CRB: The chosen and the woke

We continue our preview of the new (Summer) issue of the Claremont Review of Books hot off the press. It went into the mail on Monday and is accessible online to subscribers now. Buy an annual subscription including immediate online access here for the modest price of $19.95. If you love trustworthy essays on, and reviews of books about, politics, history, literature and culture, the CRB may be for you.

In the second of the three pieces that I picked to preview for Power Line readers, we have CRB senior editor William Voegeli deliberating at length on the woke Left’s increasing antipathy to Israel. The rise of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib in the ranks of the Democratic Party is only the latest manifestation of this antipathy. Their press conference yesterday in St. Paul can stand as a short course in the injection of anti-Semitic hatred of Israel into the mainstream of the Democratic Party. With only slight modifications — the substitution of “the enemy” or “Zionist entity” for “Israel,” for example — their remarks could easily have come from the chairman of the PLO or the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah.

Quoting Susie Linfield, Voegeli notes the Left’s blanket hatred of Israel, “in particular its startling ability to support regimes far more repressive and violent, and far less egalitarian and politically open, than Israel.” Linfield’s analysis makes clear that this animus cannot be explained as a reaction to particular Israeli policies regarding Palestinians, but makes sense only by realizing that many progressives “are repelled by the existence of Israel itself.” Voegeli seeks to account for the repulsion.

This is a timely essay treating the question in widely applicable terms. Voegeli concludes:

Americans have more pressing reasons to reject the Great Awokening than Israel’s national security, but none more clarifying. The case of Israel demonstrates that national identity is less a threat to democracy than a prerequisite for it. As the Hoover Institution’s Peter Berkowitz wrote after the passage of the nation-state law, “Since the largest viable political unit to which citizens can plausibly consent—even tacitly—is a state characterized by shared traditions, language, and political hopes, the modern tradition of freedom reinforces the case for nationalism.” The future of Israel, America, and other nations will be shaped by the contest between the Great Awokening and Somewhereism. If the latter prevails, it will be because national majorities around the world come to feel that “[t]his is our nation, language, and flag,” is not just a legitimate thing for an Israeli prime minister to say, but also for patriotic citizens of any decent country to believe.

Voegeli’s essay is “The Chosen and the Woke.” Highly recommended.

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