From the Jewish Journal two days ago. “David Brooks’ son is in the Israeli army. Does it matter?”
One of the more interesting nuggets buried in a long, Hebrew-language interview with New York Times columnist David Brooks in the recent Ha’aretz magazine is the revelation, toward the very end, that Brooks’s oldest son serves in the Israel Defense Forces.
“Brook’s connection to Israel was always strong,” the article reports. “He has visited Israel almost every year since 1991, and over the past months the connection has grown even stronger, after his oldest son, aged 23, decided to join the Israel Defense Forces as a “lone soldier” [Ed. Note: a soldier with no immediate family in Israel].
“‘It’s worrying,'” says Brooks, ‘But every Israeli parent understands this is what the circumstances require. Beyond that, I think children need to take risks after they leave university, and that they need to do something difficult, that involves going beyond their personal limits. Serving in the IDF embodies all of these elements. I couldn’t advise others to do it without acknowledging it’s true for my own family.'”
This is now the third Times reporter/writer whose son has gone into the Israeli Defense Forces. Famously Ethan Bronner, of course– whose son’s service was disclosed not by the NYT but by EI— and a third person I will not identify (I know the individual personally, the beat didn’t involve the Middle East, the son left before long).
My bone to pick: Brooks’s kid has been in for “months.” So when David Brooks was commenting favorably on Israel’s onslaught on Gaza this summer on National Public Radio, his son was serving in the Israeli army. Why didn’t NPR tell us?
Rob Eshman at the Jewish Journal meditates: “Through his son, Brooks will be able to get closer to the reality of the conflict, for good or ill, than most other pundits. How is that a bad thing?” Answer: his son will be involved in a force that occupies and commits human rights abuses; I’m sure Brooks– who has said he is gooey-eyed about Israel and lo the acorn falls close to the tree– will not wake up to these realities. And Eshman’s proposition would have more weight if there were establishment reporters whose children were serving in Fatah’s military branch or Hamas’s.
The obvious question is how many Times reporters have sons or daughters in the U.S. military. The sociological Brooks, who supported the disastrous Iraq war for reasons I forget but that obviously had something to do with Israel’s security interests, ought to examine that issue. We’d have an actual antiwar movement in this country if the children of elites had to pay a price for our reckless policies.