The problem is not only, as Tobin writes, that “liberals like Remnick are simply tired of standing up for a cause that has become unpopular on the left.” In making his comment, Remnick announces that he is officially adopting the position taken a few years back by the London leftist intellectuals, writers like the late Tony Judt and the other Brits who write for NYRB’s sister publication, The London Review of Books, as detailed in this report from Just Journalism, a pro-Israeli British watchdog group. Its editor, Mary-Kay Wilmers, noted her position up front:
I’m unambiguously hostile to Israel because it’s a mendacious state. They do things that are just so immoral and counterproductive and, as a Jew, especially as a Jew, you can’t justify that.
Remnick’s new statement is a faint echo of the Wilmers quote. He too condemns Israel’s “status as an occupier,” a status which he neglects to point out first took place as a result of Israel’s victory in war against its aggressive enemies. And note his gratuitious phrase “and people like me,” which is supposed to let readers know he once supported Israel, but now — like all those supposed Peter Beinart wanna-bes — are just fed up and tired of being a friend of Israel. So he gives Israel warning: “It can’t go on this way.” (my emphasis)
I can just see Benjamin Netanyahu quaking in his boots, joined by the opposition leaders from Kadima. “David Remnick is leaving our ranks; what will we do?” What chutzpah! Does Remnick really think they care one bit? Does he really think its leaders will start putting defense of their nation against Arab aggression on the back-burner, just to placate Remnick by coming up with another meaningless start-up of the so-called Oslo “peace process”? Oh, he warns them that they cannot defy the supposed bold efforts of Barack Obama “to promote peace.” Does he mean Obama’s consistent outreach to the Muslim world, his many insults to the intelligence of Israeli citizens and political leaders alike, and his tin ear to the cause of the real conflict that threatens to engulf the Middle East?
Like the other self-proclaimed peaceniks — a group with an ever diminishing presence in Israel itself — Remnick seems to believe Israel and its settlements in areas that will be Israeli after a two-state solution would be instituted, are the only obstacles to peace. Is he really that simplistic that he thinks another two month moratorium would bring the Palestinians to the table — when the previous one that lasted longer produced nothing on their part?
Actually, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren answered this in his interview last Thursday with Jennifer Rubin. As Oren pointed out:
The so-called peace process ended recently, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton essentially conceded that what the administration has been doing didn’t work. What happened, and what’s the lesson to be learned? Oren said carefully: “The administration came into office with a great emphasis on mediation and a focus on settlements. Mr. Netanyahu made an unprecedented gesture in freezing settlements for ten months.” But as soon as the settlement freeze ended, the Palestinians “left,” he said bluntly. “They are reluctant to negotiate if they can get what they want outside of the negotiations, if Latin American countries, for example, will recognize them.”
Perhaps David Remnick did not catch his comments, or preferred to ignore their truth.
So I end on the point on which I began this blog. Today’s New York intellectuals are a pale imitation of their ancestors. The original group had a fidelity to the truth, and to bold assertions they believed to be true, regardless of whom they offended. Today’s group, of which Remnick is most typical, runs to join their fellow leftist herd of no longer independent minds in Britain, assuring them of their loyalty to the influential in group of journalists and opinion makers, and if they are Jewish, making their assurance known by joining in the stampede to dissociate themselves from defense of Israel.
Is it no wonder that so many of us no longer can take David Remnick seriously?