American Jews Dan Fleshler Israel Israeli occupation Transforming America's Israel Lobby

Is praise from Philip Weiss the kiss of death?

Uh oh. Philip Weiss had nice things to say about me and my book in a recent post. Did he just ruin my life? Walt and Mearsheimer, let us remember, were castigated because David Duke promoted them on his web site. Should I worry for similar reasons?

I am sometimes deeply offended by what Weiss has to say, and am even more offended by the acolytes who have gathered around his blog, some of whom are openly anti-Semitic. I have expressed those concerns here, sometimes with a great deal of anger.

Part of what energizes his critique of Israel and American Jews is not only an objection to the occupation and those who passively accept it. He has also been staking out a position as a proud “assimilationist.” He is angry that Jewish ethnic loyalty has created an ethos that justifies anything Israel does (I’m angry, too) But it is not just the byproducts of ethnic loyalty that bother him and some of his fans. Weiss seems to object to the very idea of Jewish peoplehood as most Jews define it, which includes a sense of fellow-feeling when in the company of other Jews and an attachment to the land of Israel (for a host of reasons, from religious feeling to an appreciation of the simple fact that many Jews live there).

He appears to be bothered by any self-defined ethnic or religious community, because he worships “fluid identity,” he extolls an America where old distinctions are breaking down and being replaced by, well, uh…it remains to be seen. For example, he loved the kids who worshipped Obama because they gave him an “oceanic” feeling, a sense of no boundaries. “All our hideous classifications,” he has written, “are about to go out the window, race and class and the geography of us and them, including in the end the good-for-the-Jews stuff I grew up with and that has been rationalized and bolted down by endless militarism…”

I could go on, and on and on, about why Weiss is often wrong and sometimes dangerous. That said, there is an admirable moral core to the man. And I share much of his anger and his anguish about Israeli behavior. And his persistent questioning of Zionism and everything connected with it has prompted me to check longheld assumptions at the door and think carefully about the price of tribalism and particularism. He also happens to be an old friend and a nice guy. So what should I do with his endorsement? Should I announce, “Thanks but no thanks, MondoWeiss?” Should I compile everything Weiss has ever written, come up with a point-by-point refutation, and send it to Mort Klein so he doesn’t bother me?

Or should I act like a grown-up?


84 thoughts on “Is praise from Philip Weiss the kiss of death?

  1. This is just my opinion. I’d keep him at arm’s length.

    I see him traveling down a slippery slope towards contempt of Jewishness as both religious faith and ethnicity. In fact, this guy doesn’t seem to be static, he keeps slipping.

    My political nature struggles with this issue of strange bedfellows all the time. When you want to make change sometimes you have to affiliate with some people whom you differ with. But at the end of the day, everyone needs to ask themselves: do I want my core values to be tainted by associating with someone whose views I find disturbing and questionable?

    Difference of opinion is one thing, moral repulsion is another.

    It sounds like you are disturbed by the same things about Phil as I am. The question is, are you morally repulsed? I know I am. But I shouldn’t assume everyone else is too.

    As you probably knew before I even did, Dan…he is highly regarded by David Duke, Stormfront, and I think even the Vanguard movement.

    Right wing extremists are on the rise again. I wouldn’t want to be associated with that–not even by 6 degrees of separation, if you catch my drift.

    There has got to be endorsements coming from critics of occupation who don’t despise Israel …

    Those are my thoughts.

  2. Are you kidding? You should pray that Mort Klein and Abe Foxman attack you! I’m surpised at you. I thought you did PR for a living. No such thing as bad publicity…

  3. I wrote my piece before I read Phil’s comment.

    One thing I don’t understand is his comment in regard to an excerpt from your book about the use of “holocaust” and “genocide” to describe Israeli retaliatory operations.

    He wrote this: “Myself I don’t think it’s genocide, but I am all for debate of that point, and for people using the word holocaust if it describes what they perceive. War crimes too. And I honor Fleshler’s book for giving our constituency a place in the discussion.”

    Isn’t he on there day in and day out talking about genocide and ethnic cleansing?

    By the way, his rationale for using holocaust as a relativist term is PRECISELY why I find him so morally wishy washy. I don’t see any strength of character in that line of reasoning…

  4. “I am sometimes deeply offended by what Weiss has to say, and am even more offended by the acolytes who have gathered around his blog”

    Don’t worry. You aren’t the only one. I would stay away from this guy. He’s a nice guy to challenge and debate with, but his groupies are the lowest of beings. It starts to make you question why he attracts so many low-lifes.

    I think he is the kind that just wants to be different, to be ahead of his time, or what he thinks is ahead of everybody else. He has a certain vision of utopia that liberals usually have, and Israel is obviously isn’t in that vision. He doesn’t like his fellow Jews constructing something that has roots from the past. He looks for the future, and he thinks he knows what it will be. While Zionism looks at the past, and tries to construct something that will look different using models of the past -such as a state.

    In short, he has a unique way of looking at things. But unique doesn’t necessarily means wise. There are some lessons in life he missed while growing up. It may be caused partially from that sheltered life young American Jews live.

  5. Dan,
    I didn’t know that you knew Phil years ago.

    Phil has a moral core and a rebellious almost nature. He has a David/Goliath romantic (and practical) support of the little guy, the victim.

    I think that attitude is helpful, if skill can be brought to the resolution, skill that yeilds an improvement, a reconciliation, rather than just a pendulum swing.

    With Israel/Palestine issues, the David/Goliath dichotomy is more complex. You can look at a higher level of detail and describe different juxtapositions of “David’s” and “Goliath’s”. There are multiple conflicts in each community.

    In Palestinian society for example, there are severe class conflicts between the old elite/wealthy/powerful and those that did not own property outright. (Both the Marxist and Muslim themes appeal to the fellahin.)

    Israel is the apparent Goliath relative to just Gaza. But relative to the Islamic world (that includes the supply of weapons and funds to Gaza), Israel is the small (in numbers and territory). And, then relative to the US world powers, the Islamic coalition/tension is the small and weak. And, relative to goodness and the responsibility to use one’s power for good, the US is small and confused.

    An insignificant drop within a sea, which itself is a small drop within a sea, which itself is a small drop within a sea.

    Knowing Phil a little, moreso now really than previously, I also detect a moral core, that he seeks to manifest in some change that he participates in/leads even in ways. It is personally very hard for me to observe the extent (that he is well aware of) that he has gathered those that don’t seem to consider “good” of any importance.

    Gathering around an anger, rather than gathering around an intent.

  6. As a multi-racial person myself, with a Palestinian grandmother, an Ethiopian grandfather, and another set of Catholic Midwestern grandparents, I love Philip Weiss’s strong stance against ethno-centrism and nationalism.

    I am always wishing for an Arab blogger to come out with the same criticism of Arab society and Arab racism.

  7. I think the idea of humans shedding cultural identity, is, among other things, scientifically improbable. We’re hard wired for it.

    Related to that, Phil and utopian ilk annoy me because they seem to think culture was prefabricated and forced on people (and they want to do the same but with a different outcome)–whereas in reality, culture is a slow marinade. It occurs when a group of people share a social infrastructure. Self identity grows from that experience. You can’t stop it.

    So…not only are they ill informed…you have to wonder what exactly it is they’d try to forcefeed down people’s throats.

    As for the comments on sheltered Jewish American youth…don’t get me started. Phil is not young, but that’s precisely the problem. There is a certain type of Jewish male (which he represents) that I personally can’t stand. They are the equivalent of Italian mammone (mama’s boys).

    They are a small percentile (thank God!) but they trample all over people with their self absorbed bs and seemingly childish naivete.

    I just had to get that off my chest. I don’t think I’ve ever vocalized that. And maybe it’s a revelation about why I constantly feel like slapping Phil up side the head. lol!

  8. Don’t make excuses for him, Dan, because doing so only allows you to ignore him, which may relieve the anger and distress he provokes but doesn’t do anything to address the underlying problem of what he does. You said it; he is dangerous. His nominal identity as a Jew, and the ideas he promulgates give fodder to the most dangerous elements in our society and abroad, and they exploit him to the hilt. Why do you think he is a regular contributor to The American Conservative, a white nationalist magazine? (I can offer a mountain of evidence to back up that characterization.)

    He is not a moral human being. In fact, he is quite the opposite. He is someone filled with white-hot rage who assumes a pretense of critical detachment, while pouring forth a richly venomous stream of lies, calumny and hate speech, seasoned with just enough semi-truths to add a note of plausibility. In fact, most of what he does is simply recycle antisemitic tropes that were already old in the time of the Romans: we Jews are elitist, separatist and disloyal, and we orchestrate campaigns to eradicate our enemies by drumming up specious causes for wars which the native peoples of our host nations end up fighting, with no cost to us. It really exhausts the resources of the language to find words to express just how despicable Philip Weiss is.

    He will not respond to reason, because he is not motivated by reason. The sources of a psyche such as his are complex, and deserving much longer explanation. But that is a different problem.

    What you must do now, since you have elevated yourself, by virtue of this platform, to a position of some prominence, is fight him, and fight him constantly, with the truth. Yes, rebut each and every specious, serpentine argument he makes, point by point, case by case, debate by debate. Not doing so, easy though it may be, is dangerous.

  9. Phil Weiss takes pleasure in the deaths of Jews. He thinks that shooting Jews is charming. Ad he thought that we got into WW2 on the wrong side. So what do we have here. A guy who married out, no kids. Wouldn’t be caught dead in a synagogue unless it was to hear Rahid Khalidi. He thinks that Yom Kippur is a fine time to go ti a :nakba event and has easter dinner. He is an advocate of the destruction of Israel and the death and dispersion of the Jews therein. He counts the number of Jews in any situation so he knows who is who. And his fan base is worse than he is. Not to mention that he is quoted on stormfront and David Dukes site. Last but not least he gives credence to a total lunatic Joecham Martillo. So I ask you Dan and Rich. What is the redeeming feature that you see here. Give me something.

  10. claskov,
    Yes, rebut each and every specious, serpentine argument he makes, point by point, case by case, debate by debate.

    That is a good position, I like it, unlike the rest of your comment. You see, saying things like “venomous stream of lies, calumny and hate speech, seasoned with just enough semi-truths to add a note of plausibility” without offering any evidence, without refuting those “lies” can be seen is calumny itself. I realize people are upset with Phil for saying some very uncomfortable things, things that give fodder to antisemites etc. But what to do if these things are correct? For example, Phil once pointed out that Jews are very underrepresented in the US armed forces. It is a fact. One can draw different conclusions from it. Of course, David Duke likes it, so? Is your stance is that such dirty laundry is better not taken out? Well, this is just burying your head in the sand, since sooner or later all such things become known. Phil, on the other hand, wants people – Jews – to maybe start soul searching about these issues. It does beget a lot of resentment when an army of armchair warriors who never thought of risking their skin and a lot of whom are Jews push for a war, like it or not. I see Phil’s criticism as valid here.
    I guess you won’t be able to refute a lot of what Phil is saying, like in the example above, since it is based on verifiable facts. The difference is that, I imagine, you think inconvenient facts better be covered up.

  11. Well, no Peter D., you’re just in Phil’s camp, and referring to “antisemites” as though they are some external party is only a red herring to distract attention from the fact that you yourself are one.

    You hate Jews.

    Jews did not cause the Iraq War. There were no Jewish senior level cabinet members in the Bush Administration (excepting spokesperson Ari Fleisher), unlike the Clinton administration, which had many, some non-practicing–Madeleine Albright, William Cohen, Robert Reich, among many others. The Clinton Administration pursued Middle East peace relentlessly if vainly.

    There are no official statistics on the religious breakdown of the armed forces. Moreover, Jews are under reported in any statistic sample anyway, because, justified or not, we are often uncomfortable revealing our ethnicity. This has a documented history, dating at least from World War II, when Jews were afraid of being discovered if they were captured by the enemy. Why do you think Bernard Schwartz became “Tony Curtis”, or Issur Danielevich became “Kirk Douglas”. We have tried so hard, so very hard, to hide our Jewishness and assimilate.

    And in doing so, we have made the extraordinary contributions to American culture, artistic, medical, legal and scientific, to say nothing of the struggle for human rights, that have been essential components of its greatness.

    But you know this, of course, and that is why you hate us.

  12. I took a brief break from my day job and tuned into this fascinating thread. Comments for two of you before returning to the salt mines:

    I think your comments were very important and very valuable. But it is unfair to claim that Peter “hates Jews.” He has been a frequent contributor here and while I often disagree with him, he is not the kind of malevolent hater you seem to think he is. If memory serves me correctly, he served in the Israeli army (not sure, though).

    This is tricky terrain here. One person’s brave voice of reason is another person’s racist. I’d like to request that you focus your obviously fine mind on peoples’ arguments and not their motivations, at least until you have a sufficient amount of evidence to comment on motivations.


    I believe in locating the truth wherever it comes from. If Arutz Sheva tells me something that I didn’t know and that I can verify, or if it makes me think of something I’d never thought of before, I won’t reject the information or the argument. Same with Phil. If you search this site, you will find plenty of examples in which I argue with him. And if you go back to the days when his blog was hosted by the Observer, you will find many times when I used pseudonyms like “Tough Dove” and “Salvage the Good” to refute his points and those of his followers. But that doesn’t mean I must reject each and every thing he says….

  13. claskov,
    you see how easy it is for a knee-jerk reaction to cloud your thinking? You read my comment and assumed I was a Jew-hater. Since you apply the same standard to Phil, I am not surprised at your characterization of him.
    So, as Dan pointed out, I am Jewish, Israeli (from Russia), served as an officer in IDF, blah-blah-blah. Your idea that today “Jews are under reported in any statistic sample anyway, because, justified or not, we are often uncomfortable revealing our ethnicity” strikes me as unbelievable. I don’t see it in the US. I don’t know how old you are, but my guess would be that you live in the past, when Kirk Douglases of this world chose pseudonyms, not in the present, when Adam Sandlers do not. There is a much better explanation to Jewish underrepresentation in the armed forces, offered by Phil himself and having to do with socio-economic status.
    To bury your hand in the sand further and to ignore the fact that almost all the neocons were Jews, that they held important positions in the administration, that a lot of influential Jewish journalists, media outlets, organisations etc actively supported the warnd pushed for it – is not going to help. Jews did not “start the war” singlehandedly, but were instrumental in pushing for it. We need to deal with the issue head on, and that’s what Phil is urging. His claims have been validated lately but more mainstream figures, including mainstream journos likes Klein.
    I would also suggest that if you want to “rebut each and every specious, serpentine argument he makes” (or I, for that matter), you better do some fact-checking on what you say, like ” There were no Jewish senior level cabinet members in the Bush Administration”. You forgot Michael Chertoff.

  14. Good grief, I don’t know where to begin. Michael Chertoff, sure, in 2005, as a replacement for Bernard Kerik, in Bush’s second term, well-after the initiation of the Iraq War. This subject really deserves some extensive exploration, to counter the myths and lies propagated by Philip Weiss, and, apparently, Peter D.

    Staffers, underlings and think-tank members, cited by Joe Klein, among whom were some Jews, were not responsible for the Iraq War. By the way, Michael Ledeen and Eliott Cohen, whose names often surface in the context of this argument as neocon warmongers advocating the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, both had sons who were officers fighting in the Iraq War, for multiple tours. There are other neocon thinkers with kids in the U.S. military as well. It is just untrue that they “did not vouchsafe their own,” as Robert Fisk’s formulation had it. (No surprise there).

    Your status as an IDF vet doesn’t lend your misinformation any more credibility than Weiss’s status as a Jew does his, nor does it exculpate either of you from the charge of antisemitism.

    No, I am not an old-timer. Let me give you some background on the disposition of members of the U.S. government, or military, to acknowledge their Jewishness. You are clearly unfamiliar with American culture. Incidentally, Adam Sandler’s entire schtick, with the Hannukah song, is calling out Jews who either don’t acknowledge their Jewishness, or who aren’t recognized for it. So citing him actually undermines your claim. He is, however, a good example of the typical American Jew who wants peace between two cultures, Arab and Israeli, with a lot of kinship, as am I.

    Madeleine Albright, our former Secretary of State, under Clinton, was not even told she was Jewish by her parents, and didn’t find out until adulthood. General Wesley Clark, head of NATO operations in Europe under Clinton, who stopped the GENOCIDE of MUSLIMS in Bosnia, didn’t find out until adulthood that his father was Jewish. (He was, I think, first in his class at Westpoint.) Can’t report your own Jewishness if you’re not even aware of it, now, can you? A few more Jews from the Clinton administration, head of the CIA, William Deutsch, Richard Holbrooke, peacemaker extraordinaire who helped bring the Serbian conflict to a close, and who is now doing the same vis a vis Iran, Mickey Kantor, and Robert Rubin (not looking so great these days, for other reasons, though he did a good job before he joined Citibank as Secretary of the Treasury, as did his Jewish successor, Lawrence Summers).

    I don’t know if Clinton had any Arab-Americans in his cabinet, but Bush junior certainly did (Spencer Abraham), as well as at least one Muslim, Zalmay Khalilzad, a significant neoconservative thinker.

    John Kerry, Bush’s electoral opponent and vociferous critic, is half-Jewish, but of course never mentioned that in the election, only his Catholicism, in which he was raised. Why not, Peter D.? Could it be because saying so may have lost him votes in some quarters?

    And if we are going to play the Adam Sandler game, I would like to know if either Ian Fishback, the army officer who bravely blew the whistle on army abuses in Iraq, or Jack Goldsmith, who body-blocked the infringement of constitutional rights by Bush, Cheney, and Gonzales, have Jewish ancestry. Both names, obviously, are very Jewish.

    Go to either Bush administration, each of which made war on Saddam Hussein, and Jewish names are not in abundance. Bush senior was famously cool to Jews, and very close to the Saudis, whose oil he was protecting, and whose army bases he built, which ending up provoking Osama bin Ladin’s quest to rid the cradle of Islam of unbelievers.

    Saddam attempted to assassinate Bush Sr., and Bush Jr. reportedly vowed to avenge that, and clear his father of accusations that he made a mistake leaving Saddam in power after the first Gulf War. Think what you want of this, there were no Jews involved.

    Jews voted overwhelmingly against both Bush’s, by the way, whatever the exact numbers, (you won’t find out, for reasons I cited in the previous post), and if there votes had been counted in the 2000 election, in Florida, Al Gore would have been President, and we might not have been having this debate. Even Pat Buchanan says as much.

    You do know who Pat Buchanan is, don’t you?

  15. Dan:
    You say Phil is a friend. Well, my jewish friends don’t take pleasure deaths of other jews. Phil does. They don’t engage in the promulgation of the blood libel. Phil does. If they hear about a gun battle between the IDF and Hamas. They want the IDF to win. Not Hamas. Phil is the opposite. They don’t denigrate their people and their religion at every opportunity. Phil does. What say you. What do you learn from him. And do you think that Israel is an evil that must be expunged from the earth. The way he does.

    Now to the military service argument. Personally I think that Jews are undercounted but even so they aren’t serving in the same percentages has the population. No argument. But I think that this is a function of the all volunteer army. And that not many Jews had fathers and grandfathers that made it a career after they got drafted. My father came back from Korea and that was it. Plus. I think that we skew democratic and it don;t think that democrats value military service the way republicans do.

  16. It’s interesting to me how some Jews give anti-semites credence by acknowledging the reasons why they are disliked.

    Should blacks be doing the same by publicly pondering what it was about them that caused whites to go on lynching rampages?

    I have no problem with self-examination IF EVERY GROUP agrees that they too have flaws up the wazoo.

    I guess I don’t quite understand the compulsion to masochistically self-scrutinize in front of people who hate you.

    It’s like the Jewish equivalent of white guilt. WTF? There are plenty of privileged people in this county who aren’t Jewish–get over it.

    And…there are plenty of Jews who are simply middle class–even blue collar.

    This idea that resentment against Jews is a class thing is a smoke screen. Not buying it for one minute.

  17. Bill made a valid point…I live on the east coast and practically no one who is urban & college educated contemplates serving in the military. That’s for the rural, blue collar, more conservative folk. I can think offhand of 2 Jews who served. One is my cousin’s kid (whose father is a republican protestant New Englander)–and the other is republican (and a female).

  18. ok…admittedly my cousin’s boy doesn’t self identify as exclusively Jewish. Nor was he raised observant. So maybe that doesn’t count because I don’t know if he feels any identification with his roots.

  19. How about Chief-of-Staff of the United States Air Force, Norton A. Schwartz, (the top officer), or the top officer of the Navy under Clinton, Admiral Jeremy Boorda, chief of Naval Operations? Or, as I said, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe. All Jewish. Amazing, given what a small percentage of the overall population we are, that we strive to attain positions of such distinction in the U.S. Military.

  20. Wesley Clark being Supreme Commander of NATO; my typo.

    Do we need to mention the man who created the modern nuclear submarine force, Hyman Rickover?

  21. Your status as an IDF vet doesn’t lend your misinformation any more credibility than Weiss’s status as a Jew does his, nor does it exculpate either of you from the charge of antisemitism.

    Then I have to say you use words like antisemitism too lightly, since I did not give you any reason to call me that.
    Neither Phil, nor I deny that there was important Jewish opposition to the war. It was not, however, well-organized (as Dan himself pointed out in one of his posts that is no longer online, but which I have a copy of) nor was it overwelming (and according to this AJC poll not even in majority – although maybe this poll should be taken with a grain of salt, AJC being interested in the time of presenting a major Jewish support for the war, I guess.) So, it is not antisemitic to call for soul searching. My feeling is that if major American Jews organizations were better at it and started this process on their own, Phil’s prodding would not have been necessary.
    To claim or imply that Phil only talks about negative things in the American Jewish community is wrong – he regularly highlights Jews who stand for progressive values (even at the price of being smeared with by the so called Israel Lobby – which is really an amorphous, ill-defined collection of organizations, entities and individuals.) I see all these accusations of antisemitism as unfounded, produced in a pique rathen than cool rational thought, or smear by association with some of the antisemitic commenters on his blog.
    All your examples of hidden Jews strike me as hardly relevant for today. Either old cases or exceptions (and in the case of Jack Goldsmith only remotely plausible) to the rule. If you still believe that Jews are underrepresented because they hide or don’t know they are Jewish, then I don’t think I can appeal to your common sense. As I said, a much better and believable – and in no way antisemitic – socio-economic explanation existed. Kerry’s Jewish ancestry was indeed mentioned during the election, I remember it very well. Him being 1/4 Jewish by blood (not half, if I remember correctly) and not seeing himself as a Jew by religion (though I suspect he hardly feels Catholic either) more than warrants this piece of info not being trumpeted from every corner.
    I wan’t playing any Adam Sandler games, I have no idea what you are talking about. I pointed out with just one of many examples that today young (and not so young) Jews in America don’t feel like hiding their Jewish identity at all. You bring me cases of old people who weren’t told they were Jewish for this or that reason many decades ago – not relevant.

  22. Listen brother, I respect your experience in the IDF, and understand your background from Russia, or the Soviet Union, whichever the case. But Philip Weiss is not what you represent him to be, nor does he do what you claim it is he does. And if he is so progressive, and made of such moral fiber, why does he write for a magazine (The American Conservative) whose writers argue that gay marriage will lead to more pedophilia, that blacks have lower IQs than whites, and that they brought the New Orleans disaster upon themselves because they lack intelligence, that whites and blacks should not be permitted or encouraged to intermarry (yes, Samuel Francis, look him up), and that Latinos are invading the United States and should be forcibly expelled? Is that idealism, Peter? If you say things like “jews were instrumental in pushing for the Iraq War”, then you are deserving of the appellation “anti-semite.”

    And if the list of Jews in government and the military that I offered strikes you as “hardly relevant,” then you are living in the same never-never land as Philip. But then, that’s a Peter Pan reference that you probably wouldn’t understand.

    Lastly, Jews invented modern liberalism, and have always been it’s backbone, especially in the United States. A sprinkling of Jews who were vocal in support of deposing Saddam is not a conspiracy, especially as against the vast majority of Jews who oppose wars generally.

    Philip has a need to portray himself as a lonely, brave prophet, daringly challenging the status quo that prevails among the ethnic group to which he belongs. But it would just be laughable, as though Jews don’t constitute the heart of the left, if not for the horrors that he seems to long to bring into being. He is a fringe, failed writer, who has only gathered a group of disciples unto himself, and attracted attention beyond his pathetic little circle because he has shown a willingness to indulge the darkest, most hateful fantasies of a relatively small group of people who ardently, passionately despise Jews (and gays, and latinos, and blacks.)

    He is entitled to his arguments, Peter, but he is not entitled to his own facts.

    He sold his soul, Peter, and he is not getting it back, at any price. Don’t go down that path.

  23. From having served many years in the Army Reserve and on active duty in the early 1980s, my guess is that Jews are proportionately represented in the military. This is certainly true if social class is taken into account. My guess is that this has been true throughout the 20th century since the draft was instituted in WWI.

  24. A sprinkling of Jews who were vocal in support of deposing Saddam is not a conspiracy, especially as against the vast majority of Jews who oppose wars generally.

    You betray that you do not really read Phil’s posts, nor what I said. First, it was not a sprinkling. Second, I note who you cleverly offer the qualifier “generally”, because it is far from clear that majority of Jews opposed the Iraq war. That is one of Phil’s themes, that Jews (as a community), that, as you say, are the “the heart of the left”, blew it on the issue of Israel-Palestine and as a result on the issue of Iraq too (he keeps bringing an example of one of a relatives or friends of his who said that he went to demos against Vietnam but he is for Iraq b/c his rabbi told him it was good for Israel.)

    Here is a sampling that I think may clarify some things:
    An Argument Over What Zionism Has Done to Jewish Identity
    Antisemites Are on My Side of These Issues. How Much Should I Care?
    Why I’m past caring whether someone calls me ‘self-hating’
    and so on. Try to listen, instead of indulging in knee-jerk reactions or being piqued by the commentators.

    You say “nor does he do what you claim it is he does” – really? Like what? Like speaking a lot of progressive Jews? Then, again, you are not reading his blog.

    And if the list of Jews in government and the military that I offered strikes you as “hardly relevant,” then you are living in the same never-never land as Philip. But then, that’s a Peter Pan reference that you probably wouldn’t understand.

    “Hardly relevant” for what? Read what I said: that they were irrelevant to your claims that underrepresentation in the armed forces results from Jews hiding their identities and that Jews in America today still feel the need to hide or downplay their Jewish identity. I think these claims of yours should not be dismissed offhand, but they contradict my perception of reality in America. Of course, I wasn’t in the US armed forces and cannot be sure that there aren’t scores of Jews who hide their identities for this or that reason, even if that strikes me as hardly plausible. However, I’d then expect the combat casualties to be a fair representation of reality, because I cannot see a reason for bereaved families to hide the religion of their fallen loved ones. I wonder if there is reliable info on that.
    And you keep shooting yourself in the foot with your assumptions and attitude. I get the Peter Pan reference, no problem.

    P.S. I don’t know enough about the “American Conservative” to judge. Maybe there are articles like you claim. Write Phil an email asking him to explain why he feels it’s OK to write for the mag that does such things and see what he says. I found this by Glenn Greenwald, which seems reasonable.

  25. “Don’t know enough”, “contradicts my perceptions”, “strikes me as hardly plausible”, “influential Jewish journalists, media outlets and organizations…..” Peter, I give you names and hard data, and you come back to me with stereotypes, cliches and personal perceptions. (This, Dan, is why I said that someone not motivated by reason will not respond to reason.)

    A few more, but it’s late, and I’m tired. I feel like I owe you a response, but after this, no more commerce between us. Most likely you go your way and I’ll go mine.

    Russ Feingold—the only Senator to oppose the Patriot Act, during it’s first vote. Jewish.

    In the Senate, in the Iraq War resolution, I believe there were about ten Jews, who divided evenly on the vote. In the rest of the Senate, among non-Jews, it was 77 to 13.

    In other words, you were more likely to oppose the Iraq War in the Senate, the more influential congressional body, IF YOU WERE JEWISH. But please, check my numbers.

    Some Jews may have supported the war, but certainly not as high as a percentage among us as the general population, who were overwhelmingly for it. Colin Powell, until that time the most respected man in America, who would have been President had he decided to run, told America that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. He had credibility. By the way, Saddam did use poison gas on Iraqi Kurds. Is that irrelevant, Peter?

    I am confident that if you have two Jewish grandparents, like John Kerry, you are half-Jewish, not a quarter Jewish. John Kerry, I will remind (or inform) you has recently traveled to Gaza and Syria in the quest to achieve regional peace.

    Thomas Friedman, the most respected foreign correspondent in America, offered qualified support for the war, but warned that, if “we break it, we fix it,” a line mistakenly attributed to Colin Powell, who cited it.

    A inquiry from just a few years ago concluded that there was illegal religious proselytization in the Air Force, and that non-Christians suffered discrimination. Again, there is a great deal of literature about this that is easily accessible online. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t you think it’s plausible that Jews don’t advertise themselves?

    Rachel Maddow, Al Franken, Jon Stewart, The Nation Magazine; I could go on and on listing Jewish liberals, and give you plenty more examples of how Jews still keep a low profile socially and professionally, but what good would it do, Peter? I don’t doubt that it’s not Soviet Russia, but there is a desire for acceptance among Jews, and a desire to assimilate that is still a very active dynamic in this country. And much of that is good. Assimilation is good. And, by the way, if we didn’t invent self-loathing and criticism, we certainly raised it to an art form, didn’t we?

    By the way, they attacked us as unpatriotic traitors when we opposed Vietnam, and they attacked us as unpatriotic traitors when a minority of us supported the Iraq War. In other words, damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

  26. Dan, regarding Phil Weiss, I would say that affiliating yourself with him would be a gigantic mistake. To be honest, I live in Israel and not the US and I have been out of touch more or less with American Jewish thinking for 23 years, but after monitoring his site and that of MJ Rosenberg for a year now, I note that both of them feel much closer to Israeli-bashers and antisemites than they do to someone like myself (recall I was banned by MJ), even though MJ calls himself a “Zionist” and Weiss claims to be for the “2-state solution” even though he is an avowed anti-Zionist and assimilationist. Given this, I would think your average American Jew would be turned off by both of these people, based on the company they keep. Yes, they can say “well, I don’t like the settlers, and HAMAS and David Duke don’t like settlers, so we have a common cause”. In fact, here in Israel, the pro-Oslo tried the same thing. Rabin himself said that what he called “real Israelis”, (i.e. primarily secular Ashkenazi Leftists) had natural allies in the supposedly secular FATAH Palestinians as opposed to the “anti-peace” forces made up of the Likud, Judea/Samaria settlers and HAMAS. It was this that made people like me despise him, more than the actual policies he carried out, which were bad enough. In any event, the terror war that his “peace partner” Arafat and his FATAH-controlled Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade unleashed later gave almost everyone on the Left an awakening that this was not true, and that ultimately the conflict here still is between Arabs and Jews and not what Rabin tried to make people believe it was.

    Over and over on both sites I have seen Israel-bashing “progressives” complaining that they know a Jew who is a “progressive” on other issues but suddenly they become “tribalistic” (the ultimate put-down in those circles) and “hawkish” when it comes to Israel and antisemitism. This, although being anecdotal, does have the ring of truth to me regarding a large part of American Jewry that is not so actively affiliated with organized Jewry but still has a Jewish identity. A person like this is not going to respond positively when reading the Israel-bashing postings and comments on those two sites even if he or she has a problem with things like the settlements or Avigdor Lieberman. Don’t forget that both the Labor Party and MERETZ supported the war in Gaza which did so much to enrage people like Rosenberg and Weiss and this broad support was mirrored, I believe, in general American Jewish opinion as well.

    Phil Weiss’ obsessions with the Jews and how many are in so many positions of influence reminds me of a joke popular among Russian Jews in the 1970’s when the struggle for aliyah to Israel was at its peak:

    Nixon meets Brezhnev and Nixon tells him that Brezhev must understand that there is concern in the US among Jews and non-Jews alike about antisemitism in the USSR. Brezhnev replies “what antisemitism? There is no antisemitism in the USSR. I’ll prove it to you: 52% of the students at Moscow State University are Jews, 44% of the students at Leningrad Univesrity are Jews, 39% of the students at Kiev University are Jews , 47% of the students at Odessa University are Jews. In addition 36% of the engineers in the USSR are Jews, 29% of the lawyers are Jews, 45% of the physicians are Jews. 38% of the people in the Bolshoi Ballet are Jews and 54% of the musicians in the Moscow Symphony Orchestra are Jews. How many Jews do you have in the New York Philharmonic ?

    Nixon replies: “I don’t know”.

  27. claskov wrote:

    “Philip has a need to portray himself as a lonely, brave prophet, daringly challenging the status quo that prevails among the ethnic group to which he belongs.”

    Dayem… he thinks he’s Jesus. lol! (maybe some of his right wing pals think so too)

  28. I am amused by this business of casting Jews as pro-Iraq war–or being any hint to the right–as being out of sync with America.

    That is the most illogical thing I’ve ever heard of–and it exhibits an ignorance of Americans. Most Americans are centrists. Jews, as they have assimilated, are no bloody different. they are not a monolith.

    Sounds like some people are intolerant because Jews don’t march lockstep in the liberal-leftist tradition that defined them in their immigrant past.

    There is room (and imo necessity) for both liberal and conservative policy making in this land. The country is not going to go to hell because a segment of Jews has different political aspirations.

    I am so sick of the fringe right and the fringe left. At the end of the day, they demand conformity to their way of thinking.

    That they would go along with–and feed– anti-semitic notions of a Jewish cabal is self serving and disgusting, imo.

  29. Dan. What is your definition of a jew baiting anti-semite. And telly me why you think Phil Weiss doesn’t qualify has such. I think he does. Tell me where I’m wrong?

  30. @Monad–

    As for a website by an Arab that critiques Arab racism… try the Angry Arab site, which points to examples of Arab antisemitism and other forms of racism in a consistent and principled way. For a more youthful but no less “self”-critical site, try KabobFest, which also has featured examples of Arab racism.

    As for Phil… the guy’s a sincere searcher, raising important issues. Dan, you gain by dialoguing with him, his comments section notwithstanding.

  31. No, Claskov, you keep barking up the wrong tree. You keep trying to prove to me how progressive American Jews are – you don’t need to, I know it pretty well. I repeat, as Philip does, that they are but, by and large, have a blind spot when it comes to Israel-Palestine and this is what he keeps talking about on his blog (again, it just shows you don’t really read it.)
    You say you bring hard data. Let’s see. “Minority of us supported the Iraq War.” Show me the data for that. I, on the other hand, gave you an AJC poll that stated:

    4. Do you approve or disapprove of the United States taking military action against Iraq to try and remove Saddam Hussein from power?
    Approve 59
    Disapprove 36
    Not sure 5
    5. If the United States takes military action against Iraq, do you think the threat of terrorism against the United States will increase, decrease, or stay about the same?
    Increase 62
    Decrease 6
    Stay about the same 32
    Not sure 1
    6. In your opinion, do you think that a war between the United States and Iraq is likely to lead to a larger war between other countries in the Middle East?
    Yes, likely 56
    No, not likely 41
    Not sure 3

    If you have “harder” data, bring it on. As I said above, there are reasons to mistrust AJC, but this poll is still a cause for worry. I think that a lot of American Jews were misled to support this war against their own better judgement precisely by the same people in the Jewish community Phil keep attacking and urging the community to deal with. I (and Philip) also talked about the organizational Jewish support for the war and the main reason for soul searching (in fact, I know Philip also thinks that most Jews opposed the war – see, for example, “How Anti-Iraq-War Jews Licensed Neoconservatism”.) Dan used to have a post called “Mainstream American Jews should stand up to the preemptive war hawks“ (that he took down for some reason but that I have a copy of in my Google Reader) that started with:

    For all of its many flaws, the new book by Mearsheimer and Walt makes a vitally important point about the invasion of Iraq that has been obscured in the ongoing war-for-Israel debate: “There was hardly any opposition to the war among the major American Jewish organizations,” they write. That is, sadly, true.
    Those who try to absolve the organized American Jewish community of any responsibility for the Iraq war are engaging in strained revisionism. Except for the Workman’s Circle, no group in the Presidents Conference publicly opposed the invasion. None of the various dovish, pro-Israel organizations –with the exception of the Tikkun community and the Shalom Center—lifted a finger to try to stop it. I marched in New York City on February 15th, 2003, part of a last ditch, world-wide protest to stop the war, and a few people from my Reform synagogue were at my side. But not many.

    You say “Some Jews may have supported the war, but certainly not as high as a percentage among us as the general population, who were overwhelmingly for it”. This is your hard data? For example, a CBS poll from Jan 03 says

    Just under two-thirds of Americans (64%) continue to support the United States taking military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, a figure that has remained consistent for the past six months. However, that is not the course of action most Americans would prefer the U.S. take now. By more than two to one, they would rather the U.S. try to find a diplomatic solution instead of taking military action.
    Take military action:
    Find diplomatic solution:

    Or read your favorite Tom Friedman in the Times in March 03:

    “And don’t believe the polls. I’ve been to nearly 20 states recently, and I’ve found that 95 percent of the country wants to see Iraq dealt with without a war. But President Bush is a man on a mission. He has been convinced by a tiny group of advisers that throwing ”The Long Bomb” — attempting to transform the most dangerous Arab state — is a geopolitical game-changer.”

    (who’s blaming the neocons for the war here, by the way?) So, if anything, your claim seems to be moot, including juxtaposition of American Jewish support for the war and the rest of the country.
    You don’t need to list Jewish liberals to me – I know them and feel elated when they stand up for progressive principals and uphold our progressive traditions (I myself commented to that effect on Mondoweiss, confronting people there; in Nov I sent an email to Phil urging him to say something nice about the Jews in the Senate for voting to resist the enlargement of powers and the institution of legal immunity for the president.) You mention Fiengold – good, I like the guy a lot, but see yours truly being incredulous of his support of the Kyl amendment… and having to eat humble pie. Franken: ”2 biggest enemies in U.S. politics come together, laughing, over Gaza” courtesy of Mondoweiss. Rachel Maddow: you should have seen her shameful coverage at the start of the Gaza op (don’t have the link now). Etc. All to confirm the point that a lot of American Jews are, as Phil calls them, PEP – progressive except for Palestine.
    Again, my feeling is that you don’t really read Mondoweiss, don’t really know what he is talking about, don’t even carefully read comments in this thread, but still have the temerity to call him and me Jew-haters.

    P.S I stand corrected on Kerry. I remembered only his granfather being a convert to Catholicism, not his wife as well. So, he’s half Jewish by blood, but I have no idea about him having any Jewish identity.

  32. I think Phil has recently turned a corner on his credibility in the larger world.

    He did fundraising to try to go to Gaza, and achieved his goal. (I know of FEW not-for-profits that achieve their fundraising goals).

    I don’t think he got much money from the posse there, and more from other journalists and dissident leaders. Its possible that a few of the posse that do have resources did contribute.

    If the results of Phil’s efforts are enactment of the Arab League proposal, in a form that results in a significant and permanent reduction in cross-border terror, and enforced by the affirming states (including Lebanon and Palestine), then I’d be happy at that outcome.

    The danger is that the result of agitation is functional support for terror, and not support for tangible reconciliation.

    I don’t know how to assess Palestinians’ and other Islamicists intent and abilities. I don’t believe the overly fearful, and I don’t believe the overly optimistic.

    One factor that would signal the intention to reconcile would be the status of Jews that currently live within the Palestinian side of the green line. If their property and person were to be denied due process, then it is likely that the Palestinian government would not in fact reconcile.

    And, the sequence could prompt war, to defend the Jewish minority within Palestine, and if it resulted in further annexation, then it could represent a chilling parallel with evils that have occurred in history.

  33. Rich:
    I’m curious. I say that your pal Phil Weiss is an out and out jew baiting anti-semite. Has bad as anyone that I can think of. . What say you? Tell me where I’m wrong.

  34. Bill,
    You also bait Jews, me for instance periodically.

    He fears that his comments will evoke harms to Jewish civilians, but is not sufficiently careful in my mind to achieve that.

    He strongly opposes dehumanizing Palestinians, which I do as well.

    He’s confused about what political proposal to endorse, or how.

    I think you are confused about that as well.

  35. Respecting political proposals, here is something to take into consideration. This is a transcript from television of an appearance that former lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat made on March 27th this year. The entire transcript, or clip, is available at MEMRI:

    “Let me recount two historical events, even if I am revealing a secret. On July 23, 2000, at his meeting with President Arafat in Camp David, President Clinton said: ‘You will be the first president of a Palestinian state, within the 1967 borders – give or take, considering the land swap – and East Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state, but we want you, as a religious man, to acknowledge that the Temple of Solomon is located underneath the Haram Al-Sharif.’

    “Yasser Arafat said to Clinton defiantly: ‘I will not be a traitor. Someone will come to liberate it after 10, 50, or 100 years. Jerusalem will be nothing but the capital of the Palestinian state, and there is nothing underneath or above the Haram Al-Sharif except for Allah.’ That is why Yasser Arafat was besieged, and that is why he was killed unjustly.

    “In November 2008… Let me finish… [Israeli prime minister Ehud] Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: ‘We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin.’ Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: ‘I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine – the June 4, 1967 borders – without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places.’ This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign…”

  36. ugh…I find it hard to take any so called leader seriously who insists (without proof) that Arafat was murdered [by Israelis]. This is whom Israel has to deal with.

    It’s a joke.

    These guys don’t inspire confidence on any level. What am I missing here?

    As for Phil and other Jews by birth who develop antipathy for their own: has anybody studied the psychology behind this?

    I’m constantly coming up with my own hare brained theories (lol)…but it would be interesting if someone did actual research and was able to uncover a pattern or whatever.

    It fascinates me. I know someone personally who is kind of like this (they also have left wing/socialist leanings)–so I am REALLY interested in this.

    Does it go on in other ethnic groups?

    I mean, these folks can’t be the Bill Cosbys or Thomas Sowells of Jews, can they????

  37. Not a great analogy Suzanne. Cosby nd Sowell have pride in who and what they are. They don’t wish for the deaths of their fellow blacks. Phil wishes for the deaths of Jews. Nor are they quoted admiringly on Dukes site or stormfront. Weiss has deep issues with his accident of birth.

  38. Rich your being more than a little disingenuous. Your buddy hopes that Jews are injured and killed. He says so all the time. His proposal, it is the destruction of Israel and the dispersion and the deaths of the jews therein. He is very clear about that. And I maintain that your pal his has much an anti-semite has anybody I can think of out there. And he has a great following among the lunatic fringe. You still haven’t told me where I’m wrong.

  39. I’m seeking a reconciliation.

    I don’t know specifically what Phil seeks. I’ve never heard him advocate for the injury or death of Jews.

    I think he is negligent, gambling, more than malevolent.

    On Abbas and the Old City of Jerusalem. There is NO WAY that Israel will give the Kotel or the Jewish section of the walled city to a Palestinian state.

    If that is to be an either/or position, then it will end badly.

  40. Bill, my comparison was purely tongue in cheek. And poking a bit of fun as I know many in Phil’s camp would be horrified at the comparison.

    Regardless, I find this inclination to be a bit bizarre and I’d be curious to find out where it’s coming from.

  41. when Kirk Douglases of this world chose pseudonyms

    This is absolute frequent feature in the arts. Thus a bad argument.

    Why do you think Marcus Rothkowitz changed his name to Mark Rothko? He didn’t want it to be known that he was Jewish. I doubt. It’s simply eradicates his Eastern European origins. Did Barney Newman bother, that it was well known?

    I once translated an early Reform text for an American scholar in Jewish studies. His name sounded German, so I asked him if he was of German Jewish descent. No, he told me, his father had actually chosen this name when he immigrated to the US.

    I simply doubt, you would recognize every Jewish American from his name, even if he didn’t change or Americanize it. German Jewish names are on the average not different from ordinary German ones. The rest is myth.

    If I only heard Rothkowitz without knowing anything about the person, I would assume he is of Polish or Russian descent, but that’s about it.


    Thanks Richard, I like your comment about Phil.

  42. Lastly, Jews invented modern liberalism …But it would just be laughable, as though Jews don’t constitute the heart of the left

    This is amazing. Janus. Exactly what the most ardent hard core antisemite, who propagates a Christian American utopia, a Libertarian, keeps hammering in people’s heads.The ultimate evil, “the Jews and/or the left”.

    The antisemites and the anti-semites hunters share a few basics it seems.

    Good comments from Peter.

  43. Hi, LeaNder and thanks. I have another longish comment in reply to claskov which is awaiting Dan’s moderation since Friday morning (due to more than 3 links, I guess.)
    Regarding pseudonyms in arts, you have a point, but claskov has a point too – I believe many artists (and not only artists) did choose gentile-sounding names to obscure their Jewish origins. This happened in many other places too. Now, not always it was due to antisemitism, but there were examples when it was so.

  44. As for Phil and other Jews by birth who develop antipathy for their own: has anybody studied the psychology behind this?

    The standard: Sander L. GilmanJewish Self-hatred, originally 1986, I think.

    There even is a wikipedia entry by now.

    Shulamit Volkov has a short excursus in her essay-collection: German, Jews and Antisemites. I absolutely agree with her, today the term is often used as a political weapon only.

    Phil hasn’t even the slightest similarity with the people Theodor Lessing portrayed in his 1930 book Jewish self-hate/Der jüdische Selbsthass who were in self-denial down to self-destruction as, e.g. the Jewish antisemitic paranoid Arthur Trebitsch who tried to be close to Hitler or the misogynist & antisemite Otto Weininger.


    Colin Powell, until that time the most respected man in America, who would have been President had he decided to run, told America that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

    you leave out the activities of the Office of Special Plans. As you leave out that it was almost immediately shown, that the most important passages were copied from a student’s paper. You leave out “curveball” about whose “expertise” other agencies had doubts. But never mind.

    Thomas Friedman – Hans Blix

  45. but claskov has a point too

    I am aware that Mark Rothko still was confronted with quotas for Jewish students, but I don’t think he changed his name since he wanted to hide his Jewishness. Consider the most important art critics were Jewish themselves.

    For an actor it is quite good to have a name that people can easily remember.

    The scholar’s father I mentioned actually choose a probably rather Jewish sounding name for American ears. But I may be wrong.

    Look Weiss is a pretty common German name. It was also the name of the vice president (or whatever you call it)of the Berlin police: Bernhard Weiss. He was hunted by Goebbels and the nazis and had a couple of lawsuits against them, which ultimately were counterproductive. To make it visible for everybody that he was Jewish they had to tag an extra name on him: Isidor. But at the same time they propagated the myth of Jewish names. Remember every women was given the extra name Sara, every boy Israel. This is the legal source: About tthe change of first and last names.

  46. Peter (#32):

    I removed that post about Iraq because of uncertainties over how much materal from this blog should be lifted and quoted verbatim in my book. But the quote you cite is in the book, rest assured. There is a whole chapter called “American Jews. Iraq and the Fetish of Pre-emptive War.” Please buy 50 copies! And review it on Amazon, quick! 🙂

  47. I am an average American in the sense that I come from a working class background and my ethnic background is Irish and German.
    As an American taxpayer, and an American of moral principle, and with a background in law, including international law, not to mention my children are half-Jewish by family tree, I think I have a stake in the issues discussed here and on Phil Weiss’s blog. Phil started his blog to discuss
    issues affecting lone superpower American foreign policy regarding Israel, located dead center in the impact of a region both geographically strategic,
    religiously strategic, and the ultimate fountain of the world’s most
    important present commodity, oil.
    I don’t think the comments here characterizing most of, if not all, the commenters and comments on Phil’s blog as anti-semitic, and they, as well as Phil, as immoral or rabidly ideological, is helpful towards a just solution in the I-P conflict
    and with Iran, hence in the best interest of all rightfully concerned.

  48. Leander–those links seem to simplify it down to mudslinging political differences on Israel.

    My problem with Phil is not so much his stance on Israel (although I think his stance on Israel is a result of his feelings about Jewish culture).

    It’s more that he seems to mimic the anti-semitic belief that Jews are exclusionary, too powerful, disproportionaly wealthy, cabalistic, arrogant, strive too much for excellence (a strange objection, but whatever…)yada yada yada

    Every ethnic group bitches and moans about certain cultural aspects that they feel are too smothering, negative etc…but not to this extent, from what I’ve seen, and certainly not so publicly.

    And, I can’t help noticing that it’s among people who have hard core leftist inclinations.

    I don’t know if something scarred them in their upbringing or they’ve been consumed by an ideology. Or it’s some crazy form of Uncle Tom-ism.

  49. I agree with the thrust of what LeaNder says; his comments concerning the sample B. Weiss and his activities are easily documented.

  50. Congrats Dan–some of Phil’s avid followers have arrived on your shores. 🙂 (I’m sticking to my commitment to good behavior here though)

  51. Citizen,

    I had a different impression of why Weiss started his blog. He felt compelled to think out loud about Jewish power and influence and assimilation, and to broadcast his own ambivalence about group identity, and to insist that people observe as he taught himself about the nuances of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instead of waiting until he knew something about it before sounding off. I think he wrote about it for 2 years on the Observer without having once visited Israel or the occupied territories. Then he took a trip that lasted a week and, of course, now he is an expert.

    Of course the issues you raise are important to all Americans and deserve a thorough airing. That happens on this blog and others. What happens on his blog is an endless recycling of bile and unsubstantiated generalizations and every conceivable accusation against Israel and American Jews from every conceivable source, with no fact checking of any kind. And, yes, it is true, there are also some interesting opinions and perspectives one can’t easily find on the so-called MSM. But it is mostly chaff; it is hard to find the wheat.

  52. To be fully American is to absorb the proposition nation, that is, that the USA has most represented the Maslow pyramid of developing individual human sensibilities beyond the subsets of groups. Otherwise, all you get in the end is tribe versus tribe, nation versus nation, etc–“the collective against the collective”–
    even if both are represented on episodes of the cable food channel, so to speak. Man was made in God’s image, that is, all men and women were so made, so why not act accordingly? Are we, in the end, different ant groups, or something more?

  53. @ Teddy
    Sorry, I do not agree with your characterization of what happens on Phil’s blog at all. A constant complaint in the comments section is that a hoard of pre-Hasbara 101 agents have descended since the
    big event in Gaza last. Prior thereto, there was no lack of “pro-Israel” comments, the more moderate (some would say less direct, more dissembling) by Richard Witty, the very obviously racist and abusive by Bill Pearlman and his sock puppets. Anyone here who
    wants to check out whether you or I am correct can go to Phil’s blog and read the current comments and the archives.

  54. Phil Weiss’s shtick is this. “Look at me, I was born Jewish but now I hate Judaism, Jews, and Israel. Aren’t I noble and better than other Jews” He’s not the first and won’t be the last.

  55. High, citizen, what a nut. It’s rare somebody pounds you for trying to be helpful, but then, I should have ignored her.

    Leander–those links seem to simplify it down to mudslinging political differences on Israel.


    I prefer to see Shulamit Volkov agree with my impression concerning the Zeitgeist anytime to the ladies mudslinging.

  56. Phil is actually not a stand-up comic in an old Catskills Mountain Resort, Bill P. He’s not wearing black face, secure with his Yiddish
    identity, mocking The Other for money, ignoring ethical principles applicable beyond ethnic tribalism. Phil is saying, “Please look at what I say, I was born Jewish–and that’s still the way that goes for 99% of Jews–but I hate what many powerful and influential Jews do and say in the name of all Jews. I am an American first, so by American principles. I am a humanist. I don’t like USA foreign policy regarding Israel; it has rightfully caused the World to despise
    us as post-Nuremberg hypocrites.

  57. No that’s not it. He hates the fact that he was born Jewish. And can’t stand the fact that other Jews don’t feel like that. He advocates the destruction of Israel and the end of Judaism. To me that makes him a genocidal anti-semite. What say you?

  58. You guys complaining about antisemites at Phil’s blog aren’t wrong–there are a few and I wish he’d crack down on that. But it’s funny reading about your outrage over this when you’ve got Bill Pearlman in your midst, apparently an accepted commenter.

  59. LeaNder, those are specific examples. I wasn’t referring to them. I was saying that there definitely were cases when Jews changing to gentile sounding names was driven by a desire to obscure their Jewishness.
    My last name is Drubetskoy – is sound like a noble Russian name, but in fact it is not even a real name: it was invented by Leo Tolstoy to resemble the real Russian noble name Trubestkoy (and he used it in “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina”; he did the same with “Bolkonsky”-“Volkonsky”). So, how on earth a Jewish family wound up with this name? My family doesn’t know, but one reasonable guess is that it was Drohbowitz – or something similar, maybe coming from Drohobycz, the town of Bruno Schulz – and my great-grandfather wanted to change it to something more “benign” sounding. Life was easier in Russia with Russian surnames.

    P.S. I see that my comment in reply to claskov appears above now. Thanks, Dan.

  60. witty’s anonymous critic

    when you’ve got Bill Pearlman in your midst, apparently an accepted commenter

    I hope not. I, for one, simply try to ignore him, he’s not to be reasoned with.

  61. Leander

    Your Shulamit link is in German. Is she published in English?

    You automatically assumed my other post was aimed at you. Don’t assume anything. And belated thanks for posting the links. The ones in English seemed to boil it down to defining a self hating Jew as someone who is critical of Israel.

    That is not my perception of Jews who have disdain for Jews. It’s a hell of a lot more than that.

  62. Look, Bill, it’s simply not true that Phil hates to be Jewish, he completely accepts his background and surely loves his family. … And he doesn’t want Israel to disappear. He wants it to change directions basically not too different from Richard Witty … (concerning the differences between the two, I am more on Phil’s side)

    I initially wasn’t very fond of his insistence on assimilation, here I am probably closer to Richard, but you can blame that on the Nazis, and the whole late 18th/19th century discourse on the topic over here. But I do love the stories he tell in that thread a lot, especially when his humor surfaces, much of his self-image feels very familiar.


    To Witty’s anonymous critic: I once followed Bill Pearlman around on the net. That gave me a basic impression what circles he moves in and what influences him. I know many will disagree but he is so straightforward insulting in such a blunt way that it somehow stays pretty much on the surface. It may have an immediate impact, but it is basically steam, vapor. Personally I think there are much more subtle and mean ways to hurt someone. It feels he simply wants to ward of matters. I don’t know why, but it feels he is deeply concerned, and the person beneath this shield is really quite a nice person.

    And yes, this is a purely aesthetic judgment. At one point I even found his spoofing actions quite interesting.

  63. citizen, (Charles?), I am aware that you will disagree concerning the insults of your wife. Yes it is sick. But still. He is not a man of many words so he has to pick the matters he considers most insulting. Insulting the women, yours or Phil’s wife, is the fastest way to insult the man for him.

  64. Dan, I think your question was more rhetorical, no? I believe you already know what to do with Weiss’s praise.

    I have read Phil on and off for about two years now and from what I detect he seems to be at an early stage of “enlightenment” or newfound awareness of a subject that he has either ignored or has been shielded from, mainly because of his identity as a Jew that he should accept many things at face value, which is typical of so many examples of other types of tribalism and the attempts to shed off the appeals and the trappings of the mentality of carpal-tunnel-vision. He seems to be nascent, aghast and feeling betrayed by “his” own community, this one being Jewish, at their misgivings and inability to bear what he believes to be the truth and its obsession to keep certain facts from getting its airtime. It fits along the line of the thinking of that one person involved with Timothy McVeigh (he was a nut):

    “When the people in this country find out what this government has done to them, they will rise in anger and rage.”

    Phil is erratic and is willing to lend a voice to many who show some sides of Israel that is not too grand. It leads to a lot of sloppiness but Phil also let’s out some good nuggets from time to time. Sometimes he’s confusing (he yearns for borderless peoples assimilating into one human for all and yet he always stresses the differences of Americanisms and how that plays in this conflict, meaning he sees one type of nationalism the paradigm and the other the heresy) and his site also has some real bottom-feeders, both Zionist and anti-Zionist, but really, how is that different from many other progressive/anti-Zionist/socialist website about Israel/Palestine out there?

    Take a look around though: anyone involved with this subject can be faulted by so many out there on anything. People deconstruct, they wrongly attribute, they use guilt-by-association, they will do ANYTHING to put you in a corner that makes you look unworthy of your opinion. As a person who sees and has seen the dangers of nationalism from today to yesterday’s victims but also as one who has to have his feet firmly planted in realistic terms when people’s lives are at risk and that sometimes nationalism does prove productive (and also counterproductive), Phil’s assimilationist approach does ring true but also far-fetched and at points racist or Orientalist (how cultures should simply dismiss its history and effectively replace it with another form of acceptable living for moderation purposes). Secondly, I think the mere fact that Phil is doing this as a Jew is looking so offensive to so many rather than an inner-existential traveling of a man who finds another path besides the one that is laid out to him by his elders. Put Phil into an Islamist or a Christian’s figure, then he would be given praise by all corners of this Western world (and labeled a heretic by his own clerics).

  65. Leander–

    “I know many will disagree but he is so straightforward insulting in such a blunt way that it somehow stays pretty much on the surface. ”

    Yeah, you think? I wonder if an Arab reader of his comments would find your aesthetic sense understandable. Or as a non-Arab, does this give you the critical judgment needed to appreciate the artistic flair that he displays when he indulges in some hate-filled screed?

  66. I think this argument that Phil taking on the Jewish establishment is the equivalent of going up against Christian or Islamist zealots is flawed.

    The Jewish identity is a cultural and ethnic identity as much as it is religious–and not all Zionists are religious.

    In fact, I’d argue that many, if most, American Jews supportive of Israel (which is everyone minus the left wing zealots)–are not deeply religious.

    Some are. There are some religious fanatics, to be sure. But they don’t reflect the majority. I realize that the enemy camp is going to milk the religious equation for all it’s worth because of the settlements. But the settlers were used as political pawns too–for an objective that has nothing to do with religion.

    Therefore, if Phil is attempting to broadbrush American Jews as religious fundamentalists–he’s more far gone than I first thought.

  67. Suzanne, you misunderstood (if it was my point you were replying to). The mere fact that Phil is doing his attempted iconoclast thinking as a Jew is leading to many disadvantages because of the simple fact that he is Jewish. I did not get into the specifics of his criticisms of Zionism or the orthodoxy and its role in the American Jewish community of how he sees it, clearly he can answer that on his own. Simply put: if he were a Christian or a Muslim he would not get the negative reaction he gets but will get lauded with prizes (ESPECIALLY if he were a Muslim questioning the role of Islam in the Muslim countries).

    “In fact, I’d argue that many, if most, American Jews supportive of Israel (which is everyone minus the left wing zealots)–are not deeply religious.”

    I’d probably go a step further and say that the identification of Judaism may rather be insignificant and more or less classist or elitist per se: meaning that these people littering the higher organisations may be Jewish but it hardly plays a role in their own life let alone one in office. They support Israel because that is the status quo, this is what puts people in their seats, that is what keeps the military machine rolling, that is what many people want to hear, and yes, that is what many Jewish people want to hear too. But like the Madoff scandal, his being Jewish had absolutely nothing to do with his dealings of corruption in a Ponzi-scheme and to allude to it would be pure insanity; he did so because he was a business out for profit and greed, his religion was just a character trait like the millions of other non-believing plutocrats out there who steal not because they are of one faith but because they are money-hungry pulpits.

  68. The individuals that are important in Jewish organizations to a T, highly value their Jewishness, and NOT as a cynical stepping stone.

    The degree of religiousity varies obviously, as the degree of self-criticism as a component of dissent varies considerably.

  69. Rich and Dan, I saw in his last post that yopur boy”pig Weiss” is totally on board with killing jews. Tell me again why you like this schmuck.

  70. In fact, I’d argue that many, if most, American Jews supportive of Israel (which is everyone minus the left wing zealots)–are not deeply religious.”

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