A New Book about Zionism and the Left Misses the Big Picture

April 5 2019

In The Lions’ Den: Zionism and the Left from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky, Susie Linfield examines a number of prominent leftist thinkers’ often contradictory and almost always logically and morally incoherent ideas about Israel. David Mikics finds the book both “compulsively readable” and “persuasive,” but notes that it fails to draw conclusions about the larger pattern it identifies:

Linfield seems unsure about the value of her famous thinkers, given their frequent traffic with facile, biased pseudohistory. And so she should be. The truth is that [the Marxist historian Isaac] Deutscher’s adoring portrait of Leon Trotsky is hardly less distorted than his feelings about Jewishness. The same is true for [Noam] Chomsky’s [apologias for] Pol Pot’s Cambodia. . . .

One of the hardest lessons for leftists to learn is that their intellectual heroes can have feet of clay. . . . Proclaiming men and women to be Great Thinkers is a dangerous game, especially when the Greats fail to observe basic rules of rational, fact-based argument. . . .

Albert Memmi, [the one thinker discussed in the book hostile neither to Israel nor to Judaism], who became a Zionist in response to Arab anti-Semitism in Tunisia, not to European prejudice, should probably have the last word. He realized that the left’s betrayals of the Jews were “so extensive and recurrent” that “they were intrinsic to left politics rather than random aberrations.” Just as when Memmi wrote, the left’s Jewish problem looks depressingly inevitable, and intractable.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Albert Memmi, Anti-Semitism, Hannah Arendt, Isaac Deutscher, Leftism

The Attempted Murder of Salman Rushdie Should Render the New Iran Deal Dead in the Water

Aug. 15 2022

On Friday, the Indian-born, Anglo-American novelist Salman Rushdie was repeatedly stabbed and severely wounded while giving a public lecture in western New York. Reports have since emerged—although as yet unverified—that the would-be assassin had been in contact with agents of Iran, whose supreme leaders have repeatedly called on Muslims to murder Rushdie. Meanwhile U.S. and European diplomats are trying to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. Stephen Daisley comments:

Salman Rushdie’s would-be assassin might have been a lone wolf. He might have had no contact with military or intelligence figures. He might never even have set foot in Tehran. But be in no doubt: he acted, in effect, as an agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under the terms of the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in February 1989, Rushdie “and all those involved in [his novel The Satanic Verses’s] publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death.” Khomeini urged “brave Muslims to kill them quickly wherever they find them so that no one ever again would dare to insult the sanctities of Muslims,” adding: “anyone killed while trying to execute Rushdie would, God willing, be a martyr.”

An American citizen has been the victim of an attempted assassination on American soil by, it appears, another American after decades of the Iranian supreme leader agitating for his murder. No country that is serious about its national security, to say nothing of its national self-worth, can pretend this is some everyday stabbing with no broader political implications.

Those implications relate not only to the attack on Rushdie. . . . In July, a man armed with an AK-47 was arrested outside the Brooklyn home of Masih Alinejad, an Iranian dissident who was also the intended target of an abduction plot last year orchestrated by an Iranian intelligence agent. The cumulative weight of these outrages should render the new Iran deal dead in the water.

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Read more at Spectator

More about: Freedom of Speech, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy