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.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.