he novelist Jennifer Egan has said she likes each of her books to be quite different from the last, and in tone and subject matter they are. Manhattan Beach is the first novel she has published since 2010’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won countless awards including the Pulitzer Prize and sold 300,000 copies in the United States alone. It was a loose confederation of 13 stories set in the music industry, often highly experimental in form. Manhattan Beach, by contrast, is an old-fashioned historical novel about a young woman growing up in Brooklyn during the 1930s and ’40s. It has a grand, 19th-century elasticity: There are confusions of love, parties, shoot-outs, shipwrecks, and torrid, meaningful sex. But however varied Egan’s subjects and her narrative approach, her themes are constant: identity, transformation, and the desperate illusions of finding fulfillment.
Phoebe, the protagonist of her first novel, The Invisible Circus (1996), is out to discover the “real” world, one she believes her dead elder sister Faith had embraced. Phoebe thinks her present life is “nothing but the aftermath of something vanished,” and hence phony. The vanished something she seeks is the tumult of the 1960s and what it wrought: Haight-Ashbury, Swinging London, May 1968 Paris, and the Berlin of the Baader-Meinhof Gang. Ten years after all this tumult has ended, Phoebe heads for Europe, following Faith’s tracks to their sorry end. In doing so, she exorcises her sister’s ghost and discovers her own real world.
Many of Egan’s characters feel Phoebe’s sense of deprivation, as though they are forever teetering on the verge of fulfillment. The tension Egan builds between a safe commonplace existence and the rash and often disillusioning life of adventure is the roiling heart of her remarkable work. When the Illinoisan Charlotte Swenson, the heroine of Look at Me, is asked where she’s from, she says Chicago, rather than the more modest Rockford. “I grew up wanting to leave,” she tells us. Leaving or remaining is generally the sole choice for Egan’s protagonists. All else is at the whim of an arbitrary fate. But it is a choice; there is agency.
Charlotte is a fashion model. Following a disfiguring car crash, she needs to reinvent herself. It isn’t straightforward. Having recuperated in her hometown, she moves back to Manhattan. No one recognizes her. She takes to drink and drugs. She is a self-confessed liar (her age is a permanent 28), and happy to deceive and dissemble. She steals names (almost no character in an Egan novel is satisfied with just one name). The fashion industry is the perfect milieu in which to address the question of what is and isn’t “real,” and Egan has a good deal of satirical fun with it—including a horrifying scene with a razor blade, in which a director of TV commercials wants to cut Charlotte’s face “to get at some kind of truth, here, in this phony, sick, ludicrous world,” he says. “Something pure. Releasing blood is a sacrifice. It’s the most real thing there is.”
Egan isn’t interested in the reductive tribal identity that seems so vital to college students and social-justice warriors. She is concerned rather with whether you are or are not, in the formulation of another chief character in Look at Me, “what you see” (the book is full of reflective surfaces: rivers, glass, mirrors).
The novel features another Charlotte, also of Rockford, this one plain and shunned and determined to leave one school for another to find someone who will seduce her and allow her also to leave plain and shunned Charlotte behind.
At night, the house thick with sleep, she would peer out her bedroom window at the trees and sky and feel the presence of a mystery. Some possibility that included her—separate from her present life and without its limitations. A secret. Riding in the car with her father, she would look out at other cars full of people she’d never seen, any one of whom she might someday meet and love, and would feel the world holding her making its secret plans.
She ends up disillusioned, but her daring echoes that of the model Charlotte—they are women prepared to take on fate.
By the end of Look at Me, there are multiple alternating narratives set in different time periods. The effect adds friction and ups the tension, and while Look at Me is to a large extent a novel of ideas, it has the drive of a thriller. It was also remarkably prescient. Published in the week of 9/11, it features a sleeper Middle Eastern terrorist, vainly attempting to resist the attractions of quotidian America (the Big Mac is a prime example: It “eases into his throat like a rat moving through a snake”). It also foretold reality TV and the tidal wave of narcissism that Twitter and Facebook have unleashed: “Being observed felt like an action, the central action—the only one worth taking. Anything else I might attempt seemed passive, futile by comparison.” It is into this world that Charlotte literally sells her name for “a sum that will keep myself and two or three others comfortable for the rest of our lives.” As in all of Egan’s stories, there is a redemptive conclusion, though at some cost, usually involving scales having slipped from the eyes of her lead characters.
The Keep, published five years later, is a peculiar gothic fiction with a prison inmate narrator. Is the tale he is telling true? An Internet-obsessed character called Danny (his most loved possession is his satellite dish) is invited by his cousin to help renovate a castle in some unnamed Ruritanian country. The idea is to open a hotel where guests become “tourists in their own imaginations.” The sense the reader has—is, I think, supposed to have—is that the book is being made up as you read, that the author is only a few pages in front of you.
It was followed by A Visit from the Goon Squad, a hybrid work that is, in Egan’s words, “a constellation of intersecting lives.” Egan mixes forms in a polyphony of voices. One of its chapters is told in the second person, another entirely in PowerPoint (interested always in the edge of things, Egan has also written a short story using Twitter called “Black Box”). Goon Squad could probably be read in an arbitrary order, except that it ends in the realms of science fiction (as Look at Me could also be said to do).
Insofar as there is a central character, it is pop impresario Bennie Salazar. We see him in the past as the member of a musical group, in the present despairing of modern pop, and in the future reigniting the career of an old bandmate. In one way or another, often only very marginally, the other characters of the novel are associated with him. His assistant Sasha is the subject of a chapter in which her uncle Ted comes looking for her in Naples, which provokes in Ted a memory of his own:
On a trip to New York, riding the Staten Island ferry for fun, because neither one of them had ever done it, Susan turned to him quite suddenly and said, “Let’s make sure it’s always like this.” And so entwined were their thoughts at that point that Ted knew exactly why she’d said it: not because they’d made love that morning or drunk a bottle of Pouilly–Fuissé at lunch—because she’d felt the passage of time. And then, Ted felt it, too, in the leaping brown water, the scudding boats and wind—motion, chaos everywhere—and he’d held Susan’s hand and said, “Always. It will always be like this.”
Of course it won’t be, and it isn’t. The “goon squad” of the title is time itself. The book asks the question implicit in the preceding novels: Is there such a thing as a self, and if there is, how is it qualified by time and transformed by experience?
A Visit from the Goon Squad is an extraordinary exercise in narrative filigree, and a stunning literary achievement, but it is also quite hard to piece together. As in some editions of War and Peace, a graphic explaining the relationships between characters would have been helpful.
Not so for Manhattan Beach, which has one central narrative, the story of one Anna Kerrigan of Brooklyn. It is complemented by the stories of two men whose lives to an extent dominate, and are dominated by, hers. The three characters share only one scene, the first in the book. It is 1934. Twelve-year-old Anna and her father, Eddie, have gone to visit Italian mobster Dexter Styles at his house on Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. Eddie is looking for work, offering himself as a kind of spy who will report back on the running of Styles’s nightclubs. In taking on Eddie, Styles sets in motion all that is to follow. Styles and Anna are to meet again 10 years later, after Eddie has disappeared. Anna recognizes Styles, but he doesn’t know her. She assumes, not for the last time, a different name. There are developments.
Styles is impressed by both Kerrigans: “The toughness he’d sensed coiled in Ed Kerrigan had flowered into magnificence in the dark-eyed daughter.” This follows from an exchange between Styles and Anna after she takes off her shoes to paddle barefoot in the winter ocean. Water is important to Egan. It flows through all her work, and in all forms, from rain to snow, from lake to pool, from river to ocean. It functions both as a symbol and as an agent of change. “Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever”—this, from Herman Melville, serves as the novel’s epigram. This passage is representative: “Anna watched the sea. There was a feeling she had, standing at its edge: an electric mix of attraction and dread. What would be exposed if all that water were to vanish? A landscape of lost objects: sunken ships, hidden treasure, gold and gems and the charm bracelet that had fallen from her wrist into a storm drain. Dead bodies, her father always said, with a laugh. To him, the ocean was a wasteland.”
Come Pearl Harbor, Anna finds work at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. During a lunch break, she observes divers at work repairing warships and is taken with the desire also to “walk along the bottom of the sea.” Knocking out a glass ceiling in the shape of a condescending instructor, she becomes a diver. Egan’s research into the complicated early mechanics of diving, as into much else in this novel, is worthy of Tom Wolfe or Dickens, and comfortably integrated.
The book is full of Egan tropes. Anna’s story involves a beautiful damaged sibling (as does little Charlotte’s in Look at Me), an absent father (as in The Invisible Circus), a struggle to prove herself in a masculine environment (as faced by several of the women in Goon Squad), and a series of partial and then eventually complete transformations (all of Egan’s work), but then “the idea of transformation appealed to Anna.” Manhattan Beach ends as Look at Me does, with a sloughing off of previous identity, and escape.
The male characters are likewise looking for an alteration to their lives, in curiously similar ways. Eddie has “a restless, desperate wish for something to change”; Styles hungers for “a sense of motion, of new things approaching.” One of them pays for his inconstancy; the other demonstrates his fidelity in unexpected circumstances.
In a paragraph toward the science-fictional end of A Visit from the Goon Squad, a newly introduced character has written a book “on the phenomenon of word casings,” which is “a term she’d invented for words that no longer had meaning outside quotation marks. English was full of these empty words—‘friend’ and ‘real’ and ‘story’ and ‘change’—words that had been shucked of their meanings and reduced to husks.”
These are words that continue to mean something to Jennifer Egan. Long may she strive to keep them from encasement.
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Water, Water Everywhere
Must-Reads from Magazine
With the demise of the filibuster for judicial nominations, the Senate has become a more partisan body. Members of the opposition party no longer have to take difficult votes to confirm presidential nominees, and so they no longer have to moderate their rhetoric to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy. Many expected, therefore, that Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings would tempt Democrats to engage in theatrics and hyperbole. Few, however, foresaw just how recklessly the Judiciary Committee’s Democratic members would behave.
The sordid performance to which Americans were privy was not the harmless kind that can be chalked up to presidential ambitions. Right from the start, Democratic committee members took a sledgehammer to the foundations of the institution in which they are privileged to serve.
Sen. Cory Booker made national headlines by declaring himself “Spartacus,” but the actions he undertook deserved closer attention than did the scenery he chewed. Booker insisted that it was his deliberate intention to violate longstanding Senate confidentiality rules supposedly in service to transparency. It turns out, however, that the documents Booker tried to release to the public had already been exempted from confidentiality. Booker was adamant, however, that he had undermined the Senate’s integrity. You see, that, not transparency, was his true objective. It was what he believed his constituents wanted from him.
Booker wasn’t alone. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse appeared to share his colleague’s political instincts. “I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not accept the process,” he said of the committee’s vetting of Kavanaugh’s documents. “Because I do not accept its legitimacy or validity,” Whitehouse added, he did not have to abide by the rules and conventions that governed Senate conduct.
When the committee’s Democratic members were not trying to subvert the Senate’s credibility, they were attempting to impugn Judge Kavanaugh’s character via innuendo or outright fabrications.
Sen. Kamala Harris managed to secure a rare rebuke from the fact-checking institution PolitiFact, which is charitably inclined toward Democratic claims. “Kavanaugh chooses his words very carefully, and this is a dog whistle for going after birth control,” read her comments on Twitter accompanying an 11-second clip in which Kavanaugh characterized certain forms of birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs.” “Make no mistake,” Harris wrote, “this is about punishing women.” But the senator had failed to include mitigating context in that clip, which would have made it clear that Kavanaugh was simply restating the arguments made by the plaintiffs in the case in question.
Later, Harris probed Kavanaugh as to whether he believed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which has never been explicitly ruled unconstitutional, was wrongly upheld by the Supreme Court. Despite calling the decisions of this period “discriminatory,” Kavanaugh declined to elaborate on a case that could theoretically come before the Supreme Court. This, the judge’s detractors insisted, was “alarming” and perhaps evidence of latent racial hostility. In fact, it was an unremarkable example of how Supreme Court nominees tend to avoid offering “forecasts” of how they will decide cases without having heard the arguments—a routine deemed “the Ginsburg Rule” after Ruth Bader, who perfected the practice.
Over a week later, Harris had still not explained what she was getting at. But she doesn’t have to. The vagueness of her claim was designed to allow Kavanaugh’s opponents’ imaginations to run wild, leading them to draw the worst possible conclusions about this likely Supreme Court justice and to conclude that the process by which he was confirmed was a sham.
Harris may not have been alone in appealing to this shameful tactic. On Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein shocked observers when she released a cryptic statement revealing that she had “referred” to “federal investigative authorities” a letter involving Kavanaugh’s conduct. It’s human nature to arrive at the worst imaginable conclusion as to what these unstated claims might be, and that’s precisely what Kavanaugh’s opponents did. It turned out that the 35-year-old accusations involve an anonymous woman who was allegedly cornered in a bedroom by Kavanaugh and a friend during a high-school party. Kavanaugh, the letter alleged, put a hand over her mouth, but the woman removed herself from the situation before anything else occurred. All were minors at the time of this alleged episode, and Kavanaugh denies the allegations.
Some thought it was odd for Feinstein to refer these potentially serious allegations to the FBI this week and in such a public fashion when the allegations contained in a letter were known to Democrats for months. The letter was, after all, obtained by Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo in July. But it doesn’t seem confusing when considering the facts that the FBI all but dismissed the referral off-hand and reporting on the episode lacks any corroboration to substantiate the claims made by the alleged victim here. It is hard not to conclude that this is an attempt to affix an asterisk to Brett Kavanaugh’s name. Democrats will not only claim that this confirmation process was tainted but may now contend that Kavanaugh cannot be an impartial arbitrator—not with unresolved clouds of suspicion involving sexual assault hanging over his head.
Ultimately, as public polling suggests, the Democratic Party’s effort to tarnish Kavanaugh’s reputation through insinuation and theatrics has had the intended effect. Support for this nominee now falls squarely along party lines. But the collateral damage Senate Democrats have done to America’s governing institutions amid this scorched-earth campaign could have lasting and terrible consequences for the country.
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While the nation’s attention is focused on the Carolina coast, something very odd is happening across the country in Sunspot, New Mexico.
Sunspot is hardly a town at all–the nearest stores are 18 miles away. It’s actually a solar observatory 9,200 feet up in the Sacramento Mountains. It is open to the public and has a visitor’s center, but don’t visit it right now. On September 6th, the FBI moved in and evacuated all personnel using Black Hawk helicopters. Local police were told to stay away. The only explanation being given by the FBI is that an unresolved “security issue” is the cause of the evacuation.
The sun is the only astronomical body capable of doing major damage to planet earth without actually hitting us. A coronal mass ejection aimed at the earth could have a devastating impact on satellites, radio transmission, and the electrical grid, possibly causing massive power outages that could last for weeks, even months. (It would also produce spectacular auroras. During the Carrington Event of 1859, the northern lights were seen as far south as the Caribbean and people in New England could read newspapers by the light.)
So, there are very practical, not just intellectual reasons, to know what the sun is up to. But the National Solar Observatory right now is a ghost town, and no one will say why. Such a story should be catnip for journalists.
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It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you.
Americans awoke Thursday morning to a familiar noise: The president of the United States waxing conspiratorial and declaring himself the victim of a nefarious plot.
“3,000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” Donald Trump declared on Twitter. He insisted that the loss of life in the immediate aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Maria topped out in the low double-digits and ballooned into the thousands well after the fact because of faulty accounting. The president did not claim that this misleading figure was attributable to flaws in the studies conducted in the aftermath of last year’s disaster by institutions like George Washington University or the New England Journal of Medicine but to a deliberate misinformation campaign orchestrated by his political opponents. “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible,” Trump insisted.
If, for some mysterious reason, Trump wanted to attack the validity of these studies, he might have questioned the assumptions and biases that even their authors admit had an unavoidable effect on their confidence intervals. But Trump’s interest is not in accuracy. His desire is to shield himself from blame and to project his administration’s failings—even those as debatable as the disaster that afflicted Puerto Rico for the better part of a year—onto others. The president’s self-consciousness is so transparent at this point that even his defenders in Congress have begun directly confronting the insecurities that fuel these tweets.
Donald Trump has rarely encountered a conspiracy theory he declined to legitimize, and this tendency did not abate when he won the presidency. From his repeated assertions that Moscow’s intervention in the 2016 election was a “hoax,” to the idea that the FBI shielded Hillary Clinton from due scrutiny, to the baseless notion that “millions and millions” of illegal-immigrant voters deprived him of a popular vote victory, all of this alleged sedition has a common theme: Trump is the injured party.
The oddest thing about all this is that these are the golden days. Trump-era Republicans will look back on this as the halcyon period in which all of Washington’s doors were open to them. The president’s ostensible allies control every chamber of government. The power his adversaries command is of the soft sort—cultural and moral authority—but not the kind of legal power that could prevent Trump and Republicans from realizing their agenda. That could be about to change.
The signs that a backlash to unified Republican rule in Washington was brewing have been obvious almost since the moment Trump took the oath of office. Democrats have consistently overperformed in special and off-year elections, their candidates have outraised the GOP, and a near-record number of Republicans opted to retire rather than face reelection in 2018. The Democratic Party’s performance in the generic ballot test has outpaced the GOP for well over a year, sometimes by double-digits, leading many to speculate that Democrats are well positioned to retake control of the House of Representatives. Now, despite the opposition party’s structural disadvantages, some are even beginning to entertain the prospect of a Democratic takeover in the Senate.
Until this point, the Trump administration has faced no real adversity. Sure, the administration’s executive overreach has been rejected in the courts and occasionally public outcry has forced the White House to abandon ill-considered initiatives, but it’s always been able to rely on the GOP majorities in Congress to shield it from the worst consequences of its actions. That phase of the Trump presidency could be over by January. For the first time, this president could have to contend with at least one truly adversarial chamber of the legislature, and opposition will manifest first in the form of investigations.
How will the White House respond when House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings is tasked with investigating the president’s response to a natural disaster or when he subpoenas the president’s personal records? How will Trump respond when Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler is overseeing the investigation into the FBI’s response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, not Bob Goodlatte? Will the Department of Homeland Security’s border policies withstand public scrutiny when it’s Mississippi’s Bennie Thompson, not Texas’s Michael McCaul, doing the scrutinizing? How will Wall Street react to a Washington where financial-services oversight is no longer led by Jeb Hensarling but Maxine Waters? If the Democrats take the House, the legislative phase of the Trump era be over, but the investigative phase will have only just begun.
In many ways, this presidency behaved as though it were operating in a bunker from day one, and not without reason. Trump had every reason to fear that the culture of Washington and even many of the members of his own party were secretly aligned against him, but the key word there is “secret.” The secret is about to be out. The Trump White House hasn’t yet faced a truly adversarial Washington institution with teeth, but it is about to. If you think you’ve seen a bunker mentality in this White House, you haven’t seen anything yet.
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Podcast: Google and Kavanaugh.
Will Google survive the revelations of its political bias, or are those revelations nothing new? We delve into the complexities of the world in which important tech companies think they are above politics until they decide they’re not. Also some stuff on the Supreme Court and on polls. Give a listen.
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Smeared for doing the job.
When then-presidential candidate Donald Trump famously declared his intention to be a “neutral” arbiter of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian territories and put the onus for resolving the conflict on Jerusalem, few observers could have predicted that Trump would run one of the most pro-Israel administrations in American history.
This year, the Trump administration began relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel to the nation’s capital city, fulfilling a promise that began in 1995 with the passage of a law mandating this precise course of action. The administration also declined to blame Israel for defending its Gaza border against a Hamas-led attack. Last week, the administration shuttered the PLO’s offices in Washington.
The Trump administration’s commitment to shedding the contradictions and moral equivalencies that have plagued past administrations has exposed anti-Zionism for what its critics so often alleged it to be.
This week, Department of Education Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Kenneth Marcus announced his intention to vacate an Obama-era decision that dismissed an alleged act of anti-Semitism at Rutgers University. Marcus’s decision to reopen that particularly deserving case has led the New York Times to publish an article by Erica L. Green full of misconceptions, myths, and dissimulations about the nature of the anti-Israel groups in question and the essential characteristics of anti-Semitism itself.
In reporting on Marcus’s move, Green declared the education activist and opponent of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement a “longtime opponent of Palestinian rights causes,” a designation the paper’s editor felt fine printing without any substantiating evidence. You could be forgiven for thinking that BDS itself constituted a cause of “Palestinian rights” and not an international effort to stigmatize and harm both Israel and its supporters. If you kept reading beyond that second paragraph, your suspicions were confirmed.
Green contended that Marcus’s decision has paved the way for the Education Department to adopt a “hotly contested definition of anti-Semitism” that includes: denying Jews “the right to self-determination,” claiming that the state of Israel is a “racist endeavor,” and applying a double standard to Israel not “expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” As Jerusalem Post reporter and COMMENTARY contributor Lahav Harkov observed, this allegedly “hotly contested definition” is precisely the same definition used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. In 2010, the IHRA’s working definition was adopted almost in total by Barack Obama’s State Department.
Green went so far as to say that this not-so-new definition for anti-Semitism has, according to Arab-American activists, declared “the Palestinian cause anti-Semitic.” So that is the Palestinian cause? Denying Jews the right to self-determination, calling the state of Israel itself a racist enterprise, and holding it to nakedly biased double standards? So much for the two-state solution.
Perhaps the biggest tell in the Times piece was its reporters’ inability to distinguish between pro-Palestinian activism and anti-Israeli agitation. The complaint the Education Department is preparing to reinvestigate involves a 2011 incident in which an event hosted by the group Belief Awareness Knowledge and Action (BAKA) allegedly imposed an admissions fee on Jewish and pro-Israel activists after unexpected numbers arrived to protest the event. An internal email confirmed that the group only charged this fee because “150 Zionists” “just showed up,” but the Obama administration dismissed the claim, saying that the organization’s excuse—that it expected heftier university fees following greater-than-expected attendance—was innocuous enough.
Green did not dwell on the group, which allegedly discriminated against Jews and pro-Israeli activists. If she had, she’d have reported that, just a few weeks before this incident, BAKA staged another event on Rutgers’s campus—a fundraiser for the organization USTOGAZA, which provided aid to the campaign of “flotillas” challenging an Israeli blockade of Gaza. USTOGAZA’s links to the Turkey-based organization Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), which has long been associated with support for Hamas-led terrorist activities, rendered the money raised in this event legally suspect. Eventually, as Brooke Goldstein wrote for COMMENTARY, even BAKA conceded the point:
After community members demanded that Rutgers, a state-funded university, hold an investigation before handing over any money to USTOGAZA, the school responded by offering to keep the money raised in an escrow account until a suitable recipient could be found. In June 2011, BAKA sent out an e-mail admitting the University had, after “much deliberation” and despite their initial approval, “decided that they are not willing to release the funds to the US to Gaza effort” due to concerns of being found liable for violating the material-support statutes.
Rutgers prudently limited BAKA’s ability to participate in on-campus events after these incidents, but the organization that took their place—Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)—is no better. The Times quoted officials with the Center for Law and Justice who praised Marcus’s move and cited SJP as a source of particular consternation, but the reporters did not delve into the group’s activities. If they had, they’d find that the organization’s activities—among them declaring that “Zionists are racists,” supporting anti-Zionist individuals despite credible accusations of child abuse, and endorsing Hamas’s governing platform, which labels the entire state of Israel “occupied territory”—fits any cogent definition of anti-Semitism. This is to say nothing of the abuse and harassment that American Jews experience on college campuses that play host to SJP’s regular “Israel apartheid weeks.”
Some might attribute the Times’ neutral portrayal of groups that tacitly support violence and people like Omar Barghouti—an activist who “will never accept a Jewish state in Palestine” and has explicitly endorsed “armed resistance” against Jews, who he insists are “not a people”—to ignorance, as though that would neutralize the harm this dispatch might cause. But the Times piece has emboldened those who see Israel’s Jewish character as a threat both to its political culture and our own. That worrying sentiment was succinctly expressed by New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz: “You don’t have to be a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause to question Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”
The benefit of the doubt only extends so far. Even the charitably inclined should have discovered its limits by now.