haters of British Intellectuals. Remnick recently gave an interview to the Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot about his forthcoming book on Obama and decided to take a nasty swipe at Israeli policy in the process:

A new generation of Jews is growing up in the US. Their relationship with Israel is becoming less patient and more problematic…How long can you expect that they’ll love unconditionally the place called Israel [sic]? You’ve got a problem. You have the status of an occupier since 1967. It’s been happening for so long that even people like me, who understand  that not only one side is responsible for the conflict and that the Palestinians missed an historic opportunity for peace in 2000, can’t take it anymore.

Radosh rightly condemns Remnick for his arrogance and hostility towards Israel and the fact that he doesn’t deny that the Palestinians themselves missed an opportunity for peace in 2000.

Of course Remnick, chants the mantra of the left about Israel being the occupier. Nowhere does he consider that Arabs were hostile to a Jewish State before the 1967 war, (where Israel was attacked), and that the so called Oslo Peace Process has been a disaster from the start, the PLO still has textbooks and TV shows calling for the death of Jews, naming streets after terrorists who killed Jews,  and refusual to recognize Israel as a Jewish State. All of that would just get in the way of his impatience.

What Radosh doesn’t mention is that there are some Jewish intellectuals of the leftist persuasion that have broken from the ranks, such as Paul Berman whose book The Flight of the Intellectuals was released last year to great reviews and also happens to have published articles in the New Yorker and the NYRB. In 2008, the French Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy released the book Left in Dark Times: a stand against the new barbarism. Though they are few in number and a small minority, they still deserve praise and recognition.

Alas, the majority of liberal Jewish journalists and writers like Thomas Friedman, David Remnick and Jeffrey Goldberg  don’t have the fortitude, conviction and integrity of their elders. Instead of having independent minds, they have shown themselves to be driven by their peer group. (NB: I have changed the text here in response to Jeffrey Goldberg’s criticism.)

Today’s New York intellectuals are a pale imitation of their ancestors. The original group had a fidelity to the truth, and to bold assertions they believed to be true, regardless of whom they offended. Today’s group, of which Remnick is most typical, runs to join their fellow leftist herd of no longer independent minds in Britain, assuring them of their loyalty to the influential in group of journalists and opinion makers, and if they are Jewish, making their assurance known by joining in the stampede to dissociate themselves from defense of Israel. Is it no wonder that so many of us no longer can take David Remnick seriously?

A recent, unfortunately undocumented account of a meeting between an Israeli diplomat and members of the NYT staff (including Tom Friedman) reveals the same phenomenon. When the diplomat tried to present Israel’s perspective, they responded, “You just don’t get it that we are sick of hearing about that.”

Sick and tired of hearing what? That the fault doesn’t lie exclusively with Israel? That the Palestinians are not interested in their own state at all, but rather in destroying the Israeli state? Remick may be impatient with a peace-process that goes nowhere. But why pick on Israel?

Because… it’s easier for narcissists to dump on their friends and family. As Caroline Glick comments about a conference we both attended, the Israeli peace camp (which shares the orientation of American liberals) has nothing to offer but fantasy. Wouldn’t it look bad if we dumped on the Palestinians? What would people (other progressives) think of us? ASHamed Jews unite: we have our amour-propre to defend!

12 Responses to Remnick joins the ASHamed Jews

  1. [...] actually never read anything by [David] Remnick," – Richard Landes, in a series of posts lambasting David [...]

  2. Ellaquince says:

    “Both of them, although the NYRB is more similar in its leftism to The Nation, while The New Yorker makes a pretense of being more independent and gives off a pretentious air of would-be objectivity and nuance, runs pieces by people like the discredited Seymour Hersh with regularity, and is outspoken as the single most pro-Obama magazine in existence.”

    I can’t take seriously as a thinker anyone who cannot manage simple subject-verb agreement.

  3. [...] actually never read anything by [David] Remnick," – Richard Landes, in a series of posts lambasting David [...]

  4. Joshua Schwartz says:

    your rhetoric displays a common trope in discourse about israel that i simply cannot tolerate. to substitute “self-ashamed” for “self-hating” is a mere shell game of semantics.
    to become narratival, it is personally offensive to me, as an observant Jew, who precisely out of my religious convictions, is a fierce critic of Israel. i keep shabbat, i keep kosher, i davven three times a day, etc. and yet: i am deeply, uncompromisingly critical of the actions the israeli government takes, of the sincerely worrying direction israeli popular opinion seems to be heading. i lived in jerusalem in 2008-9, and i saw myself what was on the ground (yes, i am fluent in hebrew), especially during the gaza war.
    i do not find general demonization of israel to be a useful discursive stance, nor is it an accurate one. however, to identify certain comparisons as signifying “self-shame” or what have you is absurd. well, comparisons to the nazis, fine, i agree. but i personally do not think a comparison with apartheid is beyond the bounds, since there is a second-class population without any way to determine their own futures. obviously, it is not the same (the whites in SA did not kill thousands of blacks with superior military might, the blacks did not instigate violent resistance or use terrorism).
    the real problem is that of guilt. i honestly make the comparison because i think there is real worth to it, soberly, rationally. it seems like the main reason you oppose it is due to the heavy moral yoke associated with it. you cannot bear to see israel be shouldered with that kind of guilt. (obviously, guilt is shared; this is not a simple situation. but only the israeli side possesses a structure of power that effects the entire palestinian situation).
    sir, i ask you to be brave. believe in the jewish people, believe in our ability to be horrible, to own it, and to become better. we must admit to our guilt, unashamedly. if anyone is full of shame, sir, it is you, since you cannot fully face up to the real wrongs that member of our family have perpetrated. chazak ve’ematz.

  5. Cynic says:

    but i personally do not think a comparison with apartheid is beyond the bounds, since there is a second-class population without any way to determine their own futures. obviously, it is not the same (the whites in SA did not kill thousands of blacks with superior military might, the blacks did not instigate violent resistance or use terrorism).
    the real problem is that of guilt.

    That you
    i keep shabbat, i keep kosher, i davven three times a day, etc. and yet: i am deeply, uncompromisingly critical of the actions the israeli government takes, of the sincerely worrying direction israeli popular opinion seems to be heading. i lived in jerusalem in 2008-9, and i saw myself what was on the ground (yes, i am fluent in hebrew), especially during the gaza war.
    doesn’t mean that you know the facts nor saw the evidence.
    That you would write
    but i personally do not think a comparison with apartheid is beyond the bounds, since there is a second-class population without any way to determine their own futures. obviously, it is not the same (the whites in SA did not kill thousands of blacks with superior military might, the blacks did not instigate violent resistance or use terrorism).
    the real problem is that of guilt.

    shows your total ignorance of Apartheid and the facts relating to that period in South Africa, but also your total ignorance of the facts relating to Israel,
    since there is a second-class population without any way to determine their own futures.,
    given that only last week a former “Jewish” President of Israel was tried in court where the chief justice presiding is an Arab Christian.
    Oh, maybe that was the mistake and it should have been a Muslim judge?

  6. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MJ Rosenberg and MJ Rosenberg, Elise . Elise said: Remick joins the ASHamed Jews | Augean Stables http://goo.gl/dxkdv //spoiled leftist two-year-old brats. They need a time out. [...]

  7. [...] Richard Landes, in reference to criticism of the Netanyahu [...]

  8. Passerby says:

    “the blacks [in South Africa] did not instigate violent resistance or use terrorism”

    Please see “Umkhonto we Sizwe” (a mainstream terrorist organization that bombed courts, beaches, banks, rugby stadiums, etc.)

  9. Rich Rostrom says:

    The New Yorker isn’t hopeless. Recently they published this article debunking the left-wing claim that the toppling of Saddam’s giant statue in Baghdad was a staged psych-war operation.

    Joshua Schwartz: the whites in SA did not kill thousands of blacks with superior military might, the blacks did not instigate violent resistance or use terrorism

    Wrong twice. How do you think the Afrikaners established their control? See the Battle of Blood River, for instance: 3,000 Zulus were killed there. The British also killed thousands of blacks in battle: the nine “Kaffir Wars” with the Xhosa, and the Zulu War of 1879.

    Black resistance to the apartheid regime included armed violence and terrorism. Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”) was the armed wing of the African National Congress, and committed many terrorist attacks.

    However, the parallel stops there, because unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa, Israeli Arabs are not non-citizens. They are not a disfranchised majority, and Zionists never sought to rule over a non-Arab majority of manual laborers.

    The Arabs of West Bank/Gaza are effectively non-citizens under Israeli rule, but they could get out of that at any time by their own action. All they have to do is stop being at war with Israel. So they could “determine their own futures”.

  10. incognito says:

    All they have to do is stop being at war with Israel. So they could “determine their own futures”.

    Why should they? They paid a heavy price for their “no” policy which turns out to have been extremely effective: they keep getting concessions from Israel, the west has bought into their propaganda and has collapsed as a power, Israel, lacking leadership and mired in corruption and incompetence is isolated and now likely to revert to the earlier 4-front borders, but with more implacable enemies armed by both the West and the iranians, while a collapsed America cowardly and hypocritically is throwing Israel under the bus.

    To stop now, after 6 decades, when they’re just about to get their ultimate goal would be insane.

  11. incognito says:

    sir, i ask you to be brave. believe in the jewish people, believe in our ability to be horrible, to own it, and to become better. we must admit to our guilt, unashamedly. if anyone is full of shame, sir, it is you, since you cannot fully face up to the real wrongs that member of our family have perpetrated. chazak ve’ematz.

    Oh, as a jew self-ashamed indeed: that you belong to my people.

    You sir are a masochist. And since it is by choice, you’re stupid.

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