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May 09, 1986 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-05-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

33

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Jewish Information Service

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mentary, the magazine's edi-
torial policy is established in-
dependently of its parent
body).
To' a lesser extent Fried-
man relies on The New Re-
public, no longer fixed on the
liberal left since Martin
Peretz became its publisher,
and The National Interest,
Kristol's quarterly specializ-
ing in American foreign poli-
cy.
Friedman's citations tend
to be "bottom line" conclu-
sions extracted from com-
plicated, rigorously argued
essays. As a result, some-
times they work more as
teasers than as summaries of
the neoconservative positions
— a reader wants to know
more of the thinking that
lead to the provocative snip-
pets quoted. The excerpts are
particularly forceful in ad-
vocating that Jews strike a
better balance between "uni-
versalism," concern for socie-
ty as a whole, "and particul-
arism," which starts from
"what's good for the Jews."
Friedman points out that
the neo-conservative Jewish
intellectuals "have played
key roles in analyzing politi-
cal power and how it is used."
Abandoning what had been
their leftist political align-
ments of the 1950s, they rec-
ognized the dangers posed to
Jews and Israel by the twists
and turns of universalist
liberal-left politics in the tur-
bulent 1960s. By 1972, Fried-
man reports, Podhoretz was
proposing in Commentary
that Jews evaluate social
policies on the basis of the
answer to the unabashedly
particularist question "Is it
good for the Jews?" The pro-
Israel argument, somewhat
more "delicately" restated,
also entails considerations of
enlightened self-interest (of
the United States, as well as
American Jews).
Some problems arise in
Friedman's attempt to offer
streamlined accounts of the
neo-conservatives' rather

plus monogramming

complicated rationales. Take,
for instance, his central
theme of American Jewry's
"utopian dilemma." Both
Chamberlain and Churchill
were justly called "realists"
in their crafting British
foreign policy towards Hitler.
But the "realities" of Cham-
berlain and those of a Church-
ill surely require finer delinea-
tion. So does the current
American Jewish political dil-
emma.
In the premier issue of The
National Interest (Fall, 1985)
Owen Harries, the Journal's
co-editor, argued forcefully
that "one of the most in-
teresting features of Ameri-
can neo-conservatism is its
firm rejection [my emphasis]
of realism, or realpolitik, as
an acceptable basis for U.S.
foreign policy.
"Such realism," Harries
reasoned, "is no help to those
whose impulse to prevail is
strong. For, emphasizing the
obligation to see things as
they really are and to subor-
dinate the wish to the fact,
purpose to the intractability
of the world, realism plays
down the importance of one's
own will as part of the reali-
ty that is being considered."
The significance of political.
will, combined with and sus-
tained by ideological convic-
tion, should be recognized in
any serious evaluation of the
achievements of Lenin, Hit-
ler, Mao, Gandhi, Churchill
and, perhaps most pointedly,
the founders of the State of
Israel. Churchill's example in
particular, according to Har-
ries, "demonstrated the way
in which traditional state-
craft, designed to cope with
the unchanging conditions
governing relations among
sovereign states, can be com-
bined with the mobilization of
the ideology of a free people
to imbue foreign policy with
that 'higher purpose' that
Podhoretz calls for and to
make it appropriate for coun-
tering the challenge of a
totalitarian adversary, as

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Jewish Community Council

:

:DELEGATE ASSEMBL'

MAYOR COLEMAN A. YOUNG

Thursday, May 15, 1986
8:00 p.m.
Cong. Shaarey Zedek

27375 Bell Road
Southfield, Michigan

Continued on next page

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