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The ADL Takes Sides against Benjamin Netanyahu

Sept. 16 2016

In an English-language video posted last week, the Israeli prime minister pointed out that the Palestinian demand for sovereignty over a territory from which Jews would be excluded amounts to advocacy of ethnic cleansing. Responding in Foreign Affairs, Jonathan Greenblatt, the new head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and a former staffer for both President Obama and Hillary Clinton, roundly condemned Netanyahu’s statement (as, not coincidentally, did the White House). Jonathan Tobin remarks:

[Even] leaving aside the merits of Netanyahu’s assertion, . . . for Greenblatt to re-position the ADL from its former centrist position as a mainstream address for pro-Israel activism to one that is now in open opposition to the democratically elected government of Israel is a sea change of enormous importance. From now on, the ADL must be viewed as an ally of J Street and others on the left who make no secret of their partisanship in the context of both Israeli politics and the tense relations between Israel and the United States. This is a betrayal of the ADL’s long and honorable legacy as a group that sought to speak for the interests of the Jewish community as a whole and respected the right of Israel’s people and their leaders to make their own decisions about security.

It is equally outrageous for Greenblatt to use his newly inherited mantle, as the man who can pose as the arbiter of what is or is not anti-Semitism, to attack Israel’s government. . . . Enough Jewish blood has been shed by Palestinians driven by hate to understand the stakes in that conflict. Whatever one’s opinions about settlements, the ADL has no business weighing in on this subject in a manner that effectively gives the Palestinian culture of hate a pass. Doing so also undermines the ADL’s credibility in the fight against the forces threaten both Israel and world Jewry.

Read more at Commentary

More about: ADL, Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, Hillary Clinton, Israel & Zionism

 

Hannah Arendt, Adolf Eichmann, and the Jews

Feb. 23 2018

In 1963—a year after Adolf Eichmann’s sentencing by an Israeli court—reports on the trial by the German-born Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt appeared in the New Yorker and were soon published as a book. This “report on the banality of evil,” as the book was subtitled, outraged many Jews, including many of her erstwhile friends and admirers, on account of her manifest contempt for the entire preceding, her disgust for the state of Israel, her accusation that a wide array of European Jewish leaders (if not the majority of the victims) were complicit in their own murder, and her bizarre insistence that Eichmann was “not a monster,” or even an anti-Semite, but a mindless, faceless bureaucrat. While extensive evidence has been brought to light that Arendt was wrong both in her claims of Jewish passivity and her evaluation of Eichmann as the head of the SS’s Jewish section, her book remains widely read and admired. Ruth Wisse comments on its enduring legacy:

When Arendt volunteered to report on the Eichmann trial, it was presumed that she was doing so in her role as a Jew. . . . But Arendt actually traveled to Jerusalem for a deeper purpose—to reclaim Eichmann for German philosophy. She did not exonerate Nazism and in fact excoriated the postwar Adenauer government for not doing enough to punish known Nazi killers, but she rehabilitated the German mind and demonstrated how that could be done by going—not beyond, but around, good and evil. She came to erase Judaism philosophically, to complicate its search for moral clarity, and to unseat a conviction [that, in Saul Bellow’s words], “everybody . . . knows what murder is.”

Arendt was to remain the heroine of postmodernists, deconstructionists, feminists, relativists, and internationalist ideologues who deny the stability of Truth. Not coincidentally, many of them have also disputed the rights of the sovereign Jewish people to its national homeland. Indeed, as anti-Zionism cemented the coalition of leftists, Arabs, and dissident minorities, Arendt herself was conscripted, sometimes unfairly and in ways she might have protested, as an ally in their destabilizing cause. They were enchanted by her “perversity” and were undeterred in their enthusiasm by subsequent revelations, like those of the historian Bernard Wasserstein, who documented Arendt’s scholarly reliance on anti-Semitic sources in her study of totalitarianism, or of revelations about her resumed friendship with Martin Heidegger despite his Nazi associations.

At the same time, however, the Arendt report on the Eichmann trial became one of the catalysts for something no one could have predicted—an intellectual movement that came to be known as neoconservatism. A cohort of writers and thinkers, many of them Jews from immigrant families who had turned to leftism as naturally as calves to their mother’s teats, but who had slowly moved away from the Marxism of their youth during the Stalin years and World War II, now spotted corruption and dishonesty and something antithetical to them in some of their very models of the intellectual life.

They and their Gentile colleagues had constituted the only European-style intelligentsia to flourish in America. Most of them were only one generation removed from Europe, after all, so what could be more natural than for them to serve as the conduit of European intelligence to America? Arendt’s ingenious twist of the Eichmann trial showed them how Jewish and American they actually were—and how morally clear they aspired to be.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Adolf Eichmann, Hannah Arendt, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Neoconservatism, New York Intellectuals