Classic New Yorker

In a New Yorker article dated January 16*, Hendrik Hertzberg took time out from ridiculing Mitt Romney to ridicule Rick Santorum (this was back when Rick Santorum was a thing):

And more: he calls global warming “junk science”; he wants to keep American troops in Afghanistan until they achieve “victory”; he believes that the West Bank is “Israeli land,” as Israeli as Arizona is American; he blames the rape of children by priests on “academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America.”

If it wasn’t clear from the tone, the context, or the ideas themselves, Hertzberg does not think very highly of Santorum’s politics. And to be honest, on most counts, I’m with Hendrik.

One exception.

I’m not here to make a moral or political argument about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Whatever you think of it, you think of it, and nothing I write is going to change your opinion. But I am going to take issue with Hertzberg’s specific example of land that is indisputably American. Let’s review:

he believes that the West Bank is “Israeli land,” as Israeli as Arizona is American

To Hertzberg, Santorum’s position is patently ridiculous: Arizona’s as American as Iced Tea.

But here’s my problem: try as I might, I can find few meaningful differences between Israeli ownership of the West Bank and American ownership of Arizona.

If anything, Israel might have a stronger claim to the West Bank than America does to Arizona: When Jews settled Yehuda and Shomron, at least they returned to land once occupied by their ancestors. When the United States took Arizona from Mexico (Jordan), who had in turn dispossessed the Native Mexican inhabitants (Palestinian Arabs), they did so solely out of an unbridled sense of Manifest Destiny. And I think one would be hard pressed to argue that Israelis have treated Palestinians worse – in any meaningful way – than the US has dealt with its own native population.

So next time Hendrik wants to condemn the Israeli occupation, I suggest he spend some time coming up with a better way to do it. Unless, of course, he’d be happy to just give the West Bank a tax-free casino and call it a day.

Jeri-casino? I hope they come up with a better name.


*as noted, I am always behind to varying degrees – but aren’t we all?


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