More on Allison Benedikt

By Jeffrey Goldberg

The Goldblog mailbag is filled with correspondence about Allison Benedikt, the Village Voice editor who wrote with great feeling about how her camp counselors told her Israel was the best thing since cream cheese, so she believed them, but then later her husband told her they were wrong, that Israel was, in fact, disgusting, so she believed him (If you think my interpretation of her essay is giving her short-shrift, feel free to read it for yourself).

About 60 percent of the mail has leaned Goldblog's way, 20 percent went strongly in Benedikt's direction, and 20 percent was ambivalent. Here are a few letters; I'll post more later. First, a blast of anti-Goldblog hostility:

Jeffrey, do you also like to kill little puppies for fun? Leave this girl alone. She's not writing a policy piece. She's trying to tell you something. American Jews don't like Israel anymore, your in a minority. You probably feel badly because the writer cites you as influencing her mother to change from her Likud positions, but now she's gone too far for you. You have to get over yourself, because it's over. You want to support the racist apartheid state of Israel, then go ahead. But she's trying to give you a warning and you're too racist to hear it. 

Then, on the other side, there's this:

Alison Benedikt writes as if she never heard about the Palestinians, like her Zionist camp counselors were keeping this knowledge from her. All I can say is, she's probably smarter than she sounds, because she doesn't sound too smart. Did she ever read a newspaper?  A lot of left-wing Jews have to divorce themselves from Israel to be socially-acceptable, and obviously the Village Voice is probably treating her like a hero, but she's not, she's just a tool of people who believe that every group of people in the world except the Jews deserve a homeland.

Then there's this, from a Goldblog reader who thinks I'm taking out my anger at Benedikt's dickish husband on her:

Ms. Benedikt writes this article with a stunning lack of self-awareness. She paints her mother as a blithering idiot (and paints herself as a kind of an idiot as well), and she has a lot of hostility for her husband, it's very apparent to me. She wrote that she brought her Christian husband to Israel where he lectured her sister and brother-in-law on how morally bankrupt they were to move to Israel. She must have been so embarrassed by this behavior. Maybe this was her way of telling him that he behaves like an ass. It appears to me that you were displacing a little of the anger that this husband made you feel onto his wife.

And this:

American Jews are weak when it comes to Israel. They just want to belong and if Israel embarrasses them they will run away from it. The problem is that the weakness can't be helped. So what do we do? We try to to get Israel to be the country we want to be proud of. This is the only way Israel will remain popular with American Jews. Secular American Jews are embarrassed of Israel but Israel needs the American Jewish to survive (money, political support, tourism etc.) So this article is important because it should be used to signal to Israelis that American Jews, at least some of them, anyway, are seeing Israel in negative terms.

And finally (for the moment), this:

Zionist summer camp reminded me of this nugget from "Haikus for Jews" by David Bader, from which I draw the larger source of inspiration these days:
Jewish summer camp --

the tall pines cleared of wildlife

by a sing-along.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/06/more-on-allison-benedikt/240702/