In my famous (in my own mind) email to Jeffrey Goldberg offering him a question for Peter Beinart, I closed by stating
Ask him why this is not his focus, why this is not the article he published in NYRB. And “I’m a Jew, so I’m concerned with the behavior of Jews” is an evasion.
Why is this an evasion? Because a journalist and public commentator has a responsibility in that public role to attempt to represent to his readers the full truth, as complete a picture of reality as he is capable of rendering. That is a public responsibility as a reporter and interpreter of events. To overemphasize the flaws of one party to events because one identifies with that party, is a member of that group, and because one claims to be more morally invested in the behavior of that group, is to sacrifice truth to an immersion in one’s own preoccupations. It is, in fact, to confuse the two in the understanding of one’s readers. The consequences, in this case for Israel, can be dire and profound.
How, then does Beinart recap his experience of the past week, since the publication of his essay, and justify himself?
One last point. Leon, Jeff, Jon, Jamie, David and I are all Jews. In some sense, therefore, Israel’s crimes—unlike those of Hamas or Ahmedinejad—are committed in our name. We have a special obligation to expose and confront them. And we have a special obligation not to use the crimes of Israel’s enemies to excuse behavior that dishonors a Jewish state, and the Jewish ethical tradition that we all consider precious.
Called that one, unfortunately.
AJA (H/T Yaacov Lozowick)
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