Three weeks ago, Tony Judt, a professor of European studies at N.Y.U., published a devastating piece in the Israeli daily Haaretz. Titled “The Country That Wouldn’t Grow Up,” it argued that Israel’s contempt for world opinion of its actions had caused it to lose touch with reality.
the State of Israel remains curiously (and among Western-style democracies, uniquely) immature. The social transformations of the country – and its many economic achievements – have not brought the political wisdom that usually accompanies age. Seen from the outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one “understands” it and everyone is “against” it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offense and quick to give it. Like many adolescents Israel is convinced – and makes a point of aggressively and repeatedly asserting – that it can do as it wishes, that its actions carry no consequences and that it is immortal.
The piece generated enormous comment in the Israeli daily. Then yesterday it was published in the Financial Times in England. A provocative argument by an eminent professor (himself Jewish), which includes an extensive passage about American opinion of Israel—has it been published in the United States? I emailed Judt to ask him.
Yes, we did try to place it in the US. I’m not sure I should publish the names of the outlets that passed on it, because in a couple of cases the editor in question would have liked to take it but for the usual considerations. But you could correctly write that various US periodicals (weeklies, monthlies) were asked and declined. It is, by the way, about to appear in Switzerland and Spain.
The Swiss, the Spanish, the English and the Israelis themselves are capable of hearing this argument. Not Americans. For “the usual considerations.” If Israel is the country that hasn’t grown up, we’re the parent who’s in denial.