FREELY Anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism go
hand in hand By Rabbi Moshe
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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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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?
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.
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).
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
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.
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
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. Pleaseclick here if you are
interested in contributing.