- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2003

Asanti-Semitism spreads throughout the world, and is not unknown in this country, I remember — as a Jewish boy in Boston so long ago — dreading Sundays, because the most popular radio program that day was broadcast by Father Charles E. Coughlin from the Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, Michigan.

The mellifluous priest, later silenced by his bishop, regularly told of the powerful presence of Jews in Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s Politburo, while capitalist Jews elsewhere, he said, stole mites from widows. He also published a newspaper, “Social Justice,” which delighted in running “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — the fake tale of the Jewish conspiracy to rule the world, which is still available throughout the world, and continually updated.

Such twisted words of hate were echoed on Oct. 16 in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed declared at an Islamic summit that “Jews rule by proxy,” recruiting others “to fight and die for them.” The attentive sheiks, kings, emirs and presidents gave the prime minister a standing ovation. “A very, very wise assessment,” said the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Maher, after the speech. And Afghan president Hamid Karzai said the speech was “very correct.”

Coughlin would have been pleased.

In the Oct. 17 issue of the Jewish newspaper the Forward, which my father enjoyed, Gil Troy, author of “Why I Am a Zionist” (Gefen Books, 2002), reported that “students at University College in Cork, Ireland, have put together a list of well-known authors and speakers who are Jews.” Mr. Troy then found that the Cork Palestine Solidarity Campaign Web site listed 149 American Jews variously labeled “Zionist American Jews,” “anti-Zionist AmericanJew,”“neo-con conservative Jews” and “hard-line Zionist American-Israeli Jews.”

As examples, Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of the New Republic magazine, was listed as a “neo-conservative Jew”; journalists Bob Simon of CBS and Terry Gross of National Public Radio were labeled “American Jews”; and CNN’S Wolf Blitzer was listed as a “Zionist American Jew.”

Remembering that the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl was beheaded by his captors after being designated a Zionist American Jew, Mr. Troy decided that when he next changes his residence, his “phone number will be unlisted.”

Mr. Troy initially considered the Web site benign, but decided that the use of “Zionist” as a pejorative was menacing.

I have been a Jew for so long that, even had I been on that list, no new harbingers of anti-Semitism would startle me. I wasn’t even startled to see an Oct. 13 movie review of “Kill Bill,” on The New Republic’s Web site, where Senior Editor Gregg Easterbrook, deploring the film’s violence, harshly referred to the executives responsible for the movie — Miramax Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner — as “Jewish executives” who “worship money above all else” and promote “for profit and adulation of violence.”

Mr. Easterbrook wrote that, while “plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives … worship money above all else,” he focused on Jews, saying that “recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice.” Responding later to sharp criticism of his calumnious categorization of Jews, Mr. Easterbrook said he had been guilty of “mangling words” in his article. He failed to explain which words he had mangled.

In his apology on the Web site, Mr. Easterbrook noted that his “poor wording” did “invoke a thousand years of stereotypes about that which Jews have specific historical reasons to fear,” but he defended the thoughts of his essay. He told The New York Times he had just “stumbled” into those words.

However, what did surprise me was the reaction of The New Republic’s editor, Peter Beinart, the publication’s most perceptive and probing writer. As an editor, he has made The New Republic much less predictable than most other political journals. But all that Mr. Beinart said was that “Gregg made a mistake. He recognizes that. He’s a valuable member of the staff. And I don’t think he’s the least bit prejudiced.”

As Bill Clinton jocularly told some journalists after he had survived the impeachment charges, “It’s not the crime that gets you, it’s the cover-up.” Mr. Beinart does himself and his magazine no honor by lapsing from his customary fearless candor. This wasn’t a crime. It was a centuries-old view of Jews, certainly a prejudice.

When the European Union, prodded by French President Jacques Chirac, declined to condemn Mr. Mohammed’s age-old stereotyping of Jews in Malaysia, an Oct. 18 New York Times editorial justly noted that “anti-Semitism displays are being met with inexcusable nonchalance.”

Does Mr. Beinart nonchalantly believe that Mr. Easterbrook just “mangled” words?

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