July 2006
                      (pages 1, 4)

Fear of the Smear
by Joe Sobran


     {{ As you probably already know, Israel is the only 
"democracy" dedicated to the proposition that all men 
sure as hell aren't created equal. }}

     More than sixty years after Hitler's death, this 
seems to be the golden age of anti-Semitism, judging by 
the frequency with which the charge is made. 
{{ Apparently "anti-Semitism" was the first word Abe 
Foxman, Alan Dershowitz, and the neoconservatives learned 
to pronounce right after "mama" and "dada." }} An 
anti-Semite used to be a guy who hated Jews; now he's a 
guy whom Jews hate.

     All right, that's too simple. But you see the point. 
Calling someone that name is, nowadays, the easiest way 
to do him a bit of no good. It's almost never applied to 
people who have actually harmed Jews, or urged others to 
harm them; it's used for those who commit Thoughtcrimes 
against the Jewish state. Like "racism," its use has 
widened as the actual evil has receded. The fewer racial 
lynchings we have, the more we hear about racism.

     The charge of anti-Semitism doesn't have to be 
proved; and it can't be =dis=proved. It's an assertion 
about motives, not actions. That's the beauty of it: its 
unfalsifiability. Joe McCarthy was ruined for calling too 
many people Communists, even card-carrying Reds; but has 
Norman Podhoretz paid any penalty for calling too many 
people anti-Semites?

     Any number can play, including gentiles. Taki was 
accused by his Catholic publisher. My fate was crueler: I 
was =defended= by mine. Bill Buckley denied that I was 
anti-Semitic, but wrote a sentence, or a chapter (with 
Bill, the difference may be unclear), adding that though 
I was innocent of the crime, I somehow deserved to be 
falsely accused of it. That was a little like saying, 
"True, he was a guard at Auschwitz, but let's give him 
credit: he always showed up for duty on time." Thanks, 

     Even when an innocent man is falsely accused, you 
see, he is still guilty of ... of ... well, of =having 
been accused.= The charge itself is its own proof! Orwell 
and Kafka would understand. So would Stalin.

     Most people don't really care whether the charge is 
true anyway. To them, the very fact that it was made is 
enough to warrant ostracism. Their reaction may be 
interpreted as follows: "Uh-oh! The Jews are mad at this 
guy! I'd better steer clear of him, or they may come 
after me too!" This response implies, of course, that 
"the Jews" control everything, which is what Henry Ford 
infamously believed and which is what Abe Foxman seems to 
want =everyone= to believe. Some might call that belief 
anti-Semitic, but there you go. Weird, but true. The 
label is enough to terrify people, to make strong men 
tremble. (The "racist" label used to have similar power, 
but nobody thinks blacks run the country.)

     {{ No use saying, "But I'm not anti-Semitic!" 
Automatic retort: "Yeah, sure. That's what anti-Semites 
always say." Pleading innocent only gets you in deeper. 
Denial is further proof of guilt. So what if it's also 
what an innocent man might say? }}

     Here's the real kicker, though: The burden of proof 
is on the accused, not the accuser. Since the word 
"anti-Semitism" is never really defined, the accused 
can't even know just what he's accused of, let alone 
whether he's innocent. It can mean anything from genocide 
to joking about "Israel's Amen Corner in this country," 
the phrase with which Pat Buchanan enraged Israel's Amen 
Corner in this country.

     {{ Lots of "neoconservatives" claimed the label 
proudly, until it became a term of reproach, whereupon 
they decided it was nothing but an anti-Semitic code-word 
for "Jew." In effect, they denied their own existence. As 
Milovan Djilas once observed, "The Party line is that 
there is no Party line." But here it's even crazier: the 
Party line is that there is no Party. }}

     {{ Recent case history: two distinguished 
professors, Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer 
of the University of Chicago, have just published a long 
article on how costly the Israel lobby's success has been 
for the United States. Care to guess what they're being 
accused of? Several neocons offered the clinching 
evidence: David Duke agreed with them! Before you say 
that two and two make four, make sure Hitler, or Pat 
Buchanan, never said so. }}

     Now you might think it's almost self-evident that 
two countries as remote and different from each other as 
the United States and Israel would have divergent 
interests, that what was good for one might sometimes be 
bad for the other, and so on. {{ This is essentially all 
the two profs are saying, albeit with footnotes. }} But 
even self-evident truths, if applied to Israel, can 
become explosive and, yes, anti-Semitic.

     Still, I think "Jewish power" is largely a mirage. 
True, there are powerful Jewish interests, and they can 
be nasty, but most Jews are only their distant relatives. 
Fear of "the Jews" is really fear of nuts like Foxman, 
whom it would actually take very little courage to stand 
up to. I think of a line in the film MILLER'S CROSSING, 
where the Irish hero says to the Irish mob boss, "You 
don't hold elective office in this town, Leo. You only 
run it because people =think= you run it. When they stop 
thinkin' it, you stop runnin' it."

     As I wrote shortly after the 9/11 attacks, "When it 
comes to Israel, an American journalist speaks his mind 
at his own risk. That helps explain why so few voices in 
the U.S. press are saying what European journalists may 
say without fear." The neocons will learn that fear is a 
dangerous weapon to wield. Those who fear you today will 
hate you and fight you tomorrow. Osama bin Laden and 
George Bush will learn this too.

A version of this piece was originally published at 
Taki's Top Drawer (, April 8, 


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