Thanks to Muzzlewatch for pointing out this excellent piece of journalism from CNN (video) covering the raging debate within our community about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Frank Sesno does a terrific job of laying out the general contours of the debate including Jimmy Carter’s book and the AJC smear of liberal Jewish critics of Israeli policy. One word of warning though: Paul Zahn follows the piece with a long debate between two of our greatest blowhards, Alan Dershowitz and Michael Lerner. I should quickly add that while there are things I don’t like about Michael Lerner, I find his politics often agreeable to my own, including during this debate. He set out the progressive Jewish agenda pretty well.
But Dershowitz, what can you say about him? He comes up with the entirely fatuous claim that no critic of Israel has ever been called “anti-Semitic.” What he means to say is that no “legitimate” critic of Israel has ever been called anti-Semitic. Because, of course, many, many have been called anti-Semitic who criticized Israel. But even if we add the word “legitimate,” Dershowitz’s claim would be entirely fallacious. The Big D. even claims that he’s offered a reward to anyone who can provide that any American Jewish leader has called any critic of Israel anti-Semitic. What planet is the guy living on? The AJC report by Alvin Rosenfeld notes critics like Tony Kushner, Tony Judt and Adrienne Rich as anti-Semitic, when their only crime is not to share Rosenfeld’s belief in Zionism as the only legitimate expression of Jewish identity. I want to make clear that I don’t share their view and consider myself a progressive Zionist. But by God, I won’t let these distinguished artists be tarred and feathered as anti-Semites merely because they don’t conform to some narrow definition of Jewish identity.