Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On My Absence


For several reasons I haven't blogged since January.  For one thing, I've always envisaged my contribution to the discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and related issues as primarily that of extended essays, rather than regular commentaries on the news of the day.  In fact, I've been working on two long articles for professional journals, which I will eventually post here.

For another, the rapid growth of first-rate blogs that do regularly comment on the contemporary issues hasn't left me with much to add; I refer, in particular, to the recent addition of Peter Beinart's Open Zion blog and that of MJ Rosenberg, along with the excellent established blogs, including (among others) Jerry Haber's Magnes Zionist, Richard Silverstein's Tikun Olam, Gershom Gorenberg's South Jerusalem--and, of course (when the mood strikes him), Steve Walt's Foreign Policy blog.

As I said, it is my intention to continue to publish, on occasion, long essays that fall somewhere between professional journal articles and magazine articles designed for the informed general public.  I realize by publishing only seldomly it makes it difficult for those who may be interested in what I write.   The solution is to sign up (on the home page) to get email notifications when something appears.

Actually, I do have one brief comment to add to the many now circulating concerning the publication of Peter Beinart's book, The Crisis of Zionism, as well as the favorable commentary on it today by Paul Krugman in his blog. 

Many are commending Beinart and Krugman for their "bravery" for their forthright--yet, not strong enough--criticism of Israel.   I want to take (mild) issue with that, and especially with MJ Rosenberg, who today wrote: "If he speaks out on Israel/Palestine, the lobby will try to shut him down....After all, if they can shut Paul Krugman up, who exactly will be allowed to speak?"

A bit over the top, dear MJ?  "They?"  "shut Krugman up?"  Who will be "allowed" to speak?

The Israel lobby isn't that powerful, indeed not by a long, long shot. Indeed, by suggesting that the lobby has the power to shut up the critics, we are in danger of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It doesn't take much bravery to take on the lobby; rather, a fear of doing so, when the consequences are so trivial, might be labeled as timidity.

I've also been commended for my "courage" for some of the things I've written.  It's always pleasant to be complimented, of course, but the term should be reserved for the impossibly courageous journalists and dissidents who criticize the Russian, Chinese, and other brutal and truly powerful governments.

They don't have to worry about being chastized by ignoramuses; the risks they run and all too often the price they pay is many orders of magnitude greater.  Just imagine: these people live with the knowledge that their attacks on the powerful may and often do end up with the loss of their livelihood, terrible beatings, imprisonment, or their murder. 

Yet they continue: now that's bravery.  I couldn't begin to do it--but bring on the Israel lobby, any day.