Gershom Gorenberg is a Liar
I was shocked today when I saw in my site stats, a visit to this blog from The American Prospect and, following the link, read that Gershom Gorenberg has written an essay in which he’s blatantly lied about my political views, saying they represent “the grim anti-Zionist left.” His essay is a bit of puffery written on behalf of J Street in which he sets up a false dichotomy between those who attack J Street from the far right (Daniel Gordis) and the far left (me). Of course, Gorenberg neglects to mention that at one time I supported J Street, donated personal funds, and even organized a blogger panel at its first national conference. Issac Luria even organized an online debate between Jeremy and I during which I’d looked forward to challenging him with my views of where J Street was going. They debate never happened because they chose not to do it. It was after this and a bit of lazy staff work on Luria’s part in response to a request for help in writing a post that defended J Street, that I decided that I was done with the group. But all this reality would spoil the nice (false) juxtaposition he had going.
Any half-way decent human being whose spent five minutes reading this blog knows what I am, what I call myself, and what other reporters and publications (including Yediot, Walla and Maariv in Israel) have called me when they’ve written about my views. Progressive Zionist? Yes. Criticial Zionist? Yes. Some have called me a leftist and others liberal. But the only people who call me anti-Zionist are settlers and their supporters. Oh and how can I forget cretins like David Abitbol and Aussie Dave whose Zionist credentials are tarnished by their own proclivity for lying. These hasbarists are going to love Gorenberg too. I am NOT an anti-Zionist and calling me that is a low blow of the type I didn’t think Gorenberg had in him.
But writers harbor grudges and Gorenberg has one against me because he wrote an essay asking the fraudulent question: why are there no Palestinian Gandhis? Even The Atlantic which was supposed to publish it, turned it down (wonder whether he peddled it to TAP as well and they turned it down?). Gorenberg then had to go to The Weekly Standard, where Bill Kristol was happy to publish material by a liberal Zionist attacking the Palestinian movement. I don’t think Gorenberg forgave me for that, even though I tried to couch my criticism as constructively as I could and confirmed my (then) respect for him. He was waiting for an opportunity to repay me and now he’s taken it.
I’ve written to the TAP editor demanding a correction of this error and also demanded from Gorenberg that he do so. Now I await a reply. If they are willing to correct it then they will show themselves to be honorable people. If not, then they will further tarnish the term “liberal Zionism,” which has taken an awful pounding over the past decade or so. As things stand now, Gershom Gorenberg is a liar. I hope he’s willing to correct himself so that I can acknowledge that when he makes a mistake he’s honorable about fixing it.
The fact that a liberal Zionist like Gorenberg needs to write me out of the Zionist tribe tells you a lot about the bankruptcy of liberal Zionism and almost nothing about my real views. To some of you this may appear rather academic. To those of you who may be to my political left it may be even slightly irritating. But I assure you that when you write about the conflict as an American Jew what you call yourself and what others call you matters. When someone lies about your views it damages your reputation. When someone publishing in as respectable a publication as The American Prospect lies about your views it’s even more troubling.
The occasion of Gorenberg’s essay was in part to flack for Jeremy Ben Ami’s shining new opus on the beauty of liberal Zionism to be called: A New Voice for Israel. Jeremy Ben Ami is not a new voice for Israel. There is little that is new about liberal Zionism. And besides, does Israel as currently constituted need so-called progressive voices speaking up on its behalf? I find it interesting that his new book doesn’t contain the word “peace.” It’s just “for Israel.” That says it all, doesn’t it? How many times do you want to bet you’ll see the word “Palestinian” in that new book of his?
In the weakness of his grasp of my views, Gorenberg doesn’t understand that I actually represent the views of those, if they remain involved, were/are on the left end of J Street’s politics. At the first conference, which I attended, there were many more participants reflecting my politics than Jeremy’s as evidenced by the boos meted out to J.J. Goldberg and similar liberal Zionist speakers who embarrassed themselves with their Neanderthal reading of American Jewish Zionist thought.
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The outcome of Silverstein idea, and why it will fail, in the words of Uri Avneri
“You can talk of a Single State from the Meditteranean to the Jordan River, define it as bi-national or supra-national – whatever the term used, in practice it means the dismantling of the State of Israel, destruction of all that was built for five generations. This must be said out loud, without any evasions. That is exactly how the Jewish public sees it, and certainly also a large part of the Palestinian public. This means the dismantling of the State of Israel. I am a bit disturbed by the fact that these words are not said explicitly.”
If you will read Avneri’s words, you can see why people think you are anti-israel, you support a one state solution, and that is the end of the state of Israel, the symbol will not be the Magen-David flag, national antum will not be hatikvah, etc.
That’s not my idea, Kim. You don’t understand what I believe at all. And do not attempt to characterize what I believe because you will be wrong. I do NOT support a 1 state solution. I am telling you what I do NOT believe. If you continue to erroneously portray my views you will go from being moderated to losing yr comment privileges.
I’ve expressed my views on precisely this subject numerous times and you simply can’t get it. Why is that? Why do you persist in misunderstanding them? Is it that you lack a sense of nuance when it comes to Israel & Zionism? Probably. But whatever the reason, if you bring that inflexibility here & attempt to impose it on me it simply won’t go well for you.
I support an Israeli state with precisely the same demographic composition it has now. There probably would be a second state, Palestine, so if anything I’m in favor of a 2 state solution. But it’s really Israel that concerns me. And that would be a state in which the religions of all the current citizens would be equally protected & respected. No religion or ethnic group would have superior rights over another. That’s most definitely NOT a 1 state solution. It’s just an Israel that is diff. than Israel as you know it & that scares the bejesus out of you & the only way you know who to deal w. it is by mislabeling it as a 1 state solution. That’s almost precisely the mistake Gorenberg has made as well.
And btw, there’s no reason Israel can’t have a Hebrew & Arabic anthem; national religions that are Islam, Judaism & Christianity; national languages of Hebrew & Palestinian Arabic, etc. So you’re wrong on that score as well.
Mr. Silverstein, since you are stating you do not support a one state solution, i thought that maybe you would be able to explain the following:
“I do not favor a Jewish state, at least not one as defined by classical Zionism in which Jews have superior rights to other citizens of Israel. I am in favor of a state in which Judaism and Jews have all the rights guaranteed to citizens of other religions and ethnicities. In other words, Israel should be a state that respects the traditions and history of its Jewish citizens. A state which is a homeland for Jews, but also a homeland for its Palestinian citizens. It should be a state with a constitution that guarantees rights to both majority and minority groups, whether they be Jewish or Muslim. This would most emphatically not be a state which erases its Jewish character. However, it is a state which would equally celebrate its Muslim or Christian character and protect them respectively.”
These are your words, as you wrote them in a post you published in Israelleft.com titled Israel:Nation for all its citizen.
Care to explain what is the difference between a Nation for all its citizen and a one state solution ?
You’re clearly ignorant my friend if you can’t read those words & understand what a nation for all its citizens means. The words are right there on the page.
It occurs to me the problem may be that you don’t even understand what a 1 state solution means. Do we have to give you a tutorial in ideas I don’t even believe in? Ugh. So let’s begin. A one-state solution means you believe that everyone living between the Mediterranean Sea & Jordanian border live in one state. That means the combined populations of Israel & the Occupied Territories would be one state. Got that so far?
That would be considered an anti-Zionist position. But I don’t believe that. Got that?
So if I believe there can be TWO states in that geographical area, I support a 2 state solution. Now how hard was that?
But the thing that throws people like you & apparently Gorenberg is the nature of the State of Israel I conceive. You believe that for Zionism to be realized and for Jews to have a homeland that they must have superior rights inside Israel. And I don’t believe that. The Zionist dream & a Jewish homeland can be realized in a state that is fully shared with its Palestinian citizens. Now, I know this is anathema to people like you & you can’t get your head around it. But maybe if you think about it & perhaps open up a few major historical Zionist texts by Buber, Magnes, Hertzberg, et al. you might be able to.
And if you write another comment asking another question about this showing you don’t understand the most elemental things about Zionism I think I’ll scream.
This is one of those infrequent incidents that I agree with every word you said.
How come I have the feeling that Kim is “Hala” recycled ? Maybe because “Hala” wrote exactly the same nonsense on Richard being a One-Stater after he left “Israel Reconsidered”?
Maybe because I rarely come across people who can’t distinguish between a One-Stater (as me) and a supporter of Israel as a State for all its citizens and eventually limited RoR. That’s just incredible. But I guess if you’re on the extreme right, everything from Kadima and to its left looks all the same too. Or to a capitalist, a social democrat, a socialist and a communist are all ‘commies’.
Wow, that’s marvelous. And as you said almost unprecedented.
How come I have the feeling that Kim is “Hala” recycled ? Maybe because “Hala” wrote exactly the same nonsense on Richard being a One-Stater after he left “Israel Reconsidered” ?
Maybe because I rarely come across people who can’t distinguish between a One-Stater (me !) and a supporter of Israel as a state for all its citizens and eventually limited RoR. That’s just incredible. But I guess if you’re on the extreme right, everything from Kadima and to its left looks all the same too. Or to a capitalist, a social democrat, a socialist and a communist are all ‘commies’.
I’m sorry. Don’t know what happened. This comment is a double.
The state of Israel is exactly what Richard has written here. A homeland for the Jewish people and a home to all the other minorities living there. All have the same rights and obligations.
Read the declaration of independence of Israel.
I sign on this with whole my heart.
The thing is, one cannot hold both ends of the rope.
There cannot be a Jewish state if Arab immigration into it is permitted to no limit.
The simple fact is that Israel GDP per capita is 30,000$ and the Arab states around is 3,000$. If Israel open its border, millions of immigrants will swamp it.
“The State of Israel is exactly what Richard has written here. A homeland for the Jewsih people and a home to all the other minorities living there. ALL have the same RIGHTS and obligations”
Where did Richard write that ? He spends much of his time here writing articles that shows that this is NOT the case. He WANTS Israel to be the State of all its citizens but it is NOT. They don’t have the same rights neither obligations.
And on a personnal note; nobody is talking about “unlimited Arab immigration”. Absolutely nobody. I don’t want to discuss this with you again, I know it’s a red herring, but the only Arabs who want to ‘immigrate’ – i.e. return to where they and their famly lived – are the Palestinians.
Are you really as ignorant as this comment seems to show or are you just trying to provoke a reaction.
Is it a habit of all right wing Palestinians who write here to insult me ?
Did I ever insult any of you ?
Maybe cause there is no moderator to stop this abuse ?
People from 3000 GDP state wants to imigrate to a 30000 GDP state. People from oppressive states wants to imograte to democratic states. 99% of the world imigration are those kind of people. Try to think a little beyond your immidiate political agenda.
I don’t see any insult in my comment. I’m merely asking you if you are as ignorant as you seem to be. You don’t even grasp Richard’s point of view on Israel. But for someone who categorize “Zionist” as a race, nothing surprises me.
I persist: your statement on “There cannot be a Jewish State if Arab immigration into it is permitted to no limit” has nothing to do with reality. Nobody has ever talked about ‘unlimited Arab immigration’. We’re talking about the Palestinians, only the Palestinians, and their eventual return to Palestine, Israel or whatever name their land has is NOT immigration. They lived there centuries before YOU or your ancestors “returned to your ancestral homeland”. !
Calling someone ignorant is insulting him.
Most people learn it is kindergarten.
I do not call you many names for claiming the false claim: “they lived there centuries before you or your ancestors….”
Most of the time I don’t even bother to argue with all the false blunt Arab propaganda running here.
You see, we can degrade to that, but I prefer not to.
Fact is, when the blog owner fails to moderate people, other’s follow.
It is not the mouse that thieves, it is the hole.
@ Free man
I quote you:
“The State of Israel is exactly what Richard has written here. A homeland for the Jewish people and a home to all the other minorities living there. ALL HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS”
If such a statement isn’t ‘ignorant’ what do you call it then ? Pretending all citizens of Israel have the same rights is either due to ignorance or plain propaganda. And stating that this is Richard’s point of view is just the same. Why don’t you address the point for which I called you ignorant instead of avoiding it ?
Not to mention that you use ‘homeland’ for the Jews and only ‘home’ for the rest of the population. To the Israeli Palestinians this is their homeland just as much or even more than to most Jews.
Maybe I read this differently than you. If Free Man actually agrees that Israel is also a homeland for its Palestinian citizens & that both Jews & Palestinians have the same rights & obligations then I’m all for it.
I understand Free man’s answer to Kim on the equal rights and obligations of all Israeli citizens as if he thinks that this is actually the case.
Ah, I see. If that’s true then you’re right. I saw him as saying it was something that SHOULD be true or that he supported.
I don’t believe in unlimited immigration into Israel. I believe that Israel should regulate the number of Arab and Jewish immigrants. There are many ways & formulae to do this.
Richard, are you oblivious to your own words ?
don’t you realize that you preaching the end of Israel as a Jewish state ? Yes i am aware of Buber, Magnes and others, who’s contribution who preached for a one state solution.
So they are the ones from where you extract your ideas, though you are not brave enough to admit (perhaps even to yourself) that you are preaching for a one state. and yes i realize that you do not preach for a one state from the river to the sea, you preach for a one state from the Palestinian border to the sea, which is far worse.
No, not the end of Israel as a Jewish state. But the end of Israel as an ethnocracy in which Jews have superior rights to non-Jews. In the Israel I envision it will be a Jewish state AND a Palestinian state. No, not a binational state. But a unitary state in which both Jews and Palestinians will realize their dreams of homeland. It will not privilege Jews, nor will it disenfranchise or disrespect Jews.
You garbled yr statement about a 1 state solution. But Buber, Magnes & others did NOT support a 1 state solution. You really are totally ignorant if you can say this & really must read a historical reference on the history of Zionism. Pls. read The Zionist Idea or any book by Hertzberg if you want to stop looking foolish here. Buber, Magnes & the Brit Shalom supported a binational state, which certainly isn’t a 1 state solution. A binational state also isn’t the same as my vision (though it shares some principles).
I have a rule here that NO ONE tells me what I believe esp. if it isn’t what I believe. So if you contend again that I support a 1 state solution it will be the last comment you make here.
There is a distinction between national and civil rights. Israel is a Jewish We shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. Most liberal Jews are fervently partisan Democrats and still wrongly fear conservative Christians far more than Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and al-Qaeda combined. in the former sense but has equal rights in the latter sense. There is nothing racist about this, all European countries are built this way, in fact almost all democratic countries are. As long as Israel is a majority Jewish state that is. It’s perfectly democratic for it to have a Jewish character, with the flag, hatikva, etc, while respecting minority civil rights.
There is a distinction between national and civil rights. Israel is a Jewish state. There is nothing racist about this, all European countries are built this way, in fact almost all democratic countries are. As long as Israel is a majority Jewish state that is. It’s perfectly democratic for it to have a Jewish character, with the flag, hatikva, etc, while respecting minority civil rights.
Jon, I repeat READ A BOOK about ZIonism. Your simplistic, truncated understanding of the most basic concepts about Israel & Zionism embarrasses us if not you. Of course European countries are not primarily identified by their religions. Germany is half Protestant, half Catholic. Is it a Catholic or Protestant state? Even in countries in which there is a national religion like England, religion is not as central to national identity as it is in Israel. Religion in Europe is at best a tertiary value in national identity, if it’s a value at all.
And of course if Israel is a “Jewish state” it is not a democratic state precisely because it DOES NOT repsect minority civil rights or any other types of minority rights.
From the point of view of Jewish peoplehood/nationhood, ie the German nation, or the Finnish people, etc. In that respect it is similar, while making room for other ethnicities/minorities. In fact Israel’s Muslim and Arab minority fares far better than they do in Europe, so Israel is superior to Europe in this regard. Israel does indeed respect minority rights, again even better than in some European countries like with regards to the veil etc. Or look at Turkey and see how they treat their non-Turkish population. It was considered a “big step” for them that they recently legalized the use of Kurdish names!!
Sorry but the term “the Jewish people” doesn’t refer to Israel, but to the entirety of world Jewry. Another thing that’s amazingly brazen of Bibi is to refer to Israel as if it was responsible for, or speaking on behalf of the entire Jewish people. No European leader would dare make a statement on behalf of not only his own citizens but all those who have ever hailed from his nation.
Careful, Jon or you’re not going to graduate from Hasbara Academy. The usual hasbara argument is Israel’s Arab fare better than other Arabs of the region which is a bogus argument, but at least one that on its face is accurate. The formulation you’ve articulated is bogus fr. the get go. Can you prove the standard of living for Israeli Palestinian citizens is higher than for saying British Muslims or those of any other European country? But even if you can (which I doubt) this is entirely off topic. Stay on topic, Jon in all your comments. That means no hasbara digression to prove Israel is the font of all goodness, etc.
Wrong again. We’ve had this argument scores of times in the comment threads, Jon. We’re not going there again. So sorry. But again, you’re a woefully misinformed novice Zionist who refuses to read anything that would give you a better grounding in understanding Israeli society.
“In fact Israel’s Muslim and Arab minority fares far better than they do in Europe, so Israel is superior to Europe in this regard”
Your comment is simply plain Hasbara. All of it.
The discrimination against Israeli Palestinians is institutionalized in area such as housing, education, the health system, access to culture, infrastructure etc. Not to mention the job opportunities: I have cousins in Israel who speak fluently Hebrew, who studied abroad in the best US and UK universities, but who never had any job opportunities within their various fields of expertise. And they are regularly told that if they are not happy with the situation, they are free to leave. They are living on their OWN land, and the people telling them to leave are often olim. So cut the crap.
In Europe the Arab and Muslim populations are often recent immigrants, in Israel it’s the other way around.
And how come the Hasbaristas always mention the veil ban ? What do you know about the veil ban ?
Turkey is not a Western democracy as Israel pretends to be ! You could also compare with North Korea, Syria or Burma….
Many of the problems you cite are caused by Muslim culture, such as high birthrates and stigmas against secular studies, as well as restrictions on women, and traditional village culture. As further proof of this, one can cite the example of the Arab Christians, who are the wealthiest, most successful group in Israel, with the highest income in the country. On the other hand are the ultra-orthodox Jews, who are very similar to the Muslim Arab population in terms of poverty etc, due to large families and other such factors. Of course there is always discrimination on some level, in any society, but most of the problems suffered by Israeli Palestinian MUSLIMS (as opposex to Christians) are due to cultural factors internal to that community and not due to racism or discrimination as is commonly believed by critics of Israel.
I’m always amazed by the Israeli chutzpah and by the fact that you all seem to have doctor degrees in sociology, Islamic Studies, ethnopsychiatry etc.
Keep your crap on the discriminations against Israeli Muslim Palestinians as mostly due to their own faults and the Christians Palestinians living in some kind of Paradise. Why don’t you try to convince Azmi Bishara, Ameer Makhoul or Michel Sabbah about that !
“Stigmates against secular studies”.
Where did you find that crap ? You just don’t know what you’re talking about, do you ? Or you’re on a (paid ?) mission here. You apparently think we’re idiots.
Why don’t you google discrimination/Israel/Arabs, and come back when you’ve read a couple of reports.You could also start with the Kaadan family and the famous Katzir-affair.
A huge part of Israeli Jews would love to see the Israeli Palestinians leaving the country, and you try to convince us there’s practicly no discrimination, and when there is, the victims are the ones to blame. Pathetic.
Richard, I’m very sorry to hear that you are a “progressive” Zionist–or a Zionist of any sort. A Zionist is defined, in its most meaningful contemporary sense, as one who believes that the Jews have a right to the land presently called Israel–which is another way of saying that the Jews had a right to steal the Palestinian homeland. Surely you understand what the Yishuv did in 1947-48. To call it anything but brutal theft, murder, terrorism, and ethnic cleansing would be to euphemize and lie about the savage settler colonialist enterprise that became the state of Israel. To say you are a Zionist is to say you are okay with one people stealing another people’s homeland… so long as the thieves are your fellow tribesmen. Richard, one question: how do you justify the theft of Palestine and the continuing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people? I’d be interested in hearing your answer. Yours, Steve Kowit, Anti-Zionist, anti-tribalist, anti-racist
You haven’t described my views at all or my version of Zionism. And don’t tell me what I say is “okay” or not okay in terms of my own Zionism. You don’t have a clue what my views are nor do you care. That’s fine. Just don’t put words in my mouth because you don’t know what you’re talking about as far as that is concerned.
If all you want to do is lecture you can do that elsewhere. I don’t need pontificators or holier than thous.
You’ve just become a victim of that tried and true method mainstream liberals use for establishing their credibility–bash someone to their left, and do it dishonestly. The dishonesty is key. If they actually described what you think accurately then they would be allowing dissident views to receive a fair hearing and that would never do.
People do this because they know they will be applauded for it. Ever notice how ubiquitous Christopher Hitchens became after 9/11, when he started bashing his former political allies? He never would have been a regular in the NYT Book Review or have been praised so much in the Atlantic before that.
Check out the Gorenberg piece again. They have removed the reference to you.
Gorenberg and Ben-Ami are liberal Zionists. As is the case with the liberal class in general, they both tend to see a big part of their function as setting the parameters for what is acceptable and non-acceptable discourse.
This is what I see as the main problem with J Street. It is not so much what they stand for, but what they define as unacceptable either by silence or criticism.
I guess that Gorenberg sees you as outside the pale.
This to me seems to be a good place to be right now.
Wish you were right. As I said above, never was an explicit reference to me. Just a link to my post & the statement that it represents the “grim anti-Zionist left.”
Absolutely right. Gorenberg would never name me in his essay since that would be offering me recognition.
By linking only, it’s the perfect cheap shot. You get to call someone a bad name w/or even having to show them the respect of giving them a name.