Anti-Semitism in Islam–Not Decreed By Heaven

Haim Watzman

There he goes again—Benny Morris is giving the battle against Islamic anti-Semitism a bad name.

But then he’s not alone in fray. Nearly every passionate participant in the battle—Pipes, Horowitz, you name it—would make the angelically tolerant Roger Williams, the great American founder of religious toleration, go apoplectic.

In one of the perverse juxtapositions for which it is famous, the previous issue of The New Republic (the back section of which I just got around to reading last weekend) offers us a wonderful essay on Roger Williams by Martha Nussbaum, and then follows a few pages later with an embarrassing and ugly screed against Islam by Morris called “The Darker Side.”

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Channeling Strangelove: Benny Morris on Iran

Gershom Gorenberg

Benny Morris’s riff on nuking Iran, featured on Friday’s New York Times op-ed page, conjures up Maj. Kong’s bronco-riding whoop at the end of Dr. Strangelove, and not just because that film revealed the glee with which the military-minded can look forward to apocalypse. Playing off the terrifying “Fail-Safe,” Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers also reminded viewers that the sane side could start a nuclear war by mistake – and that the “sane” side could not be counted on to act sanely. Forty-four years after Kubrick, Morris argues that Israel will use the bomb so that Iran won’t get the bomb. Is this a warning, a recommendation, or the whoop of joy as someone gives into temptation and picks up the Dangerous Thing that Dad said not to touch?

Morris, it happens, does agree with one point in my piece last week in the American Prospect. Given, he says,

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War Ethics: And When They Do Know the Consequences?

Haim, I agree that soldiers are often cogs in a machine, unable to evaluate the full consequences of their actions. That’s why Israelis are rightly angered by the “Sentry Syndrome” – the all-too-common outcome of investigations of military errors – ethical, tactical and strategic – in which lower ranks are blamed for the mistakes of their superiors.

Nonetheless, I think that in your last post you too easily placed Michael Walzer‘s Just and Unjust Wars in the category of the theoretical.

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