Much internet attention has been given to the “Juicebox Mafia”, a group of very young, Jewish, liberal bloggers who have been sharply critical of Israel, especially in the wake of the recent Gaza incursion. The terms Juicebox Mafia was coined and popularized by ideological opponents of the group (Noah Pollack in Commentary, Marty Peretz in the New Republic); but like the terms “Tory” and “queer”, it’s an insult which fast became a badge of honor. The core of the Juicebox Mafia would include Matthew Yglesias, Spencer Ackerman, Ezra Klein and Dana Goldstein.
I myself (without using the phrase “Juicebox Mafia”) tried to contextualize the group by arguing that we’re witnessing the emergence of a post-Zionist moment, with Jews all over the Diaspora increasingly alienated from Israeli nationalism.
Noam Chomsky seems to agree. In Znet he offers his most extended thoughts on Gaza and notes that Israel is “losing the allegiance of the population of the West, including younger American Jews, who are unlikely to tolerate its persistent shocking crimes for long.”
What’s important to understand is the new wave of criticism of Israel extends across the political spectrum. (Chomsky has of course been criticizing Israel for decades but it’s fair to say that his ideas have a resonance and reach now that they didn’t in the past).
Chomsky is an old-school radical anarchist, and has little in common with the Juicebox Mafia, who can be described (perhaps too broadly but not entirely inaccurately) as liberal technocrats. The radical left and mainstream liberals rarely agree on much, but there are ways in which a common concern with Israel’s aggressive foreign policy is bringing these two groups together. Also joining this alliance is a sprinkling of old fashioned conservatives and foreign policy realist (most famously Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, but also Scott McConnell, the excellent and underrated editor of The American Conservative).
What we have here is perhaps the beginnings of a very unusual popular front. On an ideological level, anarchists, young liberals and realists have very little in common. Yet all three groups believe that the government of Israel needs to be reigned in, lest its policy of grinding down the Palestinians seriously damages both itself and the United States.
Arrayed against these three groups is the permanent consensus of the America, the decades old policy supported by mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike of unwavering support for Israeli policies despite the costs or consequences.
To what extent can the new critics of Israel make their voices heard and alter the direction of America foreign policy? That is perhaps the most interesting foreign policy question of the present moment.