In his latest New Republic column, Leon Wieseltier goes to great lengths to discredit the idea that Jews who criticize Israel are “self-hating,” an accusation that has recently been hurled at Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. He takes issue with this notion of “race treason,” (a phrase he lifts disdainfully from the Nextbook Press book The Wicked Son by David Mamet), dismissing it summarily as political semantics—“The defenders of Greater Israel have values, but the critics of Greater Israel have motives”—and comparing it mockingly to the preposterous “birther” movement on the American right: “I mean, any man who opposes Jewish settlement in the West Bank must have a foreskin.”
But while Wieseltier, who admits to having once denounced Henry Kissinger on the same grounds of betrayal he now finds noxious, describes himself as a “recovering Jewish fascist,” he still maintains his essential prickliness. He says of President Obama’s Israel policies, which, he asserts, have taken the love out of “tough love”: “I am not one of those Jews who are maddened by American ‘pressure’ on Israel, but I do not take kindly to it when it is accompanied by a bow to the Saudi king.”
Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.