The Jews

Barnett, Thomas P. (2006). Jimmy Carter’s new book. Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog. December 28, 2006. Available online:

An unusually poorly thought-out piece from Thomas PM Barnett on Israel and the Jews

Barnett, like much of the Franco-Arab pseudo-intelligentsia, is under the mistaken assumption that identity matters and that, more specifically, people are willing to fight for it:

Israel’s fears [with regards to] to a loss of cultural identity are just a precusor to that of the Arab world’s fears [with regards to] to a loss of cultural identity.

Israel’s paranoia regarding a return to non-Jewish hegemony over the last remaining concentration of Jews has a lot less to do with “identity” and a lot more to do with a history of genocide. The foolishness of allowing the same play twice would be equivalent to, say, accepting an Islamist guerrilla-state in the horn of Africa.

As Israel is a diverse country with multiple societies (think secular, Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox, etc), I have little idea what Tom means when he writes:

Both cultures [Israeli and Arab] reach for apartheid-like defenses, feeling completely justified in that response, because the preservation of cultural identity is crucial in their minds, as in, worth fighting and dying over.

I’ll chalk up his unfortunate post to too-clever-by-half-ism, a common curse of gifted writers who get carried away by their own rhetorical brilliance.

4 thoughts on “The Jews”

  1. I'll chalk up his unfortunate post to too-clever-by-half-ism, a common curse of gifted writers who get carried away by their own rhetorical brilliance.That's one of the oddest compliments I've heard in a while.

  2. I admire Tom and his writing a lot.

    He is a very smart guy and a very good writer. However, his post on the Jews doesn't make sense. It does not fit with the rest of what he's written, it does not fit with PNM Theory, it does not fit with reality.

    It does, however, fit with his recent “you go girl” posts [1,2]. Tom likes to give liberal/left-of-center interpretations on his blog from time to time, which is fine. PNM Theory is flexible, and it's important to get political buy-in. Those posts are clever, and I'm sure Tom gets a kick from writing them. But they are also well thought out, and require serious thinking to engage.

    His Carter/Jews post is clever, and nice and liberal, but without the substance. I know Tom knows what he's talking about — he's a smart guy — but his post doesn't reflect that knowledge. Instead he reaches for clever shots. It reminds me of his attack on Tom Friedman some time ago [3,4]. Indeed, I think those two pieces (the Friedman-attack-piece and the Carter-apologia) are easily the worst things he has written. Neither should have been published. Neither should have been typed.


  3. 'Another reason I admire Tom & Sean so much is there ability to actually type what they are thinking, as opposed to bizarre references to alternate realities! :-)'

    don't forget my ability to spot a 'there' that should have been a 'their' 😉

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