Sullivan joins the anti-Israelites—but look at who’s criticizing him

Leon Wieseltier has an unreadably long article at The New Republic condemning Andrew Sullivan (who by the way was once the editor of The New Republic of which Wieseltier has been the literary editor forever) of anti-Semitism.

Here’s one of Sullivan’s stunningly hostile passages about Isreal that Wieseltier quotes:

The Netanyahu government has all but declared war on the Obama administration and then openly disses a vital ally, Turkey. The slow cultural shifts in Israel—toward ever more arrogance, more fundamentalism, more Russian immigrant racism, contempt for the Muslim world, military adventurism, and the daily grinding of the Palestinians on the West Bank and pulverization and inhumane blockade of the people of Gaza—well maybe others can explain it. All I can say is: it saddens me, as a longtime lover of the Jewish state. It does not represent the historic mainstream of liberal Jewish society, it is a betrayal of many Jewish virtues that goyim like me deeply admire, and it seems designed for war as some kind of eternal and uplifting state of mind. I hope Israel shifts soon. For Israel’s sake.

It’s not worth getting into the details of this, except to say that since his loud and melodramatic departure from the Republican party and conservatism in 2004 (set off by President Bush’s pro-forma support for the federal marriage amendment, which for Sullivan was the most horrible, anti-human thing anyone has ever done), Sullivan, who is permanently hyped up on male hormones to combat his HIV, has become a more or less standard leftist; and a typical part of being a standard leftist is being reflexively and viciously anti-Israel, to the point of being anti-Jewish.

However, while Sullivan in siding with the Muslim enemy has become shockingly anti-Israel and even anti-Jewish, let us not forget that Wieseltier in his own embrace of the Muslim enemy has been shockingly anti-Gentile. When, during the 1992 Gulf War, Charles Moore of the London Spectator described how his Muslim neighbors prayed loudly next-door, and spoke of his worries of what would happen to England if the number of Muslims kept increasing, an enraged Wieseltier fired off this riposte at The New Republic:

Three cheers, I say, for the neighbors. I hope that they pray noisily, and that they pray five times a day, and that the evening prayer comes just as the Moores and the Mellors and turning to the claret … It is amusing to watch the colonizers complain about being colonized. [The New Republic January 6, 1992].

Wieseltier was not exactly shy in his detestation of Christian Englishmen. He mocked an Englishman’s rational fears about the survival of English culture in the face of Islamization. He rejoiced at the thought of Englishmen being discomfited, disoriented, and displaced in their own country by Muslims—a process that has, of course, advanced considerably in the 18 years since Wieseltier wrote those words.

So, of these two pro-Muslim liberals, which one has shown the more vile and deliberate animus—Sullivan toward Israel, or Wieseltier toward England? Wieseltier, to my mind, is the obvious winner. At least Sullivan did not express the hate-filled wish, brimming over with Schadenfreude, that Israel be taken over by Muslims.

- end of initial entry -

Jim C. writes:

Leon may be repulsive, but he’s brilliant—certainly among the great literary editors of the last 30 years. He’s not as influential as Roger Angell, but most likely as talented. And let’s not forget that it was Wieseltier who wrote one of the most devastating critiques of the evils of multiculturalism when he eviscerated the “scholarship” of Cornel West.[LA notes: in the initial posting of this entry, I described both Wieseltier and Sullivan as “repulsive liberals,” then took that phrase out.]

On top of that Wieseltier is a first-rate writer, one of the best in the business—and certainly more talented than Sullivan.

LA replies:

I disagree that he’s a good writer. He’s unreadable. Luke Ford thinks the same..

Alex K. writes:

Also notice that Wieseltier spends hundreds of words in the first part of the article explaining why he’s right not to understand the Trinity. This has nothing to do with Sullivan, and he concedes that Auden did not intend to be anti-Jewish in the original remark, but still Wieseltier is motivated to make sure the Trinity is put in its place before moving on to his actual subject.

LA replies:

I half-consciously picked up on what he was doing in his discussion on the Trinity, but was really interested in seeing what he had to say about Sullivan, so I skipped ahead to the main part of the article and didn’t form a clear thought about what he was up to with the Trinity. Thanks for making sense of that for me.

Mark G. writes:

Good point, Larry. I find Sullivan’s reference to the “Russian immigrant racism” interesting—he echoes the Israeli left in their hatred of the Russian immigrants. People from the former USSR (myself included) have a deep-seated aversion to leftist ideas and tend to vote for the right-wing parties in Israel (i.e. Avidgdor Lieberman’s Israel Beyteynu) and for the Republican candidates in the U.S.

Irwin Graulich writes:

These are all very wise points. Congratulations on seeing through what these two pseudo-intellectuals have become.

What Wieseltier missed pointing out to Sullivan is that if Andrew lived in Israel, he would be treated just like any other decent human being in the country, gay or straight. However, if Sullivan lived in Gaza or virtually any other Muslim country, he would be in prison, have his head chopped off or given capital punishment. Why don’t liberals and the left see Israel’s policies/values and compare them to the policies and values of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.

Women’s rights, gay rights, freedom to read what you want, freedom to date who you want, freedom to think how you want, innovation, technology, etc. Only in Israel. Yet the left and liberals like Sullivan and Wieseltier seem to ignore the evil of Israel’s enemies, although they seem to have a very sophisticated, nuanced view of Islam and its positive qualities. How sad. Shame on Sullivan and Wieseltier.

Wieseltier has become a self-hating Jew, while Sullivan is throwing his LGBT friends to the wolves. This is what occurs when you “devolve” from conservative to liberal. Pretty scary stuff.

All the best.

LA replies:

I don’t see how Wieseltier is a self-hating Jew. He seems to me like a ethno-centric, anti-Christian Jew.

Also, I don’t remember off-hand what sorts of things he’s been saying about Islam in recent years. He’s probably anti-Islam insofar as Muslims threaten Israel, but pro-Islam insofar as Musilms threaten the West as a whole. But that’s just a guess.

Eric R. writes:

Islam is a wild-card in leftism’s role within Western civilization’s trajectory. The right to practice Islam trumps the right to oppose it, for now. Imagine the absurdity of Wieseltier’s indignation for loud-praying Christians amongst concerned atheists. He would be wholly condemned for insensitivity! Islam is still protected as a “minority right,” until its virulence grows to influence the majority. Can reductionists wrap their heads around the oppression and aggression of fundamentalist Islam before it infringes upon their own comfort zone? I can see how conservative atheists might embrace Islamic presence as a regression into some form of traditionalism, versus the alternative of hyper-liberalism.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 12, 2010 01:29 PM | Send

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