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Required Israel Reading

I do not usually read Foreign Affairs.  The magazine seems to me to be mostly a platform from which diplomats address each other in ghost-written prose.  But occasionally there is something both true and original...and not the wisdom of the high-minded and oh, so soft elites.  This is the case with an essay by Walter Russell Mead who is one of America's really eminent and independent diplomatic historians.

The article is called "The New Israel and the Old: Why Gentile Americans Back the Jewish State."  It is worth reading from beginning to end.  There are, of course, the religious origins of the Protestant--more accurately, Puritan and Pilgrim--identification with the people of the Hebrew Bible, a theme also addressed by Michael Oren in his book Power, Faith, and Fantasy.  And the Mead piece takes you through political history, ethical affinities, strategic considerations.

In sum, it is a tour de force.  It not only explains why gentiles in our country support the State of Israel.  It also explains why the paranoids of the Right (Pat Buchanan, for example) and the paranoids of the Left (including marginal Jews like Tony Judt and Noam Chomsky) are outside the common discussion about real issues in the Middle East, real issues that exclude why the Jews are not a people or other nonsense like that.

By the way, the Walter Russell Mead article came to by attention on Shmuel Rosner's blog for Ha'aretz.  Rosner, who has an article in the next issue of TNR, makes some provocative comments about the piece from which you can also link to Mead.