Eric Alterman Center for American Progress
Writes a friend:
In two of the responses to The Josh Block Affair, you can see liberal Zionists at last allowing reasonable non-Jewish non-Zionists to enter the debate. Both these men wave around their ethnicity and Zionism, but at least they exclaim that they shouldn’t have to do this, and non-Jews should be allowed to criticize Israel, too.
Now as part of my “pro-Israel” credential, I could have mentioned that in the context of the Nation readership and many of its writers and editors, I am often attacked as no better than AIPAC and some sort of Zionist fifth-column. And to be perfectly honest, I find myself a little bit shamed by the fact that I rolled off my credentials as a Jew in response to the attack, though I did so as a time-saver. (In a pinch, I can still recite my haftorah if need be.) The fact is my colleagues at CAP who are not Jewish have the very same rights to criticize Israel regardless of whether they have the ethnic standing I happen to enjoy. And I’ve been, I admit surprised, but admiring that CAP has been willing to try to expand the envelope on this issue. It’s a tricky thing. I wish J Street had endorsed Palestinian statehood at the UN, though, it might have meant that it had no hope of being a meaningful political actor in the near future. But look, these people are bullies. And the only way to stop bullying is to stand up to it and hope that others join in. My tsoris aside, it’s a shame that Politico allowed itself to be used this way.
Then this University of Chicago public-health professor Harold Pollack, who doesn’t like Mearsheimer, but slips in a hall pass for non-Jews nonetheless:
The idea that one might want what is best for Israel and believe some of its current policies set it on a morally and strategically disastrous course seemed beyond Mr. Block’s comprehension. Alterman deserves better. Many non-Jews deserve better, too. There’s enough real anti-Semitism in the world these days, borderline and otherwise. We shouldn’t throw charges around unless they’re warranted.
Weiss: I would add to this a simple political equation: As this issue becomes politicized, at last, Liberal Zionists Need Non-Jewish Liberal/Realists for Numbers the same way that Rightwing Zionists Need Christian Evangelicals, for Numbers.
And if you extend the principle to Israel and Palestine: Reasonable Israelis Who Want to Fight the Settlers CAN BEST DO SO BY COMBINING with Reasonable Palestinians Who Want to Fight the Extreme Islamists. Together they make up a large majority of their COMBINED societies. And for the sake of peace, those reasonable sides should join, and cashier the wornout ideology of Zionism, and build a democracy. It’s political arithmetic. Beinart knows this.