Kinsley ran many pieces in ‘New Republic’ opposing Palestinian statehood even though he didn’t agree

Israel/Palestine
on 21 Comments
Michael Kinsley
Michael Kinsley

The sharpest intelligence I ever encountered as a journalist, Mike Kinsley, former editor of the New Republic, writing at Bloomberg about Zionist orthodoxy in the establishment:

In the 1980s and 1990s I worked at the New Republic, a fervently pro-Zionist publication. Many’s the night I worked late editing articles I wasn’t sure I agreed with, offering yet one more reason why a Palestinian state was unthinkable. These days the position of Jews in the U.S. and in Israel seems to be something like a resigned shrug. The Palestinians want a state? Two chunks of unconnected territory, one of them controlled by religious maniacs prone to violence, the other ruled by the political heirs of Yasser Arafat? OK, let them have a state, if we can settle other issues like borders and refugees. See how they like it.

The revelation in that is that Kinsley had great autonomy befitting his top-notch ability to reason. Yet: he deferred to militants. Out of some degree of Jewish identification, I venture. Next let’s hear from former New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan.

From Ben Smith’s piece on the divisions inside the Democratic Party-linked thinktank, Center for American Progress. He makes a similar point:

The seams sometimes show in the organization, however. Podesta, who recently stepped down from his longtime position as CAP’s president, “always wanted to stay out of Israel stuff from the beginning, because it’s a no-win issue for them,” a liberal Israel policy thinker and CAP ally said. “They’re obviously a progressive place, but if you want to attract a mainstream Clinton, New Democrat milieu, you can’t really do real progressive Israel stuff.”

Note: neither of these excerpts is about Christian Zionists (I wonder if Andrew Sullivan even knows any Christian Zionists, when he says that they are the basis of the special relationship). These stories are about establishment liberal organizations, and they are the reason I insist on talking about Jewish identity. I’ve often said that preventing a Palestinian state from emerging since the U.N. promised one to indigenous Arabs in 1947 has been an American Jewish achievement. We have never wanted to hear about Palestinian self-determination, and we’re sitting at the door.

21 Responses

  1. tombishop
    December 18, 2011, 11:50 am

    Philip, We are all a product of our past and maturity can only come from a universal view of the interests of humanity as a whole. You have spent your life trying to recover your humanity from the spirit destroying ideology of Zionism and alert the world to its danger. Having grown up in a Protestant, fundamentalist evangelical home, I have spent my life trying to recover my humanity from the spirit destroying ideology of Christian Zionism and to alert the world to the danger to humanity that this ideology represents. The truth is, that we are both right. Each of these ideologies has their sphere of influence and together they represent an immediate danger to the planet in their denial of the reality of our situation.

    We must go deeper, however, and recognize the backing that corporate interests and the financial community give to Zionism and the fostering of sectarian divisions in the Middle East in the interests of the long used method by colonial powers of dividing and conquering the people in an area they wish to exploit.

    The two links below illustrate what I mean:

    This video from Democracy Now is one of the best descriptions I’ve seen recently of the consequences of the U.S. colonization of Iraq:
    link to democracynow.org

    This recent video of Norman Finkelstein deals directly with the influence of “the Lobby” on U.S. foreign policy. The relevant part of the video begins at 32:30:
    link to podcast.lannan.org

    • Philip Weiss
      December 18, 2011, 12:37 pm

      thanks tom, appreciated

    • Scott
      December 18, 2011, 1:04 pm

      That Finkelstein clip is interesting, but I think he doesn’t understand the way in which neoconservative ideas colonized the mentalities of realists like Cheney and Rumsfeld. The principle neoconservative accoomplishment is to create a vocabulary in which American nationalist thought becomes as one with the promotion of Israeli interests; this requires the marginalizing of other, competing, streams of foreign policy thought and those who espouse them. Which the neocons have done. If you are a pro-neocon gentile, you don’t think you are serving “Israeli interests” but American ones, but you have absorbed and internalized a world view where the two are identical.

  2. Gellian
    December 18, 2011, 12:59 pm

    If this man is as you say, Phil, and thus a man of great intelligence, it’s a sad and disturbing case: great intelligence yoked to a media arm in the service of propaganda. That makes him among the most dangerous sort.

    And contemptible, too. Cowardice pure and simple is one thing; the man could have simply left the profession if he feared retribution.

    Instead he became a collaborator, a willing executioner–of character, of policy analysis, and ultimately of real people.

    Sickening and sad.

  3. pabelmont
    December 18, 2011, 1:19 pm

    Has a great and thinking man found a place to publish what he really thinks, and if you ask him, “And now tell us what you really think,” does he vastly and ever-so-cogently come out with a very different position?

    Having a sinecure (or even having a job at all in times like these) is reason enough for many people to make flacks of themselves — whether they can and do think differently or not. This explains (whether correctly or not) the miserable reporting of the media on Ron Paul, on Israel, etc.

  4. Bill in Maryland
    December 18, 2011, 2:53 pm

    Phil, your piece reads like there should be an excerpt or quotation from Andrew Sullivan sandwiched between those of Kinsley and Ben Smith, but it does not appear.

  5. Les
    December 18, 2011, 5:37 pm

    It’s a truism to state that the US media is disproportionately Jewish, and even moreso at the top. No one believes that every single one of these Jewish editors, publishers, and managers in our print and broadcast media believe it is a good idea for the US to support Israel no matter what. It is a sad fact that not a single one of this group of Jewish bosses has the courage to go public with their criticism of Israel and free their underlings to actually report what’s happening on the ground.

  6. seafoid
    December 18, 2011, 5:52 pm

    “I’ve often said that preventing a Palestinian state from emerging since the U.N. promised one to indigenous Arabs in 1947 has been an American Jewish achievement.”

    That 1944 state department cable collection someone posted recently shows that the US Jewish community was active way before 1947 lobbying to ensure that the Palestinians would not get a vote on self determination under any circumstances. Without them the Balfour declaration would have died. The Arabs all warned them but they were not to be moved . Here we are now in late 2011 and the nightmare is shaping , the one they were warned about.

    Also, Phil “indigenous Arabs” is a very patronising term. How about “the local people”?

    • Philip Weiss
      December 18, 2011, 6:14 pm

      ok. seafoid. where was that posted, do you remember who did it?

      • teta mother me
        December 18, 2011, 6:23 pm

        might have been American’s comment.

        here’s the link:
        link to history.state.gov

      • seafoid
        December 19, 2011, 10:48 am

        Phil

        This is the link and it is dynamite.
        Not sure who posted it originally.

        link to images.library.wisc.edu

      • MRW
        December 19, 2011, 11:36 am

        Probably Hostage.

        seafoid, why is “indigenous Arabs” is patronizing?

      • seafoid
        December 19, 2011, 3:38 pm

        There are indigenous people and there are local citizens. Local citizens have voting and property rights. Indigenous people don’t. Local citizens can never be dispossessed. Indigenous people usually are.

        “Indigenous Arabs ” don’t even get the courtesy of a location. They are all one anonymous mush of brown people. They have 22 other countries etc.

        It’s a big job to turn the situation around to the point where the local people are alien in their own country and it starts with terms like indigenous.

        “Israeli Arab” is another nonsense.

  7. seafoid
    December 18, 2011, 6:02 pm

    I always wonder if the DNA of Zionism was driven by Jewish culture or if the relationship worked in reverse. The secrecy and the insistence on loyalty or expulsion are very cult like. The Alawis and Nusayris have similar practices.

    link to nybooks.com
    “Secrecy was also observed by means of a complex system of initiation, in which insiders recognized each other by using special phrases or passwords and neophytes underwent a form of spiritual marriage with the naqibs, or spiritual guides.
    It does not take much imagination to see how such beliefs, programmed into the community’s values for more than a millennium, and reinforced by customs such as endogamous marriage—according to which the children of unions between Nusayris and non-Nusayris cannot be initiated into the sect—create very strong notions of apartness and disdain for the “Other.”

    I think Zionism is a very immature ideology as well as an exceptionally brittle one. There is no intellectual honesty in Zionism.

    The Palestinians don’t need any foundational myths. For them it’s just about being. Just do your thing and stay on the land.

    Zionism is far less assured. So there’s way more BS. The people had to be united under memes that had to be invented and it really shows. Zionism is prone to hysteria. Palestinian nationalism is about patience. Sumud is the opposite of hysteria.

    • teta mother me
      December 18, 2011, 6:39 pm

      re your “nature vs nurture” question at the beginning of this comment, seafoid–

      Gilad Atzmon and Alan Hart grappled with a similar conundrum. Atzmon opened the video by stating that what characterizes Jews is their supremacist sense, the notion of being chosen, exceptional.

      Later in the conference (at about the 1 hour mark) a member of the audience challenged Atzmon: “Other peoples exhibit the same sense of exceptionalism.” iirc Nazi Germany was alluded to.

      Atzmon responded that the characteristic has been part of Jewry for 4000 years, but other cultures, such as the Germans, have learned from past mistakes and changed that behavior; Jews have not. {nb. use of ‘Jews’ is Atzmon’s}

      So persistence over time and in diverse situations of a characteristic among a people is one was to assess whether it’s “nature or nurture.”

      With this proviso: you used the term “in the DNA.” I choose to interpret your word choice in a very non-precise way. That is to say, patterns of behavior are acculturated — passed from parent to child by surrounding the child with teaching/learning/cultural experiences. In the article he posted on MW, Mark Braverman suggested ways that he was acculturated in Jewish ways of thinking. I don’t buy the notion that there is a “zionist gene.”
      By the way, from the (admittedly) little I have read of Hitler’s own writing, I don’t think he meant to use race in a technical/biological sense either, but only used the word ‘race’ as a clumsy and less than fully articulate way of expressing a specific pattern of acculturation.

      • Shmuel
        December 19, 2011, 2:14 am

        Atzmon responded that the characteristic has been part of Jewry for 4000 years, but other cultures, such as the Germans, have learned from past mistakes and changed that behavior; Jews have not. {nb. use of ‘Jews’ is Atzmon’s}

        Wow. That’s a hell of a lot of acculturation. No other cases of persistent religious, cultural, ethnic, economic or class exceptionalism in all of history? Everyone else has “learned from their mistakes” except for the Jews? Progressive ideas just kind of passed over our doors like the angel of death on the night of the first Passover? What a load of racist bullshit (not in a tecnological/biological sense, of course). Good thing Atzmon has that denying-inherent-Jewish-exceptionalism-makes-you-a-Jewish-exceptionalist panic button.

        Between Witty and Atzmon telling as what is and isn’t “inherently” Jewish, we need look no further. The Judenfrage has been solved!

      • Richard Witty
        December 19, 2011, 4:20 am

        “Between Witty and Atzmon telling as what is and isn’t “inherently” Jewish, we need look no further. The Judenfrage has been solved!”

        Do you really know how to read? How did I convey what is and isn’t inherently Jewish?

        Not also Hostage and Galensword, Cliff, you?

      • Hostage
        December 19, 2011, 4:28 am

        No other cases of persistent religious, cultural, ethnic, economic or class exceptionalism in all of history?

        Hmmm . . . Just the other day the Wall Street Journal said that Ron Paul was doomed to fail because he denied American exceptionalism: Why Ron Paul Can’t Win : The candidate’s problem isn’t better-funded opponent or media bias—it’s his own views on foreign policy.:

        Except on foreign policy, where Mr. Paul does himself in. In discrete areas, Mr. Paul’s “noninterventionist” approach resonates with those weary of war, or with the populist sentiment that we spend too much on foreign aid. And note that Mr. Paul has made small stabs at reassuring voters of his patriotism, as with a big national TV ad that highlighted his own military service and commitment to veterans.
        But none of this has addressed voters’ big concern over a Paul philosophy that fundamentally denies American exceptionalism and refuses to allow for decisive action to protect the U.S. homeland.

        Of course Chris Matthews is fond of claiming that Obama could have only succeeded here in the US and that he is an example of American exceptionalism. I tend to agree in so far as he murders people, without benefit of a fair trial, in the territory of other sovereign states, & etc.

      • Shmuel
        December 19, 2011, 4:54 am

        “Do you really know how to read?”

        Just keep up the “respectful dialogue”.

        “Not also Hostage and Galensword, Cliff, you?”

        None of us have engaged in the kind of essentialism and anachronism that you and Atzmon have.

      • seafoid
        December 19, 2011, 5:28 am

        How about this ?

        link to nybooks.com

        He writes that while a culture may fancy itself “secular,” “its sacred memories are nevertheless busy thinking its ideas and populating its dreams.”

        I think there is a certain measure of Judaism’s “sacred memories” in Israel but that much of the militarist thinking is manufactured crap . All that Masada BS. The bad faith. The cruelty. That can all be discarded.

  8. gazacalling
    December 18, 2011, 6:39 pm

    “I wonder if Andrew Sullivan even knows any Christian Zionists.”

    Hahahaha! Funny.

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