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Henry Regnery, Conservative for Mideast Peace

In the 1950s, Regnery published several important books arguing for justice for the Palestinians. These included Freda Utley’s Will the Middle East Go West?, Alfred Lilienthal’s controversial What Price Israel — which Regnery ran by Elmer Berger and Willi Schlamm before publication; both of them urged him to bring it out — and Per-Orlow Anderson’s They Are Human Too. Regnery discusses these books in his Memoirs of a Dissident Publisher, which is available as a free PDF [1] from the Henry Regnery Legacy Project [2] (as is Utley’s book [3]).

That was then. And now? Today we have Fox News, Pajamas Media, and people like Debbie Schlussel, who unburdened herself recently of this bit of bloodlust [4]: “While I want Israel to beat HAMAS, there is only one way to do so–total annihilation of the Palestinians, who are all HAMAS.” Most of the neoconized Right doesn’t put matters quite so bluntly, of course. But follow the logic: they claim that vast civilian casualties are allowed, as long as the IDF only deliberately targets Hamas. Yet the more civilians the IDF kills, the more potential groups like Hamas have to grow. When this is the case, there are logically only two ways to end the conflict: either the killing must stop or it must intensify to the point where the Palestinians cannot fight back at all. (Or as IDF chief of staff Moshe Yaalon put it [5] in 2002, “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”)

Schlussel advocates slaughter outright; the more respectable Right simply excuses it. Look at the tangled reasoning of an NROnik like James Robbins [6], who says victory “does not require Israel to use scorched-earth tactics” even as he butchers traditional Just War doctrine. When you say scorched-earth tactics are not “required” while you remove ethical impediments to such tactics, what are you actually condoning? Would an unlimited number of civilian casualties be acceptable as long as they were not “deliberately” targeted?

Conservatives have drifted far from their ethical roots. I recommend Regnery’s book, and Utley’s, as timely reminders that the Right once understood and sympathized with Israel’s predicament without condoning brutality toward the Palestinians.

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#1 Comment By Bill Pearlman On January 8, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

It’s truly heart breaking for me has a Jewish conservative to read article after article here that totally concentrates on the evils of Israel and American Jews. And essentially takes the side of those happy go lucky lads from Hamas and Hezbollah. It really is. Is there anything that the Arabs have done wrong here. Or is there anything that in your view that they are obligated to do. Give me at least one thing. You guys can do it.

#2 Comment By Daniel McCarthy On January 8, 2009 @ 3:19 pm

Bill, nobody is blaming American Jews for anything here — in fact, I’m sure the majority of American Jews deplore the attack on Gaza. The Israeli people are not at fault here, either: the Labour government made the decision to drop the bombs and send in the troops. Hamas and Hezbollah are terrible, and if they had the means they would be inflicting much more harm upon Israel. Do you think, though, that bombing and invading Gaza can do anything other than breed further hostility among the Palestinians?

The Olmert government could have tried several measures short of the all-out attack that’s now under way to put an end to Hamas’s mortar attacks: [7] “Bombing the tunnels through which Gazans smuggle weapons would have been a proportionate response …. An even better approach would have been to ease the siege in Gaza, perhaps creating an environment in which Hamas would have extended the cease-fire.” An overwhelming show of force might have held out the illusion of a quick fix, but it’s hard to see what Olmert and company were thinking (if they were thinking of anything beyond the forthcoming election), because they must know full well that yet more brutality will only generate more resistance in the long run. The same applies to Hamas: they know that their violence against Israel will generate a backlash — and they know that Hamas itself can benefit from that backlash. We should expect the Israeli government, however, to have a bit more foresight and humanity than Hamas however, shouldn’t we?

#3 Comment By DirtyHarriet On January 8, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

Are they siding with Hamas and Hezbollah here? Or are they siding with all of those Palestinians that are NOT terrorists yet are being treated as such?

Why cannot Israel-defenders (and the Israeli government) make this distinction, is the real question.

#4 Comment By Philip Giraldi On January 8, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

Many Americans are troubled by Israel because of the way it and its powerful lobby behave, something that has nothing to do with being Jewish. Israel has been stealing land from the Arabs, killing those who resist with relative impunity, and treating the rest like helots who are allowed to live under marginal circumstances in an apartheid-like regime. Killing eight hundred Palestinians, most of whom are civilians and many of whom are children will not destroy Hamas and will only create more terrorists, not fewer. Bill should take a look at the pictures of rows of tiny bodies awaiting burial and should read the accounts of Israeli soldiers blocking ambulances and shooting at clearly marked UN vehicles bringing in food and medicine. This is not rooting out terrorists, this is slaughter and we Americans are complicit in it because no one in our government has the balls to defy the Lobby and tell Olmert that it is time to stop.

#5 Pingback By On Regnery and Mideast Peace « Versed in the Permanent Things On January 8, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

[…] Conservatism at 12:21 AM by vttradcon The American Conservative’s Daniel McCarthy has a great post on the TAC blog about former publisher Henry Regnery and his efforts to publish books that provided […]

#6 Comment By DirtyHarriet On January 8, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

Well said, Mr. Giraldi. I could never find an email address to write you and say thank you for having the cojones to stand up and say what needs to be said. I enjoy all of your articles/postings (that go back many years in TAC and most recently antiwar.com and this blog).

Rock on.

#7 Comment By Bill Pearlman On January 8, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

I read your stuff and I know where you stand. Which is the problem. I checked back on your articles and didn’t find one mention of rocket barrages that Hamas has hit southern Israel with. Nor the Hamas charter, which truly makes fascinating reading. Nor any hint of similar outrage when a Palestinian suicide bomber wiped out a sedar in Netanya. And this proportionality argument is absurd. Way more Germans were killed in aerial bombardment then British. But like “bomber Harris” said when you sow the wind you reap the whirl wind. But please be at least intellectually honest. It is about the Jews and you know it.

#8 Comment By kishnevi On January 8, 2009 @ 9:43 pm

Why cannot Israel-defenders (and the Israeli government) make this distinction, is the real question.

Because the Palestinian people make it very difficult to distinguish between them.

Mr. Girardi, if I want to read Hamas propaganda, I can go to a Hamas site. Those tiny bodies were of course neatly arranged by Hamas for the benefit of photographers, and were put in the target zone of Israeli ammo by Hamas.
Hamas is a group of violent thugs that uses civilians as defensive barriers. For them a dead child is not a tragedy but a propaganda point, unless it’s a dead Israeli child, in which case it’s a victory. And the Palestinians support them and laud their methods. I have no sympathy for them.
If you want to make a reasoned argument that America should oppose Israel in its own interests, make it–there is, after all, one to be made. But repeating propaganda from the Palestinians and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion does nothing but make you look like a idiot–from the point of view of Hamas, a useful idiot.

#9 Comment By Jason On January 9, 2009 @ 6:45 am

How can Hamas or any other terrorist organization be confronted with anything other than force? Are there other serious options?

#10 Comment By TomB On January 9, 2009 @ 6:57 am

It seems to me that “proportionality” arguments can cut in any number of different ways; some surprising, some evil.

Bill’s right of course that the Allied bombing of German cities and indeed of the Japanese cities too wasn’t at all proportional to German or Japanese attacks on Allied civilians. But if you utterly discount the idea of *any* proportionality and just say “war is hell and numbers mean nothing” well then where does that leave you? Doesn’t the fact that Hamas hasn’t killed just one Israeli but indeed scores with its rockets matter? And what about the fact that with one unlucky future hit it could kill hundreds if not thousands more?

And what about the Holocaust? Essentially a war against the jews, it *does* matter that it was six million rather than six, doesn’t it?

So when one observes that with that one tank shell fired toward that UN school it appears that Israel has killed more Palestinians in one second than Hamas has killed with two years or so of rockets, I don’t know that that’s totally irrelevant. One still has to factor in the unfactorable such as the likely fact that Israel’s intention was not to kill any of those kids and etc. and so forth, but that doesn’t make the disproportionality utterly meaningless I don’t think.

The crux of it seems to be that when it comes to profound things like war the normal insufficiency of our discourse and thinking becomes so magnified that it can seem, well … evil too. Giraldi talks about Gaza now and the alleged fact that he didn’t talk about the less intense thing of those intermittent Hamas’ rockets in the past can be seized on to peer into his soul to say that he doesn’t care about jews.

But that kind of … insufficiency exists with everyone. Look at Marty Peretz’s latest gem glibly saying that the message of this Gaza incursion was “Don’t f___ with the jews.”

My goodness Bill, what does *that* mean in light of your accusing Giraldi of being jew-obsessed? Isn’t Peretz essentially saying that that’s how we *should* look at it? Indeed, why can’t the whole sensibility of that statement be seized on by anti-semites to glibly dismiss the Holocaust by saying that its mere meaning is “Don’t f___ with the Germans”? After all, one can hear the David Dukes saying, “that’s how the jews feel after they massacre some gentiles.”

But of course neither can really be how Peretz was meaning his statement. So I think that in talking about all this people of good will have to cut each other some slack. When kishnevi says that for Hamas “a dead child is not a tragedy but a propaganda point” there is some validity there. But by not mentioning the massacre of arabs at Deir Yassin by Yishuv irregulars specifically to terrorize other arabs to flee Israel does this mean he only cares about Israeli or jewish children? Undoubtedly not.

The main tragedy of war is of course the dead and the wounded and their surviving loved ones. But yet another is the coarsening of our thinking and discourse.

#11 Comment By DirtyHarriet On January 9, 2009 @ 5:25 pm

It’s bunk to believe that all those children were ‘neatly arranged by Hamas’. That – along with the ‘Hamas hides among civilians’ excuse – is typical propaganda neatly arranged by Israel and its supporters.

Furthermore, to quote an old friend – Israel represents the Jewish people no more than fire represents water. To criticize the Israeli government for its terrorist-like behavior is far from ‘Jew-hating’ and ‘anti-Semitism’ – perhaps it is those things to those who believe that all Palestinians are terrorists.

The Israel-supporters cannot fathom why anyone would have sympathy for the Palestinian civilian casualties since to them, all Palestinians are terrorists. Thus do they believe that those who would defend such people surely must hate ‘the Jews’. Why else would they take their side?

Nobody should have to put up with rockets being fired at their towns and villages. But this rocketfire does not justify the deliberate and methodical slaughter of civilians on the other side. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If you believe otherwise, then perhaps YOU are the terror-supporter.

#12 Comment By Bill Pearlman On January 10, 2009 @ 11:46 am

And perhaps you might accept the fact that the people of Gaza voted in Hamas. They voted for war. And now they have it. Hamas does hide among civilians, they don’t wear uniforms and they make a special point of going after women and children. And the only reason that the casualties aren’t more heavy on the Israeli side, ( a disappointment to you I know ) is that they have bomb shelters and an early warning system.

You probably heard of the classic definition of anti-semitism, it’s hating Jews more than necessary. I haven’t read anything that Giraldi has ever written that has been in any way critical of Hamas or Hezbollah. And in fact he is a champion of them . And given the stated goals of those respective organizations, ( the destruction of Israel and the death and dispersion of the Jews therein, which they are very explicit about ) what can be made of that except that he agrees with them. Which means that out of all the countries in the world. And in fact all the peoples of the world only Israel is worthy of death. Can this be anything but anti-semitic. What say you.

#13 Comment By TomB On January 10, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

Hi Bill:

What says I is that I think by your standard every single person on the planet could legitimately be convicted of being racists or etc.

Look, in the first place it’s grossly unfair to Giraldi to be talking about this issue specifically mentioning him. I’ve read him for a considerable period of time too and haven’t seen a molecule of race or faith or tribal animus or etc. in anything he’s said. And indeed the totality of your “evidence” against him isn’t really based on any such affirmative evidence at all but teeters instead (and only) on an (alleged) *lack* of evidence, doesn’t it? E.g., that he (allegedly) hasn’t condemned Hamas or etc. that you know of, right?

But even accusing a man of something just a little foul on such a pure “less is more and nothing is everything” theory is troublesome enough I think. To do so with the accusation of anti-semitism seems to me to almost cheapen the meaning of that poison, if that’s possible.

For instance take your theory and apply it to yourself: I think you’d agree that there has been a pretty nasty anti-gentile strain in some of judaism, right? E.g., the literal, historic meaning of “shiksa” and “shaygetz” for instance, or the prayer that Jesus be kept in a boiling vat of excrement. And not all of this is gone entirely, is it? What did that Rabbi say at the funeral of Baruch Goldstein after he had machine-gunned those arabs? “One thousand” [or one million?] arabs aren’t worth one jewish fingernail” or something like that, right? Or the recent Hebron rioters who went about shooting unarmed arabs and scrawling “Mohammed is a pig” on moslem graves; that was pretty well reported so I suspect you saw something of same, right?

So okay, you post to the net alot; where have *you* been condemning any of this kind of stuff? If not, then per the “nothing means everything” standard that you want to apply to Giraldi you want us to conclude that you harbor those kinds of anti-Christian/anti-gentile hatreds?

I don’t think so, and indeed would even bet from the general nature of your posts here that you don’t: The tone and intelligence of same just simply say you neither crazy nor stupid and just simply aren’t a hater. Just as the tone and intelligence of Giraldi’s writings just overwhelmingly indicate that hey, this guy isn’t a hater either.

As a person who supports Israel’s fundamental ability to exist I, like you I suspect, take dark sadness at what can seem like the orgy of sentiment you can see on the net against even that basic right now. As someone (Kipling?) once said, there are times when people just seem to lose their marbles and I think something like that is happening now for various reasons amongst people we disagree with. But one can lose one’s marbles in the other direction too and see conspiracies and racists and anti-semites and etc. around every corner when they aren’t, and that isn’t helpful either.

You’re smarter than that Bill, and I think you know in your heart that Giraldi is no hater.


#14 Comment By DirtyHarriet On January 11, 2009 @ 8:09 am

The people that voted in Hamas – and not all of them did – largely did so because of the corruption of Fatah ( [9] ). And in this same Ha’aretz article you’ll note that in fact, those people did not vote for war.

Try reading once in a while and getting your facts straight, Bill. To someone like you, if you aren’t with the Israeli government, then you’re with the terrorists. Not so. The actions of the Israeli army (and its precursors – the Irgun and Stern gangs) has never cared one iota about preventing civilian deaths. It’s why Israel rained down millions of cluster bomblets on Lebanese civilian areas during its invasion in 2006 three days before a ceasefire that they knew was coming, and why they’ve since refused to provide the UN with the maps of the targets thereof. It’s why they did what they did at Kfar Kassem, Qibya, Qana (twice), Beit Hanoun, Deir Yassin, and Sabra and Shatilla.

With each of these invasions, something more powerful/sinister rises out of the ashes – in Lebanon, and in Palestine. ‘Shooting fish in a barrel’, Israel’s forte, isn’t going to solve the rocket fire problem. Try building/moving that wall to the border on ISRAELI land, removing all settlers from occupied PALESTINIAN terrority, and refraining from committing war crimes against Palestinians (and others). Then perhaps Israel may have a leg to stand on. Until then, they are no better than the terrorists, in my opinion.

But you’re going to keep coming back with your claims that we’re all pro-Hamas, and anti-Semites, etc, because that’s what you keep doing. After having spent years online dealing with pro-Israeli posters such as yourself, it’s fair to say that the goal here is to attempt to discredit anyone who does not fall in with the Israeli line. And anyone that knows me knows that I don’t back down to anyone. You can call me anything you like and try to associate me with this group or that group, but I’m not going away, and it’s not going to change the facts.


#15 Comment By Francesca On July 8, 2009 @ 6:25 pm


Schlussel advocates genocide, and you’re playing the boo hoo hoo I’m a brokenhearted Jew game?! This isn’t a neo con site that you can corrupt with your Ziofascism. This site is for preserving true conservatism. Isn’t it enough that Judeofascists such as yourself have taken over the mainstream republican party and always put Israel first at the expense of the US?! Israel firsters are debating and enacting genocide and I’m supposed to give a wet fart about your “broken heart.” Depart this Paleocon site now!

#16 Comment By icr On March 28, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

The Henry Regnery Legacy Project has disappeared. Just for mentioning this I could easily be accused of being a conspiracy theorist -if anyone cared.

Well, obviously *someone* did care enough to engage in this act of memory holing.