Walter Russell Mead is the apotheosis of the American establishment in our time, which tends to make his pronouncements of great profundity exercises in extreme silliness. With that noted, he wrote on his blog yesterday, for some strange reason having to do with the anniversary of the publication of Mein Kampf, a courageous stand against anti-Semitism in such high dudgeon as to be buffoonish. Because Mead fancies himself a high priest of America’s “civil religion”, which is in so many ways inseparable from Zionist ideology, there is much to be learned from deconstructing what he has termed “the five pillars of anti-Semitism”. Mead sternly informs us that “anti-Semitism involves belief in any or all of the following ideas” which are all “demonstrably false”:
Jews are more clannish than other people and act in concert to support a specifically Jewish agenda.
This means that the most convinced and stalwart anti-Semites living today are the editors of Commentary magazine.
Any perusal of the select works of Ruth Wisse, Jack Wertheimer, Daniel Gordis, and countless others I could think of have no clearer underlying premise than that there exists a transnational entity called “the Jewish collective”, that the political and other prerogatives of said collective must be secured by any means necessary, and that the treachery of the better number of American Jews is that they have embraced liberalism at the expense of the “norms of the community”.
Jews deploy extraordinary wealth with almost superhuman cunning in support of the Jewish agenda.
Some readers of this blog may be upset with me for saying so, but on this I take exactly the same position as Andrew Bacevich, who in an interview in which he chided leftists who make a panacea of the military-industrial complex in understanding the politics of American empire added “and I would say the same of those who make a single-minded focus on the Israel lobby – yes there is a military-industrial complex, yes there is an Israel lobby, but to focus narrowly on either or both is a panacea to avoid the deeper pathologies of American politics and society.” That being said, this is not the same thing as anti-Semitism, it is merely age-old adherence to a populist panacea. I can attest from personal experience that it is this, not Jew-hatred, in the hearts of those who adopt it.
As a religious and national minority, Jews cannot flourish without attacking the traditional values of their host society. In every country Jews seek to weaken national culture, unity, and cohesion.
The first sentence, at least, is again a thesis adhered to by no one more steadfastly than the aforementioned ideologues of Jewish collectivism. Indeed, probably no one in history ever believed this more devoutly than the classical Zionists. For what else can be the meaning of the virtually nonsensical argument that one can only live a “normal” or “fully Jewish life” in eretz yisrael?
Jews are not a national group or a people in the way that others are, they do not have the same right to establish a nation state that other peoples do.
If any statement in this whole discussion can be called “demonstrably false”, it is the exact opposite of the above statement; and it cannot be stressed often enough that for over a century before the end of World War II the belief that there existed a Jewish “nation” or “race” was the essence of anti-Semitism, and that the triumph of Zionism therefore represented the acceptance of a core doctrine of Naziism. I refer all readers to Shlomo Sand’s landmark The Invention of The Jewish People on the falsity of the existence of a “Jewish nation”.
As for the relative nature of Jewish nationalism to other nationalisms, there is no better statement than the following of the late great Tony Judt:
The problem with Israel, in short, is not—as is sometimes suggested—that it is a European “enclave” in the Arab world; but rather that it arrived too late. It has imported a characteristically late-nineteenth-century separatist project into a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a “Jewish state”—a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded—is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism.
Back to WRM:
Where Jewish interests are concerned, the appearance of open debate in our society and many others is a carefully constructed illusion. In reality, Jews work together to block open debate on issues they care about and those who resist the Jewish agenda are marginalized in public discussion.
With the caveat, of course, that one must replace the word “Jews” with “Zionists” or “the American Jewish establishment”, to any casual reader of this blog I need say no more. But to the extent that the existence and operation of the Israel lobby/American Jewish establishment conforms to narratives of classical anti-Semitism, if I may include here a plug for my book, it was precisely the cause for great alarm and outrage of the American Council for Judaism, and other opponents of the creation of the American Jewish establishment in the American Jewish Conference of 1943, that said conference could have been no better constructed if its principals actually were consciously seeking to bring into existence the fictional Elders of Zion.
Mead goes on to solemnly inform us, with a superhuman obliviousness to irony, that “In some countries these beliefs are so common that they are no longer recognized as an aggressive and communicable mental disease.” This deeply irrational belief that anti-Semitism is some kind of constant mystical force in history is central to the sacred story of Jewish nationalism, which, as I have argued elsewhere, is also the sacred story of American nationalism. That is, the belief of both Jewish nationalists and American nationalists that with the salvation of the Jews as the heroic outcome of the Second World War followed by the establishment of the State of Israel, the American Empire was the god which brought about the essential precondition for the millennium which the Living God would not – the redemption of Israel.
Walter Russell Mead has thus given us this meditation as part of his solemn duty to uphold and extend what some neocons refer to as “Americanism – the fourth great western religion”, and many more euphemistically refer to as “civil religion”. Because I am a Jew, there is only one thing that I can call this – idolatry – and must therefore oppose it with every fiber of my being.
Jack Ross is the author of Rabbi Outcast, a biography of the anti-Zionist rabbi Elmer Berger.