Jewish Journal


Krugman’s bravery, second round

by Shmuel Rosner

April 30, 2012 | 9:43 am

Paul Krugman (Photo: Reuters)

My post on The ‘bravery’ of Beinart, and Krugman made some ‎waves, some understandable and expected, some the result of ‎misreading or misunderstanding.  Since I’d like to make sure ‎we’re all on the same page – we don’t have to agree, but would ‎like that we agree on what we disagree – I offer the following ‎comments to complement the previous post on the subject.‎


I was writing about Krugman’s post, not about Beinart’s book. That ‎Krugman decided to crown Beinart a hero does not change what one ‎thinks about Beinart’s book or its author. As many of my readers well ‎understand, I do not much like Beinart’s book (if you want to read ‎critical reviews of the book try here and here). However, it is not his ‎fault that Krugman confuses provocation with bravery.‎

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‎2. ‎

That is the really the gist of what I was trying to say: Bravery isn’t ‎something that should be accredited lightly to people who write in free ‎countries about topics on which there is free debate and when there’s ‎no personal price involved on the part of the writer. Salman Rushdie ‎wrote a brave book when he was writing about Islam – it put his life in ‎danger. Yu Jie is brave – he was jailed and beaten and had to flee China ‎for speaking truth to power. Beinart is not brave. Criticizing Israel in ‎liberal publications like The New York Review of Books – rightly or ‎wrongly - is not bravery. ‎


I read some of the comments sent by Rosner readers following my post. ‎Some readers liked what I wrote, many readers did not. ‎

One reader defind my post: “extreme nitpicking”. I’d readily admit that ‎some level of nitpicking was involved. He also says I’m trying to “stifle ‎honest debate”. I’m not – I’d welcome any debate that is based on facts. I ‎couldn’t find a single convincing fact in Krugman’s post; all I found was ‎broad generalities. ‎

One reader asks: “Don’t you have anything real to write about?” Well, I ‎do. But since Krugman is a well-known and influential columnist I ‎think his comments on Israel are worthy of scrutiny. Just so you know: ‎He made the front pages of some of Israel’s most-read news sites. ‎

One reader writes: “Rosner is not in Krugman’s league”. I’m sorry to ‎report he’s right – but this makes Krugman’s sloppy post worse, not ‎better (one expects more from the man in the higher league).‎


Marc Tracy of Tablet, referring to my post (and basically agreeing that ‎Krugman’s post was a “far too casual, tossed-off blog post), writes: “I’d ‎bet Krugman has something interesting to say” about Israel. And I must ‎say: Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is a noble thing to do, but ‎I’m not sure why Tracy has such belief in Krugman’s ability to say ‎something “interesting” about Israel. Does he believe that a brilliant ‎economist must have something interesting to say about every topic he ‎puts his mind to? Does he believe that Krugman is just pretending to ‎avoid thinking about Israel – that he is a really closet-expert on all ‎things Israeli? ‎


Look at the following quotes – do you agree with any of them?‎

Evacuating the Gaza Strip was “extremely immoral and extremely ‎stupid”; those who “want peace now will never get peace”; ‎‎“compromises and gestures [for peace] achieve the opposite of what they ‎are supposed to achieve”. ‎

In other words: If you think Nobel laureates in economics have a lot ‎to say about Israel’s policies, why Krugman and not Prof. Yisrael ‎Aumann?‎

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