The Ranting of Levine

Last week the New York Times published an essay by a philosophy professor, James Levine On Questioning the Jewish State. I won’t quote from the essay, but here are some of the responses.

Elder of Ziyon argues:

In fact, if you follow his bizarre logic, while “of course Jews have a right to self-determination,” in no practical way can that right be exercised. What kind of a right is it when it is hamstrung by definition?

Levine’s logical fallacy is that one’s right to self-determination is illegitimate if it happens to compete with anyone else’s similar right. This is something he simply made up. A people’s right to self-determination is independent of others’ rights. Unless there is a new continent that is discovered, by definition everyone’s rights to self-determination is going to interfere with others’.

Levine is essentially engaging in a sophisticated form of anti-semitism, where by his definition only the Jewish people’s rights must be subsumed to the rights of others; the others are not limited by any means that he sees fit to mention.

In addition to analyzing Levine’s argument, FresnoZionism asks a series of questions attacking Levine’s premise:

Why did you not write an article about whether Saudi Arabia has a right to exist as a Kingdom, or indeed whether any of the kingdoms, dictatorships, Islamic ‘republics’ or other undemocratic entities have a ‘right to exist’ as such?

Why did you not argue that the Kingdom of Jordan should not exist as such, not only because is it an undemocratic monarchy, but because a minority of Bedouins there rule over a majority of other Arabs? This is especially relevant, because Transjordan was created from the territory called ‘Palestine’, precisely to create an Arab state that would be a counterpart to the Jewish National Home that Britain was supposed to nurse into existence in Western Palestine.

Why do you find the relatively mild discrimination against Arab residents of Israel — especially in the context of the security situation — important when so many other Middle Eastern states with ethnic or religious minorities completely disenfranchise, even viciously oppress them (e.g., the Kurds or the Palestinians in Lebanon)?

Avi Bell writes in Pseudo-intellectual bigotry:

Ultimately, Levine’s claims boil down to the naked assertion that Jews alone among the peoples of the world should be denied self-determination, and that is because the general rules of self-determination should be selectively rewritten and reinterpreted to the detriment of the Jewish people only.

Similarly Hillel Neuer writes (h/t HonestReporting)

Levine takes it as a given that the Palestinian Arabs have a natural claim to the same right of self-determination that he is so quick to deny to Israel and Jewish people.

Doc’s Talk quotes Barry Rubin (whose observation sounds like it came straight out the Haggadah):

For 1000 years there has only been one religion that has been marked for wiping out.

For 200 years there had only been one people that has been marked for wiping out.

For 60 years there has only been one country that has been marked for wiping out.

Coincidence?

Why is Levine’s article important?

In 1996, Charles Krauthammer wrote in At Last Zion:

A century ago, Europe was the center of Jewish life. More than 80 percent of world Jewry lived there. The Second World War destroyed European Jewry and dispersed the survivors to the New World (mainly the United States) and to Israel. Today, 80 percent of world Jewry lives either in the United States or in Israel. Today we have a bipolar Jewish universe with two centers of gravity of approximately equal size. It is a transitional stage, however. One star is gradually dimming, the other brightening.

Soon an inevitably the cosmology of the Jewish people will have been transformed again, turned into a single-star system with a dwindling Diaspora orbiting around. It will be a return to the ancient norm: The Jewish people will be centered—not just spiritually but physically—in their ancient homeland.

Recently Meryl Yourish noted examples of this dynamic and observed:

The exodus is gathering strength. Jews are leaving countries where they are being persecuted–again.

In short an argument against the legitimacy of Israel, is an argument against Judaism.

A new Film looks at NY Times and Holocaust.(h/t Robert Avrech) The synopsis reads:

A student documentary about the paper’s shallow coverage of the genocide — just six front-page stories throughout the war — will premiere at one of America’s most prestigious festivals

Seventy years ago a catastrophe was occurring to the Jews of Europe and the New York Times ignored it. Now Jews worldwide are facing numerous crises and the New York Times is giving voice to the cheerleaders of their enemies. It would be generous to say that the Times has learned nothing in that time, but that would assume that the paper and its publishers are acting out of ignorance, not malice. As more and more arguments like Levine’s find a home in the Times, the ignorance defense seems less credible.