October 28, 2003
the old joke, chutzpah is exemplified by the man who murders his
parents, then asks the court to show him mercy as an orphan. A less
amusing but more timely illustration would be a Zionist inveighing against
The publisher Mortimer B.
Zuckerman has just written a cover story for one of his magazines,
U.S. News & World Report, on The New
Anti-Semitism. Whats new about this
anti-Semitism? Zuckerman tells us immediately: its
twentieth-century version, anti-Zionism.
This implies that many Jews are
anti-Semites, since many Jews oppose Zionism in principle. What
principle? The principle that all men are created equal. Israel is based on
the principle that some are more equal than others. Jews have rights
non-Jews dont have.
But Zuckerman avoids all
mention of the long debate over Israel among Jews themselves. He treats
the Jewish claim to Palestine as self-evidently right and denial of that
claim as perverse and malignant.
He also ignores the crimes by
which Israel is necessarily maintained. This is altogether typical of
Zionist polemics: while the Israelis kill women and children, destroy
homes, and drive people out of their native land, they want the subject of
discussion to be the dark motives of their critics. The worse Israel gets,
the more they squeal about anti-Semitism.
The Zionist polemical strategy is
always to treat the critic as the defendant. His merely verbal
offenses must be regarded as more serious than the
innocent blood real blood that stains Israel. Hence
Zuckerman cites, as an instance of scurrilous
anti-Semitism the flat statement of the leftist British paper
The Guardian that Israel has no right to exist.
Well, since when does any state have an unqualified
right to exist? States have to be justified by the way they act toward
their subjects. And a leftist paper can hardly be expected to endorse a
state, which, while claiming to be a democracy, is directly and
fundamentally based on racial discrimination as well as the
permanent expulsion of the countrys original majority.
If youre an American Jew
who has always lived in Brooklyn, you can become a privileged citizen of
Israel any time you want. If youre a non-Jew who was born in
Jerusalem and driven out by the Zionists, you can never reclaim your home.
According to Zuckerman, only a bigot could object to this. Others might
call it institutionalized bigotry. Or just tyranny.
The elastic concept of
anti-Semitism really means that in every conflict, Jews must be
considered innocent victims. Its reminiscent of the similar
concept of McCarthyism, which allowed Communists to pose
as victims while Communism was still murdering and oppressing untold
millions. McCarthyism was in fact a bloodless, if bungling, attempt to get
Soviet agents out of government jobs. Yet we still hear about the piteous
victims of McCarthyism.
Joe McCarthy was ruined because
he couldnt back up all his charges of Communist affiliation. But
nobody pays any penalty for making false charges of anti-Semitism. Of
course if you define it broadly enough, practically everyone becomes a
potential anti-Semite. In the realm of thought crimes, as Stalin realized,
precise definitions are an annoying inconvenience. When you hear
anti-Semitism, think anti-Soviet activities.
Why talk about Israels deeds, when you can talk about its
Ill never forget the first
time I saw Ariel Sharon interviewed on television, about twenty years
ago. He was being asked about the charge that hed arranged the
slaughter of more than a thousand refugees in Lebanon. Since he looked
like a tough old soldier, I expected him to speak with a leonine roar.
Instead, he spoke in a high-pitched, plaintive whine. He saw himself as an
innocent victim! He still does.
But the classic whine of all time
came from Meyer Lansky, the old mobster. Hed applied for Israeli
citizenship as a Jew, claiming the right of return, but the
Israeli government decided that in this case the claimaint was simply too
notorious. Lansky was refused. When youre a Jew, he
sighed, the whole world is against you.
There spoke a highly cultivated
sense of victimhood. Ultimately, a Jew may even be a victim of Israel! I
once quoted Lanskys reflection to an anti-Zionist Jew, and he
nearly fell off his chair laughing. If you quoted it to Zuckerman, I suspect
hed nod in solemn agreement.
Even Jewish humor has its