Leon Wieseltier has a typically dense (in the sense of intensely argued) takedown of Andrew Sullivan’s various pronouncements on Israel, neocons, and Israel’s centrality in the American and global argument.
Sullivan dashes off some icky and off-putting posts, but I’m not sure they deserve the kind of full-court press Wieseltier applies to them. And he comes close to accusing Sullivan of anti-Semitism for doing what we all do, which is talking about political tendencies among Jews as representing aspects of Jewish political expression. Wieseltier complains:
And this is not all that is disgusting about Sullivan’s approach. His assumption, in his outburst about “the Goldfarb-Krauthammer wing,” that every thought that a Jew thinks is a Jewish thought is an anti-Semitic assumption, and a rather classical one. Bigotry has always made representatives of individuals, and discerned the voice of the group in the voice of every one of its members. Is everything that every gay man says a gay statement?
Well, no. But if a gay man closely identified with the positions he takes on gay causes takes a position on a gay issue (same-sex marriage, for example) and seems representative of a certain line of thought shared with other gay men who are similarly involved politically, we might refer to his position as “representative” of one segment of gay opinion on a subject.
So when a writer like Charles Krauthammer, who is closely identified with his strong defense of Israel and has a following among other Jews who are similarly engaged Jewishly and share his views on Israel, writes on Israel or the war on terror, it isn’t unreasonable to think he represents a segment of the Jewish community.
The Jewish press does this all the time — we talk of Jewish liberals and Jewish conservatives and Jewish progressives and Jewish neocons not because we are anti-Semites because we recognize a distinct Jewish polity that is represented by distinct political fault lines — especially when it comes to Israel, Iran, and the war on terror, issues the political and philanthropic leadership class has made, for better or worse, Jewish issues.
That being said, Wieseltier writes brilliantly on Sullivan’s contention that clearing the “Israel-Palestine question off the table would help us tackle Jihadism immensely” by defusing Muslim anger at America and the West. Writes Wieseltier:
As a matter of numinous conviction, the jihadists are anti-Americans and anti-Semites and anti-Zionists, and their anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism. They do not want to take the Israel-Palestine question off the table, they want to take Israel off the map. Their goals are literal and maximal. Their worldview is unfalsifiable; their “paradigm” does not “shift.” They do not make Sullivan’s distinction between Israel’s existence and Israel’s actions. If the two-state solution were to come into being, the jihadists would consider their job half-done.