Lerman Goes Bonkers

You know how it is when you get this feeling about somebody that they’re about to go completely potty.

Well, as far as Tony Lerman is concerned, I was right.


To expand on the above; there is so much zaniness in this article, it is difficult to know where to start.

Here’s a good paragraph:

The second, cultural Zionism, acknowledges Israel as the centre of Jewish life and the only source of spiritual, cultural and religious inspiration that can unite the Jewish people in a Europe that has become increasingly hostile to Jews and Israel and rife with a new antisemitism, and where Jews face the animosity of a rapidly expanding Muslim population. This view, which I reject, sees Europe’s pluralism and respect for human rights as now undermining Jewish existence, so the only chance of survival is under a “Zionist ethnic umbrella”. “

First of all, the notion that to support the continued existence of the State of Israel means buying into some sort of totalising Zionist identity is just surreal. It is more than a little disturbing that he thinks that this is so.

He doesn’t, for example, imagine the possibility of a true blue diasporan – somebody like me who doesn’t even think in terms of a ‘diaspora’ – might genuinely perceive a very real growth in antisemitism, and have a concern that the 6 million in Israel are not slaughtered or expelled.

Secondly, implicit in that characterisation of non anti-Zionist Jewish identity is a nasty accusation of dual loyalty – or worse, fifth columnism.

Thirdly, he seems to me to be saying that behind all the vexing about anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli prejudice in Europe is really a secret and shameful concern, namely that:

Europe’s pluralism and respect for human rights [are] now undermining Jewish existence

I assume that Lerman is not trying to be – to put it mildly – grossly offensive. So I will assume, charitably, that he is having a mid life crisis.


I don’t really want to engage seriously with this article, but I am forced to.

What I think Lerman gets wrong – one thing among many – is the thought that we’re seeing at the moment some sort of resurgent Zionist nationalism in Europe. I do not detect that at all. What I do see, is a kind of eye-rubbing, ‘it can’t really be happening’ astonishment at the growth of antisemitism. I don’t think that there has been an appreciable resurgence of Zionism.

Yet to Lerman, concern about attacks on Jews in France is essentially a code word for a human-rights, and ‘diasporan’-rejecting ultra-nationalist Zionism.

And then, there’s this:

And however dire the French case – and it is a scenario that many Jews in France reject – it’s telling that when pressed, the academics conceded that, in spite of all the angst, a just Israel-Palestine peace would transform the position of French Jews.

What a wanker.

I’ve not much else to say about the piece. By the time he got to Mendelssohn – for fuck’s sake – I started to wonder if he was in his cups when he penned this little piece.