Saturday, June 25, 2011

Allison Benedikt's 'Life After Zionist Summer Camp'; or, The Mysterious Evolution of a Dumb Hadassah Youth Activist to Hip Progressive Israel-Basher

With apologies to Susan Strange for the title.

A lot of this is Jewish inside baseball, so I'm only partly competent to weigh in authoritatively, but my first impression while reading is that Allison Benedikt is, to be frank, a monstrously ignorant, enormously indecisive groupie/wannabe hipster. The essay's written in a kind of droll childish style. It reminds me of someone you might see walking down the street but looks like they don't have the slightest clue where they're going. Benedikt, a Jew from the Midwest, lived her entire life thinking she was going to make aliyah, only to decide that, nah, Zionism wasn't so cool after all. The clincher is that she met, and then later married, a "progressive" non-Jewish dude named Mark (not Marc, to the horror of her parents). Mark had been duly programmed as a zombified anti-Semite by some sections of the modern Jew-hating left. He obviously liked Allison, despite religious differences, and thus quickly went to work destroying her faith in Israel, and since she'd spent an entire life refusing to really learn about the country of her faith --- and her parents' enduring commitment --- she basically melted into a Hamas-defending self-hating American Jew who would be perfectly at home in the comment threads at Daily Kos. It's a long read, so find a few minutes before diving in. The main takeaway is how the piece is like catnip for the neo-communists now cheering the next Gaza flotilla.

Anyway, I saw this when it came out, and then William Jacobson wrote a pithy post, so I was reminded: "Least Shocking Blog Post Title Ever: “Village Voice Editor discovers she hates Israel, curses when challenged”." Check that entry, but the preview is that she told Israeli historian Yaacov Lozowick to f**k off on Twitter. Not surprising, I know. And check the Memorandum link as well. Benedikt gave a cryptic citation to the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, and he felt obligated to comment, and at considerable length as well. And the debate devolved to include Andrew Sullivan, but I don't read him so you'll just have to check it out.