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The Paradox of the Jewish Mind

As for the Jewish community in the Diaspora, it too confronts a swelling and malignant anti-Semitism even in countries where Jew-hatred has been in approximate remission. This is why of all ethnic groups, it is the least able to tolerate -- I must be blunt -- the number of unreconstructed idiots, useful or otherwise, proliferating in its midst, whether they are prone to delusions of nobility and grandeur or merely self-interested schemers for whom, to cite Deuteronomy 16:19, “a gift [i.e., bribe] doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.” They are equally at risk, both those who turn toward the ineffable and lofty in the realm of ideas and those who turn basely against their own. And their number, I’m afraid, is legion.

Leaving aside for now the vast constituency of ordinary Jews who vote for the Liberal Party in Canada and the Democrats in the U.S., for which the welfare of the Jewish state, to put it mildly, is not on the agenda, or left-wing Israelis devoted to the mirage of surrendering land for “peace,” let us take a very brief sampling of high-profile figures who have been in the news of late:

  • Jurist Richard Goldstone, who fathered the heinous UN report largely blaming Israel for its conduct during Operation Cast Lead -- the same man who accepted a judicial appointment during the apartheid era in south Africa and who, according to reports, was responsible for sending 28 blacks to their death.
  • Political careerist Martin Indyk, who is harshly critical of the beleaguered Jewish state he apparently once supported. Academic maven Neve Gordon, who denounces his home country, sides with the Palestinians, and offered comfort to Yassir Arafat in the Mukataa compound during the last Intifada.
  • Visual artist Jan Egesborg circulating maps with Israel blanked out and featuring the phrase “Final Solution.” Journalist Uri Blau of the Haaretz newspaper in illegal possession of sensitive state documents.
  • Nobelized scientist Ada Yonath, who urges the Israeli government to release its terrorist prisoners.
  • Literary cynosure David Grossman, whose slogan, “peace of no choice,” would, if taken seriously, ultimately deprive him of it.
  • Ersatz intellectual Naomi Klein, who considers Israel a terror state.
  • Hannah Rosenthal, director of the U.S. Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, who has neither monitored nor combated it, but generally lets it pass under the radar.
  • Revisionist Tom Segev, who faults the Jewish state for being over-hasty and paranoid in responding to the encroaching Arab armies.
  • Activist Naomi Chazan, president of the New Israel Fund which sponsors left-wing, anti-Israel NGOs.
  • Historian Tony Judt, who would dissolve Israel into an Arab-majority “binational” state.
  • Orchestra conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, friend to the late anti-Israeli ideologue Edward Said and now a Palestinian citizen.
  • Aptly named author Shlomo Sand, who in his The Invention of the Jewish People attempts to deprive Jews of their historic and biblical identity, despite the genetic markers which decisively refute his thesis.
  • Rabbi Michael Lerner, publisher of Tikkun Magazine and a self-proclaimed “spiritual progressive,” who accuses Israel of wantonly maiming and killing Palestinians.
  • And Israel’s soi-disant “ "top philosopher" Avishai Margolit, who advocates a return to the porous and indefensible 1948 borders which he calls the “little Israel,” though a better designation might then be “no Israel at all.”

This, as I indicate, is only the merest cross-section of a teeming multitude of familiar names that could fill an Almanach de Gotha of the gullible, the obtuse, or the treacherous. They are all what we would regard as “intelligent” people, but their intelligence is specific to their fields and does not correlate especially well with what I will call the gi factor (on the model of the psychometrical category g, mental ability), that is, general intelligence, founded in common sense, which is able to transcend the boundaries and constraints of specific disciplines.