Thu, 2 November 2017
Anti-Semitism knows no party. Throughout modern history, it has manifested in different forms, in different countries, across the political spectrum. In the years following the Second World War, antipathy to Jews and the Jewish State was found in the nascent conservative movement in the United States. It had a home there, that is, until William F. Buckley Jr. entered the scene. In his pivotal role as doyen of the American Right, Buckley ensured that anti-Semites had no place in the pages of conservatism’s flagship publication, National Review.
But as the Cold War came to an end, right-wing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism reappeared. As the writings and statements of men like Pat Buchanan and Joe Sobran became ever more hostile to Jews and Israel, Buckley again stepped into the breach. In a special issue of National Review, and then in a fuller and annotated book, Buckley set out In Search of Anti-Semitism. Though it pained him to accuse his longtime friends and allies, Buckley ultimately concluded that men like Sobran could not be defended from the charge of an anti-Semitism that ought to have no place on the Right.
In this podcast, Matthew Continetti, editor of the Washington Free Beacon and scholar of modern American conservatism, joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to discuss Buckley’s book. Continetti lays out the history of anti-Semitism in American conservatism as well as Buckley’s role in driving it to the fringes of the movement. Silver and Continetti also examine the definition of anti-Semitism, what distinguishes legitimate from illegitimate criticism of the State of Israel, and the place of anti-Semitism in today’s fractured conservative politics.
Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as Ich Grolle Nicht, by Ron Meixsell and Wahneta Meixsell.