But Sullivan’s lunacy has a darker side – his festering hostility towards Israel and the Jews; Leon Wieseltier looks into it,
Something Much Darker
Andrew Sullivan has a serious problem.
Sullivan accuses Israel and the Jews of “intensify[ing] the polarization that the Jihadists relish.”
Sullivan seems unaware that his analysis is nothing more than a digital version of the traditional analysis of Arabists in Washington since 1948, and even before. This analysis is not entirely incorrect: America’s alliance with Israel has often interfered with America’s interests in the Arab world. This is obvious to any student of history. But the American alliance with Israel, like a good deal of American foreign policy, though not these days, was never only an affair of interests. Sullivan is apparently indifferent to the moral dimension of the alliance. On January 6, moaning that he is “sick of the Israelis and the Palestinians,” he noted also that “I’m sick of having a great power like the US being dictated to in the conduct of its own foreign policy by an ally that provides almost no real benefit to the US, and more and more costs.” The high moral dudgeon of the heartless realist: that is quite a trick. Like all of America’s other allies, Israel is a sovereign state, and like all of America’s other allies, it sometimes exercises its sovereignty in ways that baffle or infuriate us; but Sullivan’s patience is wearing thin. “My own view is moving toward supporting a direct American military imposition of a two-state solution,” he wildly announces, “with NATO troops on the borders of the new states of Palestine and Israel.” A new war! Even better, a new war of liberation! Never mind that Israel is a sovereign and a democratic state, and that Palestine is not remotely unified on behalf of such a solution. But at least it would not be a war against a Muslim country. And now that you mention it, isn’t it time that we attacked a Jewish country? It would prove our even-handedness, wouldn’t it? But alas, there’s no way AIPAC will allow it.
Having demanded that the Jews behave apologetically in America, Sullivan now demands that the United States behave apologetically in the world–that it adjust its relationship with Israel to the preferences of the Muslim peoples. This is a little like decrying the election of a black president because it will inflame white racists. (Sullivan writes about the “middle” and the “core” in the Muslim world as if they were the independents and the base in Massachusetts.) But peace between Israelis and Palestinians should be made primarily for them and by them. And anti-Americanism, like anti-Semitism and many versions of anti-Zionism, cannot be adequately understood as a response to the actions of Americans, Jews, and Zionists. Prejudice is not an instance of empirical thinking, as the tenacity of anti-Americanism after the election of Barack Obama demonstrates. There is a progressive president in America now, enchanted by “engagement” and by Muslims. In the universe of jihadism, however, this alters nothing. As a matter of numinous conviction, the jihadists are anti-Americans and anti-Semites and anti-Zionists, and their anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism. They do not want to take the Israel-Palestine question off the table, they want to take Israel off the map. Their goals are literal and maximal. Their worldview is unfalsifiable; their “paradigm” does not “shift.” They do not make Sullivan’s distinction between Israel’s existence and Israel’s actions. If the two-state solution were to come into being, the jihadists would consider their job half-done.
It is true that peace and Palestine would have a modest and marginal impact upon the reputation of the United States in the Muslim world. But the scale of this impact is too inconsiderable to assure anything that Israel does an important place among the causes of jihadism. It may be “loopy,” as Sullivan says, for Israeli policy to “be bracketed entirely out of that dynamic,” but it is even loopier to include it significantly within it. Jihadism is a violent political theology determined by ideas and fantasies that do not come from America or Israel, and its abhorrence of freedom, materialism, democracy, modernity, and the West exceeds even its abhorrence of Jews. We do not determine who Muslims are, and they are more than their reaction to us. What does Sullivan really know about the origins and the writings of the jihadist tradition? Yet he has an even more brilliant theory of the origins of Muslim anti-Americanism. He accounts for it not only in terms of Israel’s policies, but also in terms of “those who want to brandish Gitmo, embrace torture, and accelerate Israel settlements.” The neocons, once more. They are what stand between America and Muslim adulation. Bad Jews are making bad Muslims! I doubt that even Krauthammer believes that Krauthammer is this important. The neocons have deranged Sullivan. I suppose they must take what victories they can get. This would count as merely a small comic episode in American political anthropology, except that Sullivan’s bitterness crosses the line into something that is neither small nor comic.
Which brings me to the question at the start of this post: Sullivan may have the right to express whatever ridiculous and insane opinion he may have, but why is The Atlantic paying him for it and keeping him in their website?
Dan Riehl has another theory onthe cause Sullivan’s hate.
Via Larwyn, Vanderleun asks the same question.