View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Mr. Judt

Davdi Frum, in today's National Review Online, discusses a proposal by one Tony Judt to dissolve Israel and replace it with a bi-national state. The proposal itself amounts to sanctioning the murder of millions of Jews, but Mr. Judt has a history of opposing right-wing and left-wing radicalism (real European radicalism, not the sort of temperate, 40-yard-line stuff we have here), so Frum has a hard time calling him anti-Semitic.

I think the proper term for Mr. Judt's attitude is anti-Semitism. He hold no other nation to this standard, doesn't appear to suggest the France or Germany should cease to exist, other than to form an EU with other peoples obviously capable of self-government. Why Israel should be singled out for this experiment in multinational-statism is never explained, either. This proprosal is really nothing more than Shimon Peres's "New Middle East," but with a Flemish accent.

Since I am not familiar with Mr. Judt's other work, here's a serious question: what is his position on the Balkans? Should Yugoslavia be reconstituted as a solution to the ethnic problems there? Somewhat sarcastically: perhaps the Austrians, now that they've shown they can not only hold elections in their homeland, but win them elsewhere, should be given a mandate over the area as it is absorbed into "Europe." After all, the Europeans like "prior experience."

As for his concern for the remaining Jews of Europe, I'm sure it's sincere as far as it goes. But like many European philosophers, he seems more concerned with the theory than with the results of his theory. It's all well and good to condemn radicalism, but when the rubber meets the road, he blames the Jews. Does he blame the Palestinians for their fate? Evidently not. Does he blame the French and German governments for failing to move forcefully, early, to confront their Arab populations over this issue? Non. Does he suggest that Spanish reproductions of 1930s German political cartoons may perpetuate this problem? How silly.

The notion that Israel is holding Jews hostage to its actions is absurd. Leaving aside Israel's obvious need to defend itself, and leaving aside the particulars of that defense, there are Jews who have, quite loudly, denouced specific things Israel has done. If the anti-Semites in Europe lump all Jews together, regardless of their political opinions, that's their doing, not Israel's. The inability to make such distinctions is the hallmark of classic anti-Semitism. The unwillingness to call out others over the point is just enablement.

No, Mr. Judt may himself be able, for the moment, to look at a Jew on the street and not see an International Threat. But he'd be better off explaining to his fellow Europeans why they should, too. And one wonders how long he himself, or, to make it less personal, others like him, will be able to pull off this double-think.

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