More on Sailer and Israel

Michael Jose defends Steve Sailer from my criticisms, and I reply. He writes:

I think your commentary on Steve Sailer over-interpreted what Sailer was saying. His basic point was simply that nothing is going to change the basic antagonisms in the Middle East that drive the conflict. So the only solution is to use force to suppress the Arab groups that continuously provoke the Israelis.

In his case, he argues that Israel needs more of the Arab-controlled areas around it to be run by strongmen who are primarily interested in not provoking Israel in a way that might threaten their position of power.

As for “I would add that there is something highly mischievous, to put it mildly, in speaking of Israel’s dreadful situation as the “intrigues” of a foreign nation that we must resist.” Reading the post in question in context, he is referring to those who, like Michael Ledeen, are agitating for us to involve ourselves in the conflict, and I don’t just mean by morally supporting Israel in retaliating against Hezbollah.

Michael Ledeen is advocating that we take some sort of action intended at overthrowing the Syrian government. THIS is what Sailer is objecting to; is the attempt to get the U.S. actively involved in this conflict. I do not see him referring to Israel’s actions in the Middle East or its situations as intrigues, but the attempts (not necessarily by Israel but by Americans who would be its self-proclaimed defenders) to rope us into the conflict by those who think that its our job to fight Israel’s wars for it.

LA replies:

There were two parts to the Sailer blog entry. In the first part he makes a reasoned argument that it would be helpful for there to be moderately well-armed dictatorships on Israel’s border to suppress disorderly elements within those countries. In the second part he quoted the mindless, nihilistic Dave Barry line, undermining the reasoned argument he had made in the first part. I was responding to the second part, not the first part.

As for the “intrigues” quote, Sailer’s oft-repeated position is that Israel is illegitimately manipulating the United States. Given that context, as well as the context of the blog entry under discussion, it is reasonable to interpret the “intrigues” quote as being directed at Israel. Also, Michael Ledeen is not a foreign nation, and Sailer’s endlessly indulged personal hostility against Ledeen is not an argument. It is not a persuasive argument that Ledeen’s main interest here is the protection of Israel. Whether you agree with Ledeen or not, he’s on record with probably hundreds of articles in the last five years laying out his approach to defeating the forces of terrorism with which this country is supposedly at war. This country is not at war with terrorists for Israel’s sake, though of course Israel’s enemies are also ours, and there are some people so hostile to Israel that if Israel could even be perceived as benefiting from something the U.S. did for its own national defense, those people would say that the entire thing was “really” for Israel’s sake, and that sinister Jews had tricked the U.S. into fighting a war that Americans thought was for their own sake but was really for the Jews’ sake. Patrick (“We’ve got to win the hearts and minds of Muslims”) Buchanan published an article, “Whose War,” just as the U.S. was in the act of invading Iraq, that made that very charge,that the entire invasion of Iraq was done entirely for Israel’s sake.

So let’s please be clear about what Sailer meant when he appropriated the quote from Washington’s Farewell Address about the “intrigues” of a “favorite [foreign country].” Israel over the last year withdrew at great cost from territories it occupied, and was planning to withdraw from much larger territories. In reward for this, Israel’s Muslim enemies redoubled their attack on Israel, and Israel’s Buchananite enemies have redoubled theirs. At the very moment when Israel’s border was being crossed by killers which forced Israel to fight back, at the very moment when Haifa was being attacked by rockets from southern Lebanon, an area Israel had voluntarily withdrawn from several years ago, that was the moment that Sailer portrayed Israel as an “intriguing” foreign power who must be resisted by “real patriots.” This is low, nasty, mean-spirited stuff. Sailer is not normally a writer associated with passion. In most of his writings he comes across with an even-temperedness and equanimity. But when it comes to neoconservatives and Israel, there is—let us speak plainly— a small, ugly core of bigotry in the man.

I have, by the way, repeatedly urged Sailer in private e-mails to moderate the element of animus that comes into his writings when certain subjects are being discussed. I had a personal as well as a general interest in this, because I find some of Sailer’s articles quite interesting, and his anti-Israelism, if it persisted and got worse, would make it difficult for me to continue reading him.

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Tom S. writes:

My thoughts on Steve Sailer (who, I agree, is nowhere near as bad as the rest of the crowd that hangs out at The American Anti-Semite, and who should stick to immigration and demographic issues, which he actually knows something about) can be summed up by this quote from James Lileks (who was speaking about someone other than Sailer):

“It takes a certain kind of person to see a liberal free society attacked by Islamicists, and find himself wondering: what are those crafty Jews up to now?”

That says it all, I think.

(Note: The quote appears at the end of a long page consisting of stream of consciousnesss observations about everything under the sun.)

Michael Jose writes:

I think you missed my larger point, which was not who Sailer was criticizing, but for what. You plainly imply that Sailer had criticized Israel’s actions towards Lebanon. He did not. What he criticized was the attempt to get us involved in the situation.

Now, as a smaller point, I think that Sailer is not angry at Israel so much as he is angry at Americans who (in his opinion) are pushing us to put Israel’s interests (or at least what they perceive as its interests) before our own. But even if it were Israel he were angry at, he hasn’t spoken against the way that Israel is handling the Lebanese situation.

LA replies:

I think you strangely miss the larger point, which is that Sailer is making these supposed intrigues the main focus of what is currently happening. And, furthermore, what intrigues? What intrigues has he proven? Obviously the U.S. is already deeply involved. Israel is surrounded by enemies, and Israel has to think about every single thing she does in her own defense from the point of view of whether the Americans will approve it or slap her down. That’s the reality. For Sailer to bring up “intrigues” at this moment, as though the main thing Israel were doing were “intriguing” instead of defending herself from deadly enemies, is disgusting and objectionable. Your hairsplitting in Sailer’s defense is preventing you from seeing this.

There’s further hairsplitting on your part is when you say:

“I think that Sailer is not angry at Israel so much as he is angry at Americans who (in his opinion) are pushing us to put Israel’s interests (or at least what they perceive as its interests) before our own.”

You’re missing the point that the Washington quote is about the “favorite [foreign nation].” It is about Israel. To claim that Sailer is not angry at Israel when he gratuitously quotes a phrase about the intrigues of a foreign nation is not a believable claim.

Igor writes (July 18):

Steve Sailer blogged on the Will-Kristol thing and spends most of his commentary hoping that Murdoch will dump the neocons. He doesn’t even comment on the substance of the article itself, he’s just interested in sticking it to the neocons and Israel by quoting the exchange Scott McConnell had with Murdoch over whether Israel should have been created in the first place.

Sailer has made five posts about the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. Four of the five of those posts have been about NEOCONS and the other one was about the demographics of Lebanon. At best, he has shown moral neutrality towards Israel and Hezbollah. He has actually said worse things about Israel than Hezbollah in some posts.

And this really struck me:

“Israel stomping on Hezbollah might actually improve things in Lebanon—certainly the Israeli leadership’s understanding of the situation in Lebanon is far greater than our leadership’s understanding of anywhere in the Middle East.”

The situation in Lebanon? Why does he care about Lebanon? Is it because of the Catholics there? Sailer is uninterested if “stomping” Hezbollah helps Israel but he thinks it would be useful (if America stayed out of it that is) if it improved things in Lebanon.

I was starting to think that after the Gaza pullout, Sailer was softening up on Israel (he even went as far as calling Sharon a moderate), but I think his latest behaviour disproves my theory.

His writings on demographics, race, culture, and IQ are excellent but his writings on Israel are just bizarre. I have no idea where he’s coming from. I don’t consider him to be an anti-Semite and I never did, but spending all this time with the Amconners is turning him into a spiteful anti-Israel bigot.

His attacks on the neocons is really an attack on Israel because the thing that bothers him the most about the neocons is not that they are open borders (that bothers him a lot, but liberals are far worse in that regard and he doesn’t spend as much time obsessing over them) but that they are making America fight wars “for Israel.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 16, 2006 11:55 PM | Send

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