Economist editor questions the morality of American Jews who support Israel

The Economist published a column in the magazine’s Democracy in America blog criticizing a colleague who wrote a post criticising the one-state solution advocacy of US campus BDS movement.  The column (Tribal Loyalties, May 15) was written by “M.S.”, almost certainly deputy editor Matt Steinglass.  


Though Steinglass agrees that “the one-state solution is hopelessly implausible”, he believes that the two-state solution is also increasingly “fantastical”.

After 20 years of negotiations, political support for a plausible peace deal has evaporated on both sides. Israelis continue every year to add more settlers to the hundreds of thousands already living on the West Bank, rendering any potential Palestinian state in this territory geographically non-viable. The Palestinians, meanwhile, still cling to their demand for a “right of return” of the 1948 refugees to Israel proper. The political realities and demographic trends (as both sides’ religious extremists out-recruit and out-breed their moderates) grow worse every year, not better.

Steinglass later asks if Americans can continue to “support a Jewish state that rules over a conquered people and denies them the rights of citizens, permanently?”

His answer:

The answer is: yes, of course. In any conflict, when the possibility of a neutral peace breaks down, everyone is forced by rational self-interest to side with their own. It is senseless (and dangerous) to be the last person arguing for compromise and dialogue when the knives are out and blood is in the streets. As the peace process melts away, Americans will side with the faction they identify with. Certainly, Jewish Americans will find ways to defer moral compunctions and continue to support the Jewish state. For many, it is a matter of solidarity with Israeli family and friends. Some have ties to the secular, non-militaristic part of Israeli society, which they consider innocent of the occupation. Others agree with various versions of the religious-nationalist ideologies that lie behind the settler movement.

So, for Steinglass, it’s inconceivable that Jewish Americans who support Israel are acting out of moral principle in defending a progressive democracy under siege by reactionary terrorist movements and struggling to solve a complex territorial dispute stemming from decades of Arab aggression and terror. Rather, Jews who defend the world’s only Jewish state, it seems, are necessarily putting moral concerns aside, and acting out of obtuse tribal or familial loyalties. 

Steinglass (aka, M.S.) has a history of analyzing the moral behavior of Jews.  

As some may recall, Steinglass (M.S.) was the author of the odious “Auschwitz Complex” article in 2012. Though The Economist later revised the headline (and apologised to readers), the article itself was no less offensive in its attempt to psycho-analyze Jewish Israeli behavior. He argued that Israel was paranoid and guilty about refusing to give up their West Bank ‘empire’, and so developed a defence mechanism to protect themselves from their suffocating guilt. Israelis, argued Steinglass, have “psychologically displaced the source of their anxiety onto a more distant target: Iran.” This, The Economist author concluded, fits “into a familiar ideological trope from the Jewish national playbook: the eliminationist anti-Semite.”  

Steinglass further accused Netanyahu of adopting a “ghetto mentality”.

Of course, it never occurred to the ‘sophisticated’ Economist editor that Israeli fears over an Islamist regime committed to its destruction are sincere and quite rational, just as he’s unable to conceive of an American Jewish community whose solidarity with Israel is based on moral considerations.

Though The Economist fancies itself a centrist publication, Steinglass’s appalling imperiousness in judging Jewish behavior, as with his incredulity in the face of those who don’t accept the Palestinian narrative, represents further evidence of the British magazine’s slouch towards the Guardian’s view of the conflict.

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