(This is the first article of the On Zionism series.)
It is interesting listening to Jeffery Goldberg being interviewed by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz at the Atlantic. (Some speech I find quite mesmerising, including Rothenberg Gritz’s; always a bit of an Americanophile it seems to be coming to the fore with the election season.) Here Jeffery Goldberg is in fine, thoughtful form, reflecting on the various currents of the often highly contradictory ideals that flowed into the formation of Israel. And what a contrast they make to his reactionary screeds against Jimmy Carter.
And it is difficult to see Goldberg responding any differently to Carter’s recent article, A human rights crime, castigating the world for standing idly by while the people of Gaza are ‘brutally punished’, and it will provoke as much indignation in the majority of his countrymen as it does sympathy from the majority of Europeans. (These are trends of course, there being substantial minorities and indeed a spectrum of opinion on both side of the Atlantic.) To my way of thinking it is difficult to see how anyone could disagree with Carter, except to say that the article is very light on US state department, which must take the lion’s share of the responsibility for the current tragic mess—and note that the Egyptians are really not really pursuing a much different policy from the Israelis when you consider they aren’t being targeted by any rockets.
It is important that he says this, but it is equally important that certain other people don’t say it, such as your average European lefty peace activist. Carter is expressing an important contrarian viewpoint while the same words coming from Euro-lefties becomes a hackneyed trope that only entrenches their own tribe in their rigid and narrow opinions. The Nobel laureate also has a certain authority that others lack, maybe having done more than any other non-Israeli to secure the long-term security of Israel through the Camp David Accords and the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. As I argued in Desmond Tutu: Human Rights Abuser? the same words have quite different meaning depending upon who says them.
Those minded to reflexively condemn Israel should find another language to relieve the horrible plight of the Gazans. Perhaps they should become Zionists.
Next: How I became a Zionist.