Monday, January 22, 2007

Diaspora Blues or Insider Trading?

There were two articles in last week's (11 Jan) Economist; one a leader entitled Diaspora Blues, the other in the international section entitle Second thoughts about the Promised land. I can't like either, as the Economist is seriously pay-for-play.

Both covered the same ground; Jewish identity is changing because as Israel is no longer a focal point of Jewish identity. Jewish identity doesn't need to be predicated on "my country right or wrong."

Now, I'm not going to argue for or against these positions. But I will say this: while I don't subscribe to the keep-it-in-the-family approach to Jewish politics and community, and I'm happy to say in public (online, here) whatever I'd say around a friday night dinner table, and I don't talk quietly when non-Jews (I know, I know..) are listening, some subjects are just insiderish.

So my first thought was: there's somebody totally insiderish on the Economist staff. Unzerer in high places are not uncommon, but this argument, this position comes from a Jewish/left/post-Habonim position. It wouldn't surprise me if some short, balding bespecated future editor of the Guardian (my stereotype, my bad) had pitched a story to John Micklethwait and he'd bought it.

Because this piece is not a broadsheet leader. It's not a think-piece in the New Statesman. It's involved-Jew shabbes-table fayre, or post-social-action drink, pure and simple. It cites concepts (social action, tikkun olam, Jewish cultural revivals) so accurately, so specifically, it has to be an inside-job.

And then, I get to the end of the non-leader piece. Tony Lerman if the JPR (Jewish Policy Research Institute), a man about whom there has been a certain degree of controversy over his views on Israel recently, is quoted extensively under the "don't worry, be Jewish" heading.

So, it seems to me, and it's an opinion, that's all, that both these articles are the result of Tony Lerman, or his press people, if he has them, pitching the idea to the Economist. Because however good a journalist you are, you can't know this much stuff, this accurately.

Whether this is good or bad, I don't know. It's just interesting.

NB: I realise I'm a little late to the party on this, last week and all, hardly internet time, but I've been busy. Forgive me.

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