Commentary Magazine


Contentions

How Far The Nation Has Fallen

One of the gems in the latest issue of World Affairs Journal–a long-dormant quarterly revived by Lawrence Kaplan and a fantastic little publication–is this article by the historians Ronald and Allis Radosh about The Nation magazine’s former affinity for the state of Israel. Entitled “Righteous Among the Editors: When the Left Loved Israel,” the piece traces how an ardently Zionist publication has now become anti-Zionist, all the while maintaining its place in the intellectual firmament of the American Left.

The Nation didn’t just polemicize on behalf of the Zionist cause–it organized for it, the Radoshes tell us. In May 1947, The Nation Associates, a lobbying group affiliated with the magazine, presented a memorandum compiling the pro-Axis activities of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, which it presented to the United Nations. Members of Congress and the White House as evidence of Arab attitudes towards Jewish immigrants. The magazine and its supporters understood then, as any sentient follower of events in the Middle East still understands today, that there was and is nothing to “justify confidence in the attitude of the Arab states towards minorities in their population,” as the magazine’s then-editor and publisher Freda Kirchwey wrote. (The Nation Associates is still around, by the way, but with Howard Zinn and Gore Vidal among their more prominent members. I have the sneaking suspicion that this fellowship doesn’t quite share Ms. Kirchwey’s passion for Zion).

And where is The Nation today? The Radoshes cite the contributions of Richard Falk, 9/11 conspiracy theorist and recently appointed United Nations “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967″, who writes articles alleging that Israeli “state terrorism” is worse than anything perpetrated by the Palestinians and that Israel’s “treatment of the Palestinians” is comparable to the “criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity. “No journal of opinion or media outlet campaigned more vigorously and vocally for Israel’s creation,” the Radoshes write of The Nation. That may be hard to believe today, But it wasn’t unusual for leftists, even for people on the far left, to be pro-Israel in the 1940’s. Indeed, the position of most right-thinking, progressive people was to support the creation of the Jewish state. After all, Zionism has always has been a “progressive” cause in the truest sense of the word. Democratic, pluralist welcoming of immigrants and the oppressed: Israel stood for all the things that leftists of the day considered to be part of their agenda, and that the contemporary left ostensibly considers part of its agenda. The article is masterful in showing how some liberals not only abandoned a liberal cause, but by doing so allied themselves with some of the most reactionary elements in the world.

What must Katrina vanden Heuvel and her crew think of this illustrious period in their institution’s history? I don’t know. But the magazine seems to have spent the past four decades atoning for the sin of supporting the nascent Jewish state.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.