By Professor Kevin McDonald. Benzion Netanyahu, father of the current Israeli PM, has died at the age of 102. He was a prototypical Jewish activist, switching easily from his work as secretary for racial Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky, to successfully lobbying for a pro-Zionist platform for the Republican Party in 1944 (which caused the Democrats to adopt a pro-Zionist platform), to his work as a Jewish academic historian to advance Jewish interests in academia. His best-known book, The Origins of the Inquisition in 15th-Century Spain, was published in 1995 by Random House.
A commentary by Yossi Halevi Klein claims that the goal of Netanyahu’s scholarship was to dissect the consequences of Jewish naivete. Benzion’s fascination with medieval Spain wasn’t based only on the behavior of the victimizers but of the victims. He not only drew a line connecting what he defined as the racial anti-Semitism of the Inquisition with Nazism, but implicitly drew a line between the Jews who saw medieval Spain as their golden land and the Jews who saw modern Germany as their new Zion. It is precisely that dread of Jewish self-deception that has defined the politics of Benzion’s son.
Similarly Jonathan S. Tobin, writing in Commentary, claims that Netanyahu’s “understood that hatred and intolerance lay at the roots of the difficulties of the Jews then as now. As his son noted at his funeral …, the challenge is to “face reality head on” and “draw the necessary conclusions.”
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. Peter Beinart, who has become a leading voice of the liberal critique of Israel, had this to say in describing Jews who support AIPAC:
There is nothing wrong with the people themselves. Most AIPAC people are not ideological. They don’t see themselves as right wing. They’re mostly moderate Democrats. They just want to do something for Israel. They want to feel connected to Israel. They go to their synagogue dinner, they go to the Federation dinner, and they go to the AIPAC dinner. (Haaretz, “Is archliberal Peter Beinart good for the Jews?“)
A recurrent theme at TOO is that Diaspora Jews are engaged in hypocrisy—supporting apartheid Israel bent on ethnic cleansing and oppression of Palestinians, with a Jews-only immigration policy, while supporting America as a proposition nation with no ethnic identity, massive non-White immigration, and vilifying any manifestations of ethnic/racial identity by Whites.
My image of AIPAC supporters was that they are conscious gung-ho supporters of settlers, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid—the technical term is ‘neocon’. But Beinart seems to be saying that American Jews simply have a blind spot. The hypocrisy fails to register with them. They are good liberals who will vote for Obama and just want to support Israel; they don’t pay much attention to what Israel does, or their attitudes are shaped by the AIPAC propaganda machine. In a rather gentle way, Beinart is trying to get them to see their hypocrisy, probably to no avail.