We’re all familiar with the tendency of pundits and writers to divide the Jewish community into “good Jews” and “bad Jews.” While I don’t generally consider this crossing the line into anti-semitisim, I do find it objectionable.
As Sophia has blogged over at Solomonia:
I think we are in fact being stereotyped into “good Jews” and “bad Jews,” with the bad ones being from the “wing” of Judaism which belongs to AIPAC, as if there were any such thing, and as if Israel for that matter were simply going around deliberately sabotaging Obama’s peace plans, or as if there were no wars or terrorism in the Middle East and as if there were no history of violence against Jews there, and as if Israelis just want to crush Gazans for the sake of being mean.
Worst of all supporters of Israel [are being lumped] into a far Right, warlike, “neocon”, mode, which is per se “bad”, regardless of the complexities of the situation in the Middle East and regardless of the variability of American Jews.
And, one of the few things that Leon Wieseltier nailed in his otherwise turgid criticism of blogger Andrew Sullivan was this passage:
Contemporary Israel is “a betrayal of many Jewish virtues.” I thought that human rights, if this is what Sullivan sees Israel abusing, is not a Jewish virtue, or a Christian virtue, or a Muslim virtue, but a human virtue. Israel is a secular state. The primary offense of Israeli brutality in Gaza was not against Maimonides. But Sullivan desperately wants the Jews to be good Jews, to be the best Jews they can be. He wants edifying Jews. Don’t they realize that if they fail to edify, they may lose his friendship? The fools! Jews ought to determine their beliefs and their actions apologetically, so as not to disappoint “goyim like me.”
But John Mearsheimer has taken the simplistic, objectifying task of categorizing Jews to a new low. In a speech delivered yesterday at The Jerusalem Fund, titled “The Future of Palestine,” he extends the hateful Israel-Apartheid South Africa comparison to this inevitable conclusion:
American Jews who care deeply about Israel can be divided into three broad categories. The first two are what I call “righteous Jews” and the “new Afrikaners,” which are clearly definable groups that think about Israel and where it is headed in fundamentally different ways. The third and largest group is comprised of those Jews who care a lot about Israel, but do not have clear-cut views on how to think about Greater Israel and apartheid. Let us call this group the “great ambivalent middle.”
Righteous Jews have a powerful attachment to core liberal values…..To give you a better sense of what I mean when I use the term righteous Jews, let me give you some names of people and organizations that I would put in this category. The list would include Noam Chomsky, Roger Cohen, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, Tony Karon, Naomi Klein, MJ Rosenberg, Sara Roy, and Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss fame, just to name a few. I would also include many of the individuals associated with J Street and everyone associated with Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as distinguished international figures such as Judge Richard Goldstone. Furthermore, I would apply the label to the many American Jews who work for different human rights organizations, such as Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch.
On the other side we have the new Afrikaners, who will support Israel even if it is an apartheid state…..I would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations as new Afrikaners. That list would include Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, just to name some of the more prominent ones. I would also include businessmen like Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman as well as media personalities like Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Martin Peretz of the New Republic. It would be easy to add more names to this list.
The key to determining whether the lobby can protect apartheid Israel over the long run is whether the great ambivalent middle sides with the new Afrikaners or the righteous Jews. The new Afrikaners have to win that fight decisively for Greater Israel to survive as a racist state.
There is no question that the present balance of power favors the new Afrikaners…..I believe that most of the Jews in the great ambivalent middle will not defend apartheid Israel but will either keep quiet or side with the righteous Jews against the new Afrikaners, who will become increasingly marginalized over time. And once that happens, the lobby will be unable to provide cover for Israel’s racist policies toward the Palestinians in the way it has in the past.
So, what type of Jew are you? (C’mon, it’s easy, since we fall into just three categories: Evil Racists, Noble Liberals or the Cowardly Undecided.)
Do you want to join the ranks of “Righteous Jews,” who include loathsome crackpots like Philip Weiss, Norm Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky? (Since when did being “righteous” include making jokes about Auschwitz or defending Holocaust deniers or obsessing over “Jewish control” of the media and political parties?)
I’m sure, by the way, that borrowing the term “Righteous Jews” from “Righteous Gentiles” was not accidental. By comparing these supposed paragons of the Jewish community to those who saved Jewish lives during the Holocaust gives Mearsheimer a twofer—those Jews who are not “righteous” are, by default, not only Afrikaners, but turning a blind eye to Nazi-type genocide.
Reading the text of Mearsheimer’s speech actually gives me some sublime pleasure. No longer does he even attempt to qualify his views with statements such as how the creation of Israel was a “wonderful thing” or that the “Israel Lobby” is not the “Jewish Lobby.” He’s come completely out of the anti-Zionist closet, spouting hateful, simplistic rhetoric that is no longer hidden behind the façade of respectable academia.