I think there has been a pattern to the behavior of this Israeli
government of pushing back strongly against all who disagree with them.
It's a way of acting and behaving that characterizes everything about
this government and I think it is counter to the long-run interests of
the state -- I think that you have to speak to those with whom you
disagree, I think you have to find ways and language and places to
speak with not only your enemies but just those who disagree with you.
So I don't even know that it's just about us -- it's kind of the
character of the entire foreign policy of the government at the moment.
JG: On another subject, you're giving some space at your conference to a group of bloggers who range from the anti-Zionist Max Blumenthal to the anti-Zionist Helena Cobban.
There's a lunch. They've asked us that, since there is a lunch, can we
have a room where we who are bloggers on this issue can sit and talk to
each other? I mean, give me a break, I'm not giving them any approval
whatsoever, and there's no sanction to their beliefs. I'm just saying,
sure, there are seven free rooms on the floor, use one. I'm not going
to say, "No you can't eat lunch together." I mean really.
JG: They're not eating lunch together. They're having a program.
JB: I don't even know what the program is. They can go into a room - wait, who's speaking?
JG: Helena Cobban and a bunch of others, I think.
JB: Oh man, come on, Jeffrey. I'm letting them have a room for lunch.
JG: Well you did reject a group of anti-Israel poets.
That's because it was supposed to be a formal conference event and there is a
red line we have, and that is about using the Holocaust and Holocaust
imagery as a political football, and there is more than enough of that
in the track records of these poets.
JG: Let me ask you something about something that you said to James Traub in The New York Times Magazine. You said that all of the people who work for you are intermarried and I was wondering --
No, I never said that. I asked The Times for a retraction but they wouldn't give
it. I never said that. What I said is that the young generation of Jews
is a different generation, and all that. No one is intermarried in my
office! No one on my staff is intermarried.
JG: So it's an inaccurate quote.
An inaccurate quotation. Our staff is not intermarried. Not that that's
a bad thing. There's nothing wrong with being intermarried.
JG: This is getting Seinfeldian here.
JB: There's nothing wrong with intermarriage. What's wrong with intermarriage?
JG: We're a small people--
Right, but you know what I find? I find that most of my friends, and
we're talking mid-to-late forties at this point, most of my friends who
intermarried, their spouses either converted, or they're kids are being
raised Jewish. What I find so fascinating about my intermarried friends
is that they're searching for welcoming Jewish communities. So let's
make ourselves a welcoming community.