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 American Jewish Establishment Has Failed to Grapple with the Threat of Anti-Semitism

Feb. 17 2020

When the White House released its plan for the creation of a Palestinian state that also gives due consideration to Israeli security, writes Seth Mandel, a number of major Jewish organizations rushed to condemn it. The self-styled “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street lambasted the plan for being too pro-Israel, as did the Israel Policy Forum—founded in the 1990s at the behest of Yitzḥak Rabin. Even the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) responded equivocally. To Mandel, this attitude is only a symptom of a deeper problem:

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Read more at Commentary

More about: ADL, AIPAC, American Jewry, Anti-Semitism