Time was when a popular saying had it that anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals, Meaning that when cocktail parties found it was boorish to attack the international Jewish conspiracy as some did at the end of the 19th century, it became trendy to make fun of and worry about the coming Roman Catholic conspiracy, beginning in the mid-1920s when Al Smith was mentioned for the presidency. Of course, lets face it, no one parlayed anti-Semitism more than Father Charles E. Coughlin in the `30s. But anti-Semitism never gained much currency after World War II where anti-Catholicism seemed to be galloping in those years, particularly when abortion became a key domestic issue.
Now, not strangely, the old saying could be revised to say, Anti-Semitism seems to be the bigotry of the intellectuals. Thats because prominent left-wing critics of Bush foreign policy have not hesitated to hint there is a Jewish influence shaping our policies. Ironically, some of the left have been Jews. True, some prominent thinkers who played a part in formation of the Bush foreign policy have been Jews. Pat Buchanan, a friend of mine but an old-fashioned paleo, coined a phrase by speaking out against the Israeli amen corner in the United States. The theory has been current that some Americans with divided loyaltiesto the U. S. but also to Israelhave seized control of the deliberative processes, just as in the old days it was said that Americans with divided loyaltiesto the U.S. but also to the Roman Catholic church in Romecrafted the election of John F. Kennedy.
Frankly, as a longtime lobbyist who appreciates how opinion is mobilized in behalf of public policy, I acknowledge that the well-being of Israel is important and has a zing politically: but not just for Jews. You can find many Jews of the left-wing variety who are strongly opposed to what they feel is Israels tug on policies in the U. S. and the University of Chicagos John Mearsheimer (with whom I once debated on WTTW) is one of them. I havent read Mearsheimer and Stephen Walts treatise published on the Web site of the Kennedy School and must do it one day
but I am sufficiently familiar with Mearsheimer to say that he is not a self-loathing Jew who wishes to get even with his origins. Mearsheimer always was up-front with me on the idea that the American-Israel Public Affairs committee has a definite goal in mind, which is the preservation of the well-being of Israel. I cannot find any problem with that because as a non-Jew I am also interested in the preservation of Israel. I have never seen any example where a case has been made for the U.S. to take action which would be detrimental to this nation but salutary for Israel. And I would challenge Mearsheimer on that, if that is what he maintains.
Where I think Mearsheimer is wrong is not that there are organizations in this country supportive of a foreign policy in the Middle East which could be salutary to Israel: of course there are, and so what? (However I question his view that this nation spends more on foreign and defense aid to Israel than any other country; we have given Saudi Arabia far more resources as well as other Arab nations). Where I find him right but shading it wrongly. Neo-Cons have heavily Jewish and in this country are in the forefront of crackling good journalism: the Weekly Standard run by Bill Kristol, Commentary published by the American Jewish Committee and others
but unless you really have a wacko conspiracy theory going you have to believe that these influential and brainy Jews swung a Republican establishment that is overwhelmingly non-Jewish to their side: Cheney? Rumsfeld? Bush? Coni Rice? What have they used to do it? Jewish money as political influence? Jews overwhelmingly give money to Democrats and liberal causes.
A Jewish media bund? The New York Times is one of my favorite papers and has been owned by a prominent Jewish family for generationsthe Sulzbergers. Their paper is the foremost critic of Bushs foreign policy and the Iraq War. There have been two secretaries of defense who could be remotely said to be of Jewish ancestral (not religious) heritage, neither practicing Jews but Christian: Caspar Weinberger for Reagan and William Cohen (whose father was Jewish) for Clinton. Was either remotely more pro-Israel than their predecessors? I think not. Clinton was blistered for leaning too far over to the Arabs and Weinberger for not being warlike enough (by George Shultz).
Is it because there are tens of millions of Jews in the nation who are loath to support any party not pro-Israel? No; there arent tens of millions of Jews anyhow. In fact, if you check the Bush administration you dont find many Jews. There was Wolfowitz as deputy Defense secretary. Is it because while there are few Jews, they are so smart as to wield disproportionate balance? I grant you that often the most brilliant people Ive met in academia or without are Jews. Let me give you a personal, anecdotal example.
Illinois Republicanism has had the benefit of a man who is Jewish, a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, a man of influence who was steadfastly supportive of all kinds of Republicansfrom Henry Hyde to Republican candidates for president. He is Ron Gidwitz. He ran for governor on the Republican ticket and did not do particularly wellbut he intrigued me because of his zero-based budgeting philosophy. Was Gidwitz running on a pro-Israel platform, with his venerable father, age 99 and entire family very active in Jewish affairs? No. He is against the Iraq war. It didnt come out as a main topic on my radio program, but he was very clear as one who wants it over as soon as possible. Incidentally, he appeared on the show with State Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat and brilliant scion of a prominent Jewish familywho is also a critic of the war. Both men are deeply observant. Wheres the plot?
Ive taken a long time getting there but I think Mearsheimer would be better served with his conspiracy tale if he were to investigate friends of mine in the Christian evangelical community. We have been allies for many years on socially conservative causes. Many Christian evangelicals have a thorough rationale as why the destiny of Israel is tied to Christianity. Just listen to Pat Robertson, for instance (who really drives me batty, who spins a thoroughly involved rationale for Christian triumph at the end of the day depending on triumph of Israel.) You sit Robertson down with Bill Kristol and his father Irving and youre going to be stunnedeven somewhat disturbedat the bi-polar view that Robertson has in contradiction to the Kristols. I dont share that bipolar world view. I want Israel to continue to thrive but I dont foresee Biblical prophecy redeemed in a sense that would or should drive our foreign policy. Yet Robertson ran for president. Were he to have been president, there is no doubt that Mearsheimers article would be compellingnot because the Jews are in control, but because this one variant of evangelical Protestant Christianity is in control.
To the extent that the Robertson people support Bush and are energeticallyalmost rabidly, if I can use the wordpro-Israel, there is reason for some concern. I was particularly appalled when Robertson said the stroke suffered by Ariel Sharon was from God because Sharon wanted to give away some Jewish territory. But then, some social issues aside, Im appalled by Robertson anyhow. Thankfully, social conservatives come in several categories and I dont think anyone reasonably can make the point that our foreign policy is governed by those uninterested in our well-being.