Meretz USA’s president, Lilly Rivlin, made us aware of “a 29-page polemic” from the American Jewish Committee, entitled “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism”; its author is Prof. Alvin H. Rosenfeld, the director of the Institute for Jewish Culture and the Arts at Indiana University. It’s written from a somewhat centrist to right-of-center point of view, but not badly as these things go.
I agree with Lilly that it does speak to the problem of the demonization and delegitimization of Israel by voices on the left and that, to some extent, this corrosive depiction of Israel and Zionism has been seeping into more mainstream liberal discourse as well (e.g., via Tony Judt, Professors Mearsheimer and Walt and Pres. Carter). As Lilly indicated, Rosenfeld “also makes the case that there is overlap between the rhetoric of anti-Semites and these ‘progressive’ voices.”
The essay especially resonated for me when he examined Seth Farber’s book of interviews with anti-Zionist Jews, “Radicals, Rabbis and Peacemakers” (pp. 20-24). I’ve had numerous occasions in the last few months to discuss and debate (often with heat and invective — my heat, but their invective) Israel and Zionism with the now-aged socialist and pacifist activist, David McReynolds, and his friends and comrades — including Farber. Seth Farber is one of the most extreme and vicious of anti-Zionists that I’ve ever crossed swords with. Even one of his anti-Zionist colleagues privately admitted to me that Seth is particularly “intense.”
Lilly points out that Prof. Rosenfeld does not mention criticisms of Israeli policies taken from a liberal or left-Zionist perspective (considering what Rosenfeld might say, perhaps we should be grateful). Meretz USA and Ameinu are planning a joint programmatic response on how we as Zionists address our concerns for an Israel more dedicated to peace and humane values.
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