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April 14, 1989 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-04-14

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ith editorial writers
around the country
remarking on the
Bush meetings with Shamir
and Mubarak, op-ed colum-
nists and other opinion
writers were not far behind in
commenting on a possible
Palestinian state. Perhaps the
gloomiest of all was Norman
Podhoretz. His seven-page
"Lamentation from the
Future" — the 21st century —
in Commentary, the magazine
he edits, was a recriminating
message from the "rem-
nants" of Jewry that still sur-
vived in the United States
after Israel's destruction.
Podhoretz apocalyptically
wrote that the end of Israel
that would be hastened by a
Palestine Liberation
Organization state also would
mean the end of Jewry —
everywhere.
In his "message" from the
next century, Podhoretz said
that Jews were burdened with
"shame and self-disgust"
because of their complicity
with Israel's doom. This
undermined their "will to go
on as Jews and [was] dragging
the glorious history of our an-
cient people toward an ig-
nominious end." If the majori-
ty of U.S. Jews, he said, had
been more vocal in opposing
the U.S. dialogue with the
PLO and its inevitable en-
dorsement of a Palestinian
state, then "at least we would
have emerged with enough
pride to carry Jewish ex-
istence forward, and enough
self-respect to keep a critical-
ly wounded people alive."
Podhoretz blamed U.S. and
Israeli liberals and intellec-
tuals for laying the founda-
tion for the end of Israel. Dur-
ing the first three decades of
Israel's existence, he said, its
intellectuals, whom
Podhoretz equates with
socialists, "were remarkable"
for "not being alienated."
This occurred, he said,
because being a socialist in
Israel meant "being a
member of the establish-
ment."
But Menachem Begin's
ascension to power in 1977
turned these intellectuals in-
to a political opposition which
"vilified" Israel. They also
perceived Sephardic Jews'
support of Begin's Likud Par-
ty as a coalition between "the
forces of political darkness
and the forces of cultural bar-
barism."
These intellectuals, wrote

Podhoretz, with the "usual
leftist requirements of social
compassion," could not say
that Israel was unjust
because of the way it treated
the Sephardim since they
backed the prime minister.
Instead, said Commentary's
editor, that role now was fill-
ed by the Palestinians who
had been living under Israeli
occupation since 1967.
Focusing "on the mistreat-
ment of the Palestinians,"
said Podhoretz, gave "greater

Norman Podhoretz:
Attacks liberals and intellectuals.

plausibility to the notion that
Israel rather than the Arabs
was the main cause of the
state of war that still existed
between them." This "in-
verted" the Israeli/Arab
situation into the portrayal of
"a struggle between 'a
regional superpower' [Israel]
and an oppressed people year-
ning to be free [the Palesti-
nians.]"
As a similar "inversion," ac-
cording to Podhoretz, was oc-
curring in the American left,
U.S. Jews "were forced to ex-
perience the pains of dual
loyalty — not . . . between
Israel and America, but bet-
ween Israel and liberalism."
But the "great majority,"
which chose Israel, he said,
was silent, while "most of the
noise" came from the minori-
ty that had opted for
liberalism. This minority,
said Podhoretz, created the
impression that American
Jewry was evenly divided on
Israel.
Then the Palestinian in-
tifada, claimed Podhoretz,
shifted the balance of liberals'
sympathy "decisively" to the
Palestinians. Yet they still
yearned "for the Israelis to do
something, anything, that
would make Israel look good
again in liberal eyes, or at
least less bad." Two events
undermined this aspiration:
The "insistence by nearly all
of the most vocal Israeli in-

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