September 23, 2002

Pro-war political correctness: if you're for peace, you must be 'anti-Semitic'

The comment by the German Minister of Justice that President Bush was focusing on Iraq to divert attention from domestic problems – "That's a popular method. Even Hitler did that" – came in the midst of an all-out propaganda offensive by the War Party to paint the antiwar opposition as "anti-Semitic." On the nation's campuses, a new "watchdog" group, Campus Watch, has been set up by Israel's most vocal supporters to "monitor" our universities for evidence of anti-Semitism. The neocon's favorite Ivy Leaguer, Harvard President Lawrence Summers, has declared that anti-Semitism is on the rise, not only throughout Europe and the Middle East, but also in the U.S. In an ironic dramatization of the (once) conservative view that foreign aid is bad because it may some day come back to haunt us, Israel's amen corner in the U.S. has launched a slick television ad campaign, intent on prettifying the Jewish state's increasingly ugly policy of naked aggression and ethnic cleansing. (Hey, I hope you enjoy the ads, because you're paying for them!)

The timing of the German controversy couldn't have been better, as far as the War Party is concerned, and Condi Rice was quick to snarl back at Berlin:

"The reported statements by the interior minister, even if half of what was reported was said, are simply unacceptable. How can you use the name Hitler and the name of the president of the US in the same sentence? Particularly how can a German, given the devotion of the US in the liberation of Germany from Hitler?"

Condi's unspoken assumption is that Germans are forever to be deemed morally inferior and incapable of judging their betters, namely the United States. After all, we "liberated" them – after handing over half the country (and half of Europe) to the Communists. The loopy thesis of Daniel Goldhagen, that permanently banishes the entire German race to a kind of moral purgatory, is rejected by many Zionists and most Jews, but eagerly embraced by a top U.S. official. If not for Condi's genuinely bigoted obtuseness, she might see the rather obvious truth that the Germans are certainly well-qualified to warn us of the dangers attendant to Hitlerism.

Who better than a German to tell the story of Hitler's rise? Who more than they know the dangers inherent in visions of world hegemony? As for Condi's incredulity at the "anti-American" crime of having Dubya and Der Fuehrer occupy the same sentence, it certainly takes a lot of nerve on her part to whine about the promiscuous Hitler-mongering that characterizes discussion of the Iraq question, and, indeed, the foreign policy debate in general.

For an American official to complain about this kind of hyperbole really does take the cake, since every single American President since Bush 41 has invoked the Hitler specter as justification for a policy of endless war. To the senior Bush, Saddam Hussein was "worse than Hitler." When U.S. forces "liberated" Panama from Manuel Noriega, a strongman Washington had supported for years, it was suddenly "discovered" that the Panamanian dictator was an admirer of – you guessed it! – none other than the man with the funny mustache. As Michael Parenti relates:

"The Pentagon reported U.S. troops entering Noriega's headquarters and discovering pornography, a Hitler portrait, voodoo paraphernalia, and one hundred pounds of cocaine. The pornography turned out to be Spanish-language copies of Playboy. The Hitler picture was in a Time-Life photo history of World War II. The 'voodoo' implements were San Blas Indian carvings. And the 'cocaine' was nothing more than an emergency stockpile of tortilla flour. But these belated corrections received scant coverage."

To Bill Clinton, a tinpot tyrant of Slobodan Milosevic's ilk fit the Hitlerian profile to a tee. When asked to justify the war against the former Yugoslavia, he invoked the shade of the Thousand Year Reich:

"What if someone had listened to Winston Churchill and stood up to Adolf Hitler earlier? How many people's lives might have been saved? And how many American lives might have been saved?"

This overblown and over-used analogy has been the knee-jerk response of American officials to each and every adversary we've faced since the real Hitler perished in the flames of his own Gotterdammerung. Referring to Saddam as a Middle Eastern Hitler has become the common parlance of all wings of the War Party, and even some anti-war commentators eager to prove their anti-Saddam bona fides.

As if an impoverished, militarily weak, left-socialist dictator sitting out in the middle of the desert equaled the industrial and military might of the Nazi empire at its zenith! Outside the U.S. and Israel, it's too absurd a comparison to be taken seriously, except as war propaganda of the crudest, most unconvincing sort. Yet it is uttered by an American President and high government officials almost as a kind of mantra, a magical invocation designed to ward off evil spirits – in this case, anyone who dares to question their policy of perpetual war.

A desire to end the discussion, rather than begin it, prefaces the public pronouncements of the War Party these days. Condi Rice's smearing of the Germans was taken a step further by William Safire, the New York Times columnist and American Likudnik, who reports the alleged remarks of Rudolf Scharping, the former defense minister, as evidence of a "bigoted analysis" of international politics. At a meeting in Hamburg, Scharping was asked why Germany was breaking with its American allies on the Iraq question. As Safire would have it, this was the occasion for at least a partial reawakening of the Blonde Beast:

"Rudolf Scharping reported that he had answered that very question in a Schröder cabinet meeting: it was all about the Jews. Bush was motivated to overthrow Saddam by his need to curry favor with what Scharping called 'a powerful – perhaps overly powerful – Jewish lobby' in the coming U.S. elections. Jeb Bush needed their votes in Florida as George Pataki did in New York, and Congressional redistricting made Jewish votes central to control of Congress. Germany, the discredited minister said proudly to his discomfited audience, had rejected such pandering."

Does anyone deny the importance of Florida and New York in American politics? Does anyone really question that Israel's lobby is among the most powerful in Washington? American commentators routinely make precisely these points without being accused of a hate-crime. In analyzing the internal political dynamics of a slavishly pro-Israel foreign policy, and George Dubya's rush to war, Scharping was merely repeating what Robert Novak and Chris Matthews – to cite just two examples – say to millions of American viewers and readers all the time. Are they, too, guilty of promulgating a "bigoted analysis" – or is this just another way of describing anyone who doesn't toe the Likudnik party line?

The goal of this ongoing propaganda campaign is to equate virtually all expressions of opposition to the war as "anti-Semitic" outbursts, a strategy firmly rooted in the real meaning and politics of the coming conflict, which are just as Scharping described. For Israel will indeed be the chief beneficiary of the conquest of Iraq, which is why their American supporters have become the vanguard of the War Party. Those "weapons of mass destruction" we keep hearing about, if they exist, have a limited range: Tel Aviv is Saddam's target, not Texas, but George W. Bush seems to have lost track of the difference. To rationalize our President's embarrassing geographical confusion, his supporters have taken to smearing anyone who points out the difference as an "anti-Semite."

Not since the "Red Decade" of the 1930s has a foreign government commanded the absolute loyalty of a significant political faction, one capable of engaging in fierce political combat in concert with its overseas overlords. The essence of the old Stalinist spirit was the fanatic desire to stamp out all opposition, to isolate and defame it, and drive it out of politics altogether; today the same militance animates Israel's neoconservative cheerleaders. The sinister group that calls itself "Campus Watch" keeps "dossiers" on professors deemed too critical of Israel. What next – will they follow in the footsteps of the real loonies and post an "enemies list"?

If you were opposed to Russia during the war years, you were a "fascist fifth columnist"– an epithet the Commies of yesteryear used to refer to the isolationist and Trotskyist opponents of Roosevelt's drive to war. Now the "ex-"-leftist turned rightwing nut-ball David Horowitz describes the antiwar movement as a "fifth column" in the service of the Iraqi Hitler. In true retro fashion, Horowitz has started a "Defend Israel" "war chest," and regularly pleads for money from his brainwashed followers just as the old Communist Party unconditionally defended the Soviet Union – no matter what atrocities it committed – and took up contributions on behalf of the Workers' Fatherland.

The idea that an alliance of Christian fundamentalists and their Jewish equivalent has taken hold of the Republican party and what used to be the conservative movement is not all that surprising. But the War Party has made far more gains of late, even establishing a beachhead at Harvard. The President of that august institution, already having won the hearts and minds of everyone from Hilton Kramer to Norman Podhoretz (a narrow spectrum, that, but a significant one), has now stepped forward to denounce the divestment movement that has bedeviled Israel's amen corner on college campuses across the nation. It was bad enough, he says, when people like Pat Buchanan and Russell Kirk descried Israel's undue influence on American politics,

"But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent."

Yes, even liberals and "progressives" (i.e. parlor pinks and outright commies) are shamed by the sight of the American giant being led around by his nose. Ariel Sharon says "jump!" and the President of the most powerful nation on earth wants to know "how high?" We pay more tribute to the Israelis than any conquered province paid to their Roman overlords – and still it is never enough, as the price of this "special relationship" continues to skyrocket. It is a price that is measured, not only in dollars and cents, but also in political and moral capital.

Politically, the American-Israeli symbiosis means that the "war on terrorism" is unwinnable, and therefore eternal. Osama bin Laden couldn't wish for more. Morally, it means every time Sharon's helicopter gun-ships mow down a few more Palestinian kiddies, the American government and the American people must bear the burden of partial responsibility for these crimes. A divestment campaign is one way to ameliorate the moral dilemma of being an American citizen who continues to uphold the foreign policy of the Founders, which is precisely why Summers and the Israel lobby oppose it so vehemently. Summers pontificates:

"Hundreds of European academics have called for an end to support for Israeli researchers, though not for an end to support for researchers from any other nation. Israeli scholars this past spring were forced off the board of an international literature journal."

But surely the boycotters were making a point when they singled out Israel and not other nations: that the policies of its government are unacceptable. As for Israeli scholars being barred from international journals, it depends on the views of those scholars. As Summers says later on in his sanctimonious tirade, "We should also recall that academic freedom does not include freedom from criticism." We should indeed, which is precisely why an academic boycott, based on the expressed views of individuals, is a legitimate weapon in the war of ideas, and not the act of anti-Semitic hooligans. And I would like to know if Summers was among those who protested the European Union boycott of Austria when the Freedom Party came into the government: if not, then I must politely ask him to shut the heck up.

Summers whines that Israel is not universally beloved:

"At the same rallies where protesters, many of them university students, condemn the IMF and global capitalism and raise questions about globalization, it is becoming increasingly common to also lash out at Israel. Indeed, at the anti-IMF rallies last spring, chants were heard equating Hitler and Sharon."

Life is tough, isn't it? Here you regularly invade, occupy, humiliate, and systematically destroy an entire society before the eyes of the whole world, and what kind of appreciation do you get? None! Zero! Zilch! According to Summers, it's okay for the anti-globos to attack capitalism, free trade, and modernity – but he draws the line when it comes to Israel. Each to their own hierarchy of values….

Like all neocons, Summers is a potential police agent, a one-man Cheka whose nose for political correctness always translates into a hunt for treason:

"Events to raise funds for organizations of questionable political provenance that in some cases were later found to support terrorism have been held by student organizations on this and other campuses with at least modest success and very little criticism."

To hear Summers tell it, the Osama bin Laden Defense Fund and Marching Band is operating right there in Harvard Yard. Well, then, who are they? Why didn't he name these organizations "of questionable political provenance"? This is the favorite tactic of the new Chekists: to announce, loudly, that there are traitors in our midst who, it is implied, ought to be immediately arrested, without being too specific. That way suspicion falls on everyone who dissents from the pro-Israel party line, spreading evenly over the landscape like radioactive fallout, poisoning the atmosphere and choking off debate.

The Germans are already apologizing, and the scrappy Justice Minister has been forced to resign: the commissars of political correctness made an example out of her, as if to warn any German – or American – politician that they will only be pushed so far.

The very real divergence of American and Israeli interests will eventually lead to a general denunciation of the old-line foreign policy establishment, and the vast majority of high-ranking American military, since they, too, oppose a war whose sole beneficiary (aside from Big Oil) is Israel. It will be pointed out that the so-called "chickenhawks" are mostly Jewish, and that to criticize these militants is to reenact Kristallnacht.

There is only one proper answer to that, but it isn't printable in a family website such as this one. Suffice to say that criticism of Israel is likely to rise in exact proportion to efforts to suppress it, especially among college-age and high school youth. Instead of whining about the alleged rise in anti-Semitism, Summers should spend his time addressing the main cause of it in the twenty-first century – the policies of the government of Israel.

– Justin Raimondo

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.