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Jews have replaced WASPs in foreign policy establishment– Heilbrunn in NYT

on 19 Comments

The Oren trainwreck just keeps on going. The public meltdown is driving a wedge between the Jewish Israeli and American Jewish communities, at long last. God bless you, Ambasador. The New York Times has a sharply-critical review of Michael Oren’s book by Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the National Interest.

Oren comes off as a tormented character in the review. As a boy, the ’67 war celebration fused in his psyche with his own desire to triumph over his feeling of inadequacy for wearing a leg brace and his rage over images of Jewish helplessness in the Holocaust. And today he is a man “who continues to carry a large chip on his shoulder,” Heilbrunn says, that chip aimed, oddly enough, at Jewish elites in the country he left behind, the United States. Like when Oren takes a crack at the New Yorker and New York Review of Books as “Jewish-edited” journals filled with criticism of Israel.

The odd formulation “Jewish-­edited” suggests that Oren views everything through the lens of ethnic identity. In addition, Oren hastily dismisses the historian Tony Judt as someone who “opposed Israel’s existence.” If anything, Judt’s apprehensions about Israel’s future seem more cogent than ever.

I bet Heilbrunn is talking about Judt saying that there should be one state in Israel and Palestine and Zionism is an anachronism. Pretty guarded, but another signal of elite disaffection with the two-state solution. (Here’s Tony Judt’s idea, published back in 2003,  in the NY Review of Books.)

Heilbrunn makes another whispered declaration here: the official Jewish conversation about Israel has replaced the official American policymaking one:

Israeli-American relations have become the subject of what amounts to an intramural debate. In an earlier era, the American foreign policy establishment was dominated by Arabists from the Ivy Leagues. Now, as the names of various Washington officials, scholars and journalists whiz by in Oren’s memoir, it seems clear that the older WASP establishment has been supplanted by the very ethnic group it once disdained.

Just like Oren said at the 92nd Street Y: often he was one of six Jews sitting in the White House talking about the Palestinian state. Not very fair to Palestinians, obviously.

Of course, Oren wants those Jews to agree, but Heilbrunn says the Jewish consensus is breaking apart:

Far from easing disputes about Israel, however, this development appears to have further envenomed the debate over its destiny. On the one side are traditionally liberal Jews who continue to see Israel as an egalitarian version of America… On the other side are more conservative Jews and Christian evangelicals who believe that this is sentimental piffle. Instead of lecturing Israel, Americans should unflinchingly stand by it — by which they really mean Netanyahu’s Likud — and recognize that peace is an illusion.

Heilbrunn was also very frank in his book on neoconservatism: that neoconservatives were fueled by their resentment of the WASP elites, and their exclusion by them.

The review also casts Oren as a moderate. Some moderate; but that shows how racist and rightwing Israeli political culture is– in the days when South Carolina is taking down its confederate flag, Israel just doubles down on ethnic privilege.

Thanks to Donald Johnson.

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Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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19 Responses

  1. Krauss on July 11, 2015, 3:45 pm

    Jews have replaced WASP Arabists on Middle Eastern foreign policy a long time ago. Outside of that realm, I don’t just see it. Sure, you have Tony Blinken but he is hated by everyone from the lobby and he mostly deals with issues like AfPak, SEA, LATAM and so on. And correct me if I am wrong but the two top positions are occupied by Christian Gentiles(Rice & Kerry).

    I think this is Heilbrunn’s ethnic chauvinism showing. I think he knows the issue is more complicated but he shares the ethnic resentment he writes about, which is why exaggerates it to brag about it – and why he is such a good guide to the neocons and their liberal brethren(Goldberg, Oren et al) because of this psychological complex he shares with them.

    And then there’s this sentence:

    On the one side are traditionally liberal Jews who continue to see Israel as an egalitarian version of America… On the other side are more conservative Jews and Christian evangelicals who believe that this is sentimental piffle.

    I don’t know how Heilbrunn brands people who see a racist Apartheid state as an “egalitarian vision of America” as somehow “liberal Jews”.
    If supporting Apartheid is being a liberal then how do you define racism?

    This continues to affirm the level of deep bigotry and xenophobia even among supposed “liberals” in the Jewish establishment – recall the pro-Kahane former heads of the synagogue in your piece yesterday, defending him to this day.

    Turns out Zionism didn’t just make bigots out of people over there, there’s plenty of work left on these shores to do as well.

  2. just on July 11, 2015, 4:09 pm

    Yes, Oren deserves our thanks!

    And bravo to Heilbrunn for speaking some important truths. I’ll also throw a bone to the NYT for carrying his critique.

    “Oren comes off as a tormented character in the review. As a boy, the ’67 war celebration fused in his psyche with his own desire to triumph over his feeling of inadequacy for wearing a leg brace and his rage over images of Jewish helplessness in the Holocaust. And today he is a man with a “chip on his shoulder,”…”

    Brilliant and spot- on! That “chip” is driving a wedge like never before.

    Perhaps now some folks like Oren who’ve experienced such horrors can start to pay attention and show compassion to the surviving Palestinian children and their families who are actually missing limbs and they can’t even get a wheelchair, shelter, or peace in their tormented minds or souls, like these poor folks in Dan Cohen’s report:

    “Two-year-old Ahmad Najjar scooted on his rear end across the dirt in front of the shipping container he and his family live in the Gaza farming village of Khuza’a. Unable to walk because of a genetic condition and lacking a wheelchair, Ahmad resorts to dragging himself by his hands. His grandmother, who also can not walk and is blind, sat and wailed inside the container in sweltering heat. “I’m so hot! God help me,” she moaned while rocking back and forth.” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/05/containers-politics-reconstruction#sthash.7Cg3JsKu.MYMtGHNB.dpuf

    Thanks, Phil and Donald.

    • on July 11, 2015, 5:01 pm

      “…it seems clear that the older WASP establishment has been supplanted by the very ethnic group it once disdained.”

      At every turn we must hear about the victimhood of the Jewish people. The very ethnic group it once disdained. As if the ruling WASPs of a century ago disdained no other group.

      “The Oldest Hatred” indeed. How about the much more accurate “The Oldest Delusion”? “The Oldest Self Obsession?

      • Elisabeth on July 18, 2015, 2:28 am

        If we have to think of an ‘Oldest Hatred’, it would probably be misogyny.

  3. just on July 11, 2015, 4:36 pm

    I’ve been wondering why Oren changed his name from Bornstein, and chose to serve in the IDF when:

    “His father was an officer in the U.S. Army who took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and participated in the Korean War”
    (wiki)

    Does he write anything about that?

    From what I can glean:

    “Oren \o-ren\ as a boys’ name is pronounced OR-en. It is of Hebrew, Irish and Gaelic origin, and the meaning of Oren is “pine tree; fair, pale”
    http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/1/Oren#Hk8MHC60WrQoKi2A.99

    Is that better than:

    “Bornstein Meaning: dweller near a stony spring; spring mountain.”

    Read more: http://surnames.meaning-of-names.com/bornstein/#ixzz3fcJ4zoXF

    I’m curious, because I wonder if the “chip” doesn’t include his own family.

    (btw Phil~ in another article you mentioned Jimi Hendrix. Today I read in wiki that: “In 1982, he married Sally Edelstein, who had been born in San Francisco and had immigrated to Israel in 1981. They have three children.[16][17] In a popular article by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic profiled Sally’s acquaintance with rock stars Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane, which wrote two songs about her in the 1960s.[18]” ) LOL

    • ziusudra on July 12, 2015, 4:32 am

      Greetings just,
      Apropos names:
      German: Heilbrunn is (a) healing Well.
      His surname doesn’t get it: Jacob in
      Canaanite: He deceives.
      (by grasping the heel of Isau, his twin brother being born first.)
      ziusudra

    • Elisabeth on July 18, 2015, 2:31 am

      I read somewhere that OREN was printed on his school locker or something.

  4. DaBakr on July 11, 2015, 5:55 pm

    PW:

    “The public meltdown is driving a wedge between the Jewish Israeli and American Jewish communities, at long last ”

    What Jewish Israeli-American communities? The far left-wing fringe? And at long last since when? ’67, Eisenhowers days? Frankfurter days? ‘At long last’ seems presumptive but i suppose its relative.

    But the ‘wedge’ has always been there. There have always been far left-wing fringe Jews or Jews who count themselves part of an exclusive and progressive ‘elite’ class who have been loud and angry advocates against the vast majority of the Jewish people. This was the case in the time of King David, the Hasmoneans, the Bolshiviks and right now with the BDS Zionist-hating crowd.
    I don’t see anything ‘new’ going on or even remotely revolutionary. It is onlytrue that the veneer of civility has been peeled a little further back between the fringe elitists and the majority of liberal, moderate and conservative Zionist Jews. [And that doesn’t even take the large numbers of non-Jewish Zionists into account either. But I can see where one takes their victories where they can.

    • Donald on July 12, 2015, 9:29 am

      The time of King David? Seriously? But okay, let’s go with that. You must mean Nathan the prophet and all the other prophets who condemned the sins of their leaders and the rich in their own societies.

  5. JLewisDickerson on July 11, 2015, 6:06 pm

    RE: “The review also casts Oren as a moderate. Some moderate; but that shows how racist and rightwing Israeli political culture is– in the days when South Carolina is taking down its confederate flag, Israel just doubles down on ethnic privilege. “ ~ Weiss

    SPEAKING OF THE CONFEDERATE BATTLE FLAG:

    Arieh O’Sullivan displays Confederate flag he took with him when he invaded Lebanon as IDF soldierhttps://twitter.com/JuliaCarmel_/status/612516251835850753

    • Israeli redneck Arieh O’Sullivan gets his Confederate stripes – http://www.jta.org/2012/02/22/news-opinion/united-states/israeli-redneck-arieh-osullivan-gets-his-confederate-stripes

    P.S. ALSO SEE: “Love (of Zion) Among the Palestinian Ruins”, by Arieh O’Sullivan, Forward.com, April 25, 2012
    LINK – http://forward.com/news/155304/love-of-zion-among-the-palestinian-ruins/

    • just on July 11, 2015, 6:13 pm

      Thanks, John.

      Utterly unsurprising, sad to say. Ugh.

  6. ritzl on July 11, 2015, 6:57 pm

    The problem with [what seems to me to be] crowing about Jews-cum-Zionists replacing WASPs in foreign policy circles is that there is no broader basis for it. WASPs were 70% of the population then (i.e somewhat representaive and/or sensitive to a broadly shared worldview) while Jews are now 2% of the population (Jewish Zionists, half that) representing a supremely self-interested and insular worldview that requires deadly and unquestioning personal sacrifice from the other 98-99% in order to implement its self-interest.

    I simply cannot imagine a more dangerous context within which to perform this endless navel gazing. One Kansas fundie preacher’s son gets senselessly killed in the next war to destabilize the MENA region so Israel can continue to tout that “island of calm…” bs propaganda mantra, and it all explodes with ugly (i.e discriminatory) consequences. Just ONE.

    So maybe Oren’s not so stupid after all. Maybe crazy like a fox to get US Jewish Zionist policy makers to start openly taking credit for deadly FP disaster after deadly FP disaster after deadly FP disaster… ad infinitum. That is to say a policy arc that uses up (i.e kills and maims) OPKs for no resolving reason/”perpetuosity”. When that cycle breaks, Israel WILL become the preferred place for these Zionist masters of disasters to be.

    Poof! Michael Oren, boy genius. Master of the self-fulfilling prophecy.

    So anyway, there’s FIVE and SIX tour combat vets out there. That is simply unprecedented and unsupportable. All this backhanded bragging about Jews replacing WASPs is just fiddling while the proverbial already-strained-to-the-breaking-point thread burns.

    Be careful, Phil. Don’t get suckered into Oren’s trap. I think you all are doing good work here. Please be aware that there is a very real spectre of betrayal lurking just behind these (this article and others like it) languid and seemingly innocuous ruminations about “Jewish power” and privilege.

    • JWalters on July 11, 2015, 8:15 pm

      You raise an important point. Phil had an excellent article that discussed “Jewish power” here.
      http://mondoweiss.net/2015/03/netanyahus-speech-israel/

      His essential estimate is that the truth is ultimately the best safeguard for the Jewish community at large. I agree with that. America today is extremely different from 1930’s Germany. It’s not blanketed with Nazi youth groups, for example. And today’s information technology makes it much harder to control society’s discussions. Also, religious freedom is solidly entrenched in America, and anyone attacked for their religion is quickly defended from many sides.

      So even in a worst case scenario, with a Jewish mafia behind the scenes somewhere, most non-Jewish Americans would not imagine ALL Jews were members of that mafia. Further, the many Jews in America, Ireland, etc who are standing up to corrupt wealth, even when wielded by other Jews, form a strong shield against sloppy “Jewish conspiracy” theories.

      It’s probably better to be proactive in getting the truth out, so people have an accurate picture, so innocent people are not punished along with the guilty.

      • ritzl on July 11, 2015, 10:18 pm

        I agree, JWalters. It won’t be the same or even remotely as murderous, but then from Oren’s/Zionists’ perspective it doesn’t have to be.

        I get and applaud the excruciatingly delicate balancing act represented by Phil’s article that you cited, but I’ll see that and raise you Avigail Abarbanel’s article (http://mondoweiss.net/2015/06/traumatized-society-dangerous). To me, and taking the two together, that means that while no reality will ever be like Nazi Germany again, for the reasons you mention, it will always be claimed to be just one micro-step away out of some [insert fevered, self-serving, media-megaphoned rationalization here].

        Who knows where that cascade leads or how it manifests through charges and counter-charges, once started. I think that however it unfolds, SHOULD it start, the profoundly pervasive/intrusive/psycopathic nature of the Zionist manipulation machine will be shocking enough to tarnish everyone even remotely connected (yes meaning all Jews in some form or another).

        I don’t want that to happen, hence my comment.

        It’s also why tepidly/endlessly contemplating/threatening divorce within the Jewish communal spectrum (the “?” in yesterday’s Braverman article title) over Zionism, but never actually doing it on a mass scale, makes me very uneasy. It suggests there won’t be enough of a distinction for non-Jews to make the rational judgements you rightly say we are now all capable of, until some tipping point is reached.

        Don’t forget, that WP/Pew poll showed 60-70% of US Jews to be Zionists. Throw in Jewish-Israelis and worldwide that percentage goes up to 80-85%. Is 15-30% non-Zionist (i.e. non-participants to actively anti-psychopaths) enough to make the necessary societal distinctions you mention, crystal clear?

        Lord, I hope so! But it’s not at all clear that it will, should some cascade begin.

        The “should” uncertainty is the danger. Nobody knows where this is going, and, back to my original comment, into which Oren is craftily throwing matches in the gasoline shed by getting establishment Jews to somewhat haughtily and/or unconcernedly start claiming credit for US perpetual war/death policy.

        Peace.

      • JWalters on July 12, 2015, 7:25 pm

        ritzl, thanks for your thoughtful reply. Centrally,

        “I think that however it unfolds, SHOULD it start, the profoundly pervasive/intrusive/psycopathic nature of the Zionist manipulation machine will be shocking enough to tarnish everyone even remotely connected (yes meaning all Jews in some form or another).”

        In focusing on this possibility, it seems to me there are two key steps to avoid it.

        First, the general public needs to have any vague belief that all Jews are Zionists REPLACED by another, specific image in which many Jews are anti-Zionists. The general public doesn’t need to know the details, merely that there is a serious population of Jews who are anti-Zionist. That blocks any conclusion which depends on all Jews being a monolith. I believe key facts about Reform Judaism could be used decisively in promoting that alternate image, discussed in my comment on Braverman’s article “Time for a Jewish reformation?”. (Citing Hostage for bringing the information up.)
        http://mondoweiss.net/2015/07/time-jewish-reformation/comment-page-1#comment-780612

        Second, the non-supremacist Jewish population needs to be weened off the Zionist misinformation and emotional manipulation. I suspect most of that particular support for Zionism could flip when people got informed. The series of conversion stories at Mondoweiss all seem to involve finding out the facts. And once the facts get really rolling, it might happen surprisingly quickly.

        It seems to me step two probably does need to be done with something of a therapist’s touch. And step one should probably be done not tepidly, but full speed ahead.

        Peace.

    • ritzl on July 14, 2015, 6:19 pm

      Great comment, JWalters. I totally agree with this one.

      My philosophical context for what we’re discussing is that a general backlash against all Jews is completely avoidable. History moves in spirals not circles, imho described and channeled by known and historically-entrained personal moralities, but also coupled with/to the unknown and unknowable (and potentially wildly variable and all-consuming) drift of future group dynamics. So my take on this is not to speculate what might happen, but only to point to the explosive dynamics currently lurking just below the surface.

      Maybe and hopefully they’ll be defuzed by the outlets and constraints you mention, but the Los Alamos physicists called this flirting with big, barely-contained forces, “Tickling the dragon/dragon’s tail.” The price of getting it wrong is too awful to contemplate for long, but it does have to be contemplated if, again as you point out, mechanisms can be and are created to avoid societal bad stuff.

      Thanks for making me think and refine. :))

      Appreciate’cha.

  7. Boomer on July 12, 2015, 11:44 am

    Recently a “senior Iranian official” was quoted as saying that the Americans are obsessed with sanctions on Iran. Who can doubt it? The obsession really arises from Israel, and from Israel’s supporters here, but given their dominance in the halls of power, it becomes a distinction without a difference.

    As I write this on Sunday morning, we still don’t know whether there will be an agreement regarding Iran. Some reports are encouraging, but others cite disagreements about whether to lift sanctions on conventional arms sates to Iran. As a practical matter, such weapons could only serve as defensive weapons against Israel or the U.S. Yet some Republicans are urging rejection of any deal that would lift the sanctions.

    In addition to being “obsessed,” our leaders are amazingly hypocritical: they compete to sound their support for Israel, to send more American money and weapons to it, to supplement its ever-full arsenal (which includes atomic bombs and systems to deliver them). All the while, Israel continues to take more Palestinian land, and to oppress the Palestinians in countless ways.

  8. StephenKMackSD on July 12, 2015, 5:42 pm

    On Tony Judt see this by Dylan Riley at New Left Review:
    http://newleftreview.org/II/71/dylan-riley-tony-judt-a-cooler-look
    And if you are at all interested in the Wasp Ascendency read The Georgetown Set. It’s really a much too clever collection of gossip, centered around the Alsop brothers, Cold Warriors to the marrow. Even closet case Joe was in the thick of WWII and even Korea. Not many New Cold Warriors, Wm.Kristol or Robert Kagan, demonstrate that kind of grit.
    StephenKMackSD

  9. adpucci on July 13, 2015, 9:58 am

    Michael Oren – the gift to anti-Zionists that keeps on giving. Now all we have to hope for is that the ambassador to Ireland writes a book…

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