Following on Ezra's post about James Kirchick's latest bout of self-parody, I think Daniel Levy's scholarly work and his commitment to achieving a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians speaks for itself, and doesn't need to be defended from the likes of Kirchick. I will note, however, that what I find interesting about the Levy-David Frum bloggingheads Annapolis discussion to which Kirchick refers (other than that David Frum seems to be completely at sea in regard to the actual scholarly consensus about so much pertaining to the the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) is the way that Frum clumsily dances away from Levy's well-articulated and (should be) uncontroversial point that the Israeli occupation represents a form of systemic violence, to which Palestinian terrorism is one response. This simply does not compute for Frum, who is committed, intellectually and emotionally, to a view of the conflict in which the Palestinians always and only initiate violence, and the Israelis always and only respond to it. Questions about Israel's practice of collective punishment, of the illegality and deeply provocative nature of the occupation and the settlements that it facilitates, are to be avoided at all costs, and the questioner condemned as anti-Israel whenever possible. True to form, Frum's unimaginative response is to imply that Levy is "excusing" Palestinian terrorism by trying to understand its historical context. Yawn.

This simplistic, historically inert idea of Israeli purity/Palestinian perfidy that Frum displays is one of the things that binds together all the characters that Levy mentions in this post, and is also why that crowd largely has nothing productive to offer in terms of a way forward for Israel and Palestine.

Finally, and here Kirchick will probably accuse me of going "ad hominem" (which is what he tends to do any time someone points out that his argument is crap), given that Kirchick, much like his patron Marty Peretz, seems to find anti-Semites anti-Zionists in the sink, behind the door, and in the glove compartment of his car, I find it rather hilarious that he would try to compare others to the John Birchers. There's quite a bit more to conspiracy-mongering than simply suggesting that people with similar views might act in concert to achieve a desired policy result.

--Matthew Duss

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