I have tried very hard in my blog not to go after bloggers on the right side of the aisle. Needless to say, there are a lot of people out there who don't agree with me, some on the left, most on the right, and many people who agree with some but not all of the things I say. If I have a criticism to make of Israeli policy, doesn't it make more sense that I focus on the policy than on the bloggers who defend it (unless they have arguments that deserve to be answered)? True, I went after Alan Dershowitz when he incited against a good man and honorable Jew like Richard Goldstone. (Compare his screed with the recent response of the IDF MAG to the UN to the report, which although it disagrees with the main conclusions of the report, treats it respectfully, and does not dismiss any of the testimonies therein.) But I also gave him the courtesy of responding to his (rather bizarre) brief against Goldstone.
But some people I admire and respect have been repeatedly slandered and smeared by rightwing bloggers, and common decency requires that I not be silent and rise to defend them. Of course, they don't need my defense, and who knows, maybe if I were on the radar screen of the smearers, their slime would be directed to me. But I have a feeling that some of the smearers may be treating me with kid gloves because of my so-called credentials, credentials that are irrelevant to the arguments, but which they themselves lack.
And what may those be? Well, the fact that I a modern orthodox Jew, an American Israeli who has raised his children in Israel (all four of them veterans of the IDF, two officers), and a Jewish studies academic, makes me a less obvious target than a Chas Freeman or a Steven Walt for the "anti-Semite" slur or than Phil Weiss or Richard Silverstein for the "self-hating Jew" slur. Or maybe it is just the primitiveness of my blog (or the infrequent posts, or the numerous typos, as one uncharitable critic pointed out) that protects me. In any event, a rash of smears against my fellow bloggers, culminating in a particularly disgusting smear by association published in Tablet – in this case, the association is between the bloggers and some of their commenters, ribono shel olam! -- drives me to speak out.
I am very familiar with the writings of Stephen Walt, Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, Jim Lobe, and Phil Weiss on Israel, and I can tell you that not only are they generally spot on in their analyses, but their criticisms, if taken seriously by the US and Israel, would only advance the cause of peace and justice in the region, and the security of Israelis and Palestinians. Nor are they significantly different in their views from a host of Israeli journalists, commentators, and politicians, not to mention human rights activists.
By contrast, the writer who published the scurrilous attack in Tablet, and a certain journalist/blogger who writes for the Atlantic, and who is increasingly known more for his ad hominems, which are cited in the aforementioned Tablet article, than for his arguments, advocate policies that lead, in my humble opinion, to undermining the existence of the state founded in 1948, and to any form of Zionism. Now even if this effect is appreciated by anti-Semites, that doesn't make the Tablet writer or the Atlantic blogger an anti-Semite.
I don't need to respond to the charges brought without a scrap of evidence in Tablet; Steven Walt does that well, if a bit too charitably for my taste. But I hope that Tablet gives space to the smeared bloggers to respond. So far the webzine seems to represent a center right status quo position on Israel, with a token nod (rarely) to progressives like Daniel Luban. If I am right, then its Israel opinion pieces will be read by young orthodox Jewish Republicans and by nobody else.