I just posted a piece that was co-authored with Elisa Vandernoot, who offered to help me with my blog while I am distracted working on my book on millennialism. I did not proof-read carefully enough and published a comment that I would neither have written nor should I have allowed it to get published under my name. My apologies to anyone I offended.
Jeffrey Goldberg, whose name appears in a list of “self-hating Jews” has responded with vehemence. I respond below:
From Richard Landes, in reference to criticism of the Netanyahu government’s settlement policy from, among others, yours truly:
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 self-hating.
Actually, that’s not in the context of criticism of Netanyahu’s government settlement policy; it’s in the context of using the settlement policy to blame Israel for the breakdown of the talks. You can be as critical as you want of the settlement policy; I have no problem with that. Indeed much of the criticism makes sense.
But to take the step of blaming it for the failure of the peace process when there are so many far greater obstacles coming from the Palestinian side… that strikes me as both intellectually dishonest, and excessively self-critical, bordering on what I call masochistic omnipotence syndrome. Any serious student of the Arab-Israeli conflict who thinks that the settlements are the main block to a resolution, and that if Israel stopped settlements, indeed uprooted all the settlements including East Jerusalem, that would make the Palestinians eager partners in peace, rather than still more intransigent and eager for war strikes me as self-deluding.
This is sickening rhetoric. People like Landes — who conflate support for Israel with support for settlements — are creating conditions that will ultimately lead to Israel’s disappearance.
I’m not sure where Goldberg gets the notion that I conflate support for Israel with support for the settlements. There’s nothing in anything I’ve ever written to suggest that; and as far as I can make, it’s only Goldberg’s mistaken characterization of the context of my criticism of him that might lead him to such a conclusion. As for the notion that support of settlements will lead to Israel’s disappearance, it strikes me as a position freighted with misconceptions and subliminal threats too complex to deal with here. Under the circumstances, “sickening” strikes me as a bit of overkill.
These types of people are not new in Jewish life. Extremists like Bar-Kochba and the Zealots have always been with us, people who would rather see Jerusalem burn than even consider compromise with those they consider evil. Last week, the Goldblogs went hiking in Ein Gedi, near the Dead Sea, and we talked about the infamous raid conducted on the Jewish community there by the Zealots who had sequestered themselves just up the road at Masada. These Zealots slaughtered 700 Jews — not Romans, Jews — and stole their provisions in this horrible raid. And yet, we still commemorate, even celebrate, the “heroism” of the defenders of Masada today. How misguided!
Okay, I misstated my criticism of Goldberg, but to compare me with the Zealots (whom I deal with in my book on millennialism) is pretty over the top. It seems like he read what I wrote and saw red. It would behoove someone with his position and with his platform to be a bit more careful with his accusations. But I guess what sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander here.
And how misguided is Richard Landes, to argue that Thomas Friedman, David Remnick and Goldblog are “self-hating” because we have differing opinions about the best way to secure Israel’s future.
You’re absolutely right, Jeffery. I didn’t write that, and I regret not having caught it. For one thing, I don’t use the term self-hating any more (never did like it). I’ve written about the problem a great deal, and I don’t think I can be accused of throwing the accusation around promiscuously. My latest meditation on the subject is that the Jews many designate as self-hating are really self-degrading, and that’s the only term I’ve used since.
But I’d go further and say, I don’t consider you, or Tom Friedman to be “self-degrading Jews.” To qualify, you have to compare Israel to South African racist apartheid supporters or Nazis, and as far as I can make out neither has done anything of the sort.
My recent beef with Tom Friedman can be seen in detail here. I’ve actually never read anything by Remnick, although I do find his remark to Yediot Aharonot to be a good example of what I dislike in Friedman. The point I’m trying to make, I tried to lay out in my fisking of Bradley Burston’s bizarre piece arguing that BDS is a form of “tikkun olam.” As for you, you shouldn’t have been on the list at all; I haven’t read you recently and don’t have an opinion. My mistake for not catching that.
There’s nothing wrong with criticizing Israel. People do it all the time. I do it plenty, although not as an act of public breast-beating to build up my liberal bona fides. The problem is when the criticism of Israel drowns out any awareness of the problems on the other side.
The idea that somehow Israel could make peace with the Palestinians if only they were willing to give up enough is, I think, a very dangerous delusion. I have a right to that opinion without being labeled a Zealot. As a liberal friend of mine said to me about the second intifada: “I realized, this is not in our hands.” It’s people like Goldberg and Friedman and Burston who seem determined not only to ignore any such argument, but to blame Israel for any subsequent failure (and to accuse anyone of making the argument of defending the settlements). That’s cruel to Israel, and, on some level, quietly racist, because it refuses to hold the Palestinians to even the most basic moral standards.
If there’s a dialogue of the deaf going on here, it’s partly because people like Friedman and Goldberg (and I suspect Remnick) don’t want to deal with the real issues. So they’d rather scream about settlements and jump on anyone who criticizes them as a settler-loving messianic beserker.
The only hatred of Jews I see in this episode is Richard Landes’s.
What’s this? The blogging equivalent of “I’m rubber and you’re glue…”?
I can’t criticize Jews without being accused of hating them?
Please, Jeffrey, let’s see if we can’t make some lemonade out of these bitter lemons.