December 18, 2013

John Podhoretz Storms Off Stage at 92nd Street Y

Commentary editor and New York Post columnist John Podhoretz abruptly exited the stage Monday night at the 92nd Street Y, after becoming too incensed to continue a discussion about Israel. 

According to moderator Jane Eisner's account in The Jewish Daily Forward, Podhoretz had been "firmly, even aggressively, disagreeing" with Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, throughout the discussion on what it means to be "pro-Israel." 

But he lost it when a member of the audience asked about the American Studies Association's announcement Monday that it would boycott Israeli academic institutions over Israel's treatment of Palestinians (something Podhoretz sees as "disgusting" and anti-Semitic). When Eisner tried to intervene in the discussion, according to her account, the editor said she was physically threatening him and stalked off.

Eisner wrote that the panelists, who also included David Harris, executive director of American Jewish Committee, all agreed the ASA vote was "a hypocritical and ultimately counterproductive action." But then Ben-Ami "segued into talking about Israeli government policies that, in his view, make it difficult for some Americans to believe Israel really does want peace with the Palestinians." Podhoretz accused him of blaming the victim, and the crowd booed.

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