Can we play the victim game again tonight, Daddy?

Leading Jewish dissident journalist and blogger Phil Weiss recently attended an event at a conservative synagogue outside Philadelphia. The main subject of the night? The Israel Lobby book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. In attendance was Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, Michael Medved and a few others (in other words, the far-right fringe of the Zionist movement.) The audience were highly troubled by the book and the open discussion about Jewish power in the US media. Weiss observed:

I sensed that the fear of Walt/Mearsheimer was genuine: reflecting a Holocaust-engendered belief on the part of the panel and audience that we Jews are extremely vulnerable in western society, and that anti-Semitism is as bad now as it was in the 1930s. “I believe that we are in a much worse state in the world today, that is we as Jews, than the Jews were in the 1930s,” Horowitz claimed stupendously…

Later that evening I opened my New York Times and saw the ad for a book by Christopher Dodd called Letters From Nuremberg, My Father’s Narrative of a Quest for Justice, replete with endorsement by Elie Wiesel. Why is this book coming out now? Because of Jewish presence in the American political process. Because Jews make up more than half of the Democratic contributors. There is only one word for the abilty to compel a leading senator to write a book about his father’s Nuremberg credentials of 60 years ago as he runs for President: power. Until American Jews come to terms with that power, until we understand that powerless Israel lost 50 people in the Lebanon war last year while killing 900 Lebanese and strewing the country with American-made cluster bombs, we are lost in the Middle East.

I think Weiss slightly underestimates the political ploy at work here. Many Jews are acutely aware how much power they have over US foreign policy and the ability to lead Israel into an ever-increasing militaristic mindset. It’s politically convenient, and indeed clever, to portray the Jews as weak and victims, to elicit sympathy, money and kudos from governments and the wider community. Of course, if we were talking about 1945, they would have a point. But in 2007, Jews are successful, often wealthy far above the average and influential. Not all, of course, but many.

Playing the victim and accusing any critics of anti-Semitism should no longer be tolerated.

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