Wisdom of Crowds
Wisdom of Crowds
Matt Yglesias on How Gaza Scrambled Identity Politics

Matt Yglesias on How Gaza Scrambled Identity Politics

Do people actually have principles, or is it all about identity in the end?

“Justice Aroused” (1903), Udo Keppler (American, 1872 – 1956).

Do Arab Americans support pro-Palestine protests because of identity politics? What about American Jewish support for Israel? Are both groups being “tribal” or are they fighting for universal values — as they understand them?

Recently, policy guru and Ur-Blogger Matt Yglesias pointed out that some of the political thinkers who, just a couple years ago, were aligned in opposition to identity politics today find themselves on opposite sides over Palestine. One of the names Matt mentioned was our own Shadi Hamid. What happened?

Matt joins Damir, and Shadi to figure it out. In their conversation, they discuss the demands of pro-Palestine protestors, whether conditioning aid to Israel would be effective, whether global justice claims are “nonsense,” and of course the nature of identity. Why do we believe what we believe, and how do come to hold the positions that we hold?

Towards the end of the episode, the conversation gets more personal, when both Shadi and Matt go deeper on how their own religious identities have been affected by the Gaza war. Matt, a liberal Jew who supports a two-state solution, says: “Playing dice with the existence of Israel is dangerous, it’s a lot for my heart.”

NOTE: We felt the final 20 minutes of the conversation with Matt were fascinating and surprising in the best way possible, capturing something important about this American moment — so we are dropping the paywall and making the full episode available for all subscribers. We hope you enjoy it.

Required Reading:

  • Slow Boring, Matthew Yglesias’ Substack.

  • “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate,” AKA “The Harper’s Letter” (Harper’s).

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. and Israel (Washington Post).

  • “Israel’s Two Wars” by Matthew Yglesias (Slow Boring).

  • Shadi’s tweet, drawing on his book The Problem of Democracy, on how U.S. support for Israel undermines Arab democracy: “Our relationship with Israel distorts U.S. policy in the Middle East. We support Arab dictators in part because they are more likely to accept Israel's dominant position in the region. Democracy, however, would elevate anti-Israel parties to power.”

  • Matt Yglesias on X: “It’s interesting that a bunch of people who I read who four years ago were in agreement about the perils of identity politics now sharply disagree about Israel/Palestine and the disagreements exactly track Jewish vs Arab or Muslim backgrounds.”

  • The Mexican-American War.

This post is part of our collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Governance and Markets.

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Wisdom of Crowds
Wisdom of Crowds
Agreement is nice. Disagreement is better.