Columnist Howard Jacobson recently wrote a pensive piece entitled "There Seems To Be a Pecking Order Among The Dispossessed, and Jews Come Last" that appeared in Britain's The Independent this past Saturday. He argues that the mainstream liberal worldview is that Jews — largely by virtue of a militarily strong Israel — are no longer among the dispossesed but are the dispossessors themselves.
Jacobson agrees that Israel must help ease the Palestinian exile because Jews should always be aware of their own history of exile. However, he states: "If it is terrible to lose your home today, then it was terrible to lose your home yesterday, whoever you are." He writes that instead, the liberal consensus holds that there are "disrespected Palestinians on the one hand, and the 'fanatics of Zion' on the other." The diasporic longing, as Jacobson puts it, is so entrenched in Jewish history that Jews have come to expect a mention when it comes to a list of the world's displaced peoples, and when that doesn't happen, Jews start to question their own right to a homeland. Which shouldn't happen.
Jacobson mentions the notoriously pro-Palestinian war reporter Robert Fisk, whose recent piece about Mount Ararat and the Armenians which wasn't even about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict includes the obnoxious line, "When a people claim to have settled again in their ancestral lands — the Israelis, for example, at the cost of 'cleansing' 750,000 Arabs who had perfectly legitimate rights to their homes — the world becomes misty-eyed." Jacobson parries this by bluntly stating that the world is surely not misty-eyed about Israel. He's right.
I mention Jacobson's column specifically because it brings the anti-war crowd to mind. I cannot see how any hippie with any conscience could join in these protests or marches. It's one thing to be against the war in Iraq, but to actively join hands with the Great Unwashed is another. For the fact is, these anti-war rallies have always brought out a sizeable contingent of anti-Semites, who argue that American foreign policy parrots Israeli foreign policy and that America's top brass is controlled by the Jews and the Jewish lobby. Anti-war protests are a great excuse to bring out the Jew-haters on both the extreme Left and Right as well as militant Muslims. Even if I was against the war, I would have kept my distance from this puerile lot and I would have stated my antipathy toward them. Yet it's amazing how many anti-war types have failed to do just that.
In the diseased minds of the anti-Semites, it follows that, since America and Israel are so intrinsically linked, America's wars are Israel's wars — and vice versa. America kicked the Arabs out in '48 and again in '67 and took part in the irredentist actions of '73. And so on and so forth. These are the sort of people who nodded their heads solemnly and muttered genuine agreement when they first heard about Mel Gibson's drunken rant that the Jews were responsible for the world's problems.
In this sense, Jacobson's basic argument is a bit flawed — the Jews do come first. They are the first to be blamed for war and Middle East aggression.
I've heard it said that because Israel is a militarily strong nation-state, perfectly capable of sticking up for itself and never showing any reticence to do so, the Left abandoned the Jewish cause for the Palestinian one. So Leftists sought out another dispossessed people to rally around in order to make themselves feel good and righteous.
We hear about the nobility of the anti-war activists, sticking up for a different America they wish to see — one that kicks the Israelis in the face.
Little wonder, in this environment of hostility toward Jews and their nation-state, that Jacobson felt moved to counter the bias in the press with regard to Israel in his latest column.