Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Progressives Talk About Israel Behind Closed Doors

I'm a much more intelligent political scientist than I was five years ago. And amazingly, I owe this to blogging --- that is, to being online and reading the subterranean filth of progressive anti-colonialism (among so much else, unfortunately). It's been developing, but I've had one of those life awakenings in which you say to yourself, "If I had this to do over again ..." Mostly, though, I just shake my head and look forward to a chance at sabbatical, when I can do something more formal in the way of writing. Anyway, five years ago, when I first read Walt and Mearsheimer's "The Israel Lobby" I looked at it mostly from the perspective of pluralist theory in political science. Had I known more about the left's drive to a new Jewish Holocaust I no doubt would have been more discerning in my appraisal. But it's all come together over these last fews years, and I can see things in a new light. There's a moral inversion in the world, and an individual's stance on Israel is a pretty good indicator of one relationship to universal right. I keep telling myself that perhaps it's not so bad, that the screaming demons of contemporary evil are a blip of reality. Nothing to worry about in the long run. Truth and justice will prevail. But again and again I'm taken aback, and not just on Israel and the Middle East. Abortion politics and the normalization of social deviancy on cultural issues want to drive me to drink. But as we've seen with Itamar and Jerusalem, rarely is the immediacy of moral bankruptcy so powerful as in the militant annihilationism facing Israel.

At any rate, I'm going off like this after reading Scott McConnell's essay at Mondoweiss, "
Five years ago today, Walt and Mearsheimer gave Americans the vocabulary to discuss a central issue." The piece has something of a hush-hush feel to it, like we're allowed to peek inside the redoubts of conspirators. Here's this for example:
What stood out from the first page was the tone—measured but firm, uncompromising but not strident. Every assertion seemed precisely weighed, put forth without exaggeration, flamboyance, or polemical excess. Also striking was the absence of gratuitous deference towards the opponent. There was no pulling of punches, no telltale signs of anxiety about the consequences of an argument taken too far, or indeed made at all. Such was my first reaction to reading John Mearsheimer’s and Steve Walt’s Israel Lobby paper, posted five years ago today on the website of Harvard’s Kennedy School, and published in shorter form in the London Review of Books. It had arrived at the opening of business one morning in an email from Michael Desch, then a professor at Texas A&M’s George H. W. Bush School of Government. I sent it across the hall to my colleague Kara Hopkins, a woman a generation my junior, somewhat less engaged than I by the Middle East, and certainly less persuaded that a coterie of neocons had gotten George W. Bush on a leash and were leading him this way and that. Three minutes later I walked into her office, where she had the paper up on her screen. “This is exactly what I believe,” said Kara, words that I had never heard from her before on any subject, much less this one.
That's some significant moment, that Kara Hopkins realized that she wasn't alone in her suppressed anti-Israel sentiments. No doubt it was a relief, and I'm sure this happened in history, political science, and sociology departments around the country, if not further across the academy. But keep reading McConnell's piece, and keep in mind that he's publishing this at Mondoweiss, which is the progressive left's most aggressive anti-Israel blog on the web. Omar Barghouti's publishing there as well, which gives you and idea of eliminationist pedigree of the roster. But back to the essay. See the further discussion and how it's an explication of un-closeting anti-Semitism in elite circles:
Save a handful of exceptions, mainstream dissent from the special relationship with Israel has taken the form of the dry aside or the understated sentence or two published amidst a lot of other stuff, almost as if the author hoped it would not be noticed. Occasionally public figures at the end of their careers made remarks that more resembled outbursts, the parting shot of the seventy- five year old senator or aging general. But more often than not, ever sensitive to the perils of anti-semitism, Americans let their fears of contributing to injustice shut off necessary debates ...

The reasons differed for every individual, and were composite. There was the worry about offending close Jewish friends or colleagues, concerns over possible adverse professional consequences, or the general inhibitions associated with the Jewish power/leading to anti-Semitism/leading to the Holocaust nexus.* The result was that critical analysis of the special relationship was shoved to the margins of American political discourse. The discussions may have been richer and more involved on the Marxist and anti-imperialist Left than on the quasi-isolationist Old Right, but in neither case did they much influence the political mainstream. Even in the wake of the Iraq disaster, with the looming prospect more American wars in the Middle East, Israel’s role was alluded at most in passing, but seldom really pursued.
Seriously. McConnell's just admitting that the kind of anti-Semitism found on the fringes of ideological extremism in earlier decades is now mainstream. Those who follow these questions wouldn't be surprised. The problem is that it's not just the academy. Yesterday Reuters described the Jerusalem bus attack with terrorism in quotation marks --- as in "terrorist attack" --- to indicate that this was some made up meme fostered by Israeli officials. It's despicable. But this is the kind of whitewashing of evil that passes for mainstream reporting.

More later ... (and keep reading that Mondweiss essay ... it's like another world).

RELATED: From Lawrence Auster, "What cheers Scott McConnell?"


dave in boca said...

I was an Arabist and staunchly anti-Israel until the '90s, when as an Amoco exec for New Entry Strategies, I was invited to Israel. By this time I had visited every Arab country in the Arab League except Djibouti and Libya, & also visited Israel just once in the mid-70s while studying Arabic in Beirut.

I found the atmosphere in Israel far different from what I'd imagined. Of course, I DID GET a three-hour one-on-one meeting with Shimon Peres, then Foreign Minister, who grilled me on everything I'd picked up about the Arab World and the prospects for Israel to get a water pipeline from Egypt [Amoco made the best pipelines in the world] to the Negev Desert [Nil, I told him.]

From that time forward, I was moderately in the middle, until 9/11, when the true nature of Islamic brutality showed its face. And I went to King Abdul-Aziz U. in Jeddah where Osama was studying at the very same time and encountered that hatred of the West that simmers beneath the cosmopolitan surface many Arabs present to gullible Americans. Now I see that the stupidity and venality of proglodytes fit nicely with the lies and basic lack of humanity that Islam represents---almost a perfect fit.

Oh, and I tried to comment on that Reuters article, only to find out I'd been banned for previous accuracy in my comments on their fake journalism.

Norm said...

"...the left's drive to a new Jewish Holocaust" The perfect description of the left wing's quest. They will do anything to weaken Israel. Thank you for shining a strong light on this scum. If they had balls they would come out of the closet wearing their Waffen-SS uniforms.

JBW said...

I think I speak for everyone on the mainstream left when I say that taking out the Jews is totally our top priority. In fact, we think of little else.

I'm attending a super secret meeting of Marxists, commies, Hollywood elites, union members, fat cat school teachers, Charlie Sheen and Sasquatches tonight in which we'll be discussing our "final solution" of wrapping the entire planet in bacon. Then I'm going to get drunk and do something socially deviant. Winning!

Don't ever change, Don. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Well, JBW, today the UNHRC voted on 6 anti-Israel resolutions, which was six times more than any other country merited (including Libya and Syria), out of a total 11 that were directed at specific countries. So when you write, satirically, "I think I speak for everyone on the mainstream left when I say that taking out the Jews is totally our top priority," you are being quite accurate.

Norm said...

JBW, I see have not changed....still an asshole. FU

AmPowerBlog said...

Norm: JBW is one those progressives where nothing is serious. If you disagree with them and call 'em out it's just one big put on. Problem is, that makes JBW down with the evil, to which he says there is no evil. Either that, or it's we who darken the planet by taking a moral stand. Yep, an asshole.

JBW said...

And you're as eloquent as ever, Norm. Curse words make baby Jesus cry, you know...

Plenty of things are serious to me Don, just not you and your fevered dreams of constant persecution. And I'm so totally down with the evil: I sprinkle evil on my corn flakes every morning and then make sweet sweet love to all of it's orifices every night.

Love the blog, keep up the good work.