As if to sweep Alexander Cockburn’s cantankerous spirit along, Gore Vidal, one of the last known individuals of a functionally extinct species — the patrician man of letters — has died at 86.
As with Cockburn, Vidal was a bracing stylist whose worldview drew from crusty precincts of the Left and Right. And as with Cockburn, Vidal nonetheless was revered as a progressive lodestar. This is especially peculiar in Vidal’s case, as he was clearly an American nativist. It’s easy to perceive a xenophobic overlap of far Right and Left in relation to Israel, but Vidal nursed a quaint obsession with the Yellow Peril. In 1986 in The Nation of all places, he volleyed abuse at Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter which began with the following “conclusion”:… for America to survive economically in the coming Sino-Japanese world, an alliance with the Soviet Union is a necessity. After all, the white race is a minority race with many well deserved enemies, and if the two great powers of the Northern Hemisphere don’t band together, we are going to end up as farmers–or, worse, mere entertainment–for the more than one billion grimly efficient Asiatics.
This isn’t a literary curio. Vidal, the Left-intellectual author of a humane bildungsroman about male homosexuality (The City and the Pillar) and the Democratic Party mandarin who grappled with the likes of William F. Buckley, was a devout isolationist. Attending Phillips Exeter Academy in 1940, Vidal organized its chapter of the America First Committee. Later he described Charles Lindbergh as “the true white knight through and through” who was “the best that we are ever apt to produce in the hero line, American-style.” In late life Vidal was also, of course, a conspiracy theorist about the 9/11 attacks.
So it is not surprising that like Alexander Cockburn, and Pat Buchanan and contemporary epigones like Glenn Greenwald, Gore Vidal was ardently phobic of Israel. As Christopher Hitchens observed:… I always knew, as one had to know – and it was in his writing too — that [Vidal] had this mean streak in him, of a kind of paranoia — a conspiracy-based paranoid view of the world, and particularly of American history, which leads to isolationism and what I call Lindberg-ism, because he was a great admirer of [Charles] Lindberg, because this stuff is indissoluble from a very tiny stain of Judaeo-phobia which he could never dispel. He had it in under control – but it’s quite hard to keep it under control.
Vidal was less controlled than Cockburn. He contributed a Foreword to Israel Shahak’s notorious “Jewish History, Jewish Religion”, in which he claimed of the Jews that “no other minority in American history has ever hijacked so much money from the American taxpayers in order to invest in a ‘homeland’”. Beloved by hardcore anti-Semites, Shahak’s book sources Israel’s political pathology in a fundamentalist interpretation of Judaism.
And Vidal wrote the following Nation essay, which contains his quote about “Asiatics” and demonstrates that for him, there wasn’t a clear distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. I’ve added highlighting in red, in case you wish to skip to the really piquant parts.The Empire Lovers Strike Back
March 22, 1986
Gore Vidal lives in Los Angeles and Rome. His coruscating essays on the U. S. giobal role always inflame as well as enlighten. Vidal has taken this occasion lo respond to two of his critics, but he uses the sparks of this clash to illuminate his larger preoccupation: the changing image and reality of
the American Empire.
Recently, Norman Mailer and I chatted together at the Royale Theatre in New York, under the auspices of PEN American Center. Part of what I said was reprinted in these pages on January 11, under the title, not mine, “Requiem for the American Empire.” I gave a bit of a history lesson about our empire’s genesis, and I brooded on its terminus last fall, when Tokyo took over from New York as the world’s economic center.
My conclusion: for America to survive economically in the coming Sino-Japanese world, an alliance with the Soviet Union is a necessity. After all, the white race is a minority race with many well deserved enemies, and if the two great powers of the Northern Hemisphere don’t band together, we are going to end up as farmers–or, worse, mere entertainment–for the more than one billion grimly efficient Asiatics. In principle, Mailer agreed.
As expected, that wonderful, wacky couple, Norman (Poddy) Podhoretz and his wife, Midge Decter, checked in. The Lunts of the right wing (Israeli Fifth Column Division), they are now, in their old age, more and more like refugees from a Woody Allen film: The Purple Prose of West End Avenue.
Poddy was the first to respond. He is the editor of Commentary (circulation 55,000, and allegedly falling; paid for by the American Jewish Committee). He is best known–and by me loved–for his autobiographical “novel,” Making It, in which he tells us that he has made it because he has become editor of Commentary and might one day be a guest at the White House, as he has already been a guest of Huntington Hartford in Nassau.
Over the years, Poddy has, like his employers, the A.J.C., moved from those liberal positions traditionally occupied by American Jews (and me) to the far right of American politics. The reason for that is simple. In order to get Treasury money for Israel (last year $5 billion), pro-Israel lobbyists must see to it that America’s “the Russians are coming” squads are in place so that they can continue to frighten the American people into spending enormous sums for “defense,” which also means the support of Israel in its never-ending wars against just about everyone.
To make sure that nearly a third of the Federal budget goes to the Pentagon and Israel, it is necessary for the pro-Israel lobbyists to make common cause with our lunatic right. Hence, the virulent propaganda.
Poddy denounced Mailer and me in the pages of the New York Post. According to him, we belong to that mindless majority of pinko intellectuals who actually think that the nation spends too much on the Pentagon and not enough on, say, education. Since sustained argument is not really his bag, he must fall back on the ad hominem attack, a right-wing specialty–and, of course, on our flag, which he wears like a designer kaftan because “the blessings of freedom and prosperity are greater and more widely shared [here] than in any country known to human history.” Poddy should visit those Western European countries whose per capita income is higher than ours. All in all, Poddy is a silly billy.
Significantly, the one Yiddish word that has gained universal acceptance in this country is chutzpah. Example: In 1960, Mr. and Mrs. Podhoretz were in upstate New York where I used to live. I was trying out a play at the Hyde Park Playhouse; the play was set during the Civil War. “Why,” asked Poddy, “are you writing a play about, of all things, the Civil War?” I explained to him that my mother’s family had fought for the Confederacy and my father’s for the Union, and that the Civil War was–and is–to the United States what the Trojan War was to the Greeks, the great single tragic event that continues to give resonance to our Republic.
“Well, to me,” said Poddy, “the Civil War is as remote and as irrelevant as the War of the Roses.” I realized then that he was not planning to become an “assimilated American,” to use the old-fashioned terminology; but, rather, his first loyalty would always be to Israel. Yet he and Midge stay on among us, in order to make propaganda and raise money for Israel–a country they don’t seem eager to live in. Jewish joke, circa 1900: A Zionist is someone who wants to ship other people off to Palestine.
Midge was next to strike. But before she launched her attack, in something called she put on her thinking cap and actually read what I wrote. I give her high marks for that. Unfortunately, she found my history lesson hard going. But then, like most of our Israeli fifth columnists, Midge isn’t much interested in what the goyim were up to before Ellis Island. She also likes the ad hominem attack. When I noted that our writers seldom speak out on matters of war and peace because so many of them are paid for by universities that receive money from the garrison state, Midge tartly retorted, “He, after all, is not paid by a university but by those great centers of independence, the film companies.” Since my last Hollywood film, The Best Man, was made in 1964, I have been “paid” by that American public that buys my books about the American past, a subject of no demonstrable interest to Midge and Poddy and their friends.
Midge was amazed by my description of how we seized territories from Mexico, including California; annexed Hawaii and Puerto Rico and, of course, the Philippines, where we slaughtered between 100,000 and 200,000 of the inhabitants. Interesting note: American imperialists froth if the figures for those murdered are ever in excess of 60,000 men, women and children, the acceptable statistical minimum for genocide. Then Midge, with that magisterial gooniness that marks her polemical style, told us, “that three of these conquered territories are now states of the United States, and a fourth an independent republic, is evidently beside the point–as, we cannot resist remarking…”
Oh, Midge, resist. Resist! Don’t you get the point? We stole other people’s land. We murdered many of the inhabitants. We imposed our religion–and rule–on the survivors. General Grant was ashamed of what we did to Mexico, and so am I. Mark Twain was ashamed of what we did in the Philippines, and so am I. Midge is not because in the Middle East another predatory people is busy stealing other people’s land in the name of an alien theocracy. She is a propagandist for these predators (paid for?), and that is what all this nonsense is about.
Since spades may not be called spades in freedom’s land, let me spell it all out. In order to get military and economic support for Israel, a small number of American Jews, who should know better, have made common cause with every sort of reactionary and anti-Semitic group in the United States, from the corridors of the Pentagon to the TV studios of the evangelical Jesus-Christers. To show that their hearts are in the far-right place, they call themselves neoconservatives, and attack the likes of Mailer and me, all in the interest of supporting the likes of Sharon and Israel as opposed to the Peace Now Israelis whom they disdain. There is real madness here; mischief too.
“Well, one thing is clear in all this muddle,’’ writes Midge, adrift in her tautological sea, “Mr. Vidal does not like his country.” Poor Midge. Of course I like my country. After all, I’m its current biographer. But now that we’re really leveling with each other, I’ve got to tell you I don’t much like your country, which is Israel.
Although there is nothing wrong with being a lobbyist for a foreign power, one is supposed to register with the Justice Department. Also, I should think that tact would require a certain forbearance when it comes to the politics of the host country. But tact is unknown to the Podhoretzes. Joyously they revel in the politics of hate, with plangent attacks on blacks and/or fags and/or liberals, trying, always, to outdo those moral majoritarians who will, as Armageddon draws near, either convert all the Jews, just as the Good Book says, or kill them.
All in all, the latest Podhoretz diatribes have finally convinced me that the time has come for the United States to stop all aid not only to Israel but to Jordan, Egypt and the rest of the Arab world. The Middle Easterners would then be obliged to make peace, or blow one another up, or whatever. In any case, we would be well out of it. After all, the theological and territorial quarrels of Israel and Islam are as remote to 200 million Americans as–what else?–the War of the Roses.
It should be noted that a “kaftan” is a garment symbolic of the Middle East. I think this is what The Nation meant when it referred to Vidal’s “coruscating essays”.
Postscript: Today, The Nation commemorates Vidal, offering this comment on “The Empire Lovers Strike Back”:The Asiatics didn’t complain, but two months later, some Jews did, after Gore wrote that Norman Podhoretz’s “first loyalty would always be to Israel,” and that he and his wife Midge Decter therefore constituted “an Israeli Fifth Column Division” inside the United States.
Many of us took that as another satiric barb, but Podhoretz had his associate editor at Commentary write to thirty people on the Nation masthead who had Jewish-sounding names asking whether they had protested the magazine’s publication of “the most blatantly anti-Semitic outburst in an American periodical since the Second World War.” (Nobody on the masthead resigned.) Arthur Carter, the Wall Street figure who had recently become publisher of the magazine, told Victor that the head of the Anti-Defamation League had complained to him about Gore’s piece. Carter replied, “What do you think we are? It’s The Nation, not the Jewish Federation Newsletter.” Victor called that “passing the Gore test.”
(AJ) If it’s all occupied land to you then there is no one there to make a distinction with. If the official representative of the Palestinian people continue to kill Jews because of their religiously inscribed manifestos then who is there to approve or disprove? Merely saying that Obama recognizes the right for these people to kill Jews because he recognizes their existence isn’t a convincing argument. Land can only be respected to a party that isn’t trying to murder your children… legally, transparently and with international recognition. The fact remains you are still murdering Jewish children and America is recognizing the ethnic cleansing of Jews on their ancestral lands.
(TheNational.AE)The Israeli court system has been called upon to review cases claiming Jewish ownership over properties in East Jerusalem before Israel’s 1967 annexation.
Hagit Ofran of Israeli settlement watchdog, Peace Now:
This is the first time since 1990 that the government of Israel decides on establishing new settlements, and the government’s maneuver, of establishing a committee to establish the settlements, is a trick aimed at hiding the true policy from the public.
Bibi feels a continual state of war puts these lands outside of normal contract law.
hmmm… no truth hmmm? I had a problem with a certain Chicago academic (updated because the story was never consistent for those without truth) alumni who was a teacher of mine. She claimed her husband was at University of Chicago (though that could be BS). I pulled out a gun in an art video to describe why there was most certainly a reality of the situation. the video was not live… it was a hypothetical related to a debate about truth on a blog. She got the silly feminist authorities in Seattle to extradite me without ever having a felony. There was no understanding of prior restraint. She got the media to believe she was being cyberbullied and broadcast it on the news.,… all to cover the fact that she felt there was no truth. I’m not even allowed to say her name legally now… all because the law thinks people with these views have a privileged status to abuse those who try to explain why there most certainly is a truth. Being against the truth allowed her to deny sympathies for Palestine, but maybe she was telling the truth about that too. Her belief in no objective truth allowed her to scoff at anyone who had any convictions at all…. even though there were University records that have her screaming about Nazi Jews. Of course the moment she accused the entire campus of sexual harassment there most certainly was a truth for her… and some of the information released about her from two different colleges saved my ass. The authorities in Seattle still put me in a cage with skin heads with swatstikas all over their bodies. But they will probably deny that. The skin heads name was Chris Preteen. But there it is… when someone seems crazy… don’t explain it to them. They probably are. It doesn’t matter to our liberal courts however. These academic liberal fascists receive a privileged status… and you can’t question them without being accused and even convicted of misdemeanor stalking. This story is in Israel so the good guys won this one, but academics in America are rotting America from within.
By: Yedidya Atlas (h/t Daled Amos) Sara Hirschorn, in her recent op-ed in The Times of Israel, “Who Has the Monopoly on Truth at Migron?”, challenged my article “Something is Rotten in the State of Israel: The Strange Case of Migron” criticizing Israel’s Supreme Court’s decisions regarding Migron. While she is certainly entitled to disagree with me, her article missed the point.
Sara’s main contention follows the argument of the late history Professor Peter Novick of the University of Chicago that there is no objective truth. However, whether or not, objectively or subjectively, this is true or even makes sense – it is not relevant.
By definition, in a court of law the truth is determined by accepted procedures applying to evidence. In the case of Migron, the Peace Now lawyers represented Palestinian Arabs who were purported to be the registered owners of the land upon which Migron is built. The court of law that dealt with validating or rejecting the plaintiffs claim was the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.
In that case, the Arab plaintiffs who claimed to be the owners of what is actually only one quarter of the land upon which Migron was built were unable to produce evidence to prove their claim. In fact, Migron’s lawyer at the time, now Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer, proved that their claims were false, and in fact, the Peace Now lawyers of said plaintiffs subsequently withdrew their case.
Again, this did not stop Peace Now from pursuing their legally baseless petition in the Supreme Court. Justice Melcer, then Migron’s attorney, in his written response to the Peace Now petition to the Supreme Court wrote:
Read the whole thing
The author is a veteran journalist specializing in geo-political and geo-strategic affairs in the Middle East. His articles have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, Insight Magazine, Nativ, The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon. His articles have been reprinted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the US Congressional Record.
(Carl) There’s a conference going on in Doha, Qatar on Sunday and Monday – its logo is at the top of this post. It’s officially called the ‘International Conference for Jerusalem,’ but it is also known as the International Conference for the ‘Defense of Jerusalem,’ and what Jerusalem is being ‘defended’ against is ‘Judaization.’
Speaking at the International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem in Doha, Qatar, Abbas was quoted by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency as saying, “The Israeli occupation authorities are using the ugliest and most dangerous means to implement plans to erase and remove the Arab-Islamic and the Christian character of east Jerusalem.”
The Palestinian Authority president accused Israel of “surrounding Jerusalem with an Apartheid wall and a band of settlements in order to isolate the city from its surroundings in the West Bank.”
Abbas slammed Israeli authorities for setting up barriers preventing Palestinians from entering Jerusalem without “almost impossible to obtain” permits.
He implored Arabs and Muslims from other countries to visit Jerusalem if they can. “This move will have political, moral, economic and humanitarian repercussions, showing that Jerusalem belongs to all of us and no one can stop us from accessing it.”
He added that visiting “occupied Jerusalem” would remind the Israelis that “Jerusalem is the cause of every Arab, Muslim and Christian,” and would not constitute normalization with Israel.
The International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem was taking place for the first time Sunday. This followed a decision made by delegates to last year’s Arab summit in Libya to hold an annual international conference that would include Arab and foreign countries and civil institutions, to discuss defending Jerusalem “against Israeli violation at all levels.”
Among those present at the conference are five ‘Israeli Arab’ members of the Knesset: Ahmad Tibi, Taleb a-Sanaa, Haneen Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Ibrahim Sarsur. There’s also a representative of the US State Department there: Kenneth Raymond Insley, Jr. And a representative of American Friends of ‘Peace Now’: Lara Friedman.
One has to wonder what the State Department – and even ‘Peace Now’ – are doing at a conference against the ‘Judaization’ of Jerusalem.
…wait did he say U.S. Rep?
He said that Peace Now claimed that 83% of settlements are on confiscated Palestinian land when in fact they had claimed the number was 40% and much of their data had proved to be based on incomplete records and was incorrect.
…and the Jewish Federation of Orange County is involved with these haters.
George Rishmawi may no longer be formally with ISM, but his perspective and approach are not likely to improve the understanding of Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) students, help them develop conflict resolution skills, or help pave the way to conciliation and peace either on the UCI campus or in the Middle East. That Rishmawi and his group are so integral to OTI’s programming casts doubt on the value of OTI itself. Speaking at UC Irvine on Nov. 22, 2010, Rishmawi said he broke with ISM several years ago over personal differences with co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf, but his current goals are quite similar to those of ISM when it was originally founded: bring young “internationals” to the West Bank on tours and to live with selected Palestinian families, encourage them to become “ambassadors” who will repeat the narrative Rishmawi orchestrates, and inspire them to participate in “non-violent” actions like protesting the security fence in Bil’in. more via Roberta P. Seid, PhD
George Rishmawi co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) along with Adam Shapiro, Huwaida Arraf, and Ghassan Andoni. Led by Palestinians working closely with American recruiters, the ISM invites individuals from the West to come to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and disrupt the counter-terrorism efforts of the Israeli Defense Force. Rishmawi directs the activities of ISM volunteers on the ground.
Rishmawi is also a director of Alternative Tourism, a group that was formed in 1995 to act as a propaganda organ for Palestinian terrorist elements that have no interest in peace – portraying Palestinians as victims of unyielding Israeli oppression and brutality. Alternative Tourism was established to greet and aid ISM volunteers who come to Israel. In April 2003, two Pakistani Muslims from Great Britain entered Israel through Jordan as clients of Alternative Tourism; they met with ISM leaders for an entire day in Gaza before proceeding on to Tel Aviv, where they bombed a popular beach bar, Mike’s Place, killing three people. image via a non reputable source: Bob May
The Boycott Bill, stipulates that anyone calling for an economic, cultural or academic boycott against the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will be unable to participate in government tenders. In addition, any person who considers himself a victim of a boycott could sue the boycotter for compensation. Court gives state 60 days to explain Boycott Law. Z Street is wondering what all the fuss is with Israel’s new anti-BDS law:
An interesting precedent is in Germany dealing with Holocaust deniers without physical boundaries. The lawyer Eugene Volks sees this as a threat to Democracy. The delegitimizers, i.e. the BDS practitioners and their enablers (NIF, J Street, Peace Now) immediately attacked it as a gross violation of free speech… …Many central to further right-leaning pro-Israel organizations are also expressing criticism… Also recently the United States declared that effected markets has no boundaries to prove cause of information crimes. The law does NOT criminalize speech and it does NOT restrict free speech. BDS practitioners can continue to say whatever vile things they want about Israel, but they simply are not eligible for government contracts if they do. Well goodness, isn’t that what they want? NOT to engage in financial transactions with the “evil ZioNazi government”? image via Israeli BDS Activists Call on Artists to Boycott Music Festival h/t Daled Amos
Yariv Oppenheimer is the Director of Peace Now, a radical leftist group that has relentlessly pushed for Israel to return to those very same indefensible borders as well as spear heading the attempt to demonize all Jews living on the wrong side of those borders. He has taken the Prime Minister to task for having the temerity to tell Mr. Obama in no uncertain words to butt out.