THE SPINE OCTOBER 28, 2009
The famous blogger Matthew Yglesias was mentioned twice in the last few days on TNR online, once by Jon Chait on the Plank, another time by me on the Spine. Both were occasioned by Yglesias' involvement with J Street.
Chait's mention was perfectly straightforward. He described a little contretemps between himself and others in which, he wrote, Yglesias was more latitudinarian about the meaning of the phrase "pro-Israel." But, apparently, after hearing the others on the panel, the aging left-wing ideologue Phil Weiss and the barely pubescent Max Blumenthal, he came to Chait's conclusion that being "pro-Israel" had to have some normative content and context. I hope I have described this exchange accurately. In any case, you have Jon's words above.
My reference was also straightforward...but a bit unfair, more than a bit. First of all, I lumped Yglesias together with Weiss and Spencer Ackerman. But Yglesias is not meshugah. And he's also not rabid.
Second of all, I implied that Yglesias was an anti-Zionist. He made this point through Chait. I thought we should speak directly, and so we had a very civil conversation. Anyway, I think it was civil. He told me that he certainly was not anti-Zionist at all and that he, in fact, considered himself a Zionist, "a believer in the Jewish state in the Jewish national home." That's as clear a statement as I would expect from anyone.
It leaves lots of room for disagreement. Yglesias made that point to me explicitly, a point with which I fully concur. Forgive the cliche: Zionism is a big open tent. It has only one condition and that is, "Ohevet Yisroel." Love for the people Israel.