Judt could see past Zionist tribalism

The death of Tony Judt is a monumental loss and the New York Times obituary provides a wonderful quote that beautifully captures his inspiring journey:

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.

In 2006, a scheduled talk at the Polish Consulate in Manhattan was abruptly canceled for reasons later hotly disputed, but apparently under pressure, explicit or implicit, from the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.

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.

Mr. Judt expressed some surprise that he should be defined by his position on one issue and expressed distaste for public controversy, while showing an unmistakable relish for the cut and thrust of public debate.

“Today I’m regarded outside New York University as a looney-tunes leftie self-hating Jewish communist; inside the university I’m regarded as a typical old-fashioned white male liberal elitist,” he told The Guardian of London in January 2010. “I like that. I’m on the edge of both, it makes me feel comfortable.”