A couple of letters express anger that The Nation is providing a home for Eric Alterman’s staunch Zionism. And this is appropriate: The left is reaching a crossroads on this issue; it is becoming more and more difficult to say, I’m a progressive and a Zionist. As Keith Schuerholz writes:
Isn’t it time the left rejected this kind of overt racism and petty, chauvinistic nationalism? How could The Nation betray its legacy by pandering to those who defend an apartheid regime?
Abdeen Jabara makes a similar point:
I am troubled by The Nation’s need to present “two sides of the story.” Having Alterman do his hatchet job in the same issue as Blumenthal’s article is a case in point.
There is no equivalency between whatever Palestinians have done or are doing and what Israel and Zionism have done to the Palestinians. And no section of the media, particularly the progressive one, should try to make it so. Let Alterman’s piece be published, but either not in The Nation—or with The Nation’s disclaimer.
Alterman leaps on that point: “[T]here would not be a ‘disclaimer’ attached to my column; I wrote it at the express request of my editors.” So Alterman reminds us that The Nation leadership is divided over this issue. How long can the left continue to straddle? How does The Nation reconcile progressivism with Alterman’s support for such actions as Israel shooting up an aid boat in international waters, killing 9? Scott Roth is a partner at The Nation. He now likens Alterman to the back end of an equine. I think The Nation needs to figure out its line on this question, and tell Alterman to save his Zionism for The New Republic.
Alterman’s last put-down of his critics is: “I have often heard it remarked that the Palestinian people have been profoundly ill served by their leaders. Unfortunately, much the same can be said about their cheerleaders as well.” So this is how he characterizes Charles Manekhin (Jerry Haber of Magnes Zionist) and Abdeen Jabara (former head of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee)? Haber has lived in Jerusalem for many years. Both he and Jabara have only been cheerleaders for human rights in my experience.
Finally, Alterman takes a stab at Blumenthal because his book was “recently endorsed on the website of neo-Nazi David Duke.” This is the second time he’s said so in The Nation. He seems to want Blumenthal to commit hara-kari. Well, then Alterman would have to go first. When he went after Sheldon Adelson in The Nation (“Sheldon Adelson and the End of American Anti-Semitism: How can it be that the ‘richest Jew in the world’ can buy the foreign policy of a major party’s presidential contender and ‘the Jews’ have somehow escaped the blame?”), David Duke quoted the piece extensively and praised the heck out of Alterman.
PS Blumenthal agrees with me about Jabara:
.@Eric_Alterman says Palestinians are “ill served” by Abdeen Jabara, an Arab-American lawyer spied on by FBI for his solidarity activism…
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) November 29, 2013