Eric Alterman and Alan Dershowitz exchange views on who speaks for American Jews; readers debate endorsements and praise Stuart Klawans’s review of There Will Be Blood.



Montpelier, Vt.

Welcome back, Stuart Klawans [“Film,” Jan. 28]. I don’t know where you’ve been, but I’ve missed you. With the issue that arrived in today’s mail, I’ve resumed reading The Nation from back to front.



Our January 7/14 “Election ’08” editorial outlining the strengths (and weaknesses) of the Democratic candidates but not making an endorsement drew sighs from a trickle of Edwards and Obama supporters and howls from a tsunami of Kucinich loyalists, who flung epithets like “cowards!,” “sell-out,” “weak,” “shame on you,” “cowardly surrender.” They opined that we were “duped and cowed,” “setting a bad example” and “behaving like the MSM.” Some readers found the editorial to their liking.   –The Editors

Iowa City

Kudos for endorsing a progressive movement instead of an individual candidate! A group of progressives held a “Caucus of the Future: Direct Democracy in Action” in Des Moines on January 2-3. It’s about building a movement independent of the political parties (more info at Iowa Counter-Caucus).


Gig Harbor, Wash.

The most balanced and perceptive piece on the election I’ve seen. Your emphasizing the need “to build the public support vital…for capturing the opportunity to transform the country” is paramount.


Indianola, Iowa

The Nation‘s well-thought-out editorial on this incredibly important election season includes some bracing statements for the birth of a “progressive insurgency.” But you decline to make an endorsement. It seems to me that a more forthright stance is called for, especially in light of the powerful language you’ve chosen: “historic opportunity,” “ferment in the air,” “yearning for change,” “resuscitation of America’s most inspired dreams of justice and equality” and “the kindling is in place.” Why not just come out of your cautious shell and endorse a candidate? One more thing: why the cover portrait of the two mainstream media darlings when, I would wager, many readers are fed up with being force-fed those two?


Eastern, Ky.

So you’ve examined all the candidates and found Dennis Kucinich to be most closely aligned with your magazine’s values. No surprise there. Time after time I hear people, organizations and publications say Dennis represents their positions but isn’t electable. If everyone who agreed with him would simply vote for him or give him an endorsement, he wouldn’t just be electable, he’d be unstoppable.

How about showing a little courage? The kind of courage Dennis shows every time he stands up to the political and corporate machines that try to silence him. Come on, Nation, walk your talk!



Rockville, Md.

Eric Alterman has it right! Jews like Russ Feingold, who actually represent what a majority of Jews believe, are marginalized while AIPAC-loving neocons like Joe Lieberman are treated like they represent mainstream Jewish views [“The Liberal Media,” Jan. 7/14]. My parents are Holocaust survivors. What family we have live in Israel, and they work for peace! The Israeli press does a far, far better job of covering the differing points of view than our corporate media do. The media here are so co-opted, I have to e-mail my cousins to find out what Israelis really think.


Ellicott City, Md.

Eric Alterman hits right on the money. That the likes of Richard Perle, Norman Podhoretz, Bill Kristol et al. are the most heard and quoted “voices” of American Jews is ludicrous. It is bad for all Americans, not just Jews, that these neoconservative pundits and ultra-rightist organizations have influenced the disastrous policies in Iraq and now beat the drum for an attack on Iran.


Teaneck, N.J.

Of the Jews who support a Palestinian state, the majority support it in the context of Israel as a Jewish-exclusivist entity. This is the fertile soil in which neocon representation and hawkish organizations bloom. Jews who cringe at the idea of evangelicals making our country a Christian-exclusivist state nevertheless support the Jewish exclusivity of Israel. Jews who support civil rights here continue to support Jewish “right of return” to Israel, while keeping it closed to Palestinian refugees. Jews who would never utter the n-word vilify Arabs/Muslims. I am in a very small minority of Jews who call for the end of Zionism, accountability for Zionism’s crimes against humanity, the return of the refugees and one multiethnic democratic state in Israel/Palestine. If more Jews had this truly liberal point of view, we would not be represented by hawkish Zionist organizations.


Cambridge, Mass.

One definition of McCarthyism is to lump people together into a group and then generalize about their personal views. Eric Alterman is guilty of such McCarthyism in his January 7/14 column. He lists a group of mostly conservative Jews he thinks are bad for the Jews. He describes thus: “Most are Bush apologists, most supported the invasion of Iraq and most are sympathetic to the idea of an invasion of Iran.” I am a liberal Democrat who was part of the legal team opposing Bush’s election. I am as far away from being a Bush apologist as possible. I opposed the invasion of Iraq and currently oppose an invasion of Iran. But because I am a Jew and I support Israel (though I oppose the occupation and favor the two-state solution), Alterman lumps me together in the same group as many with whom I disagree. If this is not ethnic profiling, I don’t know what is.



New York City

I am pleased to hear of Alan Dershowitz’s political perspicacity on matters relating to the election of George W. Bush, neoconservatism, Iraq, Iran and the like. Alas, Dershowitz doth protest quite a bit too much regarding the rest. In my column, I listed those Jewish commentators who speak out most frequently on the Middle East. Surely Dershowitz cannot object to being included on such a list. After doing so, in the following sentence I described the views of “most” of those listed above. Clearly the word “most” implies something different from “all” and allows, explicitly, for exceptions, including Dershowitz, among others. If Dershowitz wishes to emphasize further what I have already implied in my column, however, I have no objection. His accusations, however, of “McCarthyism” and “ethnic profiling” not only strike me as wrongheaded and inaccurate but are unbecoming a Harvard professor (not to mention a graduate of Brooklyn College), and as such, they are making me more than a little verklempt.


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