Self-Hating In The 90s And Today: A Primer

Haaretz has a piece about Rahm Emanuel up:

While associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are convinced that Emanuel is inciting the U.S. president against Israel behind the scenes – and providing the amateurish psychological explanation that he is “a Jew consumed by self-hatred” – people in Washington who disapprove of his conduct don’t look for profound psychological motives. Indeed, some sum up their viewpoint simply by saying: “He’s a jerk.”

With his coarse short-temperedness, Emanuel stands out even in a city like Washington, D.C, about which Obama himself once said, quoting president Harry S. Truman: “They say if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Emanuel can begin a conversation with the threat that if any of its contents are leaked to the media, none of those involved will ever see him or anyone else in the White House again, and finish it with an impolite hint that he needs to send an e-mail.

Now, Michael Goldfarb at TWS has already commented on the “self-hating” commenting:

Yesterday Haaretz claimed that Bibi was privately referring to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod as “self-hating Jews.” You knew it wasn’t true because 1) Haaretz, like most foreign papers, reports a lot of things that aren’t true (see last month’s reporting in the same paper on the imminent release of Gilad Shalit for an example) and 2) the reporter buried the claim at the bottom of his piece — at the end of the eighth graph.

Now comes the perfunctory denial. Of course, even though the Haaretz story wasn’t true, you know Bibi calls these guys a lot worse than that in closed door meetings, and one can only imagine the colorful language Rahm uses to describe the Israeli Prime Minister when there are no reporters around. A far more interesting question is how do these two respective government’s describe, say, the Iranian leadership in closed door meetings? It’s not a huge leap to imagine Barack Obama asking Leon Panetta, ‘so should I send another letter to the Supreme Leader?’

Marc Tracy in Tablet:

The Benjamin Netanyahu-Rahm Emanuel “self-hating Jews” kerfuffle continued apace this week. To recap: earlier this month, according to Haaretz, Netanyahu called Emanuel, President Obama’s chief-of-staff, and David Axelrod, Obama’s top political adviser, “self-hating Jews.” Then, earlier this week, a spokesperson for Bibi denied that his boss said it. And today Haaretz runs a massive profile of Emanuel that quotes Emanuel’s father—a one-time member of the Irgun, the militant Zionist group of Mandatory Palestine—and others on the subject of just how ridiculous the notion of “Rahm Emanuel, self-hating Jew” is. “I’m simply surprised that in Israel they jump down his throat,” Benjamin Emanuel tells the newspaper of his son. “I love the country, my children are Zionists, they came to Israel every year, and I don’t know why they’re attacking Rahm. I support Netanyahu.”

The lengthy piece mostly focuses on the crazed, brilliant, mad, pleased-with-himself Emanuel rather than this contretemps specifically, and it contains little that will be news to those of us who have read the umpteen profiles of Emanuel that have showed up in the American press. But appearing in Israel, in the same newspaper that originally broke the alleged “self-hating Jews” remark, the article could repudiate not only Netanyahu’s particular characterization of Emanuel but perhaps also Netanyahu’s larger attempt to discredit the U.S.’s calls for a more moderate approach to the Palestinian question.

David P. Goldman at Spengler:

Why is Emanuel, the son of an Israeli pediatrician who served in the Irgun (the illegal pre-state underground), bashing Israel over settlements? The answer is simple, and well documented by the Israeli newspaper feature. His views have remained frozen in time since he arranged the 1993 handshake inthe White House Rose Garden between then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat, like those of Oslo Accord negotiator Yossi Beilin. He still believes with religious fervor in the old peace process, while events have convinced the vast majority of Israelis that it is a dreadful idea.

[…] After hundreds of death by terrorism and the Palestinian refusal to accept Ehud Barak’s peace offer as brokered by then President Clinton in 1998, the Israeli public repudiated Beilin’s ideological fanaticism. Not so American Jews, whose left-wing sympathies and sentimental attachment to secular universalism come cheap, like the poor man’s whitefish. Israelis pay for the experiments of leftist leaders in blood, and American liberals like Rahm Emanuel respond: “Believe me, it’s worth it.”

[…] There simply isn’t any arguing with liberal Jews. The only solution is the Biblical one: in forty years, all of them will be dead, like the feckless generation of freedmen who left Egypt with Moses. Secular Jews have one child per family, Reform Jews 1.3, Conservative Jews 1.6, and modern Orthodox nearly 4. A new Jewish majority will form over the next forty years, and it will be religiously observant, close to Israeli thinking, and politically conservative.

JL Wall:

Normally David Goldman (”Spengler”) is astute, or at least astute enough to require serious thought in grappling with his arguments. But about this latest, I just don’t know where to begin. Courtesy of the opening anecdote, it appears to be an explanation of how, precisely, Rahm Emanuel is a “self-hating Jew” — not for still living in 1993 and believing in Oslo after its collapse (perhaps a subject worthy of critique without the petulant name-calling), but for “bashing Israel over settlements.”

[…] But there’s another reason to oppose the indefinite continuation of the present system, and it’s one that Goldman brushes up against with his sneering, over-confident final paragraph:

There simply isn’t any arguing with liberal Jews. The only solution is the Biblical one: in forty years, all of them will be dead, like the feckless generation of freedmen who left Egypt with Moses. Secular Jews have one child per family, Reform Jews 1.3, Conservative Jews 1.6, and modern Orthodox nearly 4. A new Jewish majority will form over the next forty years, and it will be religiously observant, close to Israeli thinking, and politically conservative.

The birthrate for Israeli Jews isn’t quite as low as that of American non-Orthodox, but it hovers, overall, right around 2 children per family; the overall Palestinian birthrate is, by most estimates, between 3 and 4. Even if those numbers are somewhat too high, as some claim, it doesn’t change the reality already present, as Michael Oren pointed out this May in Commentary

[…] Does this mean that there’s no room for leeway because of natural growth in Israeli settlements? Not necessarily. But I still cannot grasp the mindset of those who ignore the demographic reality. At which point, the only case for the continued existence of a Jewish Israel in the face of those eventual numbers is that of the Israeli religious right: G-d gave it to us, all of it to us.

But to make that argument means that one agrees to place the case for Israel in strictly religious terms. So while we’re there, still speaking from a strictly Jewish perspective, it’s high time someone pointed out the other side to that argument, the more dangerous side: while there is a right to dwell in the land, there is no inviolable right to dwell in the land at a specific time before the Moshiach. There have been expulsions before.

We (American and Israeli Jews alike) would do well to recall that the G-d who spoke to Isaiah and Jeremiah, laying the case, essentially, for the Babylonian Exile, is far more concerned with widows, beggars, and orphans than with the precision of Temple sacrifices. The latter without the former is not enough to fulfill the Covenant. It’s why it makes me sick to see “Orthodox” rabbis making the case that their “orthodoxy” is more than enough to compensate for their own disregard for human life.

On a related note, Jeffrey Goldberg:

I’ve received a lot of mail already in reaction to my post about the crisis in Israel — a crisis caused by the willful disregard of settler extremists to Israeli law, and by the Israeli government’s impotence in the face of such law-breaking — and I’ll post some of it throughout the day, but here’s one sample:

Mr. Goldberg,

I’ve decided your a self-hating Jew. You would rather have the approval of Barack Hussein Obama and the self-hating Jews that are his lapdogs than of your own Jewish people. You want to make Israel Judenrein, and Heaven will punish you for that. Shame!

Shame is right. By the way, if I’m a self-hating Jew, then anyone who is not a rabid, land-stealing settler is a self-hating Jew. I believe such a category exists — though in my experience, the Jews who hate being Jewish and afflict the rest of us with their hatred generally tend, in an overall way, to love themselves very much. But what you have in this debate over self-hating Jews — remember, there’s a report out that Bibi himself has called Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod self-hating Jews — is the hijacking of Judaism by a group of extremists who have conflated support for the settlement project with love for Israel and the Jewish people.

Spencer Ackerman:

I have to give up my HC gimmick for a moment because Jeffrey Goldberg wrote a great post that needs to be praised. I’ve criticized Goldberg, in the most assholic possible terms I know how to use, but this is just a great, great sentiment, and if I can’t recognize that, then I’m the asshole.

UPDATE: Adam Sewer at The Root

Ta-Nehisi Coates

UPDATE #2: Leon Wieseltier at TNR

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Filed under Go Meta, Israel/Palestine, Political Figures, Religion

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