Ron Radosh writes about Peter Beinart’s admiration for a figure in South African politics who has a peculiar backstory:
I have spent so much time on Suzman to illustrate why someone who has a family connection to South Africa like Beinart, and who calls himself a liberal, should have had her as a hero. She was not exactly invisible. That is why it is more than strange to find out who his hero is. He identified the person in a three-part interview with Jeffrey Goldberg. Here is Beinart’s answer after Goldberg asks him, “Do you consider yourself a Zionist?” and “What is the goal of your essay?” Beinart writes:
My hero growing up was Joe Slovo [emphasis added] who spoke only Yiddish until he was nine and upon moving to South Africa as a boy from Lithuania (we South Africans are almost all Litvaks, except my mom’s side, who are Sephardi) became the head of the military wing of the African National Congress. There are Slovos in every place Jews have gone, people who have devoted themselves as Jews (though I’ll admit Slovo was not as good a Jew as say, Abraham Joshua Heschel) to the fate of non-Jews. There’s a tension, but for me the value is in the tension, in loving Zionism and Judaism and also feeling that one’s love of who one is impels one towards moral universalism. I see that spirit powerfully in the Israeli left…
Who was Joe Slovo? Was he a liberal like Beinart or Suzman? No. He was not only the leader of the Stalinist South African Communist Party (SACP) whose top members made up the leadership of the African National Congress, but a man whose very concept of Judaism and views on Israel reveal him to be anything but liberal.
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