These are articles by Philip Weiss ( calls himself progressive Jew, and the motto of his website “Mondoweiss The War of Ideas in the Middle East” )
Quote from the website:Mondoweiss is a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective.
It has four principal aims:
- To publish important developments touching on Israel/Palestine, the American Jewish community and the shifting debate over US foreign policy in a timely fashion.
- To publish a diversity of voices to promote dialogue on these important issues.
- To foster the movement for greater fairness and justice for Palestinians in American foreign policy.
- To offer alternatives to pro-Zionist ideology as a basis for American Jewish identity.
Still it is interesting that my friend and I shared a premise: Jews are superior; for whatever reason Jewish culture is superior in areas of modern civilized achievement.
by Philip Weiss on May 10, 2006
I went to a friend’s son’s bar mitzvah on Saturday and in some part because of my blog, and its discussion of Jewish politics, felt a little alienated. I forgot to get a yarmulke, then I ran to get one. I wondered who if anyone there had seen my ideas. Later, at the reception, I got into a discussion about these issues with an old friend, who was joined by a friend of his.
My friend said he was a secular Jew and asked me how I define myself. An assimilating Jew, I said. Shortly after that, his friend said, I don’t know what an assimilating Jew is, and walked away.
My friend is more intellectual. He said, What do you think will be lost if Jews assimilate into America? He answered his own question: the excellence that Jews have brought to any number of endeavors, science, the arts, finance, education, and so forth.
I said, But what if these qualities are more widely shared with assimilation? Will our excellence pull up others’ mediocrity?
He said, I think those qualities will be diluted. I.e., lost.
I said I wondered if the process wasn’t inevitable. Jews are successful and prominent, and the more successful people get, the more sociological pressure there is on them to melt in, including pressure on their children to marry out. That is what happened to me. I went to the Ivy League because my family pushed me to excel and I met people who weren’t anti-Semitic. I liked the water.
I had to admit to my friend my indifference as to whether the institutional element of my tribe persists. Religion may well be necessary to social structure and order, but we need some new ones. Pedophilia seems to be inherent to the Catholic church; and its hierarchy is covering it up. Islam has all kinds of problems, with free speech, patriarchalism, and the tolerance of violence. Indifference or disdain for Palestinian suffering seems inherent to the Jewish church. I don’t see why I should revere these institutions.
Still it is interesting that my friend and I shared a premise: Jews are superior; for whatever reason Jewish culture is superior in areas of modern civilized achievement.
In discussing My Jewish Problem on this blog, that’s a core Jewish value I would point to: Jewish exceptionalism. Belief in that idea underlies so much of Jewish social attitudes and achievement. (Maugham extols it in The Alien Corn; Hemingway throws it in Robert Cohn’s face in The Sun Also Rises). Larry Summers sought to broach the issue of Jewish innate intelligence in his notorious women-and-science speech of January 2005:
…Catholics are substantially underrepresented in investment banking, which is an enormously high-paying profession in our society;… white men are very substantially underrepresented in the National Basketball Association; and… Jews are very substantially underrepresented in farming and in agriculture. These are all phenomena in which one observes underrepresentation, and I think it’s important to try to think systematically and clinically about the reasons for underrepresentation.
Summers was bumping backwards into the fact of Jews as an elite. And, sociologically, Jewish achievement in the last generation is stunning. We entered the Establishment. A Jewish hedge fund guy who owns oil tankers chairs the American Enterprise Institute, the harbor to Mr. and Mrs. Cheney, and fount of bad ideas.
That’s why this is a public issue: this elite has conducted itself at times in Jewish ways that deserve discussion. Specifically, the neoconservative promotion of a deluded disastrous war out of some degree of love for Israel, and the degree to which their agenda has been afforded political cover by the larger, liberal Jewish community—that is the heart of my interest. When you consider the overall failure of the Jewish intelligentsia and of Democratic politicians to even look at the way religious zealots on the West Bank are affecting American foreign policy, you have to ask, What does secular Judaism mean? Does it also have its faith-based ideologies?
But outside of private conversations like the one I had at the bar mitzvah, these things are not discussed. Of course there is a reason for that. The last time Jews had such prominence in the life of societies, Europe in the first third of the last century, we know what happened. The Nazis pointed to the Jewish elite as a cause for extermination. So the Holocaust has acted as a ban on our even broaching the issue. Myself I don’t have any choice, it’s mine. It’s knit into the fabric of my life, from my tribal beginnings to my achievement phase as a youth, to my involvement in progressive ideas post 9/11.
by Philip Weiss on June 28, 2011
Over the weekend I watched Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on CSPAN (talking about a good issue, phone companies stealing from their customers in quiet unauthorized ways) and I thought what I always think when I see Genachowski: I was once his boss.
I was an editor at a New York journalism publication in the 1980s, and Julius was an intern or an assistant there for a time while he was an undergraduate at Columbia.
My wife likes to point out here that I got fired from the job, and it was the last time I ever worked in an office. But I have a different point to make.
I got hired to that job by an old friend, who just happened to be Jewish. The top editor of the publication also happened to be Jewish, and so did the managing editor (who was very pro-Israel). There was one editor who wasn’t Jewish. Smart guy, and a poet. He used to say “neckbolt” a lot.
Genachowski was Jewish, with European refugees survivors in his own family, I believe. And the guy who came in as an assistant editor after me, who I helped hire, was also Jewish.
On CSpan the other day, Genachowski shared the stage with Sarah Rosen Wartell of the Center for American Progress and Joel Gurin, chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the FCC. I’m guessing both are Jewish, but I don’t know.
Oh, and full disclosure: when I had a chance in 2008 to bring someone in as co-editor of this website, he was Jewish.
My friends and I came of age during the meritocracy. Standardized tests and all that. No more quotas. A good thing, too. Only the meritorious would get ahead.
But if you don’t think kinship networks mean anything, well– you can believe anything you like. I’m just too old to be that naive.
At least a half dozen times in recent months, the suggestion has come from serious people that Jews predominate in the American media–that if we are not dominant, we are a major bloc. In a Yivo event on Jews in journalism I’ve blogged about, a questioner said that Jews’ outsize proportion in the media has granted us “a large influence over power.” In his groundbreaking paper on the New York Times’s role in shaping American policy toward Israel, Jerome Slater spoke of “religious beliefs and identifications” that affected the Times, and cited former executive editor Max Frankel’s admission in his memoir (one also cited by Walt and Mearsheimer): “I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert.”
Lately broadcast reporter John Hockenberry related that he wanted to do a piece on the hijackers’ motivation after 9/11 but that NBC executive Jeff Zucker scotched the notion:
“Maybe,” Zucker said, “we ought to do a series of specials on
firehouses where we just ride along with our cameras. Like the show Cops,
only with firefighters.”… [H]e could make room in the
prime-time lineup for firefighters, but then smiled at me and said, in
effect, that he had no time for any subtitled interviews with jihadists
raging about Palestine. [Weiss’s emphasis]
Then last month at a forum at the Nixon Center, former Bushie Dov Zackheim said, Jews don’t dominate the policy-making process, but the media is a different story…
I don’t know that anyone has visited the simple question raised by these statements: Do Jews dominate the media? This is something I know about personally. I’ve worked in print journalism for more than 30 years. I’ve worked for many magazines and newspapers, and for a time my whole social circle was editors and writers in New York. I don’t know television. I don’t know Washington journalism well. I don’t know the west coast. My sample is surely skewed by the fact that I’m Jewish and have always felt great comfort with other Jews. But in my experience, Jews have made up the majority of the important positions in the publications I worked for, a majority of the writers I’ve known at these place, and the majority of the owners who have paid me. Yes my own sample may be skewed, but I think it shows that Jews make up a significant proportion of power positions in media, half, if not more.
Before considering what this means, let me make my experience concrete:
My serious journalism began at the Harvard Crimson in the 70s. A friend said the paper was a Jewish boys club; it was dominated by middle class Jews– as apparently today there are a lot of Asians. Many of these Jews are now powerful presences in the media. Zucker is one of them. My first paying job was in Minneapolis. Five Harvard guys started a weekly; four of them were Jewish, including the publisher paying our meager salaries. I remember our editor walking the halls parodying the jingle we had on the radio. The jingle went: “We’ve got the news, we’ve got the sports…” He sang it as “We’ve got the Jews, we’ve got the sports.” Funny.
I was hired by a Jewish editor at my next job, the Philadelphia Daily News in 1978, and when I started freelancing in 1981, Jewish Harvard friends got me work at the Columbia Journalism Review and the Washington Monthly. A gentile brought me in at Harper’s and the New Republic. It was at the New Republic, a launching pad for any number of highly-successful journalists, that I briefly associated with Marty Peretz, and did a story for him mocking the United Nations, whose judgment he seeks at every turn to nullify because the U.N. is critical of Israel.
Fast forward. In New York, I have worked for a dozen magazines. Most of my editors have been Jewish. Both my book publishers were Jewish. At one point at one publishing house, the editor, his boss, and her boss were all Jewish, and so was the lawyer vetting the work—I remember her saying she would never travel to Malaysia because of the anti-Semitic Prime minister. Oh–and the assistant editor was half-Jewish.
I should point out that I have worked with many gentile editors and writers, and I have never been aware of any employment discrimination against them (though I may not be the best source). In fact, at Spy, the three top editors were all non-Jews and when I used the epithet WASP it was removed from my copy. But that is the exception. Generally it’s been Jews Jews Jews. When I hear NPR do a piece with its top political team and both are Jews…
when a Jewish friend calls me and gossips about lunches with two top news execs at major publications who are both Jewish and who I’ve known for 20 years… when a Jewish editor friend tells me that Si Newhouse would be disturbed if Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter– who has done such courageous work against the Iraq war– did anything to expose the Israel lobby… and when I say that my income has been derived overwhelmingly from Jewish-owned publications for years—this is simply the ordinary culture of the magazine business as I know it.
I have some ideas why Jews have predominated, but that’s not the purpose of this posting. Last year Senator Russ Feingold, buttonholed on CSPAN about why so many speakers on air were Jewish, said, “Well, we’re good at talking…” That’ll do for now.
The real issue is, Does it matter? Most of my life I felt it didn’t. It’s just the way it is, at this point in history. It will change (as Clyde Haberman pointed out at that Yivo event). Jews are the latest flavor of the establishment. In his landmark book, The Jewish Century, Slezkine reports that Jews were the majority of journalists in Berlin and Vienna and Prague, too, in the late 1800s, if I remember correctly.
Now I think it does matter, for two reasons. Elitist establishment culture, and Israel. As to elitism, I worry when any affluent group has power and little sense of what the common man is experiencing. I feel the same discomfort with my prestige-oriented “caste” that E. Digby Baltzell did with his calcified caste, the WASPs–when he called for an end to discrimination against Jews in the early ’60s. The values of my cohort sometimes seem narrow: globalism, prosperity, professionalism. In Israel the values are a lot broader. None of my cohort has served in the military, myself included. A lot of our fathers did; but I bet none
of our kids do. Military service is for losers–or for Israelis.
So we are way overrepresented in the chattering classes, and way underrepresented in the battering
classes. Not a great recipe for leadership, especially in wartime.
Then there’s Israel. Support for Israel is an element of Jewish religious practice and more important, part of the Jewish cultural experience. Even if you’re a secular Jewish professional who prides himself on his objectivity, there is a ton of cultural pressure on you to support Israel or at least not to betray Israel. We are talking about a religion, after all, and the pressures faced by Jews who are critical of Israel are not that different from what Muslim women who want greater freedom undergo psychically or by evangelical Christians who want to support gay rights. It is worth noting that great Jewish hereticson the Israel question suffer anger or even ostracism inside their own families. Henry Siegman talked about this on Charlie Rose once, I recall–that even close family were not speaking to him over Israel. And I have seen this for myself on numerous occasions. There is not a lot of bandwidth on this issue. Conversations about Israel even inside the liberal Jewish community are emotionally loaded, and result in people not speaking to one another. I lost this blog at a mainstream publication because the editor was Jewish and conservative on Israel and so was the new owner, and the publisher had worked for AIPAC. And all of them would likely call themselves liberal Democrats.
As former CNN correspondent Linda Scherzer has said, “We, as Jews, must understand that we come with a certain bias…We believe in the Israeli narrative of history. We support the values that we as Americans, Westerners, and Jews espouse. Thus, we see news reporting through our own prism.”
There are many American Jewish journalists who have done great independent work re Israel/Palestine. Richard Ben Cramer and the late Robbie Friedman leap to mind. But both these guys are exceptional, and had to overcome/ignore a ton of pressure that most of us would quail under. They had to step outside the Jewish family to do their work…
The result is that Americans are not getting the full story re Israel/Palestine. Slater says this dramatically in his paper–that the Times has deprived American leadership of reporting on the moral/political crisis that Israel is undergoing, one that Haaretz has covered unstintingly. At Columbia the other night, Jew, Arab and gentile on a panel about the human-rights crisis in Gaza all said that Americans are not getting the full story. Ilan Pappe has marveled in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, that the Nakba is all but unmentioned in the U.S.–while Haaretz has sought at times to document it, for instance a former officer saying in 2004 that if he had not helped to destroy 200 villages in southern Israel in ’48, there would be another million Palestinians in Israel. To repeat Scherzer’s admission: “We believe in the Israeli narrative of history…”
Why does the American press behave differently from the Israeli press? I think the answer is guilt. The Jewish cohort of which I am a part has largely accepted the duty that Max Frankel felt, of supporting Israel. This duty is rarely interrogated, and yet consciously or not we all know that American public opinion/leadership is critical to Israel’s political invulnerability; and we think that if we take their fingers out of the dike, who knows what will happen. That is a ton of responsibility. This responsibility is not executed with special care.
Generally, my cohort hasn’t been to Israel, hasn’t seen the West Bank. But they do feel kinship with Israeli Jews, and–above all–have guilt feelings about the Holocaust, or the American Jewish silence about
Philip Weiss blocked me and censored my
comments on his website:
“Jewish Superiority, Jewish Elite“ is indeed his/their problem NOT anyone else’s, but when I feel disturbed by it, and when I look at it objectionably and in disbelief, does that make me a racist??
- The same Philip Weiss , the progressive, who is struggling with his problem of “Jewish superiority and Jewish elite” described what it means to be Jewish to him using the very disturbing words:
“Tribalism“, “Jewish Self-interest“, “Us-ness“, “Distinction to them“, “Sense of Difference“, and an “Elite Identity”
- Philip Weiss, the progressive, also admitted that his anti-zionist stance is “concerned with a Jewish self-interest”. Then he elaborated: “A theory of political life based on altruism or concern for victims purely is doomed to fail.”
- Philip Weiss, the progressive, who claims that “Islam has all kinds of problems, with free speech, patriarchalism, and the tolerance of violence“, sees it perfectly OK to ban a Palestinian Muslim from commenting on his “progressive” website, it appears that as far as Mr. Philip Weiss’s concerned, I am not a member of his “elite tribe”, and my voice does not particularly serve his “Jewish self-interest”, therefore, censoring my comments and muffling my voice is not much of a worry to him.
Heck, I am only a Palestinian, you know, one of those who “don’t exist” and whose homeland “never existed”, and the principle of freedom of speech does not apply to them.
How ironic to read this call for “give us your money” kind of thing on Philip’s website: “Help Mondoweiss Break the Media Blockade” while at the same time he actively participates in blocking an authentic Palestinian voice.
He IS part of the media blockade, and his slogan aught to be “Help Mondoweiss Enforce the Media Blockade“
This is the email that was sent to Philip after he censored my comments, he did NOT have the politeness to even acknowledge the email with a response:
- Quote: Dear PhilipI would like to ask a direct question: are you censoring a Palestinian voice? or is it just a routine slow moderating methods?I have posted these comments on your website, but apparently, whomever is moderating the site chose to mute a Palestinian voice.
I find this rather shocking, specially when your site presents itself as a “progressive”, which deals with the “war of ideas in the ME”.
to be frank and honest, I am sick and tired of people who pretend to be supporters, pretending to speak for the sake of, and on behalf of Palestinians, yet at the same time muting our faint voices even in the comment section!
Philip Weiss did not even have the curtesy to acknowledge or respond to my email.
- These are the comments that are CENSOREDat Mondoweiss:
- First comment:
- The article that has prompted this interview with Philip was Jewish Voice for Peace? Really??
- and for more info about the ideology that I talked about earlier:
“This presentation uncovers the side of Jewish-zionist-Israeli face that is kept carefully hidden from the general public. I present it here in all its ugliness, for the sake of truth and truth-seekers.
Disclaimer: Quoting people and books is NOT antisemitism
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