Siegel (photo by Steve Barrett)
The other day on All Things Considered, in an otherwise respectful interview, Robert Siegel scolded Kalle Lasn, the Adbusters founder and Occupy inspirer, suggesting he is anti-Semitic. It happened fast:
SIEGEL: You’ve been very critical of Israel and of neoconservative policies.
SIEGEL: Some people think you’re out of bounds identifying who are Jews among prominent neoconservatives.
LASN: Yes, and some people think I’m way in bounds as well.
Here are seven Jews who have identified neoconservatism as either a Jewish movement or a movement that has a strong Jewish component:
Alan Dershowitz: (The Vanishing American Jew):
Jews have been active in gay rights, but the recent neo-conservative movement in America has also been dominated by Jews, many of whom had been leaders in the socialist movement of the past.
JJ Goldberg (Jewish Power):
Not all the neoconservatives were Jewish… Nonetheless, they became known as a Jewish group for several reasons. For one thing, most of them were Jews…. Most important, the neoconservatives proclaimed their existence throught two magazines edited and published by Jews…
Jacob Heilbrunn (They Knew They Were Right)
Neoconservatism was forged into an actual movement by [Irving] Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. Even today, the neoconservative movement is best described as an extended family based largely on the informal social networks patiently forged by these two patriarchs…. there were many other figures who contributed to its emergence, both as a movement and as a school of thought. Not all of them were Jews–a fact that has been frequently pointed out by the neoconservatives themselves to refute the canard that neoconservatism is a Jewish movement. Fair enough. Yet the movement’s non-Jewish members were largely bound to the group by a shared commitment to the largest, most important Jewish cause: the survival of Israel.
Murray Friedman (deceased, former vice chair of US Civil Rights Commission):
[book title] The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy….
A new generation of Jewish neocons have lined up behind the Bush Doctrine… If one argues, as I do, that Jewish conservatism has played a little-noticed role in American social and political life for much of the last hundred years, one may wonder why it has gone largely unrecognized.
Benjamin Ginsberg (professor of political science at Johns Hopkins), The Fatal Embrace:
The predominantly Jewish neocons are the chief intellectual spokesmen for all aspects of Reaganite Republicanism that the paleoconservatives find objectionable… One major factor that drew them inexorably to the right was their attachment to Israel and their growing frustration during the 1960s with a Democratic party….
You want evidence of divided loyalties? How about the “benign domino theory” that so many Jewish neoconservatives talked to me about–off the record, of course–in the runup to the Iraq war, the idea that Israel’s security could be won by taking out Saddam, which would set off a cascade of disaster for Israel’s enemies in the region?
Ari Shavit :
In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in the town [Washington]: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another and are convinced that political ideas are a major driving force of history.
The simple explanation of Robert Siegel’s statement is that it was OK to talk about the Jewishness of the neocons when they were a rump group of intellectuals at the margins of Washington. When they gained actual power, and played a crucial role in a disastrous decision (Iraq war), the subject suddenly became verboten, in part because of fears among Jews (like Siegel) of a recurrence of virulent anti-Semitism. The result has been journalistic abdication from an important story.