In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 25, 2004 / 6 Tamuz, 5764

Conspiracy theories

By Jonathan Tobin

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Attempts to cast the war in Iraq as a plot should give its critics pause

https://www.jewishworldreview.com | There are some people, I am told, who don't believe that 35 years ago, American astronauts landed on the moon. At the same time, other members of the public think that a vast conspiracy has covered up the discovery of UFO-type creatures.

And still others cling to the notion that the CIA killed John F. Kennedy, while a Jewish subset of this sector similarly thinks that Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by the Mossad.

In other words, there are some really dumb people out there, a portion of whom are stark-raving mad.

Conspiracies are the lifeblood of mystery novels and thrillers. They feed into our fear that somehow, all of our troubles can be traced to a small group of malevolent malefactors, whose plots and stratagems are designed to steal our liberties and our money while we innocently sleep.

Such nonsense has helped employ a small army of writers, film crews and actors for generations, with little effect other than to keep those people employed and the weak-minded entertained.

So there should be no surprise about the fact that the Sept. 11 attacks — and the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that followed — would become source material for the same sort of conspiratorial fantasies.

Soon after 9/11, rumors began sweeping the Arab world that the Al Qaeda attacks were the work of Israel. A fable about the Jews who worked in the World Trade Center calling in sick that day became widely accepted. Of course, this attempt to blame a familiar target of Arab intolerance was somewhat paradoxical, since many in the same sector claimed that only the Jews were smart enough to have pulled off such a dastardly and complicated crime.

But nutty conspiracy theories are not the sole province of the Jew-haters who seem to dominate the Muslim world these days. Although it would be unfair to draw a straight line between vile Islamic anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and those of the American far left, let's just say that the crackpots of Cairo might find something to talk about with the likes of, say, Tim Robbins or Michael Moore.

Robbins, the Hollywood star/playwright, had his anti-Iraq war satire "Embedded" produced at New York's Public Theater this spring. The play, which portrayed the war as a neoconservative conspiracy, will be remembered chiefly for the fact that, as Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout pointed out, Robbins actually used a publication put out by lunatic left-cult leader Lyndon Larouche as the source for a misquote of conservative philosopher Leo Strauss.

As for Moore, his new "documentary" film "Fahrenheit 9/11" is about to open after a huge buildup in the press. The flick, which won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, purportedly shows the war to have been a conspiracy cooked up by evil-doers in the White House.

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Among the chattering classes, Moore is considered something of a comic genius, though his previous films were more agitprop than wit. I'll leave the skewering of his latest work to others after it comes out. But I will note that any one who could have written in a book, as Moore did in his best-seller "Dude, Where's My Country?" that George W. Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks, or that most Israelis "know they are in the wrong" in defending themselves against Palestinian suicide bombings, is not exactly a trusted source on the subject of the war on terrorism.

Though Moore belongs on the Sci-Fi Channel, his brand of analysis is being treated as the stuff of mainstream debate on C-Span. And that has consequences not just for the upcoming presidential election, but for the sanity of American democracy itself.

After the failure to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, ongoing American casualties and with seemingly little progress made toward transforming Iraq into something that resembles a democracy, skepticism about the war is widespread.

Second thoughts about the wisdom of the war are understandable. But they are also a distraction from the real question of whether transforming the Mideast from a hotbed for Islamo-fascism into a beachhead for democracy is practicable. While the cause remains just, the answer to that question remains uncertain, even though it can still be argued that the Middle East is a safer place now that both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein have been toppled.

Yet what is troubling about the undeserved respect given Moore is whether his film and the wacko world of conspiracy that lies behind it will help drive the debate on the war during the presidential campaign. That is clearly the intention of Moore and those who back him, such as the far-left MoveOn.org Web site, which is hoping to push Democratic candidate John Kerry to move from second guesses and sniping at Bush to open opposition to the war.

Though common sense dictates that a major-party candidate should move to the center rather than to left or right, Kerry may be advised that he can't afford to let Independent/Green Party candidate Ralph Nader seize the initiative on the war. Nader, whose presence on the ballot probably put Bush in the White House in 2000, has said he will use the war as his top issue. If the gadfly erodes the Democratic base this year as much as he did four years ago, that could again sink the Democrats.

But Kerry should remember that the overwhelming majority of voters outside of Hollywood and the Manhattan theater district are not as enamored of Bush conspiracy theories as are the denizens of these places. Just as Bush must attempt to navigate between his right-wing conservative base and the center, Kerry must avoid alienating Americans who may have doubts about Bush, but still do not question America's motives in the war on terror.

President Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer, America's pro-consul in Baghdad, as well as some of the tactics they have employed, are all fair game for criticism. But what's needed now from the Democrats is a reasonable alternative policy that will not result in a U.S. retreat.

What we need from both parties is a commitment to a free Iraq, coupled with unceasing pressure on the terrorists and their allies. Kerry should remember there are more votes to be found there than in the nightmarish world of Michael Moore.

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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

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