12 February 2008

John Podhoretz on Michael Chabon - OTT?

Over The Top, I mean.

All it took is one book (Yiddish Policeman’s Union) and one article on Barak Obama to classify one of the best contemporary writers as an Israeli-hater with passion for tikkun olam.

While I didn't fall in love with the Yiddish Policeman’s Union, just like with any other "what if" piece of fiction, I was having lots of laughs caused by the book detractors riled by Chabon's depiction of Jewish gangsters and other unsavory characters (whether it's naivety or plain ignorance, but many a Jewish writer, Isaac Babel at the top of the pyramid, could teach the detractors a thing or two about the subject).

I wouldn't argue the case against or for Obama, being ignorant on the subject, but the proximity of the "Messiah who is the gay junkie son of an obese Hasidic rabbi-gangster" and "half-Kenyan, half-WASP Hawaiian-born Senator from Illinois" is a case of bad writing at best or a case of being over-incensed to distraction at worst.

I am not trying to advocate the stance of Michael Chabon on Israel, but here is what he says about the subject:

I strongly believe in Israel’s right to exist; but even more, I fear that it is necessary...

I have no doubt whatsoever that there is only one regime, one government in the world that can be trusted not to turn its back on Jews.

On the other hand, the unreasoning, knee-jerk support for any country, including Israel — the ‘my country right or wrong’ attitude — is utterly alien to me.
I will gladly sign under every word of the above quote. Whatever else Chabon has written or said about Israel is hardly more compelling.

With all respect to John Podhoretz, this one was definitely not the best example of his writing.