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More on Tony Judt

J.J. Goldberg of the Jewish Daily Forward writes about a side of Tony Judt that we might miss, namely his critique of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. Goldberg: "Youll also have noticed, if you didnt know already, that he was one of Israels most controversial critics. As some obituaries noted, he was a Jew so reviled by fellow Jews that his name became virtually synonymous with Israel-hater in many circles." recall Judt's performance on a panel at Cooper Union when the Mersheimer/Walt book (The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy)was disturbing so many people who had closed their minds to some critical realities. His defense of their work was admirable and reminded me of the power of intellectuals when they speak the truth (small t).

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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The August 14th issue of The Tablet has a column by editor Catherine Pepinster (unfortunately available only to subscribers) entitled: In the era of the emoticon, rational and coherentargument is being lost.If you can get your hands on this particular issue I urge you to do so and read what she had to say about Judt.

Can you give a hint? They don't do on-line subscriptions and I refuse to pay $130 for a subscription that seemed always to arrive a month late. I'm not sure I'd subscribe for that even if it came on time. You could get two subscriptions to CWL for that.

(snip)But educated scourges of senseless chatter can easily fall prey to another temptation at the other end of the verbal spectrum: filling their lives with argument and interrogation. They use words as weapons, used at times to humiliate opponents, or even fend off intimacy with those they love. Rhetorical flourishes are used to impress and suggest closeness, but all the while they can keep others at bay.(He must have been a regular lurker at this site)

She's talking about Judt?

Could be: Just went and re-read Judt's essay, "Words," in the July 15 NYReview... "Articulacy is typically regarded as an aggressive talent. But for me its functions were substantively defensive: rhetorical flexibility allows for a certain feigned closenessconveying proximity while maintaining distance. That is what actors dobut the world is not really a stage and there is something artificial in the exercise: one sees it in the current US president. I too have marshaled language to fend off intimacywhich perhaps explains a romantic penchant for Protestants and Native Americans, reticent cultures both."Do you think Judt and Pepinster were classmates? Or wordy intimates? Judt's whole brief essay is worth reading, amusing and insightful:

It's this critique for which I honor his integrity, and admire his courage, most of all.

Someone has sent me the full Pepinster column. Wow! She really didn't like him...

Ooops... wrong about Pepinster... read the wrong thing... apologies!

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