For a long time Zionists could count on the fact that the powerful men in London and Washington were just like them, at least when it came to popular views of non-whites. Winston Churchill, a man who’s long been lionized by a particular kind of historian, openly expressed his contempt for Africans and Arabs. If he were alive today he may be embarrassed to learn that his empire allegedly placed Barack Obama’s grandfather “in a detention camp” in Kenya. Or he may not. Racism is a hard thing to reform.
The world has mostly moved on since then. But Zionists – a musty 19th century archetype – remain committed to Jewish supremacy and the inferiority of gentiles, particularly Africans and Arabs. That hasn’t been a problem for American politicians until recently. Bill de Blasio and Deval Patrick – men with non-traditional racial backgrounds – have been forced into strained contortions over the issue.
Several months ago I attended a lecture by Joseph Nye Jr., a prominent historian and political scientist. He was direct about some of the retrograde views held by the most prominent men of the 20th century. For instance, Dwight Eisenhower reportedly believed that women had a limited role to play in public life.
But Nye also suggested that the question be evaluated in context. Should a historical person who expressed racist or misogynistic beliefs be evaluated as a product of the environment they inhabited? If vegetarianism emerges as a dominant norm in the next century or two, what will that mean for those of us who eat meat?
Nye wondered whether it may be useful to consider things in terms of standard deviations. In an environment dominated by racism – say, colonial Europe – is one particular figure particularly racist or reprehensible? Nobody in Europe liked the Jews in the 1930s – but Adolph Hitler was especially disfigured by his irrational, malignant hatred and anti-Semitism. Churchill looked benign by comparison.
Today, Zionism is aberrational, especially viewed against the motley tapestry of American life. Few people believe that whites are more superior than blacks, or that men are more superior than women. But there are people who still believes that Jews are more superior than gentiles. Despite everything – women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, the end of South Africa’s Apartheid and the emergence of BRICS – the worn-out relics of a flinty age are still among us. They increasingly wonder at their isolation and grow angry.
It happened that way because Zionism – a product of continental anti-Semitism – failed to adapt. The past century has seen the warped standard-bearers of race ideology wither into the grave; the world evolved and progressed without them. But the Zionists built a fortress and lined it with mirrors. Their prison-camp guards and nightclub bouncers have lived a lifetime in the thin light of the Holocaust’s penumbra. In them, life at the shadow’s edge has produced a lifelong fear of shadows.
For a long time the consequences of failing to understand how deeply misplaced European colonialism in Palestine is were minimal. America’s arms and France’s nuclear weapons protected the Ashkenazis and Sephardim in Israel from ever really coming to terms with their moral and geographical dislocation. Jewish, and to a much smaller extent fundamentalist Christian, influence in Washington helped secure the umbilical cord. The relationship turned out to be more durable than anyone could have expected, despite the colonial sepsis that began to infect America.
For decades the relationship relied on a certain peer-to-peer outlook among Zionists and the non-Jewish, non-fundamentalist members of the American political class. Bill Clinton is white, affable and secure in his privilege. His glistening teeth are warmly reflected in Shimon Peres’ rheumy eyes. Yet today’s American politician is messier – black people and people with mixed-race backgrounds are showing up more frequently than they did. And that’s produced a new, uncomfortable reality: America has changed in the face of Zionism’s frozen grimace.
The new “tension” between Zionism and the captive American political class was recently showcased in all its absurdity: A white man with a black wife and kids felt compelled to publicly express admiration for Ovadia Yosef, a dead racist. New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s newfound fealty to Zionism also caused him to meet with Shimon Peres, another Zionist. That’s after having made an early career protesting American-funded massacres and the destruction of indigenous communities in Nicaragua. And despite Peres’ personal role in the Iran-Contra scandal.
At the same time Deval Patrick, the opportunistic governor of Massachusetts, has worked with fanatical energy to win his campaign dollars. His fervent pursuit of Zionist money was fairly unremarkable until recently, when romped on the graves of several million dead Armenians.
It’s easy to understand why men a diverse group of men like Barack Obama, Bill de Blasio and Deval Patrick feel compelled to march in lockstep with people like Richard Cohen, Shimon Peres and Ovadia Yosef. The Israel lobby is a powerful force in American life and the headaches that may result from withholding tribute are too great to warrant the effort.
But things change. It’s true that Abraham Foxman and Benjamin Netanyahu are hysterically clinging to Jewish procreation and Jewish supremacy – and that de Blasio is eager to support them in their efforts. But what about the next generation of non-traditional American politicians. All the blacks, latinos, Armenians and assorted non-whites in America, will they nod politely when racists gag and vomit in their general direction?
No. I don’t think they will.