“A foul anti-Israel polemicist of uncommonly repellent vintage”

Over at Commentary, John Podhoretz responds  to my earlier post where I contended that the magazine had compared President Obama to Hitler.  Mr. Podhoretz argues that my post was based on “a patently deliberate misreading” of a post written by Jennifer Rubin. I’ve already responded to Mr. Podhoretz’s clarification of the original Rubin post in the comment section of my own earlier post, but I thought the issue is important enough to deserve its own separate statement. 


First of all, I’m glad to have Mr. Podhoretz’s clarification. It’s good to know that the editors of Commentary haven’t gone completely over the edge of sanity.

But having said that, my “misreading” of the original posting was based on Jennifer Rubin’s sloppy writing.

Mr. Podhoretz writes: “The fear being expressed these days is toward Iran as the potential second coming of Jewish genocide, not toward Obama. The parallel being drawn here is to the Western powers at Munich and their refusal to look clearly at the evidence of Hitler’s intentions, not to Hitler.”

But if Ms. Rubin’s intention was to say that the Iranian government is like Nazi Germany and Obama is like Chamberlain during Munich, why didn’t her posting contain references to Chamberlain, Munich, Czechoslovakia or appeasement? In my experience neo-conservatives are rarely hesitant in making explicit references to appeasement when debating foreign policy. In point of fact, Iran, which is the cornerstone of Mr. Podhoretz’s rebuttal, is only a small part  of Ms. Rubin’s posting, most of which is taken up with critiques of Obama’s policy towards Israel and the settlement issue.

And note that Obama was not accused of appeasement but rather of having ties to “anti-Israel” figures, which him sound not like Mr. Chamberlain with his umbrella in Munich but rather like an enemy of the Jewish people.

I invite readers to look at Jennifer Rubin’s original post. I think my “misreading” is closer to the mark than John Podhoretz’s clarification.

Having said that, it is good to have Mr. Podhoretz go on the record and say that he does not think Obama is like Hitler.

Mr. Podhoretz also refers to me as “a foul anti-Israel polemicist of uncommonly repellent vintage.” My first instinct was to say that I’m going to have a tee-shirt made up with that statement printed on the front. My second instinct was to wonder how such over-heated and redundant language can come from the editor of a magazine that once published writers as elegant as James Baldwin and John Updike.

But all kidding aside, I want to make one thing clear: far from being an anti-Israel polemicist I have always been a Zionist and remain a Zionist. I strongly believe that Israel has the right to continue to exist as a democratic Jewish state. My argument is not with Zionism but with right-wingers like the editors of Commentary, who are urging upon Israel policies of continued settlement and diplomatic intransigence. The logic of these positions is that Israel can only be safe if the Palestinians are kept in a state of permanent immiseration. I don’t agree with this line of thinking, and believe that the policies of continued settlement and diplomatic intransigence will lead to the destruction of Israel as a democratic Jewish state. Israel has far more to fear from false friends like Mr. Podhoretz than from me.

5 thoughts on ““A foul anti-Israel polemicist of uncommonly repellent vintage”

  1. “uncommonly repellent visage” would kind of make sense. “uncommonly repellent vintage” does not.

    If anybody should keep his fat yap shut about other peoples looks it’s John Podhoretz.

  2. No, dSmith, a comment about visage would presume something unattractive about it, which isn’t the case.

  3. earlypop, I’m not sure of your point. Podhoretz picked the wrong word, showing us he is a barely literate buffoon. Unable to make a cogent argument he resorted to abusing Jeet’s appearance. He can’t even manage that properly.
    When one is as bovine of aspect and ursine of physique as Podhoretz, when one is cursed with (as my mothers’ people would put it) a faccia bruta that could cause rocks to explode and birds to fall dead from sky, one should keep his piehole shut about other people’s looks.

  4. Among the tiny victories of my life came when I worked as an academic adviser in the College at the University of Chicago; Johnny P (whop was then an undergrad there) was nominated for an award for extra-curricular achievement for some glossy rag he was instrumental in founding. I managed to put the kibosh on that possibility by pointing out in our committee meeting that if my daddy and his well connected friends had dumped large sums of $$$ on me and my buddies we could’ve put out multiple issues of a glossy rag that was way smarter than the crap Johnny & his chums were peddling. It helped that there were a couple of nominees who were actually deserving of the award. That said, I think that wholly forgettable glossy rag marked the zenith of Johnny’s literary and political career.

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