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    Front Page
     Feb 18, 2005
SPEAKING FREELY
Anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism go hand in hand
By Rabbi Moshe Reiss

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

"The Longest Hatred" continues, but it has changed its spots. (No, the spots were not Willie Shakespeare's; it was Jeremiah who wrote, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?") For centuries it was largely theological - the Jews killed God. Then for more than a century it was racist - Jewish blood contaminates. Now it is largely political, despite the few who still respond to the anti-Christ and the racist's motifs.

The right wing still hates the Jews, but it hates Muslims more. For the left wing, anti-Semitism is a very convenient excuse for anti-Americanism and anti-globalization-modernity.

They are right!

Jews see the Americans' vision as their own; for them the vision is much more important than the reality - the reality is yet to come - like the Messiah. Jews see globalization and modernity as a "light unto the nations".

Only in the United States of America could the immigrant Jewish boy Arthur Miller become a great playwright, and marry Marilyn Monroe after she divorced the immigrant Italian Joe DiMaggio. (I wonder what Arthur's mother thought the first time he brought Marilyn home to a Passover Seder and what she thought of Moma's matzoh-ball soup.) Truly only in America - the Goldena Medina (the Golden Country).

No one is suggesting that America's image matches its actions; one can in fact be critical of the actions while supporting the vision.

The left wing has joined hands with Muslim fascists - the Islamists and jihadists. The Islamists and jihadists are anti-American, anti-globalization-modernists and theologically anti-Semitic as well as anti-Christian.

This is a very strange coalition; but the left wing supported Josef Stalin during most of his time as a totalitarian dictator and supported the Bader Meinhof gang and its associates in the 1960s and '70s. The Muslims feel humiliated by Israel and the US. Europeans feel humiliated by American English being the world's language and the Western culture moving westward ho to America.

The left wing may be anti-Semitic because it is anti-American, while the Islamists may be anti-American because they are anti-Semitic; for both societies anti-Semitism has become fashionable.

Both the United States and Israel have become personalized: In the case of the US, it is President George W Bush and his major political strategist Carl Rove; in the case of Israel it is Prime Minister Ariel (Arik, to his friends) Sharon and his senior adviser Dov Weinglass. Both political leaders are indeed cowboys and their spokesmen gunslingers.

Fifty years ago the gunslinger was a Hollywood hero, Clint Eastwood. He then changed his gunslinging and became a detective first class: "Make my day." The Jewish Sharon does not believe that "the meek will inherit the Earth"; but neither from his behavior does the evangelical Christian Zionist Bush. Neither of these charging hawks would follow either Saul of Tarsus or Saul the Benjamite, son of Kish.

Eastwood now makes existential movies such as Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. Does this tell us something about the United States and Eastwood? He is getting older (as am I). It is interesting that the population of Europe has gotten older; they no longer have children sufficient in numbers to replicate themselves. Perhaps George should have hired Eastwood instead of Charlotte Beers to explain his policies.

Bush, despite invading Iraq, has allowed a relatively free election - better than those held in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Sharon, despite invading Palestine, protected the Palestinians so they could have relatively free elections. Both invasions may have been wrong, but in both cases the actions resulted in beginning to bring the vision of freedom to a culture that prefers death to freedom.

Abu al-Zarqawi, the Emir of Iraq (anointed by Osama bin Laden), made an eloquent statement about his opposition to democracy. In democracy the "one who is worshiped and obeyed and deified, from the point of view of legislating and prohibiting, is man, the created, and not Allah ... He can choose any religion he wants and convert to any religion whenever he wants, even if this apostasy means abandoning the religion of Allah ... Whoever changes his religion, kill him."

A young Iraqi man whose mother is Shi'ite and father Sunni, criticizing his parents' acceptance of Saddam Hussein, said of the January 30 vote in Iraq, "Let the men and women die [trying to vote] in order to give new life to the kids."

Can one love Americans but hate America? Can one love Judaism but hate Jews?

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (an important theologian for the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood) quotes the Koran about "religious tolerance". He states that the "problem with the Jews is not their faith or law, but of greed and the events that led to this [Muslim] attitude toward the Jews since the time of the Prophet, and after that in our own times, ever since they began to covet the holy and blessed land of Palestine." How can I, a mere rabbi, argue with the sheikh? According to documents distributed in Saudi Arabian mosques in the US, "You may (and must) curse"Jews.

Ann Coulter suggested that "liberals love America like OJ loved Nicole". That's an "in your face" right-wing comment.

The industry of anti-American sentiment is a growth industry, despite the world's obvious need for Nikes. Abu Ghraib has not affected America's trash music, whose language is incomprehensible even to serious linguists. "I hate America" has become the world's default position. Knocking the United States is a form of displacement - for Freudians, probably sexual. Watch the popular mega-series Sex and the City. It was almost as popular in Egypt as the 41-part TV series based on the forged "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" played during the Holy Days of Ramadan.

Anti-Semitism helps non-Americans avoid focusing on their own big problems. It may be that Thomas Friedman is right that "for Europeans, anti-Americanism is a hobby. For too many in the Muslim world it has become a career." For both people it is an obsession. Jean-Francois Revel told us that in beautiful French (see In defense of the Stars and Stripes, April 3, 2004. I as an American do not read French, but my son is a French linguist and translates for me).

Does anti-Americanism breed terrorism, a problem for Europe as well? Soon Europe will feel closer to China than the United States - especially if it can sell the Chinese arms to potentially bomb Taiwan - or maybe it is really a secret anti-North Korean policy developed by Mossad in exchange for Israel bombing Iran for the Americans? (We all know that Mossad perpetuated the September 11, 2001, bombing and therefore created the "war on terror".)

Susan Sontag stated that America is "a doomed country ... founded on a genocide". The former statement seems unlikely unless we choose the long run, in which case, as Lord Keynes suggested, we are all dead, the former unfortunately is true. It is, however, a bit hypocritical to hear this appreciated by Christian European citizens from Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain, considering the genocide they propagated throughout the world.

It is clear that Noam Chomsky is not dangerous despite his language being similar to bin Laden's (although less profane - since bin Laden claims a religious breeding). Chomsky would be a provocative dinner guest - he will damn us if we do and damn us if we don't and in remarkably beautiful language - even in Hebrew for his Israeli guests. He can and will tell us that Americans are responsible for all the world's ills - poverty, war, terrorism, environmental destruction and the death of high culture. For bin Laden, our food despite being kosher is not (although according to Maimonides, a better theologian on Islam than bin Laden, it is).

As a result of this strange coalition, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are now the world's greatest sports.

Everyone loves John F Kennedy (because of or despite Marilyn Monroe; and despite our confusing JFK with RFK - may they all rest in peace) and his "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country". But they forget the second part of that beautiful statement: "My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

This strange coalition needs better explanation; but that is for another time.

Rabbi Moshe Reiss is a graduate of Oxford University, has taught at Columbia University and was assistant rabbi at Yale University. He was the first rabbi to be invited to teach in the Department of Theology at the Catholic University of Leuven - Belgium (founded 1425) and has lectured in various countries. He has published three books on his website (www.moshereiss.org) on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His book on Judaism is being published by sections in the Jewish Bible Quarterly. He now lives in Israel.

(Copyright 2005 Rabbi Moshe Reiss.)

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.


Anti-Semitism peddled in Southeast Asia
(Nov 30, '04)

Foreign forces: Fodder for anti-Americanism
(Jun 11, '04)

What the Jews won't tell you
(Nov 4, '03)

Mahathir is right: Jews do rule the world (Oct 28, '03)

Single-minded simple-mindedness
(Feb 12, '03)

 
 

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