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So That Happened

Smith’s column gets quite a response

Marc Tracy
July 22, 2010

Lee Smith wrote a column yesterday, which pointed to several prominent bloggers who are “obsessed with Israel and the machinations of the U.S. Israel lobby” (he didn’t, shall we say, mean it in a good way) and accused them of being “Jew-baiters” (he didn’t mean that in a good way, either). It provoked … well, I am not positive that 211 comments is a Tablet Magazine record, but, I mean, it must be. This was, after all, an article in part about comments and commenters.

First, though, quick-links to the responses of the bloggers whom Smith referred to by name:

• Andrew Sullivan: “There are no substantive arguments in the piece, and there are no quotes in the piece from any of the bloggers and writers concerned that could even faintly be called anti-Semitic. There is just cherry-picking of vileness that often shows up on comments sections (which this blog does not even have). I mean: seriously. [Andrew Sullivan]

• Stephen Walt calls it a “screed.” [Foreign Policy]

• Phillip Weiss looks at our funders and related boards—apparently William Kristol is our distant cousin (and not just from the Old Country)—although he also (graciously) acknowledges that we have “some bandwidth,” for example having published “a pretty good piece today.” Actually, Marissa’s piece is great, not pretty good, but close enough. [Mondoweiss]

• Dan Luban (a Tablet Magazine contributor) wonders, at Jim Lobe’s blog (which Smith mentions), why Smith, “a neoconservative political operative,” gets a column to use “exclusively as an echo chamber for talking points from Commentary and the Weekly Standard.” Answer one: Don’t ask me, I’m just the blogger! Answer two: Smith’s profile of Robert Malley would never run in the Standard. [Lobelog]

Additionally, some unmentioned writers got in on the action.

• “Lee Smith, shame on you,” Tweets (!) Slate Group Editor Jacob Weisberg. “You owe Weiss, Sullivan, Walt & Greenwald apologies.” Weisberg used to publish Smith. [Jacob Weisberg’s Twitter]

• Ron Kampeas says the piece was “sloppy” and that Smith “smeared” the writers he mentioned. [Capital J]

• Andrew Silow-Carroll argues, “Anti-Semitism is too serious a charge to level without defining your terms and assembling your evidence precisely.” [NJ Jewish News]

• Max Blumenthal calls the piece “crude invective.” []

• Richard Silverstein wants to know why he wasn’t mentioned. He’s just kidding! I think. []

Plenty more where this came from in the comments, of course, plus some defenses. To take one, from Rob H., writing about Glenn Greenwald (who I don’t think responded directly to the piece—sorry if he did and I missed it):

If people want to tell themselves that he doesn’t traffic in anti-semitism, go right ahead. But just because he doesn’t say anything overtly anti-semitic, doesn’t mean he receives a get-out-jail free card. Greenwald routinely employs the most inflammatory of rhetoric to describe Israel’s actions and supporters. He uses the word “slaughter” so often, one would think it’s a conjunction. Other terms include “psychopathic derangement,” “psychopathic indifference,” “blood thirsty fanatic,” “sociopathic indifference,” and so on.

So, what do you think? There’s a comments section below, you know.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.