Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hollow Men -- Lee Smith's column in Tablet this week

"Hollow Men: Why Israel's enemies will always be the darlings of Western intellectuals," Lee Smith. Tablet Magazine (July 14, 2010).

Smith is on a roll these days, here exploring why it's so fashionable to be anti-Israel among today's intellectual elite.

In reality, of course, Israel isn’t all that heroic. No one and nothing is. Israel’s men and women of honor do not accomplish Homeric deeds in south Lebanon or Gaza to the beat of martial songs, like the resistance; instead they ride the bus home on the weekend to see their parents, go out drinking with friends, and pick up the wrong guy or girl in a smoky bar with awful pop music. “Our warriors,” says one former tank driver, “are Jewish boys who are bossed around by their wives.” And yet during the war with Hezbollah four years ago, the country’s incompetent political and military leadership sent too many of those Jewish boys to their deaths, without sufficient training or a strategy for victory. It seems like almost every day there is news that another of Israel’s chief political leaders is under investigation for corruption charges, which is to say the system is rotten and the system works. To say that Israel is normal is to say that it is, like all democracies, mediocre.
Intellectuals are not interested in the quotidian mediocrity of a functioning democracy. They are interested in ideas. Once an idea is realized in the form of a political organization that must function on a day-to-day basis, it is difficult for men and women of ideas to stomach the result.
 Read the whole thing