Commentary Magazine


Contentions

A Bad Night on 92nd Street

Ever had a bad night? I just had one. Ever lost your cool? I just did.

I was on a panel at the 92nd Street Y in New York about what it means to be pro-Israel. The panelists were Jeremy Ben-Ami of JStreet, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, and I; the moderator was Jane Eisner of the Forward. In the middle of the panel, I chose to walk off the stage rather than continue.

Eisner has written an account of the event, almost comic in its level of detail, in which she calls me a “rude, angry man.” So let me offer some notes on what may be the least significant tempest-in-a-teapot in the history of world Jewry.

In the course of her account, she claims that “mystifyingly,” I “encouraged” the audience to boo and hiss me. In fact, after a prolonged bout of booing, I responded by suggesting—in a manner that was intended, for what I would have thought were obvious reasons, to be ironic—that the crowd might try hissing too. Which they did. Maybe they didn’t pick up on the irony; Eisner apparently didn’t, given her level of mystification.

Eisner then says I wagged my finger “in a manner threatening and concescending” at Ben-Ami. As it happens, I had no problem with Ben-Ami personally throughout the panel, though we disagreed vehemently. And given that he was five or ten feet away from me and we were having an exchange that was mutually heated, I’m not sure how threatening my condescending finger-wagging could have been. (I am unaware there was any finger-wagging, by the way, but I will stipulate for the sake of comity that some wagging took place.)

Whatever I did, it was, to be sure, no more “threatening” than Eisner’s response, which was to put her hand up close to  me for the purposes of quieting me down. Eisner seems to think that when I spoke in objection to this gesture, which I did angrily, I was perhaps fearful she was going to attack me physically—which is the height of silliness. I was annoyed by the hostility of the crowd, one of whose number had shrieked at me, and I was troubled by Eisner’s effort to shush me.

Bottom line: I’d had a long day and I didn’t see the point in spending more of it getting booed and shushed. So I left. So sue me.

By the way, David Harris was just great on the panel.

 


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.