In his New York Times blog today, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman explains why he, an American Jew, rarely, if ever, writes about Israel/Palestine.
His reason is particularly interesting because Krugman is one of the most fearless writers in America. He says what he thinks, no matter who he offends. The White House does not like him. Conservatives absolutely hate him. (On the other hand, progressives like me worship the ground he walks on.)
So why doesn’t he speak out on Israel/Palestine?
The truth is that like many liberal American Jews — and most American Jews are still liberal — I basically avoid thinking about where Israel is going. It seems obvious from here that the narrow-minded policies of the current government are basically a gradual, long-run form of national suicide — and that’s bad for Jews everywhere, not to mention the world. But I have other battles to fight, and to say anything to that effect is to bring yourself under intense attack from organized groups that try to make any criticism of Israeli policies tantamount to anti-Semitism.
In other words, in order for Paul Krugman to continue to have the impact he wants to have — and that we need him to have — on the subjects he most cares about, he needs to maintain his silence on Israel. (Except, of course, he does tell us where he stands in this blog post.)
I have no problem with Krugman’s position. He is most concerned with income inequality in our own country, with the poor and middle-class in particular, and with an America that is reverting to the Gilded Age of great wealth, low tax rates, and greed.
If he speaks out on Israel/Palestine, the lobby will try to shut him down. It is then better that he maintain his silence. My only question is how long will we permit this situation to continue?
After all, if they can shut Paul Krugman up, who exactly will be allowed to speak?