A self-refutation … something much sadder

Citing support from one NRO writer, Andrew makes an excellent point that does not help in his defense:

But I also try to ensure that the arguments of those I attack are also represented on this blog; I post real dissents; I admit errors when necessary; I engage in more introspection than some online; and I link to a wider variety of other writers from different perspectives – known and unknown – than many other bloggers. That’s how I try and balance my Irish bluster.

That’s precisely what has made readers uncomfortable, since this habit was suspended on The Dish regarding Operation Cast Lead and Israel/Netanyahu’s motives for their part of the peace process. In a post from around when I began this blog, I wrote:

Uncritically accepting the Goldstone report, with zero qualifications […] I don’t recall seeing anything on the Daily Dish that suggests its proprietor thinks the Goldstone Report might have a few flaws, nor do I recall any attempt on the Dish to separate fact from fiction in the Report …

Sullivan has not even made one allusion to the fact that hundreds of active militants have been exposed in the count of “civilians” and police officers Israel killed in Gaza. He has not posted one article where a reporter familiar with the area or a local official has acknowledged a surprisingly intact Gaza after Operation Cast Lead. To the contrary, he has recommended Lawrence Wright’s article on Gaza destruction, which rests entirely on uncorroborated and (forthrightly) unchecked testimony of partisans.

He made multiple references to Dani Zamir’s soldier discussion group that was supposedly going to give a document that alleged war crimes to the IDF. Yet The Dish made not one reference to the aftermath of this story. If he cared about more facts than the simple fact of innuendo, he would have found out that the discussion group was primed before the war to collect such stories for later use, that the soldiers reported second-hand rumors of unidentifiable incidents and that Zamir himself wrote an op-ed castigating people for assigning his report the meaning Andrew did.

Sullivan linked to a great TNR piece by Moshe Halbertal that analyzed what was worthy and unworthy in the Goldstone report. The Dish de-emphasized the thrust of Halbertal’s article, which contradicted Sullivan; and Andrew provided a “money quote” that implied a conclusion about Operation Cast Lead opposite to Halbertal’s.

Halbertal’s piece could have been a perfect article to bring out a different perspective on the Gaza operation to help initiate more critical discussion. Several pages of the article even delineated allegations that Israel had better take more seriously, but Sullivan had no interest in getting his readers to present different views on the content of those pages, just as it seemed he had no interest in airing reader, or writer, argument about the content of the Goldstone report. Such debate seemed to be superseded by the need to convey an overall impression of Israel’s guilt. Andrew wrote:

I suspect in due course that Gaza will be understood as immoral, and counter-productive. It repelled me in a way that nothing Israel has done repelled me. It was an act of anger and vengeance and cruelty. And it will come back to haunt the Jewish state.

This misrepresentation or dismissal of Halbertal’s points was disconcerting. It added to my worries about the negative effect of Sullivan’s rhetoric on the anti-torture cause, his intemperate dismissal of liberal questions as neocon causes, and his inability to detect different motives in people who claimed to speak for the Greens. These things together moved me to start The Daily Dishwater blog. I felt that there had become certain issues, where I could rely on The Dish to throw away its interest in stimulating critical thinking and just as often to rally for troops of believers.

The Dish has showed less interest in the current effect of the Gaza Operation on rockets in Sderot (which have ended — has The Dish even remarked on that?) than in its “polarizing effect.” In fact, less than a week ago, Andrew Sullivan wrote that Israel

pre-emptively tried to kill Obama’s attempt to reach out to the Muslim world by the brutal, polarizing Gaza campaign,


What “dissent” would he post, what alternative point of view would he consider, to ideologically balance the “anger and paranoia” (his diagnosis of a certain group of people) responsible for this radical reworking of reality, whereby Israel did not stop the Gaza action because of Obama’s inauguration but sent its own young men into harm’s way in order to thwart new hopes for peace that people saw in an Obama presidency.

How will Andrew Sullivan in this case promote, like F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time,” when one idea is so deranged?

Such a statement shows that he can create a world where Israel is all about him — with his attachments to Obama’s political fortunes and America’s shortest-term interests. Such a complete objectification of other people’s self-regard, projecting one’s own cynical political motives on them, is … clinical (a word Andrew likes to use for many Republicans).

Meanwhile, he has been going to huge lengths to convince us that Iran is, as he says, “not about us, all about them,” cutting the people of Iran enough slack to work through their domestic business as their current leaders go about getting an atomic bomb (which granted, Sullivan thinks is inevitable). Yet Sullivan does not give Israel enough slack to move an inch from his grand, patronizing notions of steps immediately necessary for the country’s well-being. He’s open to using NATO to make them understand. He seems to think Israel not giving ground at the rate Britain gave to Nehru and Ghandi equals a neocon albatross on American foreign policy.

A comment like this makes it seem Sullivan will forever be more concerned that the Gaza campaign was “polarizing,” than the question of what actually happened there, and the moral questions that follow what happened as they follow any military action. It seems as though the empathy he has found for “pulverized” Gazans is secondary to the “realism” he has found in regard to Israel. By realism, in this case, of course we mean how Israel is preternaturally intent and magically able to screw the U.S. over, with the help of the neocons … that entranced Andrew into supporting the Iraq War.

This is the Google search results for “civilians” and “Fallujah” on The Daily Dish. I find nothing about the 800 plus civilians civilians the United States killed in the second battle of Fallujah — more than in Operation Cast Lead — nothing about the way in which white phosphorous was used in Fallujah … nothing about the “brutality” or the incredible “pulverization” that happened there in trying to achieve our military objective.

The aftermath of the second battle of Fallujah apparently wasn’t “polarizing” enough for Andrew to put aside moral complexity. How cynical.


2 Responses

  1. […] Correct your outstanding errors, since we don’t want people to think that you are capable of incredible reworkings of reality. It makes you look too much like Bill Kristol. Possibly related posts: (automatically […]

  2. […] 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 requires a fair share of chutzpah, when one asks whether Sullivan’s writing lately makes a good case that he’s never suffered from the deranged beleaguerment many detractors and some enemies of Israel. Among other things, he has sent his own posts back in time, 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.” […]

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