I admire James Traub very much. I’ve followed his writing for years and even reviewed one of his books, over a decade ago. I found this piece to be nuanced; it both conveys (appropriately) some amusement toward Foxman, while understanding perfectly where he’s coming from. He also, by the way, punctures Tony Judt for his display of arrogance and self-importance.
But I’ve discovered that not everybody appreciated Traub’s piece. Some think that he ridicules Foxman, uncovering some hint of nefarious bias. The thing to understand about Traub is that he is a journalist. Journalism is an art form, not a science. Traub is neither an advocate for or against Foxman, neither for or against Judt or Mearsheimer. Traub writes with both sensitivity and panache. Sometimes his panache can be mistaken for disdain.
DOES ABE FOXMAN HAVE AN ANTI-ANTI-SEMITE PROBLEM?
By James Traub, New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2007
In certain precincts of the Jewish community, a person who insists that the sky is falling, despite ample evidence to the contrary, is said to gevaltize — a neologism derived from the famous Yiddish cry of shock or alarm. The word is sometimes applied to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, the hard-line and notoriously successful pro-Israel lobby. But in the world of Jewish leaders, one man stands alone in the annals of gevalthood — Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League and scourge of anti-Semites of high estate and low, in Hollywood and Tehran, on campus and in the tabloids.
In a conversation last month … I asked the A.D.L. leader about his ever-renewed fount of outrage. “I haven’t done gevalt for 30 years,” Foxman said, though some might argue otherwise. “But never before has there been such a threat to Israel and to the Jewish people from a geopolitical conglomerate — the Arab world, with Iran, with Hamas, with Hezbollah, with its position that it will not recognize Israel. The vise is closing.”
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