Todd Gitlin’s take on the Anti-Defamation League’s shameful efforts to intimidate people out of hosting a talk by Tony Judt is probably the best one I’ve read. Again, for the record, I think Judt’s espousal of binationalism for Israel-Palestine is fairly daft. Still, he’s a smart, well-respected guy, people are rightly interested in what he has to say, and reasonable people would just let him speak. It’s especially noteworthy — and unfortunate — that this is the ADL we’re talking about here which is not really an “Israel lobby” institution, as such. It’s a bit of a sensitive subject to raise, but I get a sense that over the past few years the ADL has been wrestling with the problem that there’s arguably too little anti-semitism in the United States to justify the existence of an organization of its size dedicated to combatting it. But the staff and leadership need to do something all day, so they’ve started fighting phantom anti-semitism in the form of vigorous criticism of Israel.
The conflation of anti-semitism with “has political opinions I disagree with” is, however, unlikely to prove Good for the Jews in the long run. Lurking somewhere in this Spine post is the notion that Michael Moore and Jimmy Carter are, not too left-wing, but . . . anti-semites. This I find to be a ludicrous notion. Political disputes are just that, political disputes. Meanwhile, I’ve never really understood why Carter is so loathed in “pro-Israel” circles; it seems to me that the Camp David Accords and attendant arrangements have been an unambiguous boon to Israel — I never seem to see Carter-haters suggesting a return to the previous situation. Israel should be so lucky as to have more American presidents engaged with the conflict in such a constructive way. Bush has been much more “supportive” of Israel, but what’s actually been accomplished?