Interesting take on the Wieseltier-Sullivan debate and an interview with Abe Foxman

Ron Kampeas at the JTA blog has an interesting post that seems to argue that the reason for Sullivan’s lacerating discourse about Israel and its supporters is that he’s afflicted with unfulfillable philosemitism.

Kampeas refers to Sartre’s essay Anti-Semite and Jew, which some have argued was an atheist’s attempt to de-judaize antisemitism. Whether or not that’s true, it’s still a valuable essay on the question of hatred in general.

Kampeas might want to compare and contrast the ideas in his post with what the French philosopher Andre Glucksman has taken from Sartre’s essay. Paul Berman tried to summarize it for English readers in a TNR cover story about anti-Americanism that’s no longer online. Discussing the hatred of misogyny, Berman wrote:

For why do men hate women? No one ever declares such a hatred. What men speak about, instead, is a perfection of love–a world of the perfect couple, created by the perfect woman, without fault or blemish. And yet, neither the perfect couple nor the perfect woman can ever exist, the human condition being what it is.

Yes, but the Smurf condition allows for it …

… once Papa Smurf turns Gargamel’s evil brunette creation into a perfect, harmony-inducing blond.

Anyway, back to the human condition … Kampeas called Abe Foxman on the phone, argued with him a bit, and here’s what he got:

Since this Wieseltier-Sullivan thing broke, a bunch of us have tried to make this point — David Bernstein and Eric Fingerhut have done the best jobs of it. No one serious is calling anyone an anti-Semite, no one wants to snuff out a career — we genuinely want this conversation, but at the same time, we want to make everyone aware of the hurtful stereotypes so deeply ingrained in our culture that they inevitably bubble up, and make a nonsense of the discourse.

Well no one serious was calling anyone an anti-Semite until
Abe did
, and Abe has one of the truest anti-Semitism detectors I know of — exactly why I wanted to make my disagreement with him clear. He thinks through this topic better than anyone I know.

I called him today and asked him to elaborate. But first, here’s what he said exactly; it was in answer to a JCPA delegate who wanted to know if education could remedy anti-Semitism. Abe’s answer was,
essentially, remedy, yes, cure no. There were educated anti-Semites; he mentioned Voltaire, and then, he mentioned Sullivan:

“He’s another intellectual anti-Semite, and I’ll say it, he’s an anti-Semite.”

Here’s the audio.

We live in a political culture where no one ever admits any fault —

(Ahem.)

read Walt’s astonishing admissions in points 3, 5 and 8 of this manifesto that might as well be called “Guide for the Terminally Unself-aware” — and one means of avoiding fault is to turn the tables by recasting critics as inquisitors. Everyone is itching for their own iconic “Have you no shame, Senator?” moment.

Handing Sullivan that moment only obscures the debate further.

After a little back and forth, Abe agreed:

“It’s a legitimate argument,” he said. “Under other circumstances
probably I would not have used the term the way I used it. Had you
interviewed me, I would have said he legitimized other anti-Semitic
views without calling him an anti-Semite. It’s the same thing as
Mearsheimer, Walt, Jimmy Carter, I never called them an anti-Semite. I would put Sullivan in the same category.”

And maybe he should apologize, both privately and somewhat publicly, to Andrew Sullivan. You don’t say simply that someone is an antisemite if you still hold doubts about that.

Our back-and-forth was important though: Foxman acknowledged that “anti-Semite” belongs to the toxic few who “get up in the morning and say, ‘How can I hurt the Jews?'”

But there are others — a minority, he said — who are “infected with anti-Semitism.” They do not act out except in “moments of crisis.” He cited Gen. George Brown, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who, outraged in 1974 at an arms transfer to Israel that depletd his NATO stockpile, blustered, “They own, you know, large banks in this country, the newspapers, you just look at where the Jewish money is in this country.”

Such opportunities to indulge one’s latent bigotries, Abe said, are
few and and far between. Except for journalists and academics, whose
job it is — especially in this blogging century — to write and write
and express and express.

And when they express latent bigotries, “they legitimize other attitudes,” he said.

And those attitudes can spur the real anti-Semites into believing their violence has a popular resonance.

I don’t know whether I agree with Mr. Foxman’s idea about latent bigotries. Sullivan seemed to have a similar idea going, when he wrote:

Look, I am not one to dismiss any notion of anti-Semitism in me or anyone else. I believe it is such a toxic theme in human history and such a grave strain in the human soul that no one should be sublimely confident that he or she is free of it entirely. I take the moral demand to guard against it very seriously. And I have indeed searched my conscience these past few years to take stock if anything like this is unconsciously entering my soul, as I try to guard against my many other sins.

Then, I thought, if Andrew was being sincere, he was probably raising the stakes higher than necessary.

Neither Kampeas nor Foxman discuss whether a person someone can “flirt” with antisemitic tropes without having any latent bigotry. I tend to think people can flirt with a discourse of hatred, for various reasons.

One major reason might be the sense of autonomy, of individually achieving more intellectual freedom, by breaking what part of your audience considers a taboo. That sense of earned freedom is partially guaranteed by the fact that you know you are not a hater, so you do not feel so in danger of losing the freedom of the individual voice to the group voice of hatred.

As for Foxman’s and Kampeas’s belief that unfair vitriol about Jews and Israel from fundamentally non-hating persons can “legitimize other attitudes”  and “those attitudes can spur the real anti-Semites into believing their [approval of] violence has a popular resonance,” that I agree with entirely. Whenever we’re “joining the chorus” about anything, we might want to meet the people singing harmony in the back row.
__________

[UPDATE, 3/1/10: The mp3 of the Q&A leads into the Sullivan comment at about 19:20. Hannah Rosenthal is the other person there, and you get to hear them not argue, and then maybe Abe is about to argue, but then she agrees with him and they don’t argue. For his part, Abe Foxman sounds … kinda like an old man lecturing me why I shouldn’t meet friends at a bar on Friday night instead of at the sabbath table.]

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Now Sullivan vs Chait, ughh

The Dish has a new reply to Jonathan Chait that ignores most of Chait’s criticisms, and the responsibility to make an important factual correction. Instead, Andrew tries to keep the focus on Wieseltier’s original piece, and cavils and misdirects. The Dish:

My fundamental point was that he [Chait] had an intellectual responsibility to account for the many factual untruths and wildly unsupported accusations in a rant [by Wieseltier] he called “persuasive.” He baldly refuses to do so.

I’ll have a go. Here is the line of questioning from The Dish’s original post, “On Chait”:

Is Chait persuaded that my response to Krauthammer in TNR, The Abolition of Torture, was merely, as Wieseltier claimed, “feelings” presented as “ideas”? Does he think that my examination of the roots of “enhanced interrogation” has not been backed up by facts and legal precedents? Does he believe that my essay last summer was mere feeling? Does he think that my work over the last decade on this subject has not constantly been backed up by fact, argument, text, and historical precedent?

Wieseltier believes that Sullivan often presents feelings as ideas and that Krauthammer often presents ideas with feeling. Andrew is simply wrong, if he believes that one calmly reasoned article ( — which I thought was pretty good, though with an airy patch that wasn’t as intellectual as Sullivan wanted it to seem — ) disproves Wieseltier’s general claim about how Andrew conducts the torture debate.

Similarly, an isolated paragraph in a post — let’s assume it doesn’t directly contradict another post — would not be sufficient evidence of a sturdy, structured argument either, although it might show you some of an argument’s edges. Otherwise, Sullivan could just write one post to have some overlap with each major perspective on an issue, and when necessary, choose one post to defend himself against accusations of having any particular bias or narrow point of view about an issue … Come to think of it, that does fit with his MO, and Wieseltier may have pointed out as much in his formidable rejoinder (largely side-stepped by The Dish) about how Andrew, for all his apologies, avoids deeper responsibility for most things he writes.

If Sullivan wants to cut a paragraph from 100 posts related to torture, deduct his incessant begging-the-questions, choose the versions of reiterated main points that contradict the least with other points, and assemble the remaining text in the form of a comprehensive, structured ur-argument, then … then that would be an FAQ — but it might also be a service to the anti-torture cause. (For my part, and for my belief in the anti-torture cause, I’ll have more to say about the flaws in Sullivan’s use of “fact, argument, text, and historical precedent” regarding torture. )

Was Wieseltier’s piece really a “persuasive dissection” of these issues?

Of the moral question of “enhanced interrogation”? No. But Wieseltier was only attempting to portray, persuasively, Sullivan’s manner of argument about torture.

Does Chait think it was a “trenchant” argument by Wieseltier that my exploration of the question of just war in the context of Gaza was “calculatedly indifferent to the wrenching moral and strategic perplexities that are contained in the awful reality of asymmetrical warfare” when the Dish’s extensive and careful and thoughtful discussion of the subject can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here? Is this what Chait believes is “calculated indifference” to the complexities involved?

This is either wishful thinking or a strawman. Wieseltier did not refer to an “exploration of the question of just war in the context of Gaza.” Wieseltier referred to the “calculated indifference” to just war issues in The Dish’s consistent rhetoric about Israel and Gaza — he cited one phrase as an example. Wieseltier meant that post after post by Sullivan features language chosen with “calculated indifference” to these questions, in order to push such complexities out of the peripheral vision of the readers’ concerns.

If I may offer a related example of such “calculated indifference” … Not long ago, Sullivan used an Alan Dershowitz quote as the body of a post. However you feel about Dershowitz, his words on this occasion could have mirrored the words of any number of center or left-wing Israeli politicians and those of just war theorists. Here’s the body of Sullivan’s post:

“Hamas deliberately conducted its terrorist activities against Israel in a manner calculated by Hamas to produce Palestinian civilian deaths from Israeli weapons,” – Alan Dershowitz

The title was not “Quote for the Day”; rather, it was “Stop hitting yourself.” This was a fairly pure example of “calculated indifference […] to the wrenching moral and strategic perplexities.” Sullivan’s title purposefully discards whether or not the facts underneath have any relevance in traditional just war theory — and undeniably, they do. One seems to have an incredible amount of ego bias, if he believes that his claim to be “pro-Israel” cannot be questioned in good faith, no matter what or how he writes.

Wieseltier’s “Just War” problem with Andrew is not that Andrew has never examined the question of just war in Gaza. Wieseltier’s criticisms are that (1) Andrew is wrong that it was unjust, and that (2) Andrew decides again and again to rhetorically underscore the idea that Cast Lead was unequivocally an unjust war, in cause and practice.

The Dish posts Andrew links to above are mostly lackluster Dissents of the Day, or their equivalent, by other authors, not “extensive and careful and thoughtful discussion of the subject” by Sullivan. The real discussion of the subject on The Dish was pretty one-sided. Sullivan didn’t show much intellectual curiosity when he asked whether Just War theory has dealt with modern terrorism. It has; Sullivan could have done scant research and brought those sources forward.

For example, Michael Waltzer wrote about terrorism in Just and Unjust Wars, and he wrote about Operation Cast Lead here (first printed in the New Republic), where he discussed Hamas’s new use of long-range rockets. However, Sullivan did not bring this reasonably high-profile piece to bear on the discussion. Instead, he chose as his main interlocutor, Noah Pollack on the Commentary blog, which allowed him to align neocon optimism about Iraq with optimism about Gaza.

Is Chait persuaded by Wieseltier that my record on this blog and elsewhere has involved no “notion of the magnitude and the virulence of Muslim contempt for the Jewish world”, or that I have refused over the years to “give the whole picture”?

This I agree with Andrew on, although lately he tends to relativize Muslim antisemitism and anti-Israelism, by making it equivalent to Jewish hatred toward Muslims.

These are not rhetorical questions. They are real questions of a fellow blogger and former colleague who has endorsed as “persuasive and trenchant” the substance of an argument that is riddled with easily demonstrated untruths. If Chait is intellectually honest, as I believe he is, he will address these points, and refute Wieseltier on them one by one by one.

I hope I’ve accommodated Andrew’s non-rhetorical inquiry to his satisfaction, although unfortunately neither Chait nor myself felt the need to refute those points one by one.

Now I’ll briefly address some more caviling and misdirecting in Andrew’s reply. Andrew makes an interesting declaration:

[Chait] also reiterates something untrue. He says that I favored “an American invasion of Israel followed by a NATO occupation of the border.” No I didn’t.

The thing is, Andrew never contradicted anyone, including Wieseltier, who said that The Dish was advocating a NATO invasion. You’d think that might be important thing to set straight, if he didn’t believe something so extreme, particularly in his reply to Wieseltier, who alleged this directly. But now Andrew has decided its convenient to tell us:

I am saying that at some point, if the two parties cannot and will not come to terms, and if the conflict keeps imperiling the rest of us by inflaming a global religious war, then NATO could be involved in enforcing a two-state solution, guaranteeing security for the two states, and policing the border.

And also temporarily expropriating a special area of land from Israel and Palestine, if Sullivan doesn’t imagine policing long slivers of two countries as “policing the border.”

Like a marriage counselor, we could act as enforcers of a restraining order.

Heh. Sure …

Andrew said nothing about using NATO as part of a mutually-agreed upon peace treaty between a State of Israel and a State of Palestine. He said “a direct American military imposition with NATO troops on the borders of the new states of Palestine and Israel” (which would also be there to “end these settlements for good and for all”).

This means that NATO troops will enter some amount of territory that is either Israeli (according to the Green Line), or a city of Israelis (just across the Green Line) with no Palestinian community and policed by Israeli defense forces. This means putting foreign troops sometimes beside and sometimes inside Israel, and demanding to Israeli soldiers that they stand down or face army fire. Since NATO won’t be invited in — that’s what the word “imposed” means, Andrew — this is an invasion.

Perhaps, Andrew can argue that he should not have chosen the word “imposed” and is really leaning toward the threat of an air war on Israeli positions past the Green Line … and a no-fly zone over the West Bank … so, not an invasion. Or perhaps he can take responsibility for what he has written, instead of assuming the fault is always with people who can’t misunderstand it correctly. Anyway …

Because our security is increasingly threatened by this conflict, and the last decade has reinforced that view. […] I’m not the first one to propose this. It would be an attempt to protect US security.

Actually, he may have the distinction of being the first major voice to call for imposing NATO troops on the border of Israel and Palestine … and I would like to see Andrew convince Islamists, moderate or otherwise, that they should not be inflamed by NATO troops enforcing anti-terrorist measures in a new state of Palestine.

One more thing:

One more thing: what universe is Chait living in when he claims that what chunks of Israel have endured lately is anything like the London Blitz?

43,000 Londoners alone were killed in that event in a few months –

Correction: 43,000 in the whole Blitz. Half of them from London, according to Wikipedia.

let alone the carnage in Coventry and the rest of the country. My own family lived in houses that were assailed from the skies – and a million homes were demolished. In one day, in the last assault, 1,364 people were killed and 1,616 were seriously injured.

Hmm. He’s obviously looked at Wikipedia for these stats, since the last sentence above has … similarities to one in the entry on The Blitz. I know it’s not university anymore, Andrew, but don’t forget: attribution.

My own mother as a child was knocked unconscious; my great aunt was blinded; my grandfather was permanently disabled. Is Chait seriously suggesting that unaimed, largely useless Qassam rockets from Gaza that killed around a score of Israelis, however indefensible, are anything like the terror that Londoners faced in 1940? Or the human toll?

You begin to realize that the sense of deranged beleaguerment many Israelis and some supporters of Israel feel when you read a usually sober and sharp writer like Chait make such absurd comparisons.

Well, I guess it could be a glass-half-full view, that Jon Chait and his Israeli-supporter kinsmen don’t know real air-fire suffering like the kind Sullivan’s elders experienced during the London Blitz. Those ordinary men and women of valor went about their daily business, with a stiff upperlip, proud of their stoicism and apparently — in Sullivan’s mind — reconciled to the possibility of becoming another statistic and without ever being gleeful about having to support a war crime, like the carpet bombing of Germany.

But Chait’s ambitions for this point of comparison look much smaller than Sullivan’s. Chait wrote:

As for the rest of these events – yes, Israel’s polity has taken a disturbing rightward tilt over the last several years, which I attribute mostly to large chunks of its population living in London Blitz-like conditions for extended stretches.

Chait maybe should have closed the tiny gap between his words “living” and “conditions,” but he still seemed to mean the fearful uncertainty of rockets, mortars and missiles (not just Qassam rockets, Andrew), the regular fight-or-flight reaction to the siren system and the wearying time spent in bomb shelters.

Chait’s comparison, I think, referred to the perceptions of people living under intermittent bombs, not the human and material cost of the war. I doubt Londoners hiding in a basement would be calling to make sure the statistical reports from the other side of the city were high enough for the day, so that it was officially not gauche for their family to feel despair in their own basement (or to moan about it without feeling humbled by what the Armenians endured at the hands of the Turks). Being in the basement and waiting until a bombing raid was (hopefully) over, seems to be miserable in itself.

… Isn’t the corollary to Sullivan’s argument that to be an Israeli in Sderot was not to live in a constant war zone, since only “unaimed, largely useless Qassam rockets” were falling about? Unlike the Londoners in the year of the Blitz, you can just take your chances and go about your ordinary life, trying to enjoy it … Quasams without bomb shelters are probably no more dangerous than unprotected sex.

Again, the reason why people didn’t die in Sderot is because when you make it under concrete, you don’t likely get maimed or killed. On your way there, your body is very vulnerable to shrapnel from the rocket and whatever it hits. Qassam rockets are neither “unaimed” nor “largely useless.”

And BTW, for all the Londoners experienced, England did not call Germans and tell them to leave their houses in 15 minutes for the counter-attack. And for that matter, Israelis did not support a retaliatory carpet bombing of Gaza — despite what Mr. Goldstone and Mr. Sullivan might want to think.

So I think this is a sad, desperate mischaracterization of Chait’s words, to identify within him a “deranged beleaguerment many Israelis and some supporters of Israel feel.” Such a diagnosis seems to involve a fair amount of chutzpah, when one asks whether Sullivan’s writing lately makes a good case that he’s never suffered from the sense of deranged beleaguerment many detractors and some enemies of Israel feel. Among other things, Andrew has sent his own posts back in time to serve in his self-defense, and thinks the Gaza operation was actually an attempt to “pre-emptively tr[y] to kill Obama’s attempt to reach out to the Muslim world.”

Andrew, stop hitting yourself.

Hitchens on Amnesty’s suspension of Sahgal

It’s the first time this blog has mentioned/linked to Christopher Hitchens:

In common with all great ideas, the Amnesty concept was marvelously simple. Each local branch was asked to sponsor a minimum of three prisoners of conscience: one from a NATO country, one from a Warsaw Pact country, and one from the Third—or neutralist—World. In time, the organization also evolved policies that opposed the use of capital punishment or torture in all cases, but the definition of “prisoner of conscience” remained central. And it included a requirement that the prisoner in question be exactly that: a person jailed for the expression of an opinion. Amnesty did not adopt people who either used or advocated violence.

This organization is precious to me and to millions of other people, including many thousands of men and women who were and are incarcerated and maltreated because of their courage as dissidents and who regained their liberty as a consequence of Amnesty International’s unsleeping work. So to learn of its degeneration and politicization is to be reading about a moral crisis that has global implications.

[…]

Amnesty International was not set up to defend everybody, no matter what they did. No organization in the world could hope to do that. IRA bombers and Khmer Rouge killers and Gens. Pinochet and Videla were not Amnesty prisoners when they eventually faced the bar of the court. The entire raison d’être of the noble foundation was to defend and protect those who were made to suffer for their views. In theory, I suppose, this could include the view that women should be chattel, homosexuals and Jews and Hindus marked for slaughter, and all the rest of the lovely jihadist canon. But—see above—Cageprisoners defends those who have gone slightly further than merely advocating such things.

At this point in time, would AI’s returning to its original mandate be positive, overall, for the world?

(That would seem to shrink Sahgal’s portfolio as well.)

It’s well-nigh incredible that Amnesty should give a platform to people who are shady on this question and absolutely disgraceful that it should suspend a renowned employee who gave voice to her deep and sincere misgivings.

The other great thing about the early days of Amnesty International was its voluntary principle. It was all a matter of free individuals giving their time and money in the cause of the rights of others. Some estimates say that there are currently more than 2 million subscribers worldwide. It’s now incumbent on any member who takes the original charter seriously to withdraw funding until Begg is cut loose to run his own beautiful organization and until Sahgal has been reinstated.

That idea I have no qualms about.

“An authorative source” on the Mossad?

I don’t get it, is Marty Peretz is supposed to have high-level Mossad connections?

Is this another one of Sullivan’s obscure Jewish-related TNR jokes, like the Trinity-Auden-Niehbur thing?

Jesus, Andrew, your timing can be as sensitive as Netanyahu’s.

(… But Netanyahu’s speeches don’t have the Cartman factor.)

____________

[UPDATE, 2/26/10: Peretz announces he does not work for the Mossad.]

“Joining the chorus” or preaching to the choir, pt 1

More of the quotes The Dish has cherry-picked from the “wave of personal support” Andrew has received:

I’m a Jew.  I’m 24 years old and I’ve been to Israel on Birthright (essentially a propaganda trip disguised as hook-ups and drinking).  I agree with some (but not all) of your criticism of the BiBi government.  I guess that makes me a self-deprecating Jew.

Maybe at the ZOA conference, but anywhere else, the worst accusation you’ll get is that you’re being a self-promoting Jew.

Oh well.  I guess that’s why not as many Jews are making Aliyah to Israel anymore, because they cannot capture the young generation of my peers who have dissenting views.

Except that the opposite is true, accounting for the effect of the Soviet exodus. Oh well. What a poseur.

Another:

If you’re an antisemite, then what does that make me? I agree with you on most things related to Israel, and I’m freaking Jewish and half-Israeli. I don’t understand these Americans.

I’m curious though: do you express yourself differently about Israel than Andrew? If you do not, I’m gob-smacked, for Pete’s sake, the jaw drops.

Probably a harder-hitting question: do you sometimes disagree with how Andrew expresses himself about Israel or its relationship to America?

For example, do you accept that millions of Israeli Jews and American Jews who supported Operation Cast Lead need to “exchange anger and paranoia for the integrity they once had”? Do you accept that Israel embarked on Operation Cast Lead in order to “pre-emptively tr[y] to kill Obama’s attempt to reach out to the Muslim world”?

Anyway, I don’t think Andrew is antisemitic. Accusations of this tick me off, but I’m also bothered by Andrew’s taking many criticisms of anti-Israel bias to be accusations of antisemitism — a straw man and a kind of self-martyrization.

Another:

I’m a Jew and horrified by the attacks on anyone who dares question Israel’s actions.

Yes, I’m a Jew too, and I’m horrified– I mean, turned-off by anyone who deliberately confuses the idea of “attacks” with the idea of “questions” … including this emailer.

And, I’m definitely horrified by the attacks on anyone who sings “My Way” in a Filipino karaoke bar, which certainly does happen. (H/t, Chait.) Yes, I dared question that. I think it was pretty heroic of me.

And, I’m starting to get horrified at the reflexive reaction of “being horrified”  at everything. Doesn’t anyone have respect for horror movies anymore? We’re diluting their preferred audience reaction.

… On the other hand, this reader may have made a typo and meant to write “glorified” instead of “horrified,” to begin with.

I urge you to keep speaking out – you are doing an enormous amount of good, so please don’t let intellectual bullies like Chait and Wieseltier dictate the terms of debate.

Chait was “bullying”? What, then, is he allowed to say on the subject by his legions of would-be victims?

And “You are doing an enormous amount of good”?! Where’s any evidence for this incredible claim? I can imagine this statement looking believable in the type of narrow mind who holds that the lack of outright condemnation of Israel in “the mainstream media” is the only reason there is no peace in the Middle East.

With no concrete reference points, this encouragement only seems to play into one human being’s bruised egoism, quest for endorphins, and feeling of self-righteousness. This reader might just as well have meant, “Good job, boy. Keep on criticizing Israel!”

Another:

I am Jewish and I generally support Israel, but if Foxman is calling you an anti-semite there is something really, really wrong down at ADL.  In fact, Mr. Anti-defamation-league is defaming himself and all Jews by calling you an anti-semite.  He plays right into the hands of those who say you can’t criticize Israel without being called either an anti-semite or a self-hating Jew.

Um … into the hands of Andrew?

This reader also says:

I disagree with you sometimes – but I stand with you shoulder to shoulder on your right to speak without being smeared.

Me too, but I won’t let anyone whitewash the facts.

Can you spot the difference?

The Dish’s Quote of the Day, emphasis mine:

“The story here is the dangerous devaluation of a real and ugly phenomenon i.e. anti-Semitism. Equally distressing, is the fact that Foxman, one of the nation’s leaders in the fight against anti-Semitism, also leads the process of its devaluation as either a meaningful term or a genuine challenge.

There is no question that Jew-hatred persists in this country along with other racial, ethnic and gender-based hatreds, and that both Foxman and the ADL have played important and even heroic roles in combating them. But with Jew-hatred on the decline in this country, and even more importantly, becoming almost exclusively the domain of the least educated and empowered segments of society; it often appears that Foxman is nothing more than a hammer in search of more nails,” – Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

Compare this to Andrew’s quoting of a reader email as a part of his “chorus of support”:

I find it ironic that Abe Foxman, who spends his life defaming others, leads an organization named the Anti-Defamation League.

That’s a pretty offensive way to trivialize antisemitism, since it’s without question that Foxman certainly has identified some genuine cases of it and that his work against antisemitism has at least sometimes been important.

I guess things can cease to be offensive if they are offered in the defense of The Dish. (I wonder if it would have given Andrew pause to find out that email came from one of the obsessive anti-Zionist commenters at HuffPost …)

Anyway, here’s a section of Rabbi Hirschfeld’s article that Andrew evidently thought less worthy of our attention for discussion:

Apparently, Abe Foxman called Andrew Sullivan an anti-Semite in his remarks to the Jewish Council on Public Affairs’ national meeting. I say “apparently” because neither I nor anyone else can confirm the veracity of the twitter feed from the meeting which carried the quote. Of course, nobody will deny its accuracy either. That’s bad.

Andrew Sullivan is many things, and some of his recent analysis of the Middle East conflict has been woefully inadequate. Lately, he finds it easier to substitute easy moral equivalence for the more complex reality in which there is blame enough to go around, without claiming that all bad acts are equally bad. But be that as it may, bad analysis does not an anti-Semite make, especially since the latter is a claim about a person’s beliefs, and inner beliefs can not be measured by a few comments; no matter how objectionable Mr. Foxman or anybody else finds them.

But a tiff between Foxman and Sullivan is not the real story here. In truth, Sullivan seems to love these dust ups – they are simply grist for his ever-churning word mill. If anything he should send Foxman a thank-you note. And the fact that Foxman labels Sullivan a Jew-hater, is hardly surprising. It’s simply one more case of the old adage that when all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.

[UPDATE, 2/26: What if all you have is a demonic force you call “neoconservativism” what does the whole world look like then? … A kraut-hammer?]

Is The Dish becoming a fact-checker’s paradise? ctd

I’ve already set down some relevant questions about this issue.

However, Andrew was moved to post again basically reiterating his earlier points under a comment by Joe Klein. Sullivan has modified the phrase “Zionist heritage site” somewhat:

This is about killing any peace process, telling Obama to jump off a cliff and annexing the West Bank for eternity.

I guess Sullivan means more than the 3 main blocs there. I hope he doesn’t maintain this willful ignorance for eternity.

Some readers have said that Netanyahu was merely trying to make the Cave of the Patriarchs an “archeological” site and not a “Zionist” one. But it’s clear from the Israeli press that this site will be added to a list of “national heritage sites” and their inclusion was at the behest of two far-right religious parties.

Did readers get pissed at him for saying “Zionist heritage site”? Is that why he is re-posting? He does have a sensitive ego.

The meretricious move has outraged Abbas and given Hamas an opportunity to call for renewed violence. At some point, even the US press is going to have to cover this as what it is.

The Dish too.