The Spine

Soros' World


George Soros published a piece in the New York Review of Books a few weeks ago and focused on the efforts of the Jewish lobby to--what he called--"suppress criticism" of Israel. Alvin Rosenfeld was one of Soros' prime targets because of an essay he had written for the American Jewish Committee analyzing the methods used and conclusions reached by the reinvigorated claque of anti-Israel obsessives. Rosenfeld also did another piece for TNR on-line in the midst of the controversy.

Here's a letter that he wrote to the NYRB in reply to Soros' attack.

To the Editors:

In "On Israel, America, and AIPAC" [NYR, April 12], George Soros seriously misrepresents the substance of my recent publication, "'Progressive' Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism," through an unhealthy degree of tendentious thinking and numerous inaccurate citations. In so doing, he subverts his own claim of being "a fervent advocate of critical thinking." And he moves into the realm of the absurd altogether in suggesting that when he speaks out "with some trepidation" against Israel's policies, he risks provoking the ire of an American university professor, as if the latter truly had the power to stifle his freedom of speech.
Mr. Soros singles out my essay as an instrument of a "pro-Israel lobby" that aims to "suppress criticism" of the Jewish state by denouncing the proponents of such criticism as anti-Semites. In fact, as any careful reader of my work will see, I never call anyone an anti-Semite and never once level a "primitive accusation of self-hatred" against those whose words I quote. Most of these people are passionate anti-Zionists who, by no stretch of the imagination, can fairly be seen as "constructive critics of Israel." They include figures who denigrate the Jewish state as "infantile," "anachronistic," and "bad for the Jews," routinely compare it to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, accuse Israelis of carrying on campaigns of ethnic cleansing and wholesale genocide, and urge that Israel alone among the world's nations be boycotted, reduced to pariah status, "dissolved," or even "annihilated." Defamatory rhetoric of this sort is increasingly heard these days and does not represent anything remotely like "progressive criticism of Israel's policies." Rather, such inflammatory language feeds a discourse of demonization which, if it continues unchecked, will end up delegitimizing both the Jewish state and its supporters. To expose this danger for what it is and not to "suppress" divergent views on Israeli policies is the sole aim of my work. To see such an effort, as George Soros does, as an "insidious" means of stifling debate is itself a deterrent to open and honest debate.

Alvin H. Rosenfeld
Indiana University

Soros did deign to respond in this dismissive one-liner:

Alvin Rosenfeld's letter reinforces the point that he continues to vilify those who disagree with him without providing a single instance where I misquoted or misrepresented him.

Now, the thought that Soros would ever debate anybody on anything is laughable. He lives in a world where no one rejects anything he says, let alone defy or contradict him.

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