Jewish World Review May 6, 2002 / 24 Iyar, 5762

Greg Crosby

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The Invisible Hollywood Jews | My previous column dealt with the complete lack of news coverage given to the Israel Independence Day Festival by the Los Angeles Times. Governor Gray Davis spoke at the event, as did his Republican opponent in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, William Simon. Many other local and national pols spoke as well, including Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn and former Ambassador Alan Keyes.

While the festival was primarily a celebration of Israel's independence, it offered an opportunity for the Los Angeles Jewish community to come together in an enormous show of support and love for Israel at a time when she is fighting for her very existence in a world which has become increasingly anti-Semitic. Though virtually every other news gathering organization in town was there, the Times chose not to attend. But guess what? They weren't the only ones absent that day.

Also missing amongst the crowd of 60,000 attendees were the Jewish entertainers, film makers and moguls of Hollywood. Where were they? All the big machers of show biz. The big shots with the big mouths. Where was Barbra Streisand? Steven Spielberg? Rob Reiner? Michael Eisner? Jeffery Katzenberg? Richard Dreyfuss? Bette Midler?

Not one Jewish actor, singer, director, writer, producer or entertainment executive of note was there. Not one Jewish television personality. Not one Jewish talk radio host. Not one Jewish motion picture executive. It's like, once you make it in this town you don't have to be Jewish anymore.

In fairness, KABC, the local talk radio station owned by ABC/Disney sponsored a booth at the event -- but interestingly, the only celebrity representing the company was radio personality and fellow JWR columnist Larry Elder, an African/American. Now, Larry is fantastic and a great friend and supporter of Israel, but again I ask -- where were the entertainment industry Jews? At a fund raiser for the kangaroo rat? Out saving the ozone? At a Green Peace pep rally?

Perhaps it has become "out of fashion" to be supportive of Israel at this time. Since show biz folk are notoriously concerned with what's hot and what's not, that might explain it. It's not hip to be Jewish anymore. Gay is cool, a woman is cool, a black or Latino is cool. And a gay black woman with a Latino surname is very cool! But Jewish? Gimmie a break. It's been done. Jewish is last year's fashion. A has-been minority from your grandfather's era.

Unfortunately, this mindset has spread beyond Hollywood and beyond the entertainment industry. There are plenty of Jewish people throughout America that feel no particular kinship to Israel or, for that matter, the plight of any other Jews anywhere. They take pride in the fact that they are open minded, liberal-thinking, compassionate citizens of the world. They see no difference between the Israelis and Arafat's Palestinians. "There are extremists on both sides," they explain. "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," they'll say.

Some have labeled these free thinking Jewish Americans as self-hating Jews. Maybe they are, who knows? It's a cinch that they don't see themselves that way. They just want to be "fair." After all, doesn't everybody on the planet want to live in peace and brotherhood with everyone else? The short answer to that, of course, is no.

As hard as it might be for many to comprehend, there are some cultures who teach their people that the greatest thing they can do, is to murder other people who don't believe the same as they do. This is the culture of Arafat's Palestinian Authority. The culture of Saudi Arabia's Wahabbi Islamic clerics. Not all cultures are equal, but to accept this sad fact is not the politically correct way to think. Indeed, for some American Jews, it is completely unthinkable.

So who are these American Jews that just can't seem to find it in their hearts to condemn suicide mass-murdering of their own people? Who are these American Jews who refuse to "take sides" because they want to be fair to all -- including the terrorists? The answer is, sadly, that many are simply non-Jewish Jews -- Jews by birth, but who have become secularized. And because they don't feel all that "Jewish" anymore -- they just don't care. To them, Israel holds about as much meaning as Sri Lanka, maybe less. Getting in touch with their Jewish roots means eating a bagel and cream cheese or watching a Woody Allen movie. Liberalism is their religion and they worship it dearly.

Some are secular young twenty-somethings, well-educated in moral relativism by America's finest universities and liberal mass media. They believe what they are told by their professors, they believe Dan Rather, and because they know nothing of the history of the Middle East, they believe the problems in the region began when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took office.

Many are baby boomers who came of age in the sixties and were reared in the axiomatic slogan culture of the time, an era which spawned such astute thought-provoking gems as "give peace a chance" and "make love, not war." At their best they are misguided idealists, appeasers at any cost, multiculturalists whose core belief in moral equivalency trumps all else -- including truth. At their worst they are cowards, enablers, and coconspirators of evil -- and if that is the case, then they are no better than Yasser Arafat himself.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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