Tuesday, March 11, 2003
You know, I've been trying really hard not to call the explosion in anti-Israel feeling "anti-Semitism." I've been trying very hard not to be paranoid and hysterical, because I hate Jewish hysteria. I've written before that I think Jewish neo-cons mis-interpret World War II, and that this colors their mis-understanding of the purpose of American power today. I've written that I think the Holocaust Museum does not belong on the Mall, and should be removed to some other location, and that specifically the existence of such a museum when there is no Museum of Slavery and Anti-Slavery is a terrible insult to black Americans. I am aware that Jews are a minority in this country, and that this imposes special constraints and obligations, as it does on all minorities. I think I have a reasonable amount of credibility on the topic of Jewish influence and that I am not a paranoid and hysterical Jew.
But my defenses are crumbling. I've blogged about this, too, before. It seems to me that to believe "the Jews" are behind the war with Iraq you have to believe not only that "the Jews" act collectively and are disloyal to their country, but have some plausible explanation as to how they have come to control the Bush Administration - an Administration that raised relatively little money from Jewish sources, whose strongest backers are Texas oil men more likely to be friends of the Arabs than of Israel, headed by a President who campaigned actively for Muslim votes, and whose family has close personal ties with the House of Saud. By rights, if this Administration were biased because of its sources of support and its personal connections, it would be biased towards the Saudis, and against the Israelis, not the other way around. So to believe that Israel somehow "controls" the Bush White House through its purported agents, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and so forth, you have to believe that either Bush is stupid enough to cross his core supporters by appointing these people, or that these Jews have some magical powers of persuasion otherwise unknown to mortals.
I'm afraid anti-Semitism is the right word for public speculation that "the Jews" are running this Administration against American interests, because the assertion is transparently irrational. There is no plausible explanation for how "the Jews" control this White House. Moreover, the sorts of folks who make these assertions never attempt to provide even a cursory explanation; it is simply assumed that the presence of Jews proves their influence. But Bush and Cheney picked Wolfowitz and Elliot and the rest of the neo-con crowd. Why? What mysterious hold do "the Jews" have on these apparently intelligent and sober men that makes them follow Sharon's every command? Precisely what strings do the nefarious Jews have to pull? Bush didn't win many Jewish votes last time, and he doesn't really need them next time; Jews on concentrated in states that would be a reach for Bush in anything but a landslide election. Bush didn't raise a lot of Jewish money last time, and he doesn't need it next time; he's doing fine relying on more traditional Republican sources and his own family network. The "Jewish" industries of media and finance have been less than friendly to the Bush Administration. The Likudniks may be in charge - but if they are, it's because two Methodists from deep in Republican country put them there and want them there. And even if you think Bush is a gibbering idiot whom Sharon has hypnotized, how do you explain Dick Cheney? Donald Rumsfeld?
Let's talk honestly. The Bush Administration clearly thinks support for Israel is in America's interests. So the leftist anti-war crowd is at least consistent; they are against America and they are against Israel, and whether they hate Israel or America first, whether they hate Israel because they think it's an American colonial outpost or hate America because it is the exemplar of cosmopolitan, "Jewish" capitalism hardly matters. But the paleo-cons who are convinced that the Bush Administration is really the Sharon Administration should be more honest in their assessment of the situation. They should not attack Jews for their supposed influence. If they are going to bring Jews into the equation, they should attack Bush for being a Jew-lover. I think that would be clarifying to all concerned: the problem is not that Jews have mysteriously taken control of the White House through their dark arts; the problem is that our country is being led by a full-blooded WASP who actually supports the Jewish state.
You know the funny thing? After he takes all this heat for being a tool of Jewish interests, Bush still won't get a majority of Jewish votes when he runs for reelection.