He's an Anti, She's an Anti, You're an Anti, Too

by Gene Callahan by Gene Callahan

As the neocon foreign policy fiasco plays out like a slow motion viewing of the car wreck scene from The Blues Brothers, the neocons are backing into their burrows like frightened, angry wolverines. Like any other mustelid, when cornered they’ll attempt to make their opponent stink, in the case of neocons by employing the smear. And their favorite smear of all is to call opponents “anti-Semitic.”

David Frum, of course, is the master slanderer, and he has gone as far as to imply that the mere use of “neoconsesrvative” is anti-Semitic. Well, Mr. Frum, it’s not our fault that many neoconservatives are Jewish. But it’s just as true that many neoconservatives are not Jewish, and that far more Jews are not neoconservatives than are.

Frum’s whole idea is absurd. Most Nazis were German. So, if I were to mention that I dislike Nazism, am I being anti-German? Just about every member of the IRA is Irish. Is coming out against their views and tactics “anti-bog-trotter”?

In other words, Mr. Frum, stop being such an ass.

Another prominent neo-conservative hurler of the anti-Semitic spitball is Andrew Sullivan. (Let’s be clear: I find Sullivan, whom I’d imagine is Irish, every bit as distasteful as Frum, whom I was not even aware was Jewish until he began announcing it regularly.)

A brief look at Sullivan’s exercise in navel-gazing… I mean his blog… reveals that about every fourth entry accuses someone or other of anti-Semitism. The first instance I note is especially absurd: “The latest example: a story in the left-wing Scottish paper, the Sunday Herald, implicating Israelis in the 9/11 attacks. This is not a fringe paper. Money quote:

THERE was ruin and terror in Manhattan, but, over the Hudson River in New Jersey, a handful of men were dancing. As the World Trade Centre burned and crumpled, the five men celebrated and filmed the worst atrocity ever committed on American soil as it played out before their eyes.

Who do you think they were? Palestinians? Saudis? Iraqis, even? Al-Qaeda, surely? Wrong on all counts. They were Israelis and at least two of them were Israeli intelligence agents, working for Mossad, the equivalent of MI6 or the CIA.

Their discovery and arrest that morning is a matter of indisputable fact. To those who have investigated just what the Israelis were up to that day, the case raises one dreadful possibility: that Israeli intelligence had been shadowing the al-Qaeda hijackers as they moved from the Middle East through Europe and into America where they trained as pilots and prepared to suicide-bomb the symbolic heart of the United States. And the motive? To bind America in blood and mutual suffering to the Israeli cause.

So what, exactly, is anti-Semitic about that passage? After all, it is an undisputed fact that five Israelis were celebrating 9/11 across the Hudson from New York. Are we simply supposed to never mention this fact? The author doesn’t claim, anywhere in the article, that Jews everywhere celebrated the attack, or even that a single other Jew anywhere celebrated it. Does Sullivan consider it anti-Semitic to even consider the idea that Israeli interests might differ from American interests, or that the Israeli government might act contrary to the wishes of the US government? Is it also anti-Semitic to mention that Jonathan Pollard is in prison for spying on the US and for Israel?

In another entry, Sullivan relates a story from a correspondent about a party in LA. The correspondent met an Egyptian doctor, a pleasant, cultured, man, and began discussing the Middle East with him. At first things went well, but soon:

“The diatribe began with the stuff about how Jews truly control the American government and society — how policy in the mid-East was completely driven by Jewish American interests — this was the same man who had agreed with me moments before how many of the problems in the Mideast were the result of Islamic fundamentalism and corrupt Mideast governments. ”

Sullivan comments, “Nazi ideology is alive and well and in the minds of many even in this country.”

What in the above quote represents “Nazi ideology”? The speaker never asserts that Jews are an inferior race. He never contends that they should be confined to ghettos or expelled from the US, let alone murdered. He never argues that the superior Egyptian race ought to assert its military dominance over America, or Israel, or anywhere else.

The views the Egyptian doctor expressed could be shared by someone who was wildly pro-Semitic. Such a person might very well say, “The Jews control America — and thank goodness for that! If it was in the hands of anyone less capable, we’d be in terrible shape.” One could also have neutral or even positive feelings about Jews in general, and still feel that, representing a mostly pro-Israel interest group, they are exerting too much influence on US policy.

As a libertarian, I am relatively uninterested in who holds the reins of power. My interest is in making those reins a lot less powerful, so that I won’t care so much who is holding them. Therefore, I’ve paid very little attention to discussions of just who makes up the “global elite.” But it is clear that one’s views on who is running things are entirely orthogonal to one’s like or dislike for any particular group. After all, I don’t think many Englishmen who held anti-Irish views thought that the Micks were secretly running the world!

For all of their tossing around anti-Semitism as a way to silence their opponents, it is ironic how unabashedly anti-Moslem many of these people are. For example, Sullivan favorably quotes Mark Steyn saying: “There’s something pathetic about a culture [Islam] so ignorant even its pathologies have to be imported.”

I challenge Sullivan or Frum to locate a single quote in the major outlets they regularly smear that is nearly as unambiguously anti-Jewish as that quote is unambiguously anti-Moslem. (Of course, there are real anti-Semites out there, in whose journals one can find real anti-Semitic quotes. If you write for, you’ll periodically receive mail from them calling you a “Jew lover” and so forth.) But there are many, furiously negative quotes about Moslems in the neocon outlets.

What’s more, the anti-Islamic prejudices of these folks aren’t just some vague grumbling at a cocktail party. No, they recommend nuking Moslem cities, forcing Moslem women into sexual submission to Americans, and forcibly converting Moslems to Christianity.

Hey, but that’s all in the name of good fun! You can recommend policies that kill hundreds of thousands of Moslems and still be a jolly fine fellow. But make sure you don’t casually remark, at a dinner, “There sure are quite a few Jews in Hollywood,” or it will be clear that you’re a hatemonger.

November 8, 2003

Gene Callahan/Stu Morgenstern Archives