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Letter to the Editor: Paul Gottfried Replies to Dr. Bolton’s Review of ‘War and Democracy’

Although I appreciate the tribute that Kerry Bolton pays to my anthology, I feel that I must clarify a few points in his comments. It may be misleading to suggest that I write as an American patriot or as a critic of Israel. In my essays, I am usually far more sympathetic to Israel as a nation state than I am to the US as a global democratic, multicultural experiment. Contrary to what the neoconservatives have attributed to me, one can find nowhere in my writings attacks on either Israelis or their government. I have focused my criticism on neoconservative and AIPAC defenders of the Israeli Right, who go after and try to destroy professionally anyone who dissents from their party line. Moreover, my complaints about the neoconservatives center not on their Zionism but their transformation of the American conservatism into a recognizably leftist movement.   The neoconservatives’ global revolutionary fixation exists quite independently of their relation to Middle Eastern politics. Actually their Zionism may be the tail that wags the dog. It has served to make their fixation more acceptable to Evangelicals, who love the neoconservatives because they love Israel.

I am not pleased, but merely noting a fact, when I assert that Jews have been emotionally more comfortable with Muslims than Christians. I wish that Jews were less hostile to Christianity and had not nurtured and perpetuated myths about Muslim tolerance and Golden Ages and the inherently evil character of Christian beliefs. These twisted realities have created problems for Jews living in a very tolerant Christian society and make it difficult for me to believe in the sincerity of sudden changes in how the neoconservatives wish us to conceptualize the non-Jewish world. Finally, I would note that most of my anthology presents European intellectual history and only peripherally treats Zionist issues. I am by training a European historian who specializes in political movements since the French Revolution. That said, I am glad that Professor Bolton found so much to discuss in whatever parts of my book were devoted to Israel and Zionism.

Paul Gottfried

Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus, Elizabethtown College


About the Author

Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried is the author of 'War and Democracy: Selected Essays 1975-2012'.