Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Wouldn't it be simpler for the Zionists to dissolve Israel and choose another?" (With Apologies to Brecht)

What do you call a person who accuses other Jews of being involved in a vast anti-Semitic conspiracy?

"Watching Jamie Kirchik accuse Daniel Levy of being an anti-Israel conspiracy theorist is an impressive thing. I think, in the tribe, we call it chutzpah. But it's worth reading the whole five paragraph screed. Read it slowly. Take time to enjoy the scenery. Whistle appreciatively as Kirchik's argument builds, the innuendo stacks. And remember to have a camera out when you arrive at the final, stunning, vista, in which Kirchik places Daniel Levy in the tradition of the John Birch Society.

Who knew The New Republic had begun publishing performance art?


But Kirchik's evident mania fits nicely into an interesting, emergent pattern on the Likudnik Right: The need to paint the actual members of the Israeli government as insufficiently pro-Israel. Levy, for instance, was a senior adviser to the Israel Minister of Justice, and a peace negotiator for both Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin. He's an individual who, quite literally, has devoted his life to the peace and security of the Jewish state. And Kirchik wants to paint him as the anti-Israel incarnation of the John Birch Society. Similarly, Commentary magazine, where Kirchik also contributes (TNR must be so proud!) recently published an article excoriating Israeli Prime Minister for being insufficiently pro-Israel as if, as Matt Duss put it, "to exhume parody, strangle it with piano wire, and rebury it."

But entertaining as all this is to watch, it's evidence of a deeper insecurity among the American Likudniks: As MJ Rosenberg put it the other day, the Israeli mainstream is coming to accept reality. The center is shifting left, the traditional hardliners, exhausted by decades of war, accepting that tough compromises will be required en route to peace. That's tricky for, as Daniel Davies put it, "nationalists of a completely imaginary [Israeli] state, one which has no meaningful politics of its own, no need to compromise with reality and no national interests other than constant war." In order to keep internal coherency, Israeli politicians with some interests other than war need to be painted as betraying the national interest. As more and more Israeli politicians do this, however, the list of targets grows ever more comical, and this group of Zionist dead-enders grows all the stranger, and all the more unbalanced. Which is how you get Daniel Levy as a John Bircher, and Ehud Ohlmert as an anti-Semite." (Ezra Klein, "The Likudnik Dead-Enders," Ezra Klein Blog, Dec. 11, 2007).


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