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 Lansky’s Complaint 

October 28, 2003

In 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 prejudice.

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.” What’s “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 don’t 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.”

[Breaker quote: "When you're a Jew ..."]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 country’s original majority.

If you’re an American Jew who has always lived in Brooklyn, you can become a privileged citizen of Israel any time you want. If you’re 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. It’s 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 couldn’t 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 Israel’s deeds, when you can talk about its critics’ motives?

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Ariel Sharon interviewed on television, about twenty years ago. He was being asked about the charge that he’d 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. He’d 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 you’re 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 Lansky’s reflection to an anti-Zionist Jew, and he nearly fell off his chair laughing. If you quoted it to Zuckerman, I suspect he’d nod in solemn agreement.

Even Jewish humor has its limits.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2003 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
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