As Mr. Berman pointed out, there may be a pro-Israel consensus among America's political elites, but there is certainly not one among the intellectual and literary elites. On the contrary, "a considerable opinion wants to see the abolition of Israel."The fascination of this statement is that Berman seems to acknowledge that the Israel caucus in the U.S. is now dependent on the financial backing of "political elites," the sort of financial backing that surely paid for that conference, and for Kirsch's New York Sun, for thinktanks, and for a lot of the presidential candidates' warchests. But meanwhile the intellectual and literary crowd has left the station. It is Berman's polite way of restating the Israel lobby thesis. This is an unstable situation. Or it is trench warfare. The big thinktanks and columnists on one side, the grassroots intellectuals and church leaders and college crowd on the other.
Kirsch's account provides ample evidence of Why we've left the station. There is not one word about the Palestinian condition, and as for the Israel lobby, now even embraced by center-right Jeffrey Goldberg, it is an antisemitic theory about a Jewish "cabal." The inevitable Ruth Wisse is put forward here as a model, urging Jews to be tougher still--god knows what she has in store for the Palestinians. Berman is presented as sagacious--this man who counseled war in Iraq because of suicide bombers in Israel--and as usual the U.S. and Israel are joined at the hip. Walt and Mearsheimer and Tony Judt are used as punching bags, not that these conference-organizers have the grace or intellectual confidence to have invited them. Judt's support for the one-state solution is presented as bringing on another holocaust, per Berman. The "abolition" of Israel, with genocide to follow. Kirsch reassures, that there is no contradiction between being an American Jew and being a Zionist. "So long as both countries remain true to their liberal values, the conjunction of Jews and power will not be a prospect to fear, but a reason to be proud," he concludes.
Liberal values: Iraq and the Occupied Territories. This is what others see when they consider the role of neoconservatism in American life. It reminds me of the old marketing parable, of the guy who comes up with the perfect recipe for dog food and yet it is a complete failure. Why? The dogs wouldn't eat the dog food. The American dogs have stopped eating their neocon dogfood.