Norman Podhoretz’s Hidden Quality

The NYT had a recent piece on a founding neoconservative titled “Norman Podhoretz Still Picks Fights and Drops Names.” In The Nation, Norman Birnbaum adds a rejoinder to the piece (“What ‘The New York Times’ Missed In Its Piece about Norman Podhoretz”):

The New York Times’s portrait of the ageing Podhoretz, astonishingly, makes no reference to the role of Judaism and Jewishness or the situation of Israel as determinative elements in his thought. There followed the years of the campaign to persuade the USSR to allow Jewish emigration—relentlessly, even obsessively pursued by the American Jewish community and its Gentile allies (including Senators Henry Jackson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, amongst others) despite the obvious constraints on the Soviet leadership. It had no interest in alienating its Arab allies and client states and even less in losing an educated and intelligent segment of its labor force. Podhoretz and Commentary were very vocal in the campaign. Podhoretz went so far as to write a Commentary article, “Making The World Safe For Communism,” in which he argued elites like President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger were doing so by embracing isolationism.

Norman Podhoretz, it should be noted, backed Trump and has written a book titled Why Are Jews Liberal?, although this book operates from a standard liberal premise on the causes of anti-Semitism. Publisher’s Weekly writes:

Eminent neoconservative Podhoretz (World War IV) surveys the centuries of atrocities that, he says, have pushed most Jews to the Left, notably the persecutions by medieval Christendom, from blood libels to expulsion to ghettoization, and in modern times the Dreyfus affair and Nazism. Immigrant American Jews were attracted to the Democratic Party, says Podhoretz, because it was the closest counterpart to the European leftists who had favored Jewish emancipation. Phenomena like conservative opposition to fighting Hitler and Truman’s recognition of Israel in 1948 kept Jews faithful to the ‘Torah’ of liberalism. But Podhoretz calls on Jews to shift their allegiance, maintaining that Democratic attitudes toward Israel range from unsympathetic to passionately hostile while the Republicans, with some exceptions, have been solidly to fervently supportive since the end of the 1967 Six-Day War. Podhoretz writes scathingly about what he views as the Nation magazine’s naked anti-Semitism, taking particular aim at a 1986 piece by Gore Vidal, but, refreshingly, also excoriates conservatives like Pat Buchanan and right-wing publications like Chronicles magazine for their anti-Semitism. Although preaching to the converted and at times rambling, Podhoretz is an astute and joyously provocative and partisan observer of the political landscape.

IOW, Podhoretz’s understanding of the causes of anti-Semitism is a polar opposite of, say, Kevin MacDonald’s.

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