American Jews Cannot Conduct a Discussion of Jewish Power Out of Earshot of ‘the Goyim’

on 50 Comments

Over the next couple days I’m going to write about an event that took place at Yivo, the Institute for Jewish research, 16 months ago, in Sept. 2006, when at Yivo board member Marty Peretz’s impetus, a group of journalists took the stage to talk about "Jewish Journalists, American Journalism." I looked up this old event because Bill Kristol, the Iraq-war-drumbeater who has lately become the new New York Times Op-Ed columnist, was on the panel. He had some interesting things to say, and I will get to them.

But first I want to talk about a remarkable statement or two, or three, from J.J. Goldberg, the estimable editor of the Forward, about Jewish power in America. I need to set those comments up.  The moderator was David Margolick of Vanity Fair, a former New York Times reporter. The other political journalists on the panel were the rubicund Kristol and Clyde Haberman of the New York Times. Margolick opened the panel by telling of the time some years ago when he asked an editor at the Times about being assigned to the Jerusalem bureau, and the editor, a Jew, asked him if he could "be fair." Margolick was surprised and later insulted by the question. Still seemed insulted.

Myself I think it a wholly legitimate question, and Margolick’s surprise was characteristic of the lack of reflection on the panel. Indeed, later Margolick himself said that at Vanity Fair he had gotten an interview with Ariel Sharon mainly because he was Jewish, and even had to pass a test: "I had to visit his best friend [in New York] and let him know I was a haimische [down-home, in Yiddish] guy." As a result, Margolick said, he felt somewhat "beholden" to Sharon for granting him the interview (though in fairness, Margolick also said that he felt he later alienated members of the Israeli government by writing about Hamas without judgment). This story utterly legitimizes the editor’s question. It shows that Jews covering Israel have a special status–just as Arabs covering Palestine are going to have issues…

The rest of the panel basically echoed this idea, that there was no problem at all involved in Jewish prominence in the media covering Middle East events. Then finally, after two hours, a guy in the audience asked, What about the disproportionate number of Jews in the media, doesn’t that grant Jews influence? Of course there are antisemitic myths. "But it does seem we have a large influence over power."

Haberman answered at first in what I can only describe as a foolish manner. He said that this is "a function of a generation or two, I don’t think it’s going to remain that way forever." Foolish because everything changes in the world in a generation; of course this too will change. What about a problem that’s here right now before our eyes? When the guy in the audience persisted, saying that the panel hadn’t addressed the issue all night, Haberman sourly said, We’ve been here two hours, we couldn’t get to everything. Like it was nothing. Kristol also dismissed the question, saying that some people in the Middle East might buy these "conspiracy" theories, but in the U.S. people don’t "obsess" about journalists’ religions.

Then J.J. Goldberg spoke and basically acknowledged that this was the elephant in the room. He said that the issue of Jewish influence over Middle East policy was a "problem." Not a few–hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East believed this. "It is the standard parlance in the European intelligentsia, and it is becoming acceptable in the American intelligentsia and academia and the blogosphere." Later the same week, Goldberg pointed out, Walt and Mearsheimer were going to be at Cooper Union for their debate–of what was then only a paper in LRB. "These are not two schmucks," he said. "They wrote a bigoted, ignorant and inflammatory paper that made one good point, that America’s relationship with Israel is one of the reasons that we have the conflict we have with the Arab world" and a lot of bad points, including, "that Jews somehow conspiratorially dragged us into that relationship with Israel, that the rest of America wouldn’t have if they knew the truth."

We have avoided the discussion, Goldberg acknowledged, and other Americans were speaking in an "ignorant, bigoted way" about the issue, "because we don’t know how to discuss it… America is in this worldwide struggle partly because of something we happen to like [Israel]. It’s awkward. Maybe it’s good that the Forward has a circulation of [only] 30,000 so we can have the discussion openly and intelligently and the goyim won’t–"

Goldberg didn’t finish the thought. He meant, let’s talk about it without the goyim taking a part.

These statements are remarkable for a few reasons. Anyone who knows Goldberg knows that he is a mensch. I disagree with him about a great number of issues, including his comments about Walt and Mearsheimer, but he is a reflective big-souled guy, and it shows in those comments. The rest of the political journalists on that stage were complacent and self-congratulatory; Goldberg was agonized. Anyone who thinks the Iraq war and the Jewish cheering section that helped get America into the big muddy in Baghdad have not set off a crisis in Jewish-American consciousness is dreaming. The Iraq war will be as important to a shift in Jewish attitudes as ’67 was, I predict.

But the other remarkable thing about Goldberg’s comments is that he thinks this is a discussion Jews can have among themselves (and not all themselves either; note that progressive Jews of my ilk are not even invited to participate) out of earshot of the goyim, a derisive Yiddish word for gentiles. This is un-American. The U.S. is a democracy. Elites are subject to scrutiny, and journalists assist in that process. Sunshine laws and Pulitzer Prizes and 60 Minutes are all about that. To think that Jewish influence is somehow exempt from that sort of consideration is–well I already said it.

I know why Goldberg is saying Jews must have this conversation among themselves. He said honestly at the beginning of the conversation at Yivo that Jews don’t sleep at nights worrying about whether someone is preparing the ovens for them. I know that I am not sympathetic enough to this strand of the Jewish psyche in this blog, largely because it was inculcated in me all my youth and turned out to be a misrepresentation of the American scene for Jews. Yet still those fears are there, in the older privileged set especially; and Goldberg said that even though that is not the reality, and that those fears are wrong, he must consider those fears when he addresses his audience. And when he sees his own reporting about Jewish power cited on antisemitc websites, or in Walt and Mearsheimer’s paper, "I feel guilty and I cringe." An honest man.

Clyde Haberman made something of the same point when he said that Jews "like" the fact that they are overrepresented in the media, "but they don’t like hearing it when it comes out of a non-Jew’s mouth; because it sounds like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion…."

Fascinating. I think this explains a lot of the reaction to Walt and Mearsheimer (who contrary to Goldberg’s assertion are not bigoted and ignorant and inflammatory, they are merely earnestly engaged in anatomizing the greatest foreign policy disaster in nearly 50 years). Non-Jews are not allowed to talk about this stuff, because they are Nazis. And so no discussion takes place, and Jews insist on having the discussion amongst themselves and writing W&M off as antisemites. Like I said, it’s un-American. Jews of my post-Holocaust generation have to have the courage to carry this discussion into the mainstream. It is about elitism and influence, and Americans have been having these types of conversations for 200 years now, without pogroms.   

P.S. One other comment that underlines my point. J.J. Goldberg took a shot at the former New Yorker writer Jeffrey Goldberg. He said that in writing about Hamas in the New Yorker, Jeffrey Goldberg quoted a right wing think tanker to the effect that the group "Islamic Jihad" was believed to be "an arm of Arafat’s operation." J.J. suggested that Jeffrey Goldberg was trying to "delegitimize any dealings with Arafat," by tying him to "mad bombers… Islamic Jihad," a group connected to Iran. J.J. Goldberg implied that quoting a rightwing thinktanker in this manner was irresponsible. "But he slipped it in. Because he’s got an agenda. People do that sometimes because they’ve got an agenda." Note that in the weeks to come, the Washington Post assigned Goldberg Jimmy Carter’s book on apartheid, which lo and behold he trashed. And subsequently Walt and Mearsheimer’s book to trash in the New Republic.   

50 Responses

  1. Anonymous
    January 16, 2008, 1:26 pm

    Rochester Scholar Says Jews ‘Overplay’ Holocaust

    link to

  2. Bill
    January 16, 2008, 1:42 pm

    Be there ever a man with soul so dead, that never to himself hadth said,"This is my home, my native land". Phil,I have followed your site for over a year, and without hesitation, I can say, you are a good man, and a true patriot. The country needs wise men like you. Too bad you are not in government.

  3. Charles Keating
    January 16, 2008, 1:43 pm

    Has there ever been more secrecy in the US government than there is now? This of course, takes it a few steps farther, considering the stakes. I can't be the only that resents it deeply.
    Just try as a lone citizen questioning anything about our middle east policy, foreign aid, or anything at all regarding Israel–with your congressmen. Talk about absurdity, and being treated like a total moron…

  4. Ed.
    January 16, 2008, 2:06 pm

    One thing I’ve noticed about the religious, and this goes for religious Jews and gentiles alike, is their capacity for denial. After all, they quite literally take a huge component of their lives on “faith.” This can be good (social cohesion, psychological ability to persevere, etc) but it can also make a people totally blind and easily suckered. For example, a lot of Christians absolutely still refuse to believe Bush lied America into war, because they believe he is a Christian and thus incapable of that kind of epic deception. With regard to Jews, many of them absolutely refuse to believe the Jewish Neocons played a huge role in lying America into war on behalf of Israel. Both groups live in a fantasyland of denial, and as such are mere intellectual children. I don’t mean that to sound condescending, but it is truly their Achilles heel. No amount of logic will ever get through to them. Hence, those that suffer from this capacity for denial to the highest degree, and Jews seem to be disproportionately represented in this group , should never be put in charge of important matters. It will always end badly.

  5. Crimson Ghost
    January 16, 2008, 3:01 pm

    One thing elitists from Marie Antoinette to the Czar, to today's war mongering zionist billionaires forget is the old adage "if you give them enough rope they will hang themselves" — or in the case of Marie Antoinette lose their heads.

  6. lester
    January 16, 2008, 3:38 pm

    stuff like this is really a guilty pleasure for us goyim. it's like someone reading the minutes of a "elders of zion" meeting that we deny actually exists but secretly fear does. hahaha

  7. LanceThruster
    January 16, 2008, 5:57 pm

    I think I brought up this example somehwere else in here but I remember reading about Hannah Arendt speaking on the Holocaust in front of a mixed group at a Jewish senior center. She had mentioned in the some detail the extent of the Gypsy extermination. She said some of the Jewish audience members got up and left and others chided her afterward and told her, "Not in front of the Goyim!"

    As someone else here mentioned, Philip is a wonderful human being and I am priviledged to read his work.

  8. Jim Haygood
    January 16, 2008, 8:39 pm

    "The other remarkable thing about Goldberg's comments is that he thinks this is a discussion Jews can have among themselves out of earshot of the goyim, a derisive Yiddish word for gentiles. This is un-American."

    Thanks, Phil, for pointing out this essential contradiction in Goldberg's views.

    In his book "Jewish Power," Goldberg estimated that as much as half of the Democratic party's fundraising comes from Jewish sources. This is a rather astounding fact, which the press avoids discussing in front of the goyim, although it explains a great deal (including Democrats' complicity in the Iraq war).

    Influence — whether in the media or in political parties — brings corresponding responsibilities. A constant theme in Goldberg's book is that despite their disproportionate representation in these fields, Jews want to be regarded just like any other Americans, and not singled out.

    Well, we all want to have our cake and eat it too. It's rather naive of J.J. Goldberg to assume that Jews can quietly exult among themselves about their disproportionate public influence, but retain the right to lash out in fury when Walt and Mearsheimer rudely bring the same eye-opening facts to the attention of the great gentile unwashed. Gentiles read The Forward too, J.J.

  9. alicel
    January 16, 2008, 9:24 pm

    I feel this idea of keeping it from the goyim pertains even between close friends, jew to gentile I mean. This has frustrated me no end. Trying to pretend to have a political conversation with friends who are as concerned as I am about our country yet avoid, skirt , distract, whenever these sensitive topics come up. I have almost felt there are talking points out there in the jewish world that are prepared for them to trot out for their gentile friends. It's a paranoia I have that they need to check first with the handlers to find out if it's okay to admit a certain truth or view. I have been shocked to find a great deal of intellectual dishonesty among very smart people who don't tolerate that in the rest of their life.

  10. Jim
    January 16, 2008, 9:44 pm

    Know what you mean Alicel. I find the same with my African-American friends. They both get so uncomfortable when I bring up how much THEY are ruining our society.

  11. bob f.
    January 16, 2008, 11:42 pm

    I've just started reading Mearsheimer and Walt's book on `The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy'. So far the book reminds me of Alfred Lilienthal's 1978 book `The Zionist Connection',which also exposed the special influence of the pro-Israeli government lobby in U.S. politics many years before Mearsheimer and Walt's book (although no reference to Lilienthal appears in the index of Mearsheimer and Walt's book). But I was surprised to find that Mearsheimer and Walt describe former Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] Pentagon weapons research think-tank trustee Samuel P. Huntington as "one of America's most accomplished social scientists." In addition, I was surprised to find that on page 41 of their book, Mearsheimer and Walt make assertions about the Johnson Administration's pre-June 1967 Middle East War estimates that conflict with what de-classified U.S. State Department and CIA documents seem to indicate and what was revealed in Wilbur Crane Eveland's `Ropes of Sand' book and Andrew and Leslie Cockburn's `Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israel Covert Relationship' book.

    Are you sure that Walt and Mearsheimer have done as thorough a job of researching the Zionist lobby as did Alfred Lilienthal or as thorough a job of researching the U.S. government's role in Middle East history as Noam Chomsky as did (despite all the mainstream media publicity Walt and Mearsheimer began to receive once the U.S. military-industrial complex apparently needed to shift all the blame for its moral and strategic disaster in Iraq onto its U.S. Zionist lobby partners)?

  12. Donald
    January 16, 2008, 11:50 pm

    I initially thought something might come of Jimmy Carter's book, followed by Walt and Mearsheimer (not that I completely agree with the latter), but now I'm not so sure. The political mainstream seems to have managed to marginalize even a former President, and two mere scholars aren't going to change minds merely because they have facts on their side (though again, I don't agree with everything W and M say). If that were the case Chomsky would be a regular columnist in the daily papers. Meanwhile, in the world we actually live in, the NYT decides to publish William Kristol.

    People in power don't care how well you argue or whether you are right–they care about whether they can discredit you before the average person gets a chance to hear what you have to say.

  13. americangoy
    January 17, 2008, 12:09 am

    You are a national treasure Mr. Weiss.

  14. Richard Silverstein
    January 17, 2008, 5:23 am

    Jeffrey Goldberg is a pro-Israel intellectual slimeball. I too disagree strongly with J.J. about the W-M book but he hit the nail on the head regarding Goldberg.

    I never read his book about his "friendship" with the Palestinian prisoner. I was intrigued by the premise when I first heard it reviewed. But after what I know about Goldberg now I can't imagine it's anything more than self-congratulatory rhetoric on behalf of the big-souled Goldberg out to make a friend with a big-bad Palestinian terrorist.

    I wonder if anyone's interviewed the Palestinian to ask him what he thinks of Goldberg now.

  15. Jim Haygood
    January 17, 2008, 6:43 am

    "[J.J.] Goldberg … said honestly at the beginning of the conversation at Yivo that Jews don't sleep at nights worrying about whether someone is preparing the ovens for them."

    I would have laughed this off as hyperbole, had I not encountered it before from a personal acquaintance, the owner and moderator of a forum.

    He loudly supported the Iraq invasion on the "Saddam is Hitler" theory. When someone brought up Israel's role in goading the U.S. to war, the tensions boiled over. "We know that you [gentiles] will come for us again, and kill us," he wrote, in those exact words.

    Needless to say, that ended the conversation. In resigning from his forum, I expressed my sorrow that he carried the awful burden of regarding 98% of his neighbors as repressed mass murderers, just waiting for the signal to pull out the long knives and start the next pogrom.

    Rational political discussion is not possible when one party to the conversation is regarded as homicidal. How discouraging that even Philip Weiss was inculcated in childhood with the notion of someone preparing the ovens. The unswerving U.S. support for Israel seems to be based, at root, on the non-negotiable, paranoid fear that "without a Jewish state, Jewry will be exterminated." Yikes. How the hell can one reply to that? Maybe the $3 billion a year of support for Israel should be diverted to counseling.

  16. MM
    January 17, 2008, 6:52 am

    A great and important post by Phil, no doubt. I would love to see what JJ Goldberg's response would be.

    I also like bob f.'s comment, for raising the spectre that Phil's Jewish-centric narrative about Iraq might be incomplete. I think Phil even would acknowledge this, though he chooses to focus his laser on the Jewish involvement which is appropriate given his background and the concept of his blog. And disproportionate Jewish representation in the media and power elite makes Phil's concentration valid.

    But I have also had a hard time swallowing the implication of W&M's thesis, or more hard-line conspiracy theory like xymphora's, that the Lobby really was the prime mover and shaker leading us to war.

    I don't think that takes into account the momentum and mass achieved by the American military industrial complex over the past half-century. There are certainly MILLIONS of Americans who couldn't even find Palestine or Iraq on a map, but whose livelihoods depend on the production, sale, and use of weapons, ammo, war vehicles, hi-tech equipment, etc.

    Don't have the numbers in front of me but I believe The U.S. was already spending those gargantuan sums–more than half the federal gov's discretionary budget–on the Pentagon long BEFORE the invasion of Iraq.

    That is not to say that the Zionist lobby hasn't contributed to that, and didn't manipulate the American populace through the media, and hadn't infiltrated the executive branch in addition to intimidating most of the legislative. Like I said, I think Phil's thesis is ALSO valid.

    But I am glad to see someone reminding us that there are/were other forces at play as well.

    Of course the flip side of this are those desperately trying to sell us on the widely discredited oil thesis, when the W&M book cites clear evidence that the oil lobbies went AGAINST the Iraq war. This sort of "lie lie lie to protect my people" attitude is just contemptible, and the clearest embodiment I've seen of the oft-mentioned, always controversial dual loyalty meme. If these types think they're doing American Jewry a favor by trying to spin any and all responsibility for this atrocity away from their tribe, that is extremely naive, and another indictment of just how stupid these (most professional) Zionist spinmasters think we are.

  17. MM
    January 17, 2008, 7:10 am

    "The unswerving U.S. support for Israel seems to be based, at root, on the non-negotiable, paranoid fear that "without a Jewish state, Jewry will be exterminated." Yikes. How the hell can one reply to that? Maybe the $3 billion a year of support for Israel should be diverted to counseling."

    Hammer, nail, head.

    Great to have your contributions here, Jim. Thanks.

  18. Richard Witty
    January 17, 2008, 8:31 am

    The basis of the fear is realistic.

    In Europe in the late 20's and 30's, countries like Germany went from liberal to fascist in a period of less than a decade.

    Jews were largely assimilated there, but still anti-semitism reared and attacked.

    In the US, there were large
    German solidarity groups (taking the political stand of opposition to US entry of the war, opposition to getting involved in European anti-semitism, or even any European affairs).

    Not all that different than what is stated here.

    Some of the participants in the American "populism" at the time didn't realize the anti-semitic perspectives of the leadership, and could be said to be naively innocent. Others did see the writing on the wall and said nothing. (Kind of like Ron Paul, who is a mystery of either negligence or complicity.)

    Dismissing fears is one way of keeping them going.

    A more practical approach would be to assure. "We will stand by you. You can relax your fears to the point of being aware of them, but without acting on them."

  19. Fritz
    January 17, 2008, 10:18 am

    Thanks for continually demanding that the neurotics on this list face up to reality. I'm amazed at how devoted Phil at learning precisely the wrong lesson from the Weimar example. This comments on this blog are probably the best example of why Jews should be paranoid.

  20. Charles Keating
    January 17, 2008, 11:02 am

    The comments on this blog are also the best example of why
    Americans should be paranoid regarding paranoid agendas .

  21. Madrid
    January 17, 2008, 11:40 am


    I advise you to become even more paranoid and behave accordingly, ie, get your representatives at AIPAC to lobby for even more unconditional support for Israel, more billions for the occupation (while the US economy sinks into recession), and especially, go all out for a joint US/Israeli attack on those menacing Iranians.

    See where that gets you in ten years time.

  22. Barcelona
    January 17, 2008, 12:06 pm

    What's happening in ten years, Madrid? Please do tell.

  23. MM
    January 17, 2008, 12:14 pm


    Rest easy, pal, it looks like the "Islamist threat" brought over by Bibi and his crowd is finally starting to draw a yawn from the higher-ups in the Pentagon.

    link to

    (Reprehensible blog but worth it, I promise, for the laugh line at the end! C-L-A-S-S-I-C!!!)

    Or here:

    link to

  24. Madrid
    January 17, 2008, 12:19 pm

    No idea what's happening in ten years. My advice to Fritz, which I am quite sure will be followed by AIPAC and its followers to the letter, was merely to continue on the current course. Let paranoia determine your behavior and see where it gets you.

    Where has following paranoia gotten you so far? Has it been beneficial to the American Jewish community? Has it been beneficial to the larger population of the US? I personally don't think so, I think that is evident by the mess the US and Israel are in at the moment, and I think in 10 years, things will probably be worse.

    I picked 10 years, btw, not out of some sort of supernational power of prognostication. It was just an easy round number.

  25. Richard Witty
    January 17, 2008, 1:02 pm

    I wonder about the motivation of many here.

    If assurance (rather than condemnation) were more effective at realizing the goals of decency for Palestinians and rational US foreign policy, why would they pursue a punitive condemnatory approach?

  26. Ed.
    January 17, 2008, 1:27 pm

    Witty wrote:

    "The basis of the fear is realistic. In Europe in the late 20's and 30's, countries like Germany went from liberal to fascist in a period of less than a decade. Jews were largely assimilated there, but still anti-semitism reared and attacked. In the US, there were large German solidarity groups (taking the political stand of opposition to US entry of the war, opposition to getting involved in European anti-semitism, or even any European affairs). Not all that different than what is stated here."

    Witty brings expression to the way that too many Jews actually think, even American Jews. This is how the Neocons think as well, and it is the rational and justification for their programs and political positions.

    Witty ignores the provocations of organized Jewry (Israel’s Jewish Zionist agents helping Bush lie America into war, Israel’s murderous treatment of Palestinians, the Israel lobby’s treasonous co-opting of America’s institutions on behalf of Judeofascism, etc.) and instead seizes upon the natural, organic backlash against those provocations. I would tell Witty to remove the log in his own eye, but he just wouldn’t get it.

    It bears repeating that there never would have been a Holocaust but for Judeofascist Communists in the Soviet Union partnering with Stalinists to murder millions of Christians and other dissidents, which enabled the rise of Hitler.

    But these are the kinds of cycles that repeat themselves time and again when dealing with a people that allows itself to be led by Judeofascist fanatics who believe they have a God-given right to cheat, exploit, manipulate and murder non-Jews. If Jews would terminate their Judeofascist leadership and keep it from rearing its ugly head, they would have nothing to worry about ever again. But the question remains: have they themselves been manipulated and brainwashed for too long to behave rationally? If Witty and the Neocons are any indication, the prospects aren’t good.

  27. calypso
    January 17, 2008, 1:47 pm

    Too late to worry about including gentiles in discussing the US Jewish Israel political factor.

    They talk about it among themselves now and the discussion is much more productive regarding finding a solution to the problem without the anti-semite accusations and hsyterica.

    So what the irrational wing of Jewish activist should actually worry about is the fact that most of gentile America is leaving them out of the discussion.

  28. Michael Blaine
    January 17, 2008, 2:13 pm

    The $3 billion in annual US official aid to Israel is mentioned again and again on this blog as critical.

    But Israel's GDP measured at PPP is $166 billion; it seems that aid could quickly be phased out to zero with only a marginal negative impact.

    With the US undergoing a financial crisis right now, it would be a good time to end that aid completely.

    Would it not?

    Michael Blaine

  29. Calypso
    January 17, 2008, 2:20 pm

    A more practical approach would be to assure. "We will stand by you. You can relax your fears to the point of being aware of them, but without acting on them."

    Posted by: Richard Witty | January 17, 2008 at 05:31 AM

    The most practical approach would be for you to quit your whinning if you are so afraid of anti-semites and go to Israel for gawds sake, isn't that what it is for after all.

    Your enemies and the only people who owe you anything are the 20th century nazis who are mostly all dead, but you won't let them die.
    The rest of the world doesn't owe you jackshit and all you do is keep creating new enemies to fear and whine about and demand protection from.
    Other countries in the world are not going to be re arranged to suit your paranoia.
    Leave, I am sick of hearing your kind of crap and so is the majority of the world.
    Just get out and quit polluting our society for other jews and gentiles alike.

  30. Madrid
    January 17, 2008, 2:39 pm


    Yes, it would. Now see if you convince anyone in Washington to support you in ending aid to Israel. As Walt and Mearsheimer recently wrote in the LA Times, Israel and its influence have only been mentioned one time in all of the debates of this entire campaign. It used to be that politicians would at least have to beat their chest and crow about how much they loved Israel and would support it through thick and thin. Now we don't even get those pronouncements during the campaign.

    Is that an improvement or have things gotten worse? Perhaps, it is a slight improvement. Perhaps, there is some consciousness among our leaders that our munificent support of a country with a per capita income equal to Spain and Italy is unconscionable, when an American city lies underwater and the Midwestern industrial belt looks like bombed out Beruit. I hope politicians feel embarrassed about that, but somehow I doubt they do.

    Thus, while I admire Phil's optimism about how things are changing for the better, I doubt that things will change quickly enough in this country. What I fear the most is an economic / energy crisis that allows the emergence of a populist leader who is able to blame the "elites" (politicians, the rich, the educated, the university professors, journalists, lawyers) and incite people against the elites. Since most of the people who post on Phil's blog seem well educated, I think that probably most of us will have a bullseye on our back, regardless of our ethnicity or religion.

    The most serious issue facing the US is it has the most inefficient infrastructure in the world– suburban sprawl with no public transportation– the net result of which is that on an individual level, each of us uses more oil than any other human inhabitant on the planet. The biggest burner of hydrocarbons in the world is undoubtedly an American. Now, there are physical constraints that are coming into effect as we speak that will not allow this to go on for much longer. But how do you reconstruct our physical infrastructure from scratch without extreme social convulsions? In essence, I think we are collectively screwed, whatever we do.

    Is there likely to be a resurgence of anti-semitism? Probably, along with inter-group racisms of all types and forms. That is what happens, when societies go through extreme convulsive change.

  31. anon22
    January 17, 2008, 3:04 pm

    To R Witty….

    if you dont trust America and Americans and cannot commit to putting America's interests before Israel then PLEASE leave now.

    Your fear seems to justify your dual loyalty (in your mind). Unfortunately for you this dual loyalty is unacceptable to Americans and engenders enormous resentment….therefore your fears become self-fulfilling.

  32. David
    January 17, 2008, 3:30 pm

    Madrid asked "Where has following paranoia gotten you so far?"

    But it's not designed to get anywhere, because actually what we're talking about here is only partially about fear, whether justified or imagined. It's more to do with the concept of choseness in modern Jewish identity. In the minds of many modern secular Jews, "antisemitism" serves as a confirmation of Jewish uniqueness. For the Richard Witty's of this world, it bestows on their lives a sense of significance that is otherwise lacking.

    "If a spirit of Jewishness exists it is concerned with chosenness and specialness, particularly in the Jewish claim of a special history of suffering, and also, in many ways, in a suspicion and disdain for non-Jews. Of course, one can say that many, perhaps all, communities display such characteristics. This is certainly true, but do these other communities have these characteristics as absolutely central to their identity? Which other group positively worships its own specialness and victimhood in the way that Jews, both religious and secular, seem to do?"

  33. David
    January 17, 2008, 3:38 pm

    (That quote is from something Paul Eisen wrote a while back.)
    link to

  34. Madrid
    January 17, 2008, 4:08 pm


    I disagree with that assessment. Group-based paranoia is complex, ie has many different origins, and, in the Jewish community's case, has to a large extent been caused by historic anti-Semitism, especially the Holocaust, which was, it has to be said, an attempt to wipe out European Jewry, as well as other minority European populations.

    The Jewish community is not alone in feeling such paranoia. I think many other ethnic groups have at one time or another experienced group paranoia. African Americans most definitely have suffered from group paranoia and still suffer from it. Italian and Irish Americans suffered from it at times. If you go to certain places in NYC, where the majority is Italian American, you immediately sense this us-against-the-rest of the world (especially New York) mentality that reigns there. That is that group paranoia that has been ingrained through fear of the majority.

    Jewish American paranoia is distinctive only in the way it has persisted, even as Jewish Americans have become the most powerful ethnic group in America. They comprise, according to the Jerusalem Post, for example, 56 percent of the Fortune 400 of the country, and yet they act as if they are at the mercy of an overpowering majority that, they imagine, is persecuting them. The end result is a reflexive return to an older model of ethnic cohesion that Phil has described again and again, which from the outside looks very much like discrimination against gentiles.

  35. Donald
    January 17, 2008, 4:47 pm

    "I wonder about the motivation of many here.

    If assurance (rather than condemnation) were more effective at realizing the goals of decency for Palestinians and rational US foreign policy, why would they pursue a punitive condemnatory approach?"

    I wonder sometimes about some fraction of the comments here–I went after a Holocaust denier here a few months ago and initially people seemed to think I was the bad guy, though I don't think they had picked up on what this guy was saying as soon as I did.

    But I never see you condemning the Zionist zealots that pop up here either, Richard. The reason some of us are mad is that we know how one-sided the discussion of Israel/Palestinian issues is in the US–politicians would rather eat broken glass than say Israel is sometimes guilty of war crimes, and they ran away from Jimmy Carter's criticisms of Israel. You'd have more credibility here if you occasionally expressed some disgust with Israel's behavior and the apologetics of its so-called friends in the US.

  36. Gene
    January 17, 2008, 4:56 pm

    Richard Witty: "In Europe in the late 20's and 30's, countries like Germany went from liberal to fascist in a period of less than a decade.

    Jews were largely assimilated there, but still anti-semitism reared and attacked."

    There's a reason the Germans so readily bought into Hitler's game plan. Just to the east the Bolsheviks were (or had just finished) enthusiastically killing millions of Christian farmers, intellectuals, Czarist bureaucrats, nuns, priests and anyone else less than fully commmitted to the Bolshevik revolution. Assimilated German Jews were unfairly tarred with the sins of the Bolshevik bureaucrats. Even Tolstoy warned young recently empowered Jews not to unncessarily offended the peasantry.

  37. Charles Keating
    January 17, 2008, 5:10 pm

    It's all about short term interests–foreign policy is akin to the subprime mortgage crisis–look for a bipartisan stimulus package that will maintian the status quo at a profit.

  38. Michael Blaine
    January 17, 2008, 5:23 pm

    "look for a bipartisan stimulus package"

    Geez, how much money can Americans keep borrowing from the Arabs and Chinese?!!

    Why doesn't the PRC cut out the middle man and send me my "tax rebate" check directly?

    Michael Blaine

  39. David
    January 17, 2008, 6:17 pm

    to Madrid: I agree with much of what you wrote. Jewish paranoia does indeed have much in common with other minority group paranoia. I was just drawing attention to one of the important ways in which it differs.

    (Except for two things: in your comparison with the Italian and Irish American communities you're conflating paranoia with group cohesion. Neither of those groups ever thought they were being persecuted because of the divine order of things. Also, I would remind you that historic persecution is not always the same thing as *perception* of persecution. It's because the two can be out of whack that some of us spend all that time on history.)

  40. Michael Blaine
    January 17, 2008, 7:16 pm

    BTW, I just posted on the topic of an economic stimulus package at Rudely Stamped:

    “Mao’s Little Red Accounting Book”

    And, I am positive we Americans will get a stimulus package. Economic and political elites are running scared.

    Michael Blaine

  41. anon22
    January 17, 2008, 9:18 pm

    To: Gene….can you post a cite to where Tolstoy admonished the Jews to lay off insulting the Christians…..I know Solzhenitsyn called upon Jews to accept blame for their role in CommunisT purges….but I had not heard about Tolstoy.

  42. Ari
    January 17, 2008, 9:22 pm

    A lot of people on this forum dislike Israel.
    You want us to believe that its because Israel is hated by Arabs and we, as Americans, really really need Arabs to like us because we are enslaved to their oil/money.
    So I suppose the fact that it's a Jewish nation that destroys its enemies, wins its wars, and doesn't seem to have to bow down to anyone (rather, it makes others bow to it) wouldn't have anything to do with it? Would it?

  43. Richard Witty
    January 17, 2008, 9:38 pm

    Odd responses.

    Actually not so odd.

    The significance of the holocaust as the last straw, and the Zionist affirmative response, is the reality of it.

    Israel's response to Palestinian and other terror, Muslim animosity, and the habitual criticisms, is one of a particular strained rational choice among a set of difficult rational choices.

    The urging of disengagement from Israel, from the US alliance with Israel, is an isolationist approach.

    There are MANY options how to be in a relationship with Israel. The caricature of "Israel right or wrong" is not the only option.

    But, the urge to disengagement is like breaking up a marriage, with lots of kids, nephews, loved in-laws, cousins, family friends, for an arbitrary reasons.

    Its even possible to love both Israelis and Palestinians, Israelis and Iranians (if either would accept it, for the accusation of "disloyalty".)

    What do you do with what you see?

    Do you bring acceptance and reconciliation, or do you bring contempt?

  44. Gene
    January 17, 2008, 9:45 pm

    Richard Witty: "The basis of the fear is realistic.

    In Europe in the late 20's and 30's, countries like Germany went from liberal to fascist in a period of less than a decade.

    Jews were largely assimilated there, but still anti-semitism reared and attacked."

    Jews are not the only people who have had cause for fear in the 20th century. Germans in the thirties were terrified that the Bolsheviks would do to them what they'd already done to Russia and the Ukraine, which is to say, killing tens of millions of Christian peasants, priests, nuns, intellectuals, the bourgeiose, and anyone else who didn't feverishly endorse the revolutionary agenda. It was the unhappy fate of the assimilated German Jews to be tarred by the sins of their Bolshevik brethern.

  45. Gene
    January 17, 2008, 10:50 pm

    Anon22; "To: Gene….can you post a cite to where Tolstoy admonished the Jews to lay off insulting the Christians…..I know Solzhenitsyn called upon Jews to accept blame for their role in CommunisT purges….but I had not heard about Tolstoy."

    My brain slipped skipped a gear. I meant to write Trotsky, not Tolstoy. Even so, I don't know where I saw the remark by Trotsky. I'll see if I can find it (assuming I can get Google desktop to work). In the meantime here is what Gorky wrote in 1922 in a letter to a friend as quoted by Yuri Slezkine in "The Jewish Century" on page 186:

    "The reason for the current anti-Semitism is the tactlessness of the Jewish Bolsheviks. The Jewish Bolsheviks, not all of them but some irresponsible boys, are taking part in defiling the holy sites of the Russian people. They have turned churches into theaters and reading rooms without considering the feelings of the Russian people. The Jewish Bolsheviks should have left such things to the Russian Bolsheviks. The Russian peasant is cunning and secretive. He will put on a cunning smile for your benefit, but deep inside he will harbor hated for the Jew who raised his hand against his holy places." "

  46. Warren
    January 17, 2008, 11:06 pm


    Haven't been back to your blog in a while, but I see you've been very busy. One quick point on one of your earlier posts about Bush 41 being punished by the Jews.

    I hadn't realized that Ross Perot was Jewish.

    Think about it.

  47. Fall Guy
    January 17, 2008, 11:42 pm

    The military industrial complex has let APAC lead in keeping them in cash; they will also let APAC lead in taking the blame for the war.

    American corporate politics does not make a decision until the fall guy is identified. APAC volunteered for this ad did not even know it.

  48. pro bono
    January 17, 2008, 11:53 pm


    Yes, Perot took 18% or so of the popular vote most of which probably would have gone to Bush. But do you recall how Bush went from unprecedented approval ratings in the mid-80% range after gulf war I to the 30% range in 3 to 6 months? Please read the appropriate chapter in JJ Goldberg's book "Jewish Power" or see CNN's "God's Warriors" with Christianne Amanpour (God's Jewish Warriors: The Lobby) for a crash course on how Bush's sudden change of fortune may have come about. This is what made Bush vulnerable to a third party challenge such as Perot's.

  49. alicel
    January 18, 2008, 12:58 am

    It is a relief to have a freewheeling dialogue between jews and gentiles about the middle east. Iraq comes home indeed. I see that someone took offense at my complaint at the gag order in operation in our society. Isn't that what Phillip has been blessdly exposing? I feel immensely grateful to him for this. I hope so much that this freedom spreads. I hope it gets to the point jewish friends can talk with gentile friends about the issues. In the sixties we did talk out controversial things , didn't we? I don't remember backing off . Didn't blacks criticize whites right to their faces and women directly to men? Oh I see as I say this that I am talking about power relationships that were unbalanced. Perhaps that is what the fight is about now. Both groups feel out of power , both groups feel victimized by the other.

  50. David Seaton
    January 18, 2008, 1:25 am

    I had to write the introduction to a Spanish book which includes the speeches of George Washington, so I stumbled on this passage from his farewell address while researching. It sums up the entire message of Mondo Weiss:

    “A passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation."

    Obviously, talking this way, George Washington would not have an easy time getting elected President of the United States today or anything else in Washington.

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