Thursday, January 04, 2007
everybody meet mr. me too:
I only met Commentary's Gabriel Schoenfeld once, but he impressed me as one of the more blithering idiots I had come across all year. It was last spring, at a hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Schoenfeld had come to testify on "the case" for prosecuting the New York Times for publishing the warrantless surveillance story. In the fashion of cowards everywhere, Schoenfeld pretended to be offering a disinterested, bloodless case for the grounds for prosecution, declaring himself agnostic -- if memory serves -- as to the wisdom of such a drastic step. Anyway, I asked him a couple questions after the hearing, largely centered on his seemingly-tortured reading of the statute at issue, and wasn't much impressed with his answers.

Turns out this was no fluke. Thanks to Doctor Alterman, I see Schoenfeld has written another masterwork -- this one about the failure of American Jewry to be sufficiently right-wing in the wake of the Islamicization of the Democratic Party. It was in Commentary, seeing that it was probably too long to run in TNR. You might call the piece an attempt to bring the Israeli-Palestinian war home. For, Jewboy, you get lines like this:
For just at the point where the U.S. interest in a strong Israel diverges from the perceived interests of the Democratic party, there leading Islamic organizations find themselves in tune with the latter. So much is this the case that, in the judgment of the political scientist Peter Skerry, we may now be witnessing the emergence of a new force in American politics. Writing in Time, and citing a whole range of such convergent interests, Skerry calls this a “Muslim-liberal coalition” (more accurately it might be called a Muslim/Arab-liberal coalition). If he is right, and if this coalition can be organized to act with any degree of coherence, it could indeed end up, through sheer numbers alone, wielding a disproportionate influence on American politics, to the clear detriment of the interests of American Jews.
There's a whole lot of conflating going on! First, the "interests of American Jews" and the "U.S. interest in a strong Israel" -- which, really, is just "a strong Israel," as I'm sort of at a loss to understand what the U.S. interest in a strong Israel is, unless this is the banal statement that we should want our allies to be strong, or the disgusting statement that we should want Israel to smash the Muslim Horde for us. Second, American Muslims with jihadists -- see here, for instance. And finally, "sheer numbers" and "disproportionate influence." I mean, talk about pots and kettles. We Jews are an extremely tiny minority in America, and we exercise the disproportion-est of influences. Schoenfeld should know that the Muslims' ain't gonna disproportion-ate shit until they can rake in money like we can.

Indeed, his evidence for a Democratic sell-out of Israel is pathetically paltry. Take this, for instance:
Muslims are now able to serve as a decisive swing vote. In the critical and close-run Senate race in Virginia, for example, the Republican incumbent George Allen lost by fewer than 10,000 ballots to the Democratic challenger James Webb. Approximately 50,000 Muslim American voters participated in this election; according to one Muslim advocacy group, some 90 percent cast their ballots for Webb.
Of course, with the margin so overwhelmingly tiny in Virginia, there's no reason to single out Muslims as the margin of victory in the Webb-Allen race. More to the point, there's nothing in Webb's record -- like, nothing -- to suggest he's a captive of anti-semetism. We'd really have to redefine the interests of American Jewry to mean "whatever George W. Bush does" in order to square that circle. Not for nothing does Schoenfeld concede, "Matters have thus not yet reached a tipping point."

What Schoenfeld in fact fears is a domestic political force to counterbalance American Jewry on the question of Israel. It's funny, then, that he views with such horror the fact that 88 percent Jews voted for Democrats in 2006. After all, if American Jews suddenly decide that we're just expatriate Israelis as Schoenfeld wants us to believe and we leap into the loving embrace of the GOP, we basically force the Democrats to hold ever-tighter to the Muslim Horde and thereby further hasten the Horde's entry into mainstream American politics. One, two, many Keith Ellisons! And other nightmares.
--Spencer Ackerman
I think you overestimate the Jewish Influence on the democratic party. Besides the outgoing heads of the DCCC, the DSCC, 10 other senators, 28 other Reps, 2 governors, and a bunch of others, what power do we really wield? (yes, this is sarcasm)
Blogger jfaberuiuc | 4:19 PM

We Jews are an extremely tiny minority in America, and we exercise the disproportion-est of influences.

Self-hater.

I don't understand why exactly we are supposed to be on board with "a strong Israel" insofar as that means "expansionist" and/or "militaristic." Is this some form of Jewish exceptionalism? I mean, I know we're the chosen people and all, but doesn't that imply being chosen to act in a more godly/less evil manner?

(Parenthetically, how much interaction did the staff have with Marty and are his pathologies as obvious in person as they are in print?)
Blogger Pooh | 4:40 PM

Well there are the swirrling allegations of anti-semitism around Webb. There was the cartoon of his Jewish opponent with an exaggerated hook nose, money spilling out of his pockets and referred to as "the anti-Christ". Others saw some veiled anti-semitism in his WSJ op-ed.

Now, the cartoon was probably innocuous (the "anti-Christ of outsourcing" thing was a quote from somewhere) and that reading of the op-ed is probably not accurate. But the "like, nothing" tacked on after another nothing seems a little too strong given what's out there.

Also, you could argue that it was Jews who threw the election to Webb as they overwhelmingly voted for him as well.
Blogger Jacob | 5:55 PM

Your first impressions look right. A seriously bad writer - I love this line in particular:

"this coalition...could indeed end up, through sheer numbers alone, wielding a disproportionate influence on American politics"

"Through sheer numbers alone" suggests what a non-hyperventilating writer might call a proportionate influence.

Or maybe he's just not on board with this whole democracy thing, and regards ANY influence wielded by these creatures as illegitimate, and therefor disproportionate.
Blogger Dualarity | 6:55 PM

I thought it was the 11,000 English majors in Virginia Colleges that swung the election to Webb.
Blogger shingles | 9:50 PM

Suggestion: make the font of your blockquotes one point bigger. Anyone else having trouble reading 'em?
Blogger Anderson | 6:57 AM

Has Woody Allen's joke about Commentary been proven true yet?

"I heard that Dissent and Commentary had merged to form Dysentery."
Blogger Haggai | 7:23 AM

Shingles is humorously correct. If you could find any group larger than 5000 that disproportionately voted in favor of Webb, you could make an spurious argument that it was the frisbee enthusiasts/comic book collectors/preppy gay guys/left-handed only children who htrew the election to Webb.

Furthermore, if being Muslim in America means being pro-Palestinian, I'm hard-pressed to know what else it means. This is because there is no single Muslim identity, nor is there a single Arab identity. To assert this would be like saying that people of European descent are pro-Europe. Actually, it's even nuttier than that, because Europe is at least somewhat united.

A poll of American Muslims would be very interesting to read, but I would guess their primary political interests vis-a-vis their Muslim identity would have to do with not being discriminated against, which in one form or another has been the defining interest of virtually every minority at one point or another in the U.S. throughout its history.
Blogger Robert Boyd | 4:55 AM

Robert Boyd, Zogby polls American Muslim political/social sensibilities every few years. You can read about some of these sensibilities in this piece:

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20051212&s=ackerman121205
Blogger spencerackerman | 12:02 PM