- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2000

Hillary Clinton is a liberated woman. Everybody knows that. But sometimes she needs a little traditional help. In defense of his wife over whether she called a long-ago aide a "[blankety-blank] Jew bastard," President Clinton offered an odd reassurance:
"She might have called him a bastard. She's never claimed that she was pure on profanity. But I've never heard her tell a joke with an ethnic connotation … She's so straight on this, she squeaks."
Parsing this president's pronunciamentos is always crucial, so when he tells us she's straight "on this," is he telling us to be wary of everything else? Hmmmmmm. And who said anything about an ethnic joke?
The presidential defense certainly dates Barbara Bush, for her description of Geraldine Ferraro as "something that rhymes with witch." But the president is right: Profanity is different from a racial and religious slur. So is it fair to accuse Hillary Clinton of anti-Semitism?
That may depend on what you mean by "anti-Semitism." One Jewish slur, if indeed she uttered it, does not an anti-Semite make. But no matter how you look at her, this reminds everyone that Hillary's spontaneous responses to issues that concern Jews contrast her sharply to Rick Lazio, her opponent for the U.S. Senate.
Not so long ago it was a clich that Jews are yellow-dog Democrats who would cheerfully vote for a yellow dog if the mutt was a Democrat. FDR and his New Deal and Harry Truman's fervent support of the Israeli state put Jewish immigrants like my parents and grandparents firmly in the Democratic Party. But that was a long time ago. Lots of Jewish intellectuals the neoconservatives left the Democratic Party to back Ronald Reagan, and the world didn't crash on them.
These Jews have become conservative on moral and political grounds. To them Hillary Clinton is the shiksa the pretty blonde Gentile the son brings home to meet the folks. Even if she says she'll convert, take lessons from an orthodox rabbi, endure the ritual bath and promise to raise the kids Jewish, the parents are suspicious. Maybe all she wants is a comfortable life of wealth and security. Something just doesn't seem kosher.
Hillary has a history of insensitivity to what the Jews care most about conventional morality and the survival of Israel. If a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged (or a liberal with a daughter in junior high school), a Jewish conservative in New York circa 2000 is a liberal who has had it up to here with Clinton pretense and double-talk.
How ironic that it was the Middle East peace negotiations that Bill Clinton had to interrupt to call the New York Daily News to cross his heart and hope to die if his wife was really an anti-Semite.
You don't have to be an anti-Semite to be chairperson of the New York chapter of the New World Foundation, as Hillary was in the late '80s, but you can't be a friend of Israel and the Jews if you preside without protest over an organization that contributed thousands of dollars to Palestinian terrorists making war on Jews in Israel. A friend with true grit would look closely at the fine print.
You don't have to be an anti-Semite to sit quietly by, with a beatific expression on your face, when Mrs. Yasser Arafat accuses Jews of systematically poisoning Arab children, as Hillary did, but if you're a friend of the Jews you won't leap up to embrace Mrs. Arafat at the conclusion of her remarks, as Hillary did.
The futility of making endless explanations for things she shouldn't have done is expressed in an old Yiddish folk tale that the first lady might put to profit:
A rabbi was asked to judge an intense, but rather enigmatic debate by two Jewish scholars over this puzzle: A wagon is stuck in the mud. How to get it out? The first scholar says he would put a wood timber under the wheels, and if that didn't work he would use a wooden beam. The second scholar, thinking he had the argument clincher, retorted: "But what if you don't have either a timber or a beam?"
The rabbi, impatient with the argument, held up his hands: "A good driver doesn't let his horses pull the wagon into the mud in the first place."

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