Truths and mirrors


By Jenni Frazer
October 19, 2009
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"I'm unambiguously hostile to Israel because it's a mendacious state." Thus, according to the writer Anne McElvoy, is the position of the editor of the London Review of Books, Mary-Kay Wilmers.
A long profile of Wilmers appeared in the Sunday Times magazine this weekend, ostensibly for the purpose of flagging up Wilmers' new book, The Eitingons: A Twentieth Century Story, which is the history of Wilmers' own Russian-Jewish family and their role in assassinating Trotsky. The LRB, of course, was the publication of choice in which Walt and Mearsheimer claimed that the "Israel lobby" ran American foreign policy; and many and frequent have been the complaints about the LRB attitude to Israel. Now we understand why.
According to McElvoy, Wilmers' hostility to Israel, which she has visited "briefly, a few years ago" is based on her feeling as a Jew. "My people," she told McElvoy, "have a responsibility. I feel a particular right to speak out on this because of my background."
Well, Mary-Kay, my people aren't anything like your people, and unlike you, I don't have the arrogance to believe I know all the answers. Do, by all means, promote your historical book, but don't imagine that you are even faintly representative of my people. Mendacity, you might find, cuts both ways.

COMMENTS

iainlrabbak

Tue, 10/20/2009 - 16:07

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Surely, you mean hysterical book. And the LRB is still funded by the Arts Council.


simon sandberg

Fri, 11/19/2010 - 19:08

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The London Review Books is for many people including me the highlight of any fortnight containing as it does some of the most intelligent writing and reportage to be found anywhere. The fact that many of its (Jewish) contributors believe for the most part that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is appalling does not make its viewpoint 'mendacious'. Perhaps we should consider why most of the UK's leading public intellectuals take a critical stance towards Israeli policy rather than berating the Arts Council for funding the UK's most serious and well regarded literary journal.


amber

Fri, 11/19/2010 - 20:32

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Because Sandberg, Israel's treatemnt of the palestinians is not appalling.

The Arabs' treatemnt of Jews, and other minorities like Kurds, is.

Not that you'll get an article in the highly politicized and selective LRB about it.


Macairt

Fri, 11/19/2010 - 23:44

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'Perhaps we should consider why most of the UK's leading public intellectuals take a critical stance towards Israeli policy rather than berating the Arts Council for funding the UK's most serious and well regarded literary journal.'

Or perhaps we should not be so overawed by the self appointed epithet's 'UK's', 'leading', 'public' and 'intellectuals', particularly when used of and by the cultural analogue of 'conuerso' or 'not especially Jewish Jewish', that we should let our common sense fly out the window along with our universal, as opposed to narrowly 'English' or 'British', sense of values and justice.

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