Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jewish Liberalism and Its Discontents

The NY Times, in its infintely conventional wisdom, has suddenly discovered that Jewish liberalism has some fairly major issues. Occasioned, apparently, by an AJC report attacking various "liberals" for being insufficiently dedicated to Israel's continued existence. The Times, of course, starts out with some major semantic problems, since most of the aforementioned accused cannot be accurately described as liberals at all. We are presented -- again -- with Tony Judt, who advocates the dismantling of Israel in favor of a "binational", i.e. Arab, state. As I have noted before, advocating such measures in regards to a country of 6 million people is difficult to describe as "liberal" by any definition of the term. Judt defends himself by, as per usual, revealing his extraordinary ignorance.
“The link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is newly created,” he said, adding that he fears “the two will have become so conflated in the minds of the world” that references to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust will come to be seen as “just a political defense of Israeli policy.”
I will not even bother to deal at length with Judt's claim that the link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is in any way new. Such a wretched distortion of history is either willfully ignorant or consciously deceptive. My guess, judging by Mr. Judt's record, is the former. As to his "fears" as the Times describes them, I can say only that the obscenity he describes exists already and has existed for decades, though it is no fault of Israel's defenders that this is the case. Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust are, of course, only part of the argument for Israel's existence, but they bear an immeasurable weight, and must be dismissed by its enemies. Those who wish Israel to simply go away -- Judt among them -- cannot make a reckoning with the history which brought it into existence. To do so would preclude holding their chosen position. The reduction of catastrophe to politics is, therefore, inevitable on the part of those who reject Israel's existence. A fact with which Judt may well wish to struggle, rather than simply trot out antique rhetorical vulgarities.

We move on, of course, to Tony Kushner, a necro-socialist psychopath who has won the Pulitzer Prize for his writing solely on the basis of the passion with which he reinforces establishment prejudices. Screenwriter of the asinine Munich, a film upon which I have already said all I wish to say, Kushner is probably the stupidest literary presence in America today. Having been subjected myself to one of his public rants, there is little one can say for him besides his obvious need for psychotherapy and a few history lessons. He plays, of course, upon the emotions, and not the intellect, since he doesn't have one, and comes up with this stirring defense.
“Most Jews like me find this a very painful subject,” Mr. Kushner said, and are aware of the rise in vicious anti-Semitism around the world but feel “it’s morally incumbent upon us to articulate questions and reservations.”
This, of course, means absolutely nothing and can be interpreted as meaning absolutely anything. One could argue that it is morally incumbant upon us to articulate "questions and reservations" regarding Tony Kushner himself, but that would seem to be beside the point. We are dealing here, after all, with a man who has the intellectual maturity of a five year old. We shall move on to more interesting subjects.

One of whom happens to be Alan Wolfe, a man whose writings I have recently criticized. His response is, quite frankly, bizarre.
Mr. Wolfe, who has written about a recent rise in what he calls “Jewish illiberalism,” traces the heated language to increasing opposition to the Iraq war and President Bush’s policy in the Middle East, which he said had spurred liberal Jews to become more outspoken about Israel.

“Events in the world have sharpened a sense of what’s at stake,” he said. “Israel is more isolated than ever,” causing American Jewish defenders of Israel to become more aggressive.
I have already noted my opinions regarding what Mr. Wolfe calls "Jewish illiberalism". Needless to say, I consider it a far more positive development than he does, at least to the extent that liberalism must, inevitably, attempt the destruction of Judaism if it is to continue to exist. What is at issue are not historical events but the inevitablities of an ideology which cannot and will not accept Judaism as anything but a temporary anomaly to be dispensed with on the way to total dominion. The very phenomenon of Jewish liberalism itself is proof of this.

I say proof because of what Jewish liberalism in fact is. Jewish liberalism is not, after all, simply liberalism. It is liberalism that is, in some way, acknowledged by its practitioners, if only obliquely, as something specifically Jewish. Jewish liberalism is, in other words, a statement of unconscious discontent with liberalism as it is. With the liberalism which is, in my opinion, imperial universalism. Jewish liberals are sensing or seeking the particular in the universal, the limited in the unlimited, the ethical in the all-accepting nihilism. In this sense, there is at least some hope for Jewish liberalism. But we must regard those of its practitioners who express their discontent with the Jewish, and not with the liberal, elements of their ideology, as those who are looking for salvation in their discontents, and not seeking a way out, or a way up. A way up which I believe does exist in the possibility of difficult freedom. The difficulty here, of course, is of a different and far more tragic nature.