Noah Pollak has a post at Commentary magazine showing convincingly that Philip Giraldi of the American Conservative is very interested in Jews in power. I'm avoiding the words fixated or obsessed, because god knows I'm pretty interested in Jewish power myself, and I'm a plunge-in kind of guy, and admire that quality in others. Pollak is saying that Giraldi is an antisemite. I'm not convinced but I don't know. It's a hearts and minds sort of issue.
It's true there are a lot of antisemites on my side of the fence, I can't deny that. They show up in my comment section, and Richard Witty has told me that David Duke posts some of my posts.
Two years ago Tony Kushner said it gave him angst to speak out on the Israel/Palestinian issue in the noble way that he has for two reasons, because a lot of Jews were screaming at him that he was a terrible person, and of course you don't always know who's right; and also, because he didn't want to be giving comfort to antisemites.
I don't know what to do about it and frankly I don't know how much to care. The chief issue here is journalistic. What is true and new and important? That's your charge as a journalist. Many of the statements Giraldi makes fall into that category, he is doing his best to tell people how the world works. And Jews have gone further than he has now, Seymour Hersh talking about "Jewish money" behind the Iran hysteria and Joe Klein talking about "divided loyalties."
The problem with Pollak and Commentary is that they are so steeped in a Holocaust narrative that they cannot acknowledge true and important facts about America today. That Jews have power, that we are principals in this society, maybe the most significant engines in the economy, and that neocons, who have an esprit de corps no other group had and who truly grow out of Jewish culture, played a significant role in pushing the greatest disaster in foreign policy of the last generation. They did that. On their own. Journalists have a responsibility to talk about that. Richard Witty is always telling me to get off the neocons, ignore them. But why Richard? That is intellectually incurious, a, and b, denies the American people a just accounting of this huge error. (Richard's more spiritually evolved than I am…)
Giraldi is angry at Jews, I can see that. And I don't entirely blame him. The body of Jewish organizations have basically turned a blind eye to Palestinian suffering for at least 40 years. It makes me angry too. Giraldi probably brings a little ethnic resentment to it, I read that in some of the lines that Pollak quotes. Not good, not very spiritually evolved. But is ethnic resentment in and of itself criminal or does it constitute hate speech? I don't think so. I grew up with ethnic resentment, Jewish resentment of the WASPs. Jacob Heilbrunn describes this resentment accurately in his book on the neocons, where he says that it fed the neocon rise, the desire to create a "parallel establishment" that would not discriminate against Jews. They did it too. Ethnic resentment was a great propeller. It's still latent in a lot of Commentary's work. Also, anger is a vital component of a lot of journalism. (You won't find a good investigative journalist who isn't angry.) I fixated on WASPs in college because that's where the power was and they gave us Vietnam. Now the power is in different precincts.
Some gentiles so resent Jewish power that they call themselves "goyim," adopting the term of abuse as blacks adopted "niggers." I'm more amused than threatened. That is the key word, threatening. How much power does anti-Jewish prejudice have? How much power in my life should I give it? Berlin 1938 was one story, New York 2008 another. To think that history is repeating itself is a grave intellectual fallacy. The best line I have read all year was from John Lukacs in his slam-dunk in The American Conservative of Pat Buchanan's revisionist WW2 book: "history does not repeat itself,
and the rise and decline of Britain’s empire was and remains quite
different from the American situation." We study history to understand how we got here and the patterns in human society, and as a guide to the future, not a blueprint.
The problem with the Commentary crowd is that they were actually stupid about this. They really did apply the Holocaust template stupidly and they did not understand their own power. Thus Alan Dershowitz at Brandeis last year calling the '67 lines in Israel/Palestine "the Auschwitz borders." Thus Frum and Perle saying it's "victory or holocaust" and we should not hesitate to knock off dictators in the Arab world; these guys actually wielded disastrous power in the Iraq runup, and they are now trying to deny that they had any power, and the liberal media have by and large granted them refuge. They were over-emotional. They projected Hitler onto Arabs. By repeatedly invoking the Holocaust, Jews have justified an inward focus and blinded themselves to terrible injustices in their back yard. Frum and Perle say the Israeli occupation is a distraction. That's crazy. When an Arab-American girl rose at Brandeis to describe her humiliations at checkpoints on a visit to Palestine, Dershowitz that cold superior parochialist, sneered at her that I'm sorry, but it's not my fault, it's the Arabs' fault. That makes me angry.
So much passion! That's why I have this blog, to understand myself, my background, and my country. I try to do that by talking about it, talking about the real issues. As Bill Kristol said the other day, we don't know who's going to be right in the end, but we have to speak out. After 9/11 and Iraq that became a duty to me, as a Jew who felt completely misrepresented by the anti-Arab forces in my community. I haven't seen active discrimination against Jews in my country, nor anti-Jewish violence of a sort that rises above other forms of prejudicial idiocy. Believe me, if history starts to repeat itself re the Holocaust, I'm back with the Commentary boys in a New York second.