Corey Robin calls on American Jews to reflect on their ‘power and status’ and deep differences with Israeli Jews

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David Grossman

David Grossman

Brooklyn College political scientist Corey Robin has overcome his reluctance to criticize a colleague and slammed Eric Alterman for his attack on Max Blumenthal’s book Goliath in The Nation.

Where Alterman finds only “juvenile faux-cleverness,” a “case against the Jewish state” that is “carelessly constructed”… [and] arguments that are “simplistic and one-sided”…. I found a trove of patient and persuasive on-the-ground reporting (Blumenthal spent a year in Israel and Palestine and several additional months in the region), almost all of which Alterman ignores. Had he allotted less space to those adjectives and more to an engagement with the book, Alterman might have come up with a credible critique.

Robin then singles out Alterman’s take on Max Blumenthal’s meeting with David Grossman to suggest how distorted Alterman’s view is. And Robin reviews that episode (you can go to the link to read it) before saying:

Readers can judge for themselves whether or not I get Blumenthal right, but I hope it’s clear just how small Alterman has made things. Not only for himself but also his readers. An opportunity for deep moral reflection—about the abyss between Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora, about the power and status Jews have attained throughout the world, about violence and vision—has been missed. We can now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

This is a critical point. Alterman and The Nation have served as a gatekeeper; they are increasing the likelihood that the mainstream will fail to engage a serious argument. That failure is dangerous to our foreign policy– and, inside Jewish life, a great moral hazard. Robin is Jewish. He knows: The breakup of Zionism will be a huge crisis in Jewish life. And it is essential that Jews understand the difference between Max Blumenthal and David Grossman.

Jews need to be talking about Zionism.We need to be talking about whether it is possible to subscribe to an ideology of Jewish unsafety in the west when we have such “power and status,” as Robin observes. (And power that justifies my posts in that vein.)

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