TNR: Neoconservatives are liberals

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Adam Kirsch, a literary critic who is also published in the New York Review of Books and Tablet, has a semi-whitewash review in the current TNR on the history of neoconservatism in foreign policy. The good old polemical word "cabal," going back to 17th c. England, is once again said to be essentially anti-Semitic. The word Israel appears briefly, and in a parenthesis.

Kirsch is honest that neoconservatism comes out of the Jewish community, and he says that neoconservatives have sometimes gone too far, they were wrong about how the Iraq war would go. But people of good will must "sympathize with neoconservative aspirations and anxieties." They care more than most about freedom, and why not? The freer the society, the more Jews thrive. 

It is now pretty widely agreed that the invasion of Iraq was a failure, and that this failure discredited the neoconservatives….

This is one reason why American Jews tend to be patriotic: America has the most durable and deep-rooted liberalism of any country in the world. The desire to defend and to extend American freedoms is what leads many Jews to be left-liberals; but it is only a different interpretation of what that same defense requires, and who freedom’s enemies really are, that leads some Jews to be neoconservatives.

This is an expression of Jewish selfishness. Michael Otterman tells me that there are 5 million refugees in Iraq, 2.7 internally, 2.5 outside the country. So an Arab society is demolished, 20 percent of its population is uprooted, surely including the educated/privileged; imagine such a thing happening in the U.S.– 60 million people? But Kirsch can dispose of this rapidly as a "failure" of liberalism. It’s not liberalism. It’s an ideology informed by militant Zionism, and therefore indifferent to Arab refugees, Arab souls.

I notice in Robert Kaplan’s tricky/snarky book The Arabists that he repeatedly ignores the Palestinian refugees and describes Israel’s creation as a triumph of American liberalism.

Well I am a liberal Jewish American, and I sympathize with Arab "anxieties" in the face of unending violence.

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