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‘NYT’ falsely suggests that anti-Zionist scribes are beavering away in Jewish media

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Writer Mark Oppenheimer regularly writes the Beliefs column for the New York Times. Last week he wrote a piece on a new Jewish book review that includes a notable stretcher:

[Jewish Review of Books editor Abraham] Socher also hopes to provide a politically neutral zone for discussion. The Jewish monthly Commentary publishes good long reviews, Mr. Socher said, but he implied that it exists mainly to push its conservative political agenda. “I have great respect for Commentary, and have contributed to it,” he said, but he did not believe that even Commentary considers the exploration of Jewish thought and culture “as its primary editorial purpose.”

He might have added that The New Republic is so identified with Zionism, and The New York Review with skepticism about Israel, that many minds may have closed to those publications. The Jewish Review of Books’ editorial board is free of notable anti-Zionists, but it includes liberals as well as far-right types like the Harvard professor Ruth R. Wisse. 

I’m grateful to Oppenheimer for characterizing Wisse as a "far-right type." But notice the suggestion that American Jewish publications, or publications with Jewish leadership (NYRB), publish anti-Zionists. I don’t see any anti-Zionists in the New York Review of Books. It is true that Tony Judt offered the one-state solution to readers in 2003, but since then NYRB has retrenched on that view, publishing many, many letters opposing it in an act of Jewish consensus-building, and Judt himself has not pushed the position. I believe that Judt is himself a non-Zionist (which is how I’d like to call myself) or post-Zionist; he is certainly a former Zionist. As for the New York Review of Books, on Israel/Palestine it has published Michael Walzer, Gershom Gorenberg, and Avishai Margalit, all Zionists, and has never reviewed Walt and Mearsheimer’s important book. Where are all the anti-Zionists?

What Oppenheimer is guilty of here is liberal imposture, the suggestion to the Times’ good liberal audience that there’s diversity in the Jewish media world re the question of Zionism. There isn’t. I’d note that Oppenheimer is a contributor to Tablet, which tends to pipe Zionist ideas about Jewish identity.

Philip Weiss

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