I wish Jewish journalists would emulate Aslan and Zakaria in being transparent about their religious identity
(Mondoweiss) -- by Philip Weiss --
One of the interesting things about the debate about the Islamic center near Ground Zero is that American Muslim journalists have offered confessions about their identity in taking a stand in favor of the mosque/center. I have heard Reza Aslan and Fareed Zakaria speak openly about their degree of Muslim orthodoxy-- low in both cases. Zakaria said that he drinks alcohol. Aslan said something about his secularization.
These confessions are helpful and admirable. They help listeners (both situations were broadcast interviews) make an assessment of the merit of his ideas based upon their own life choices, for the journalists are explaining how they've responded to the strong dictates of authority in their lives. I think, I'd be like that if I were a Muslim.
I wish that more Jewish journalists would do this when they are talking about Zionism.
Even Peter Beinart's landmark piece attacking the Jewish leadership on Israel said nothing about his own degree of religiosity/his own Jewish identity. Well Beinart is an orthodox Jew. I learned that from some other journalist. It would be helpful to readers to know just how religious a person is in assessing his or her views on a fundamentally religious/political issue, the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. I can't remember Gershom Gorenberg offering this confession, at least since his first book on Jerusalem. I can't remember David Frum or Richard Perle or Douglas Feith offering it when they were pushing the Iraq war or talking about Palestinian terror. I can't remember Paul Berman ever saying a word about his religious identification, even as he trashes Muslims as terrorists.
Elliott Abrams certainly offered his confession of Jewish identity, in a book of 1997 on the subject, but he only did it because he didn't imagine being back in politics when he wrote the book. David Brooks recently offered a confession about his Jewish identity, that he gets "gooey-eyed" whenever he goes to Israel. But that was about it.
I can't remember a time when Richard Cohen, the pro-Israel columnist for the Washington Post, explained his degree of Jewish identification.
Tony Judt, by comparison, openly described his degree of Jewish identification, when he was criticizing the Jewish state. We knew that he was intermarried, we knew about his own falling out with Zionism. He understood that Jewish identity confronting multicultural modernity was a significant part of the problem here-- as Muslim identity confronting modernity is a part of the problem on the other side.
I venture that one reason the Muslim journalists make these confessions is that they lack power in the political equation (the mosque debate) and they are trying to win people to their side. They feel like outsiders. By contrast, Peter Beinart and David Frum don't lack power. And the powerful tend to be more assumptive. They don't interrogate themselves. They say, Well we are all for Israel; everyone in the establishment is for Israel...MORE...LINK
Related: Fascinating article on crypto-Jews:
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