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Eli Lake On Israel, Anti-Semitism, Kanye

Eli Lake On Israel, Anti-Semitism, Kanye

We hash it out and find some common ground.

Eli is a journalist and friend. He’s a former senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast and Newsweek, and a former columnist for the Bloomberg View. He’s now a reporter for The Free Press, a contributing editor at Commentary Magazine, and the host of his own podcast, The Re-Education. I thought I should have a strong Israel supporter to come on and challenge my recent columns.

You can listen right away in the audio player above (or on the right side of the player, click “Listen On” to add the Dishcast feed to your favorite podcast app). For two clips of our convo — on the West Bank settlements, and Trump’s record on Israel — pop over to our YouTube page.

Other topics: Eli raised as a latchkey kid in Philly; his leftwing Jewish parents; turning neocon in college during the ‘90s PC wars; Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose a formative book; Eli’s love of rap from an early age; Tribe Called Quest and the Native Tongue movement of “rap hippies”; Black Nationalism; David Samuels’ story on white kids driving hip-hop; Kanye’s genius and grappling with his anti-Semitism; the bigotry of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot; Nietzsche’s madness; the persistence of Jew hatred across history and cultures; dissidents in the Catholic Church; Augustine; Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah; the faux sophistication of conspiracy theorists; Bob Dole as a Gen Xer; envy and resentment over Israel’s success; the First Intifada; Labor Zionism; Ben-Gurion and Arab resistance; Menachem Begin; Netanyahu’s dad; the IRA bombing British leaders; Arafat walking away from Camp David; the Second Intifada; 9/11 and Islamofascism; the Iraq War and Abu Ghraib; the settler movement and Judeo-fascists; Jared Kushner; the Abraham Accords; Arabs serving in the Knesset; Israel withdrawing from Gaza and southern Lebanon; the evil of Hamas; Yossi Klein Halevi; the IDF’s AI program; the tunnels and 2,000-lb bombs; Dresden; John Spencer’s Understanding Urban Warfare; Rafah; Trump’s vanity; Soleimani and the Damascus embassy; and the US supplying weapons to Israel.

Browse the Dishcast archive for an episode you might enjoy (the first 102 are free in their entirety — subscribe to get everything else). Next up: Kara Swisher on Silicon Valley. After that: Adam Moss on the artistic process, George Will on Trump and conservatism, Johann Hari on weight-loss drugs, Noah Smith on the economy, Nellie Bowles on the woke revolution, Bill Maher on everything, and the great Van Jones! Send any guest recs, dissents, and other comments to

From a fan of last week’s episode with Neil Young:

You discussed an early pioneer of gay rights, Dorr Legg, whom you didn’t know about, and I have to admit I didn’t either, despite Legg being from Ann Arbor, where I grew up. That bastion of liberal university culture may have its woke excesses (which are indeed quite bad), but that same liberalism also gave us gay rights, or at least hastened the arrival of gay rights. In fact, Ann Arbor in 1974 had the first openly gay elected leader in the country: Kathy Kozachenko. There were two other gays on the city council at the time, but they didn’t come out until after they were elected. Still, that’s pretty good progress for 1974.

The cynic in me thinks that if Pete Buttigieg were to run for city council in Ann Arbor in 2024, he’d never win, because he lacks the requisite preachy, trans-confrontational attitude needed to win over the new generation. And that’s despite him serving as mayor of nearby university town South Bend. It’s just a theory that reflects my cynicism, I guess.

Another listener writes:

I believe you mischaracterized Bayard Rustin as not being on the left. Oh yes he was! I believe he was a lifelong socialist, a former Communist Party member, a pacifist and a Quaker (granted, so was Whitaker Chambers at some point).

I’m glad you brought up Chambers. I know people who sought to discredit him and gay-bait him. I think he definitely had a gay past, but what was the story there?

Richard Goldstein: I’d forgotten about him. I used to read him in The Village Voice and I couldn’t stand him!

With respect to Rustin, my point was that he was more a liberal than a leftist. Here’s a guest rec for a topic previously broached by a listener:

Regarding Michael Oakeshott, one potential guest could be Matthew Sitman of Commonweal and the “Know Your Enemy” podcast. I suspect y’all could have a wide ranging discussion about faith, conservatism, and intellectual life. 

As you may know, Matt was the literary editor of the old Dish and I love him deeply. But maybe I should ask someone more soaked in Oakeshott’s full work, as this reader suggests:

If you do decide to ever host a guest on the subject of Oakeshott, you can’t do better than my old professor Paul Franco — the man who literally wrote the book on Oakeshott. And he’s not just great in this area of study; he taught a class called “Liberalism and Its Critics,” which introduced me to some amazing philosophers.  He’s not super famous, but I know he’d be an amazing guest.

Yeah I know Paul. His was the only dissertation on Oakeshott before mine. Good rec. We’ll definitely set up an Oakeshott pod soon.

Here’s a reader dissent over my reaction to Scotland’s hate-speech law:

So, hang on, let me get this (cis) straight. Democratically-elected Scottish parliament overwhelming passes an update to an existing racial hate-crime law to include additional protected characteristics, such as age, disability and religion. Anti-trans activists are beside themselves that gender identity is now also protected. When asked if misgendering could constitute a hate crime under the law, the Minister for Victims and Community Safety says “No, not misgendering, not at all.” Anti-trans activists are confused by this, so they deliberately misgender people on social media and report themselves, desperately trying to stir up controversy where there was none. The police point out that no law was broken. And now ... we’re supposed to feel like the anti-trans crowd are still the victims? Okay then.

The law remains awfully vague, but my reader is right that early tests of it suggest it cannot really stand up — but the thousands of informants reporting on their neighbors for hate crimes is deeply disconcerting. I suspect we won’t know for sure until the news dies down and some poor, non-famous person gets criminalized for an opinion. I would happily repeal every single hate-crime statute.

On my latest piece on Gaza, many more dissents continue from the main page. First up:

If you want to lead with pictures, then let’s pick a few that don’t involve bombs, but instead the aftermath of face-to-face encounters between Hamas and Israeli citizens on October 7th:

These atrocities were done with intention and took an enormous amount of time and energy to personalize. Let’s talk about that, shall we?

The Dish did — right after 10/7 — and later defended Israel against the “genocide” canard. From the very beginning, my disgust at and loathing for Hamas has been perfectly clear. Another dissent comes from a reader in Israel:

I, too, was shocked and saddened by the WCK accident and I have been glad to see those responsible removed from their positions and expect them to be prosecuted. I share your concern for the conditions that allowed that tragedy to happen, and I hope it does not happen again.

But I am very frustrated with your high-minded judgments that come from a place of total safety and security. You don’t understand the lethal proximity of this war (as evidenced by your constant comparisons to America post-9/11). You don’t have to face the consequences of the war’s prosecution. You don’t have to worry about your kids getting killed by rockets, which are still coming out of Gaza. Like so many others, you are looking at the reality of war in real-time HD and are horrified, and, as a result, you are placing Israel squarely in the camp of “Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.”

For the people who do live here — including me, and the parents of the teenage brother and sister in my building who were killed at the Nova festival — you suggest that we must somehow prosecute this impossible situation differently; that we must be permanently decent in the face of true evil; that we must always turn the other cheek; that we must always show good faith first; that we must give up security in the hope that doing so will engender less radicalism when all the evidence points in the exact opposite direction. That is very thin gruel indeed.  

Israeli policy, you believe, is that “the entirety of Gaza and the West Bank” should be subject to Israeli sovereignty and populated by extremists? Come on. You know that even among Israel’s hard right, there is no real political support for resettling the Gaza Strip, and most of the Israelis in the West Bank aren’t extremists. I know because some of them are in my book club. They aren’t even religious. They’re just people living in a house, and to a woman, they would give up their home and move out if it meant real peace. The vast, vast majority of Israelis would love nothing more than to give the Palestinians land for peace. What they see instead is that, when they withdraw from territory, the situation gets far worse. They’re dealing with an intractable enemy who is hell-bent on their destruction at any cost. 

You call the IDF “trigger-happy” because it killed its own hostages. This is both ignorant and terribly offensive.

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