“Good Jews”

March 2006

Re: Emanuele Ottolenghi, Europe’s “Good Jews,” Commentary, December 2005.

To the Editor:

Emanuele Ottolenghi deserves high praise for his remarkably insightful essay on the Jewish calumniators of the Jewish state. Alas, this disturbing phenomenon is by no means confined to Europe.

In North America, haters of Israel in search of “good Jews” to ratify their prejudices will have no difficulty in finding suitable candidates, as Edward Alexander and I document in The Jewish Divide Over Israel. They can invoke the authority of world-famous MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, who explains that “Hitler’s conceptions have struck a responsive chord in current Zionist commentary.” They can turn to Norman G. Finkelstein of DePaul University, who proclaims that Israeli Jews are a “parasitic class” and that Israeli prisons are the scene of “novelties to the Nazi experiments.” Or they can seek reassurance in the sentiments of Michael Neumann, a philosopher at Trent University, Ontario, who admits that if an effective campaign against Zionism “means encouraging vicious, racist anti-Semitism, or the destruction of the state of Israel, I still don’t care.”

If aspiring bigots decide to look further afield, they can take up the slanders that go forth from Zion itself. From the late Israel Shahak, who taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, they can learn that “Israeli Jews, and with them most Jews throughout the world, are undergoing a process of Nazification” and that “Jewish terror is very kosher in the USA.” From Ran HaCohen at Tel Aviv University, they can discover that Israeli military tactics reflect “Hitler’s concept of war for annihilation.” And with a little effort, they can trace these poisonous ideas all the way back to that ethical paragon Martin Buber, who in his essay Old Zionism and Modern Israel, lamented that “the majority of the Jewish people preferred to learn from Hitler rather than from us. Hitler showed them that history does not go the way of the spirit but the way of power, and if a people is powerful enough, it can kill with impunity as many millions of another people as it wants to kill.”

With “good Jews” like these, who needs antisemites?

Paul Bogdanor

NB: The above reflects what was submitted, and not precisely what was published. For the published version, please check the relevant issue of the magazine.