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Between two stools

By Michael J. Smith on Sunday August 6, 2006 02:41 PM

It's fun, in a grim kind of way, to see the contortions and convulsions of soi-disant Lefties who can't quite get the Israel virus out of their bloodstream. One of the droller exhibitions of this kind, made much of on certain left-intelligentsia mailing lists, comes from the facile and febrile keyboard of odd-looking and oddly-spelt Mark LeVine, shown left. LeVine's piece appeared in the online version of Tikkun, The Publication for Agonized Zionists. A few excerpts:
Has the Left Gone Mad?
By Mark LeVine

Well, Hezbollah can breathe easily. Within a few days, there's a good chance that some of the best minds of the Left will be in the Bekka Valley helping lead the resistance against the Israeli destruction of Lebanon. At least that's what a jointly signed letter to the Guardian newspaper by progressive luminaries including Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Arundhati Roy seems to suggest.

... According to the signers, the best approach is to "offer our solidarity and support to the victims of this brutality and to those who mount a resistance against it."

...Are my heroes Noam and Howard planning to pick up an RPG and start firing southward from the rubble of Qana? Should progressives be donating money to Hamas? Learning to crawl through tunnels and ferry the latest Iranian missiles to the front?

...[T]he ill-chosen (one can hope) words by my illustrious colleagues reflects a very disturbing trend within the Left that has emerged the last few years, and which has come to a head with the latest war: Many leaders of the movement are moving away from the commitment to non-violence that defined the struggle against the Vietnam War and the vast majority of protests against corporate globalization and the invasion of Iraq, and towards embracing violent resistance (think the Red Brigade, Bader Meinhof Gang or the Weather Underground)....

...[T]he most successful anti-imperialist struggles, such as Gandhi's in India and Mandela's in South Africa, were almost entirely non-violent, while others, like Algeria or Vietnam, produced corrupt and violent regimes in their wakes....

Hezbollah.... is also a military organization that regularly engages in violence.... Whatever its motivation and Israel's actions leading up to its kidnapping of two IDF soldiers, Hezbollah's attack has produced an unimaginably terrible price for the people of Lebanon, much as Hamas's violence has allowed Israel to achieve many goals it otherwise could not have in the Occupied Territories.

There's more, much more, all equally sick-making, but a terrible languor is creeping into my cut-and-paste finger, along with a sense that if were half a man I would go down to my local Uppper West Side recruiting station and enlist in Hezbollah. Right now.

It's a good thing that the lucubrations of Mark Levine and his ilk don't receive much circulation outside the narrow ambit of ten or twelve Beautiful Souls who wish, sincerely no doubt, that Israel was a nicer place, but who could not and cannot and will not ever be able take the side of anybody really resisting Israel. Because if LeVine and Co. were much read by the "Arab Street," as the phrase goes, both America in general and American Jewry in particular would be even more detested by the Arab Street than they already are. First you drop bombs, and then you crank up the LeVine Machine, extruding these treacly, preachy, smug, moralistic, preening, attitudinizing, self-congratulating sermonettes.

Calm down, Michael. Deep breaths. Count to ten. He's just a twit. Just a twit. Take it easy.

Okay, let's do a little text analysis, always a calming exercise. First, the glaring, sore-thumb giveaway: Hezbollah "kidnaped" two soldiers in the Israeli Army (which Levine, of course, refers to by its Orwellian euphemism, the Israel Defense Force). When you see this characterization, you need read no further. Hezbollah did not "take prisoner" two Israeli soldiers in a military skirmish -- no, according to LeVine and Fox News, it "kidnapped" them. Poor hapless innocents might as well be LIndbergh Babies, snatched from the cradle.

Then of course there's the utterly bizarre, dark-side-of-the-moon claim that Hamas' victory (what were they supposed to do? Defeat themselves?) "allowed" Israel to do things in the West Bank it could not otherwise have done. Oh those damn fool cockroaches -- er, Palestinians: every time Israel gets to feeling nice, they make it turn nasty again. No one to blame but themselves.

And the idea that the way to resist cluster bombs, tanks, rockets, and machine-gun fire is... non-violence. It's a wonderful thing, the grip this idea has on the brains of bien-pensants against whom no violence is being done. When the victims fight back, presto, they become morally indistinguishable from the perps. Even blackletter common law is more sensible than your holier-than-thou liberal, preaching non-violence to the victms of violence his government is paying for.

The (misspelt) Baader-Meinhof comparison is too stupid and contemptible to mention.

Best of all: this dumb blonde thinks Noam Chomsky is a "colleague" of his. Noam Chomsky, arguably the smartest living human, certainly the smartest I've ever met, a guy who revolutionized his own field of inquiry and has enlightened and encouraged millions with the brilliant, incisive, clear-eyed and profound work of his left hand on politics. Noam Chomsky, a one-man Five Foot Shelf. Noam Chomsky, a guy whom future generations (if there are any) will mention alongside Descartes, and Hegel, and Rousseau -- this egregious little twerp LeVine thinks Chomsky is a "colleague" of his?

Right, right. Like I'm a colleague of the Archangel Gabriel.

Comments (15)

js paine:

"... Like I'm a colleague of the Archangel Gabriel. "

ah only if you were so
father smiff
yer emmninz... er yer worship sir

one might note
armed struggle
was rather common
southern africa



but his party
took up the gun

much as hamas has

Holy John Hoyt! That's probably the most ear-bleedingly stupid thing I'll read this year. I can't believe this reject from a Limp Bizkit concert actually gets published.

Harley D:

How to become a terrorist: Fight back.

J. Alva Scruggs:
I can't believe this reject from a Limp Bizkit concert actually gets published.

His colleagues and employers select for vacuity. The vapid and self-important feel most comfortable among their own kind.

Mark LeVine said,

"...reflects a very disturbing trend within the Left that has emerged the last few years, and which has come to a head with the latest war..."

Maybe it is my imagination, but I do think there is something to this statement but not what our little buddy thinks.

I developed anti-zionist, pro 242 opinions about 33 years ago and quickly discovered that it was that which must not be spoken. It seems these opinions are spoken more and more in the public discourse ((though not by the political class) and the zionists are losing their total blackout. There is a long way to go but I believe the ball is rolling. I think this is one reason the zionist are investing so heavily in Christian-Zionism ( which by the way, strikes me as a very shaky enterprise).


I just watched Michael Lerner play a minor part in a powerful documentary "Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land." Among many terrific commenters (including Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky) Michael was weirdly ineffective.

How can you trust someone who "decides" to become a spiritual leader in mid-life?

But see the documentary! a terrific demonstration of how the US media biases coverage of Israel/Palestine.

He looks a lot like Dana Carvey as "Garth" from Wayne's World.

But onto the substance of his attacks. LaVine is what is known in the world of Kos and Atrios as a "concern troll". They always begin with something like "as a committed leftist, I of course oppose the war in Iraq but..."

But forget LaVine. If the war in Lebanon spills over into Syria and Iran, and the anti-war movement gears up to what it was in 2002 and 2003, they're going to ditch Garth and bring in their A team of redbaiting Democrats.

Remember this article by Michelle Goldberg?


That letter is pretty measured and inclusive anyway.

They pointedly leave "those who resist" undefined. They don't mention hezbollah (although they leave it open).

I always love it when people like LaVine try to tell people under the guns of a bombing campaign how to react to it.

I saw a lot of this at the "troops out fast" last month in DC. When Cindy Sheehan said she understood why the Iraqis were shooting at Americans, she got booed. Gimme a break. Those Iraqis killed her son. She's not saying this lightly.

I also got into an argument with a "pacifist". I said "Cindy Sheehan isn't advocating violence. She's only saying that if you go out and hit someone, don't be surprised if you get hit back. If you put your hand on a hot stove, you'll get burned. If you stick your dick in an electrical socket, you'll" ... oh you get the picture.

But this "pacifist" said that she's tell her kid not to punch back if he gets hit and I told her "just make sure you don't tell my kid not to hit back if he gets hit".

mike sola:

Thanks, Michael. There need to be a lot more of us speaking out this way.

And Irgun was totally into Gandhi.

First. I love this site. You and friends are taking the time to find so many important tidbits that I don't see, even though I do two hours a day of reading and arguing with idiots.
Just the Pelosi talk to wall street, made my teeth grind. Not that I was surprised. Mondale and Dukakis did the same
So 'chomsky' has always supported 'non violence'? Well, he always says it is up to the people, and that bottom up non leninist type movements will most reflect such will, ect...but it doesn't make you all laugh that a self professed anarchist syndicalist, lib socialist, great documenter of the CNT being betrayed by stalinist thugs, is a 'ghandi' type follower?
Anarchists pick up guns, rightly so, in self defense. So do most 'bottom up' peoples movements when a 'force' is massacring them and destroying their livelihood.
and another guffaw. The south african resistance was 'non violent'.
you gotta be fucking kidding.


Yes, Gandhi, let's forget about that messy bastard Subhash Chandra Bose and the Bombay Mutiny that toppled the British in India.



"Odd-looking"? I think he's kinda cute, but then I'm a known pervert. Still, stupidity is so unsexy.

Tommy S: Chomsky (why the "quotes"?) is not a pacifist as far as I know. He certainly supported the right of the Vietnamese people to resist American aggression. (Which shows that Mr. DeVine is not only stupid but misrepresents Chomsky.) In _American Power and the New Mandarins_ he did an interesting, inconclusive discussion of pacifism, but he distinguished it from his own position.

One trouble we have in the La-la Land known as American political discourse is that anyone who opposes a given act of violence, for whatever grounds, will be dismissed as a "pacifist" by the Wise Heads of the Mainstream.

The assumption being, apparently, that only a pacifist would ever object to aggression and terror.

What a hypocrite. I've heard the type before, and each repeated hearing is slightly more nauseating.


I just spent a couple of minutes trying to clean his goatee off my screen (with Windex!) -- only to realize that it moved with him when I scrolled the page.

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