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Would the ‘NY Review of Books’ have printed an article on George Wallace in Alabama without talking to any black people?

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Josh Hammer has a pretty-good piece in the NY Review of Books about Avigdor Lieberman, called "I’m a Realist." Any knowledge Americans get about this racist politician is to the good, but the piece is marred by the usual problem: American Jews are afraid to convey the blunt truths that leftwing Israeli Jews convey about their society, let alone what Palestinians say about that society. Israel comes off as a healthy democracy that is struggling with the devilishly charming Lieberman, who has a "controversial" belief in "transferral" of Palestinians, rather than as a society in crisis because of the continuing dispossession of minorities (as Bradley Burston would tell you, or Noam Sheizaf, or Mustafa Barghouti, or Ali Abunimah).

This limitation is typical of the New York Review of Books. The editors  can’t give up on the ideals of Zionism, and so they publish Michael Walzer and Avishai Margalit, and keep Tony Judt in the back room, and refuse to review The Israel Lobby. The clearest indication of this bias in the NYRB’s Lieberman piece is the list of people Hammer quotes:


Yossi Beilin

Mikhail Philippov

Gideon Levy

One of Lieberman’s aides

Yair Tzaban

Alex Magidov

Danny Ayalon

Misha from Uzbekistan

Natasha from Siberia

Lily Gallili, reporter for Haaretz

Michal Kupinsky

There is not one Palestinian on the list. The only Palestinian even mentioned in the piece is Azmi Bishara. It doesn’t seem like Hammer tried to talk to him. So a racist politician rises, and a leftwing NY publication makes no effort to talk to the victims of the racism. Huh.

I admit it: I’m an ethnocentric Jew; and in Israel I recognize my tribe, and when I went to Israel and Palestine recently, I talked mostly to Jews. Still, I am stretching, I talked to Mustafa and Omar Barghouti and to Adnan Mahamid; it is essential for Jews to get out of their comfort zone; I try on this site to have Palestinian and other Asian voices. The New York Review of Books is sticking right in that Jewish comfort zone.

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