Longtime colleagues Leon Wieseltier and Marty Peretz are on opposite sides of the Islamic center argument, reports J.J. Goldberg in the Forward.
Wieseltier's latest Washington Diarist in the New Republic is smart and refreshing. A true intellectual, he endorses the right of the Islamic center to set up shop downtown. And he speaks openly of his own youth in the Revisionist Zionist movement and arrives at a point any sensible person must agree with, these old timey religions sure propagate a lot of war:
Collective responsibility. One of the most accomplished Jewish terrorists of our time, Baruch Goldstein, came from the Jewish universe in which I was raised. When he committed his crime, there were a few former and present citizens of that universe, a revered rabbi of mine among them, who demanded a stringent communal introspection; but the critics were denounced as slanderers who tarred all of religious Zionism, or all of “Modern Orthodox” Judaism, or all of Judaism, with the same treasonous brush. The killer, we were angrily instructed, was an aberration, and any generalization from his action was an unwarranted imputation of collective responsibility. I disagreed. Baruch Goldstein murdered in the name of Judaism, with an interpretation of Judaism, from a social and intellectual position within Judaism. The same was later true of Yigal Amir. They did not represent the entirety of Judaism, or of the Jewish institutions that formed them—but the massacre in Hebron and the assassination in Tel Aviv were among their effects. If the standpoint of broadly collective responsibility was the wrong way to explain the atrocities, so too was the standpoint of purely individual responsibility. There were currents of culture behind the killers. Their ideas were not only their own. I am reminded of those complications when I hear that Islam is a religion of peace. I have no quarrel with the construction of Cordoba House, but not because Islam is a religion of peace. It is not. Like Christianity and like Judaism, Islam is a religion of peace and a religion of war. All the religions have all the tendencies within them, and in varying historical circumstances varying beliefs and practices have come to the fore.
This is a helpful way of looking at religious nationalism. And I'd insist that neoconservatism falls into a similar category. Murray Friedman, Benjamin Ginsberg, and Adam Garfinkle all wrote in their books that neoconservatism came out of the Jewish community. I'm sure Wieseltier would agree, he has too much intellectual honesty not to. But remember that when Walt and Mearsheimer wrote that Zionism played a crucial role in the disastrous decision to invade Iraq, JJ Goldberg published an editorial titled "In Dark Times Blame the Jews," and Leonard Fein of the Forward trashed the authors for "recklessness" and Peace Now posted his attack, and the New Republic conducted a campaign against them as alleged antisemites. So Wieseltier underlines what I have always said, that the Jewish community will not move out of this moment, this ethnocentric locked down Spartan ignore the cries of the victim moment, until there is a forum at Yivo Institute on the neocons' Zionism and their contribution to an American war. Wait till 2050.