Philip Weiss tells us in an article in the June 4th issue of The American Conservative – at enormous length – how and why he left The Observer — even though they never fired him nor even challenged his views. He apparently wanted to get paid for his blog (he had agreed to start without payment). He dresses this up as principled unease with the fact that The Observer’s editor, some writers and its new owner are pro-Israel.
After setting the scene, he quotes himself as telling his Observer editor:
I grabbed a galley of Jeffrey Goldberg’s book. … “Goldberg works for The New Yorker in Washington and because he thought America was dangerous for Jews, he moved to Israel and served in their army, then he moved back here and pushed America to go to war in Iraq. Well, I’m different. I don’t think America is dangerous for Jews, and I’m critical of Israel. And there’s no room for me here. There’s no room.”
Notice how Weiss reduces the nuanced views of this progressive-Zionist journalist to his earnest but immature rationale for making Aliya as a teenager; then Weiss accuses Goldberg of “push[ing] America to go to war in Iraq.” It’s a short hop from there for Weiss’s article to raise the old “dual loyalty” issue.
And he calls American Zionists (again, including progressive Zionists) “paranoid” for being concerned that the American majority may turn against the Jewish minority one day. But this notion, raised so tendentiously by Weiss as an accusation, is a haunting fear of many (perhaps most) American Jews — whether Zionist or not. It is, after all, part of the classic historical pattern that has cursed Jews for centuries as a minority group.
What does his “Zionist” editor do in response? This ever-tolerant guy tries to persuade him to stay.
And Weiss writes this in – of all places – The American Conservative, the magazine founded by Pat Buchanan and his basically anti-Semitic partner, Taki Theodoracopulos. (I doubt that Buchanan is personally anti-Semitic, but his agenda and public leanings have always been anti-Jewish, including not only an unwavering line on Israel – even if sometimes on target – but even in defending Eastern European Holocaust-era war criminals, and in having blamed the first Iraq war on Israel’s “Amen corner.”) Weiss’s “confession” has to be music to their ears.
P.S. I happen to have served as co-chair of a joint task force of Meretz USA and Ameinu (the Labor- Zionist affiliate in the US) to plan programs to promote civil discourse among Zionists and progressive American Jews about Israel. We are presenting a panel entitled “How to Talk Candidly About Israel: A conversation among progressive American Jews,” on Thursday, June 21, 7:30 PM at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 West 68th Street, New York, NY. Among our panelists is this same blogger and writer Philip Weiss. So please understand that I’m all in favor of enlightened dialogue. I hope that the inestimable Mr. Weiss is as well. We’ll see.