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What About the Jews?


When Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld first compared Al Qaeda and its network of disgruntled and misguided young men to Hitler and Stalin it seemed like over-statement. It was a strident political note from a man under fire – almost literally – and clawing for his political life. When he repeated the assertion, along with his charge that anyone not interested in fighting terror on the terms laid down by the Bush White House was a Neville Chamberlain-like “appeaser,” it looked like more Bush intimidation tactics. Regrettable but, sadly, a sign of our political times.
But now that President George Bush has chimed in, it’s pretty clear what’s going on. They’re going after the Jews, specifically Jewish-American voters who have long supported Democrats and might, just might, be talked into voting Republican. Or, at the very least, less interested in throwing financial support to Democratic candidates.
After six years of ineptitude, it’s obvious that the Bush administration isn’t interested in fighting terror; if it were, it would still be seriously looking for Osama Bin Laden rather than shutting down the CIA’s efforts to do just that. It wouldn’t be continuing to turn a blind eye to Pakistani refusal to roust the Al Qaeada supporters it shelters. No, the Bush folks are simply interested in using terror to win elections.
And certainly, the terror networks out there provide nice scary image: That mysterious Arab guy with a turban, a devious mustache and a machine gun, or worse. It’s worked for them before. In 2004, the Bush White House did a masterful job of frightening women, specifically mothers, who left the Democratic Party and voted for Bush. Having peeled women away from the party, this year, they’re going after the Jews.
It no coincidence that Rumsfeld and Bush talk about fascists and communists. Say “Hitler” to anyone who calls themselves a Jew – hell, say the word “Hitler” to almost any American – and they’ll reflexively think “concentration camp.” Some might think “death camp.” A few well-read souls might say “6 million slaughtered.” But in the end, the thought is the same: World War II marked the first time in the 20th century that the entire world was confronted with legalized mass-murder by a government and the main target of that “final solution” were German Jews. Stalin, after the war, was no better, sending thousands to their deaths in the name of solidifying his personal power within the Soviet Republic. Again, he used ethic and religious affiliation to target his enemies – real and imagined.
Now, say “Hilter” to anyone with a personal awareness of this not-so-distant history, someone watching the recent chapters in the Israel-Lebanese conflict. Hezbollah, the organization responsible for triggering the conflict, doesn’t recognize Israel and has vowed to erase the nation from the maps of the Arab world. And it’s more popular now – after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon – than it’s ever been. Anti-semitism rings out, not just from Al Qaeda tapes, Palestinian government officials but also from the Irani government who may or man not be nuked-up and ready to bomb their not-so-distant neighbor. In new and disturbing multi-media ways, the message of hate is clear and while its target is often America or, more generally, the West, Jews are almost always mentioned as enemies. “Never Again” the Jewish community – and most of the civilized world – said after the Nazi camps were discovered, their horror unmasked. That sentiment has sustained Israel’s relationship with American for almost 60 years and no recent president has been as supportive of Israel’s policies as this one.
That’s why it’s not that much of a leap to see where the Bush folks are headed with their World War II comparisons. If we do not do as they say, we are endorsing mass slaughter… Of course, if you’re Jewish, that has a more personal ring, doesn’t it? The Bush folks want you to think they’re coming for you, your wife, your children but at this juncture. Why? So you think again about supporting a party that’s questioning its support for Israel, you think again about voting as a Democrat. So you’re scared.
The sad thing is that this just might work. The split in the Jewish-American community over Israel’s behavior is getting more and more difficult to smooth over. The rhetoric over the Israel and Palestine has gone from shrill to something well beyond that; allegations of genocide are a regular part of what passes for conversation and it’s not unusual to see “Crush the Jewish State” posters at rallies, signs that 20 years ago would have been seen as flatly anti-semetic. But these days, liberals, particularly the crowd that like to call itself “progressive,” say they won’t support Hillary Clinton because of her stand on Israel – she supports the nation’s right to defend itself. And long-time Democrat Joe Lieberman’s support for the Iraq War – a case of a man’s religion confusing his politics if there ever was one – has been abandon by his party. Smart Liberals – like Marc Cooper - talk about how the Democratic Party needs to come to grips with the failure of its Israeli politics. Cooper’s right. Which makes the Bush Administration’s tactics all the shrewder in their potential to split long-time Democrats from their party.
If you’re looking at winning elections in states like Florida, New York, New Jersey or California, this is a very good time to use fear – fear of extermination, fear of a new final solution, or just fear – to weaken one of the pillars of the Democratic Party. And instilling fear – as the last election demonstrated – is a whole lot easier than rooting out its cause.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:52 PM | Permalink

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