This requires a response


This requires a response because I believe David Frum has twice mischaracterized me.

Yesterday Frum, who writes a blog at the National Review Online, wrote a brief post about how some journalists who themselves write things which inspire anti-Semitic fantasies have pounced on Gregg Easterbrook for one off-hand comment.

He includes me as one of those writers.

First, I think it’s pretty clear that my two posts on the Easterbrook matter were written in his defense, rather than as an attack on him. So this criticism is just mistaken.

Frum then writes that I — along with two other writers — have “inveighed against ‘American Likudniks’ and ‘neoconservatives’ in a way that seems almost calculated to fuel anti-Jewish fantasies.”

He also implies — though the structure of the prose is a tad less clear on this — that I am one of the “journalists who show virtually zero interest in the fate of … five million Israeli Jews – and many more Jews worldwide in countries from Iran to Argentina – [who] are threatened with mass murder.”

(It’s a short post, so if you have any question about how I’ve characterized Frum’s comment, please look at the actual text.)

As it happens, I have a lot of respect for Frum. And not just in the sense that you say you have respect for someone before you criticize them.

Just a couple days ago I told a friend that Frum was the author of one of the two best political books I’ve ever read. And he’s been kind enough to help me understand certain aspects of the Iraq-hawks’ thinking on democratization and change in the Middle East.

But I must tell you that I am growing more than a little weary of the Jewlier than thou comments emanating from some of my co-religionists on the other side of the aisle. (Similar aspersions from non-Jews are no great shakes either. But those guys are just practicing unwitting self-parody.) I would ask Frum to note any specific quotes or any general arguments from my writing which provide any basis for these claims. Needless to say, I think there are none.

I think I could say, with far more merit, that those who make these charges are exploiting and trivializing the issue of anti-Semitism by using it as a tool to blunt criticism of their foreign policy views and the foreign policy pursued by this administration. One does not have to agree with the policies of Ariel Sharon’s government to be a Jew in good standing or even an Israeli for that matter. I have some acquaintance with more than a few of the latter. And, believe me, they don’t all see eye to eye on this issue. (There is a reason, after all, why they call it ‘revisionist Zionism.’)

So, David, with all due respect, I have to say: put up or shut up.