There really isn’t much to be added to this short but incisive post by Phil Weiss on Mondoweiss except to agree with his sentiments; the lack of guts by so many mainstream American intellectuals to comment on Zionism and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, as it’s seen as negatively affecting the career. Grow a pair, already:
Good career move. One of the great moments in intellectual spinelessness. Look at the last paragraph here, the justification of intellectual irresponsibility by Dave Eggers. If Gunter Grass stands for anything now, it is the responsibility of prominent intellectuals to speak out on important questions when world peace is threatened. Reported in the Turkish Press, from AFP:
“US writer Dave Eggers will not travel to Germany to receive a prize Friday from the Gunter Grass Foundation due to the controversy over the Nobel laureate’s recent poem on Israel, his agency said.
“Eggers, 42, best known for his memoir “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” and Hollywood screenplays, was to pick up the foundation’s Albatross award for his book “Zeitoun” about a Syrian-American businessman accused of terrorist links during Hurricane Katrina.
“The New York-based Wylie Agency said in a statement released by his German publisher that Eggers would not attend the event in the northern city of Bremen because he did not wish to be drawn into the uproar over Grass’s poem.
“”Eggers won’t be coming for the ceremony because in light of the recent debate, he would be forced into commenting, endlessly and needlessly, on Grass and Israel and Iran, when the purpose of his visit was supposed to be about discussing his book Zeitoun, and the plight of Americans during and after Hurricane Katrina,” it said.”
This moment demonstrates something else. Eggers isn’t in the Israel lobby; I don’t think he’s said a word about the question. But the lobby has what Daniel Bell would describe as cultural hegemony (in the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism). Any criticism of Israel is still the third rail in American public life. Writers who take a stand endanger their hardwon status– their reviews, their assignments, their publishing futures. John Mearsheimer used to be published on the Times Op-Ed page all the time. He hasn’t been on there since the Iraq war. Brave guy. Or Naomi Klein– she is simply too independent a thinker to care about mainstream status. So she takes a brave stance on Gaza.