Leon Wieseltier is one of the finest wordsmiths in American public discourse. Yesterday he published a column about his former colleague at The New Republic, Andrew Sullivan. (h/t Silke). It's not his finest column, not even close, which is too bad. Perhaps the relationships between the two men interfered in one way or another; we can't know.
Very briefly, Wieseltier says that tropes Andrew uses these days about Israel are antisemitic. He doesn't come out and say Andrew is, mind you, but he circles around the idea.
Jonathan Chait, another TNR fellow, today responds to Wieseltier by stating emphatically that "Andrew is not an Anti-semite". Chait disagrees with him on Israel, but knows him not to be an antisemite.
Andrew himself relates to the matter from time to time, always to profess his innocence of antisemitism.
From what I can see, he really isn't one. Not yet. Which isn't to say he won't become one. That, after all, is what makes the history of antisemitism so lethal: that people can join (and also leave). If hatred of the Jews were stable, and individuals either were or were not for their entire lives, it would be easier to contain. It isn't. People can be free of the affliction and later die from it; they can be afflicted and cured; they can be latently antisemitic then actively so, then again latent. So long as they are free to think, people can change their minds in whatever direction they change them in.
Is Andrew on the way to becoming an antisemite? It's possible. He's already using antisemitic types of expression, as Wieseltier shows, and as any sustained reading of his popular blog will demonstrate.