I began to have more respect for Judis when he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003; that took some chops, especially since he wrote for the New Republic where a generation of younger "liberal" pundits were proving their manhood by backing George W. Bush's excellent adventure. (Notably, the best of these guys, Andrew Sullivan and Peter Beinart, apparently learned a lesson from that one, big time.)
In Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict, I was surprised to find that Judis had written a book whose animating premise is moral outrage at what Zionism has wrought.
As for Judis' storyline in this volume, I was more interested in his account of the intrigues of European Zionists before World War I and of the contested creation of the Zionist lobby in the United States than in his ostensible subject -- why President Harry Truman accepted the partition of Palestine despite his instinctive abhorrence toward creating a state that mixed religion and secular legitimacy.
That Truman backed off this instinct seems just a normal instance of interest group advocacy influencing policy in the U.S. political system.
More striking to me was Judis' account of how U.S. Jewish leaders had to be led and even coerced by their foreign Zionist brethren into adopting the European notion of Jews as a "nation" (and so in need of a homeland territory) instead of what their situation in the U.S. had taught them: that Jews are members of a religion and possibly a culture (and even, among Reform Jews, something like a "denomination.") These are very different self-understandings, pointing to different politics. Judis dates the triumph among U.S. Zionists of the political and national idea to shortly after World War II, under the spur of the horror of the Nazi Holocaust.
In his opinion, subsequent Zionist leadership barreled off on a wrong track.
This still seems to be the case among those who claim to the be only spokespersons for U.S. Jews and who seek to silence any other points of view. And Judis points out that Democratic officeholders, perhaps even more than Republicans, remain subject to the pressure of political cash.
In Judis' view, President Obama came into office thinking he could break the pattern -- and learned that he could not.
Not surprisingly, many of Judis' former comrades from the New Republic (Leon Wieseltier, former owner Marty Peretz) and the right (Wall Street Journal opinion writers) have denounced him for writing uncomfortable truths of U.S. Zionist history. For me, the book is a welcome enlargement of what can be spoken from a powerful source.