Jew-baiting is simply one way that the new old media and old new media are trying to find their collective footing in a changing press environment and a bad economy. So, in the interests of sharing my understanding of this successful recipe with my colleagues in the opinion press, these are some notes on how to increase traffic to your struggling website.
The Jew-baiter’s Lexicon
Here are some of the euphemistic catchphrases that will cover your ass with your queasier colleagues in the press corps while announcing to those in the know that your cesspool is open for business, with examples drawn from top anti-Israel blogs:
1. “The Israel lobby”
A conspiracy theory by any other name, the “Israel lobby” has long been invoked to explain unconditional U.S. support for the Jewish state. This conceit hit the mainstream in 2007 with publication of the Walt-Mearsheimer book explaining that a broadly inclusive coalition of U.S. citizens of Jewish descent ranging from the far left to the far right are subverting U.S. foreign policy on behalf of Israel. Walt and Mearsheimer deny that what sounds, looks, and smells like a conspiracy theory about Jewish power is in fact one. Why? Because conspiracies about Jewish power are for anti-Semites, and they, by contrast, are tenured professors at two of the most esteemed universities in the United States, men who are simply trying to explain the mysterious forces that have poisoned the U.S. public so much that it overwhelmingly supports the Jewish state in poll after poll, subverting rational U.S. interests in the Middle East through a uniquely irrational process that is applicable to the behavior of no other state on the planet. That’s why.
Here, for instance, Stephen Walt finds the proof vindicating his claim that it was indeed the Israel lobby that drove the United States to make war on Iraq—Tony Blair says so! The problem however is that Tony Blair said no such thing. Walt not only wrenches Blair’s quote out of context, he also wildly twists the evidence surrounding the run-up to the Iraq war to fit his theory. In Walt’s account, the fact that Israel was vocal in its opposition to the Iraq war, until it eventually fell in line behind the George W. Bush Administration’s democracy-promotion crusade like a good ally, was a feat of astonishing misdirection, which appears to have fooled even Stephen Walt himself (as well as Mearsheimer). By the end, it appears, the United States was taken to war not by the Bush Administration but by a remarkably complete list of nearly every Israeli and American Jewish politician, journalist, activist, and thinker, liberal and conservative alike, including Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon, “Every Israeli politician who Bill Clinton knows … and he knows a lot,” Howard Kohr of AIPAC, Nathan Guttman of The Forward, Michelle Goldberg of Salon.com, John B. Judis of The New Republic, Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker, the Brookings Institution, Martin Indyk, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Mortimer Zuckerman, Matthew Berger of the Jewish Telegraph Agency; Dr. Mandell Ganchrow, executive vice president of the Orthodox Religious Zionists of America; Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism; David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee; Gary Rosenblatt, the editor of The Jewish Week; and Rabbi David Saperstein Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
So how does Jew-baiting work in practice? Let’s look at the comments on this particular post.
“Bush and Cheney only had to walk down the hall to consult with Israel, considering how many in their cabinet and appointees have dual citizenships with Israel and were already actively involved with the Israeli government… All roads lead to PNAC, AIPAC, JINSA, ZOA, AEI, etc.” says one commenter, leaving out only ZOG in his paranoid alphabet soup. Another writes: “Everybody knows that many (not all) Jewish Americans care more about the security and preservation of the Israeli state than they do about the safety of American citizens.”
A commenter named Jacob, whom the other commenters appear to believe is Jewish, remarks that among other troubling issues with Walt’s argument is that his list of Jews responsible for the war seems to include virtually every public figure in the American Jewish community. Once baited, the mob zeroes in: “Calm down Jacob.” “Stop whining and make your point.” “Stick to the point and ease up on the histrionics.” “[Y]ou are, unfortunately, indicative of the sickness called Zionism that has perverted the Jewish community. It’s time to start to take RESPONSIBILITY for the actions of YOUR community. Get some help, Jacob.”
This is a synonym often used to designate the kind of American Jew who has forced Washington officials to sacrifice U.S. interests, as well as U.S. blood and money, in order to make war on behalf of Israel’s desire to gobble up Muslim and Arab lands. First, the neocons slipped something into the well that Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and other policymakers drank from before they made war on Iraq; now the neocons are eager to push the U.S. into a conflict with Iran. If Weiss is to be believed, Washington Times reporter Eli Lake and a bunch of other Jewish journalists with no evident influence on the decision-making process are in fact setting the agenda for the entire Barack Obama Administration. To the Mondoweiss audience, it appears to make perfect sense that the decision on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program will not be shaped by administration principals like Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Vice President Joe Biden but rather by Sen. Joe Lieberman’s op-ed in the Jerusalem Post. “[W]ith the neocons and aipac’s plugs in congress/media calling openly for war,” writes one commenter, “and with zionist liberals and fake leftists/progressives demonizing Iran more subtly to pave the way, how much longer before zionism, inc. gets their way on this?”
3. “Good Jews” vs. “Bad Jews”
If you give evidence that you have a problem with all Jews, you’re identifying yourself as an anti-Semite. It’s important then to make a distinction between two kinds of Jews—the “good Jews,” who agree with your conspiratorial views, and the “bad Jews,” who are often referred to with the shorthand term “Likudnik.” John Mearsheimer makes the distinction a bit more baldly, calling the bad Jews the “New Afrikaaners” and the good ones, “righteous Jews,” a cleverly nasty twist on the Jewish concept of the righteous gentile.
“Most American Jews,” writes Andrew Sullivan, “retain a respect for learning, compassion for the other, and support for minorities. But the Goldfarb-Krauthammer wing—that celebrates and believes in government torture, endorses the pulverization of Gazans with glee, and wants to attack Iran—is something else. Something much darker.” In other words, the “Krauthammer/Goldfarb wing” represents the bad Jewish thoughts of U.S. Jewry. As Leon Wieseltier put it in The New Republic, “[Sullivan’s] assumption, in his outburst about ‘the Goldfarb-Krauthammer wing,’ that every thought that a Jew thinks is a Jewish thought is an anti-Semitic assumption, and a rather classical one.”