Jewish World Review March 14, 2002/ 10 Adar II, 5763

Wesley Pruden

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If war breaks out, let's blame the Jews | We've come a long way from the days when the managing editor on the first newspaper I worked on leaned over my desk and told me: "Be careful when you write about Jews. They can be very sensitive. I've made it a practice never to type the keys j, e, and w in succession."

Those were the days when the best newspapermen (who gagged on the word "journalist") were the Jews, the Southerners, and the Irish - the Jews for the opportunity to champion social justice, the Southerners for the love of the language and the Irish for the brawling and the free booze that politicians, lobbyists and other evil-doers forced on innocent newspapermen of that benighted era.

You certainly can't say anything like that about the Irish today (not, of course, that anyone ever would). Ethnic stereotypes are a no-no and you can be driven from public life even for thinking in stereotypes. Well, most stereotypes. Jews who are "very sensitive" today they lead a very abused life.

Jews are overtaking Southern whites as the most inviting targets for scorn and calumny. Southerners are often evangelical Christians (a capital crime in the circles of the elites) who know all the words to "Amazing Grace" and have to stifle the urge to stand up and holler when they hear the blood-stirring strains of "Dixie." A lot of them even root for the Confederates when they watch "Gone With the Wind" in the wee hours of the night, with the shades drawn.

If you believe some of our pundits and politicians, the Jews have taken over everything in America - books, movies, television - and are driving President Bush and the nation to war in Iraq merely to save Israel from destruction.

Pat Buchanan started a magazine which seems devoted almost entirely to the notion that greedy Americans with dual loyalties are pushing America to war in behalf of Israel. Indeed, the man who twice tried to run for president as a Republican now sneers at the Republicans as "the War Party." He asks who would benefit from a war between the predominately Christian West and Islam and answers: "one nation, one leader, one party. Israel, Sharon, Likud." This is an odd formulation from a man who often wears his Catholic faith on his sleeve. Such a war between civilizations would be a war not between the West and Islam, but between the West and a radical and violent version of Islam, which if triumphant would shutter every cathedral, church and synagogue, demolish every six-pointed star and haul down the Cross from atop every steeple.

Jim Moran, the Alexandria congressman who concedes that he often struggles to keep a sock in a big mouth, blames "the Jews" for pushing war: "If it were not for the strong support of the [American] Jewish community, there would be no military strike."

Mr. Moran insists that he isn't an anti-Semite. What he is for sure is a politician with a calloused thumb on the pulse of the body politic. A new poll, by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, finds that American Jews are considerably more, not less, skeptical than other Americans of war in Iraq. Jews are far more skeptical than the evangelical Christians (like the president) who make up a large share of the American public. According to the Pew poll, 62 percent of all Americans support military action in Iraq, but only 52 percent of American Jews do. Among evangelical Protestants, support rises to 73 percent. Pat Buchanan and Jim Moran are wasting time looking for a synagogue to find someone to fight with. The hymn-singers in the nearest revival tent would be more far likely to accommodate them.

But so loud have the Israel-bashers and Jew baiters become that a congressional committee yesterday inquired of Secretary of State Colin Powell, in the interest of clearing the air, whether American friends of Israel are driving U.S. policy in Iraq.

"It is driven by our own national interest," Mr. Powell replied to the astonishing question. "U.S. policy is not driven by any small cabal that is buried away somewhere."

What reasonable man can doubt that the man driving the unhorsing of Saddam Hussein is George W. Bush, a born-again Methodist? He understands that hostility to America would not evaporate even if Israel disappears overnight in a puff of paleo-con pixie dust. Critics of the war effort have a respectable case to make, though they have not persuaded most Americans, or are they likely to do so. But Jews, no less than Irish Catholics, Welsh Presbyterians, Hispanic Pentecostals, English Methodists, immigrant Buddhists, French Huguenots, home-grown atheists or even good ol' boy Baptists, are entitled to make their arguments without having to worry about cheap shots at their race or religion or where their loyalties lie.

That's one of the rights Americans cheerfully go to war to preserve.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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