When slander no longer works

I don't usually like to blog about personality clashes happening in the American blogosphere (the Egyptian already blogosphere and twittosphere provides plenty of amusing clashes) but put up with me on this one.

Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of the leftish but rabidly pro-Israel magazine The New Republic, has penned a 4,000+ word attack on the prominent blogger Andrew Sullivan (of the centrist but rabidly pro-Israel magazine The Atlantic Monthly) calling him an anti-Semite, apparently because he has lately become mildly critical of Israel, or at least of the Netanyahu government, even though he feels obliged to repeatedly profess his love of Israel. 

Only in America.

There's plenty to dislike about Sullivan — another prominent, pro-Israel leftish American blogger, Eric Alterman, once did a fine hatchet job on his schizophrenia as a liberal Republican in the age of George W. Bush — but he certainly is not an anti-Semite, as many have rushed to point out. I perhaps liked best prominent blogger Matthew Yglesias' (of the progressive ThinkProgress, which is reasonable on Israel) take:

If you call anti-semites anti-semites, then people who aren’t motivated by anti-Jewish racism will figure “hey, since my political opinions aren’t motivated by anti-Jewish racism, then I’m safe.” The idea is to put everyone on notice that mere innocence will be no defense. 

Yglesias goes on, rightly, to defend the likes of Walt & Mearsheimer from the anti-Semitic label that Wieseltier likes to use. I think this is one of those moments in American intellectual life where everyone, long after having realized it, can actually finally say that the emperor has no clothes, and that the bullying of the likes of Wieseltier, Krauthammer, Peretz and other will simply not be taken seriously at all. Now, let's get on with the business of criticizing Israel and its influence on American policy in the region (which has plenty of faults that have nothing to do with Israel) as we do so many other countries.