The Israel-firster grumble rumbles on. I have no idea what round we’re in but here’s a snippet from Jeffrey Goldberg’s latest attack on Glenn Greenwald. Some of Goldberg’s readers are apparently upset with him for not attacking Greenwald with enough vigor and for that reason suggest that Goldberg himself is at risk of defining himself as a self-hating Jew. His response to one such challenge:
Self-hatred is a deeply-inexact description of the people this reader is trying to describe. In my experience, those Jews who consciously set themselves apart from the Jewish majority in the disgust they display for Israel, or for the principles of their faith, are often narcissists, and therefore seem to suffer from an excess of self-regard, rather than self-loathing.
Which is to say, if someone is Jewish and lacks the fondness for Israel that Goldberg and others would expect from a Jew, then this person must suffer from a character flaw.
The smear always conforms to the same structure: attack the person instead of the idea.
There is a transparent intellectual cowardice in this approach. If Israel’s defenders can only mount a defense by suggesting that Israel’s critics are all flawed human beings, what does this say about Israel?
It should be possible, for instance, to have an argument about Israeli democracy — for one person to say why they believe that Israel fails to uphold democratic values and another to say why they believe it succeeds in doing so. But what is much more likely to happen is that the defender of Israeli democracy will start demonizing, marginalizing, and belittling Israel’s critics.
Is this simply a sad commentary on Zionism, or does it reflect a form of realism — an implicit acknowledgment that the best the Zionists can do at this point is to close their ranks since long ago they gave up on the idea of winning anyone over to their side?