Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pejman Yousefzadeh at The New Ledger on the shameless Jew-baiting of Walt and Mearsheimer

Pejman Yousefzadeh, a lawyer blogging at The New Ledger, writes this in response to the predictable outrage of Stephen Walt, Andrew Sullivan, Phillip Weiss over Lee Smith's recent article arguing that their blogs are "Mainstreaming Hate." A former student of both Walt and Mearsheimer when he was at the University of Chicago, Yousefzadeh has nothing but praise for the education he received from them. He has nothing but disgust for what they've become. Below is just a quick glimpse. The whole thing is worth reading.

Walt has become exceedingly irresponsible in his rhetoric since the time that I knew him. His argument–and that of his cohorts–that bloggers are not responsible for what their commenters write is a somewhat appealing one, but at the end of the day, that’s a rather facile response to a serious issue. Writing about Israel, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the status of the Palestinians, and the Middle East as a whole is an enterprise fraught with emotion, anger, outrage, and ancient grievances. Those who engage in these discussions owe it to others to keep their heads level so as not to fan the flames of an already inflammatory subject. They also owe it to others to try to keep the heads of their supporters level. If that means repeatedly denouncing those supporters who take one’s contentions and extend them to despicable levels, then so be it. That means that Zionists have to denounce–repeatedly, if need be–people who think that Baruch Goldstein was a swell guy, and that means that people like Stephen Walt, Philip Weiss, Andrew Sullivan, and Glenn Greenwald have to denounce–repeatedly, if need be–those who latch on to their arguments to openly preach anti-Semitism, and anti-Zionism that is nothing more than thinly-disguised anti-Semitism.

That’s taxing work, to be sure. But those who complain about having to do that work won’t win any sympathy from me, and shouldn’t win any sympathy from anyone else. Want to gain respect and credibility in writing about Israel and the Middle East? Make it clear–crystal clear–that you will have nothing to do with the crazies who use your arguments to propagate their own racist rantings. If you say “oh, it goes without saying that I am not a racist, and don’t believe what the racists say,” and think that this will be enough, well, get ready to find out that it won’t be enough. If all of this is too much work for your fragile, little self, stop blogging about the Middle East.