Monday, August 09, 2010

Tony Judt, RIP

Tony Judt, dead of Lou Gehrig's Disease at age 62. The NYRB links to some of his essays for them, includign "Israel: The Alternative," about which, see the NYT obit:
His views on Israel made Mr. Judt an increasingly polarizing figure. He placed himself in the midst of a bitter debate when, in 2003, he outlined a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian problem in The New York Review of Books, proposing that Israel accept a future as a secular, bi-national state in which Jews and Arabs enjoyed equal status. * * *

Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, told The New York Observer at the time that Mr. Judt, on Israel, “has become precisely the kind of intellectual whom his intellectual heroes would have despised.” Mr. Judt’s name had been removed from the masthead of the magazine, where he had been a contributing editor, after his article on the one-state solution.
I think Judt will be read and valued longer than Wieseltier.

Kenneth Anderson, himself not a fan of Judt's views on Israel, has a nice appreciation at the VC.

Naturally, the Israel essay is more subtle than the Wieseltiers would have one believe. Judt sees three options: retreat to the 1967 borders, the one-state democratic solution, or ethnic cleansing. Judt sees Israel as the last example of the post-Versailles successor states, which used their independence to "set about privileging their national, “ethnic” majority--defined by language, or religion, or antiquity, or all three--at the expense of inconvenient local minorities, who were consigned to second-class status: permanently resident strangers in their own home." Read the whole thing (it's short), and the exchange of letters that followed, as part of remembering Judt for what he wrote, not for what was said about it.

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