Wednesday, March 24, 2010

AIPAC Agonistes, Part 2

"Dear Bernard," Ira Chernus, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote me today; "That's such an important question you asked in your latest post, a question far too few people explore. When I came to the end, I was eager to learn your answer. What exactly is that 'hole in the heart'? What created it? What else might fill it? So I was disappointed that your piece ended abruptly. You've lived your whole life among these people, I suspect, as I have. I'd love to hear your answers. I hope you'll consider today's post Part I, and give us the rest very soon."

Professor Chernus, I suspect, has important thoughts about this himself, and is flattering me just a little, to see if my views accord with his own. Fair enough, but who can really explain the curious way so many American Jews have made Greater Israel, of all things, the focus of what they call "identity" in, of all places, America? Anyway, I took a crack at this subject in this post of a couple of years ago, about Jews and Obama, and this post from last year, about the gambling magnate and Bibi sidekick, Sheldon Adelson. Perhaps the most sustained piece I wrote about the subject was over thirty years ago, in the New York Review of Books, which I would not change much of today: a review of Hillel Halkin's then much lauded book, Letters to an American Jewish Friend. Here is the review, and also an exchange on American Zionism with Halkin and Leon Wieseltier. We were all younger then, but obviously also gelled.