With Friends like these…
JUDAS ISCARIOT is headed for a makeover. According to news reports,
cardinals close to the new pope recommend a change in the Catholic
Church's attitude towards him: exit the treacherous Jew who turns the
messiah over to the cohorts of the evil High Priest - enter the apostle
who simply fulfilled his role in the divine design. After all, it was
God who decided that his son should die on the cross.
A well-intentioned effort, but a pathetic one. No Vatican decision can
alter the image of Judas in the New Testament: a despicable informer who
received "thirty pieces of silver" for his betrayal of the Son of God.
No Christian who absorbs this story in his childhood will ever forget
the picture of the contemptible traitor who kisses Jesus at the moment
of betraying him to his executioners. Nothing will help except changing
the biblical text itself, and that is, of course, not so easy.
If one of the other 11 apostles had betrayed Jesus, the consequences
would not have been, perhaps, so horrible. But since Judas sounds in
many languages like "Jews", the betrayal is associated in the
consciousness of Christians with Jews in general. Multitudes of Jews
throughout history have been butchered because of this. The Nazi
battle-cry "Judah Verrecke!" (Perish, Jews!") paved the way to the gas
Perhaps this had some influence on the young neo-Nazi,
Alexander Koptsev, who ran amok this week in the Moscow synagogue,
stabbing and wounding ten people. That act lit up all the red lights.
Again, "the rise of anti-Semitism in the world" became a major subject,
again the alarm bells shrilled.
There is indeed a growing danger of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism -
two different phenomena that can appear both together and separately.
But it is not connected with primitive skinheads like the Moscow
knife-wielder. It is much more dangerous, and the fuel that feeds them
exists in other places and on other levels.
IN ONE of the stream of speeches in which George W. Bush is now trying
to defend his ill-fated invasion of Iraq, this week he let loose a
sentence that should light all the red lights. In this sentence he
castigated his opponents for asserting that he had attacked Iraq "for
the oil and for Israel".
He thus brought to the surface an assertion that had until then been
openly voiced only by anti-Semitic marginal groups. They have put
together three facts: (a) that the people who most aggressively pushed
for the war were the neo-cons who play a major role in the Bush
administration, (b) that almost all the important members of this group
are Jews, and (c) that the occupation of Iraq has freed Israel from a
significant military threat.
Up to now, the American media have treated this allegation with
contempt, as a ridiculous "conspiracy theory". Now that the President
himself has spoken about it, it may become part of the legitimate public
discourse in the United States and throughout the world.
Therein lies a great danger for Israel. The entire Israeli establishment
supported the American invasion. (When we, the opponents of the war,
called a demonstration against it in Tel-Aviv, on the day when millions
took to the streets all around the world, it was a small event, ignored
by the media.) Now it may happen, as so often in history, that those
responsible for the disaster will evade responsibility. George Bush will
fade from memory in a few years. What will remain is the impression that
Israel and the Jews dragged the poor US into a despicable adventure.
BY SHEER CHANCE, this week saw the appearance of a book about the Iraq
war that touches on the same subject - "State of War" by James Risen.
Among other things, the book says that the Secretary of Defense and the
neo-cons who dominate Washington did not listen to the American
intelligence analysts, who advised caution when it came to Iraq, but to
the Israeli intelligence people who flooded Washington and briefed
According to Risen, it was the hard-line Israelis that Rumsfeld and his
deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, were listening to, not the cautious CIA. "CIA
analysts were often skeptical of Israeli intelligence reports, knowing
that Mossad had very strong - even obvious - biases about the Arab
world." After their visits, CIA officials would generally discount much
of what the Israeli intelligence officers supplied, "Wolfowitz and other
conservatives at the Pentagon became enraged by this practice," Risen
writes. Wolfowitz is, of course, a very Jewish name.
The obvious conclusion: it was the Israelis and their allies, the
Washington Jews, who pushed the US into the war.
AS IF that was not enough, Washington is now rocked by a big scandal
that has a close connection with Israel. At its center stands a person
called Jack Abramoff - again a name that discloses the Jewish identity
of its owner.
This Jack is a super-lobbyist, a symbol of the phenomenon that has
turned American politics into a dirty stable of corruption, which even
the mighty Hercules would have had trouble cleaning up. He skimmed the
money of his clients, mostly Native Americans, put some of it into his
own pocket and used the rest to bribe establishment figures, senators
and congressmen. He gave them generous gifts, junkets around the world,
suites in luxury hotels and other perks. Most of the beneficiaries were
Republicans, but some crumbs were thrown to Democrats, too.
Up to this point, it’s nothing unusual, just bigger than usual. The
lobbying industry is very well developed in Washington, which is
infested by lobbyists like a hobo with lice. The pro-Israeli lobby is no
different from all the others. The lobbyists corrupt everything. They
bribe the politicians to make laws that will divert billions of public
money into the pockets of their clients. They play a major role in
financing the election campaigns of politicians, from the President
himself down to the lowliest mayor. Only rarely is one of them caught
and sent to prison, as may happen now to that Abramoff.
What is special about Abramoff is that he is a fanatical Zionist.
According to the stories published in the States, some of the money that
he diverted was transferred to extreme settlers in the West Bank.
Abramoff sent them military equipment for use against the Palestinians,
and perhaps against the Israeli government. Among other items, he bought
them camouflage uniforms, telescopic sights for snipers, night-vision
binoculars and a thermal imager.
American publications mention a settler named Shmuel Ben-Zvi from the
Betar Illit settlement, a high-school buddy of Abramoff, who received
this equipment. Ben-Zvi denied it, but the Senate committee has obtained
e-mail messages from him lauding Abramoff for sending him
"reinforcement", while Abramoff wrote him that "if only there were
another dozen of you, the dirty rats would be finished."
Abramoff himself claims that he is simply an idealist, who uses the
money "put into his hands by God" in order to help Israel. He also
financed a - probably fictitious - outfit of Syrian exiles, supported by
Israel. One of the American publications mentions in this context the
biblical Mossad motto: "By way of deception thou shalt make war"
(Proverbs 24,6 - that's how it sounds in modern Hebrew, but the actual
meaning of the words is in doubt. The English Bible renders it thus:
"For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war".)
So that's how it looks to Americans: the man who has become a symbol of
corruption is a Jew who supports Israel.
AND AS IF that is not enough, either, another friend of Israel has also
made waves in the American media. That's our old acquaintance Jerry
Falwell, the leader of millions of American Christian fundamentalists, a
friend of the late Menachem Begin.
It may be remembered that Binyamin Netanyahu, our then Prime Minister,
went to America in 1998 to meet President Bill Clinton. In those days,
Clinton was trying to exert pressure on Israel in order to promote
peace. Netanyahu was invited for this purpose. On the eve of his meeting
with Clinton, Netanyahu met publicly with Falwell of all people, in
front of a crowd of hundreds. Falwell, a sworn enemy of Clinton, reveals
now that the meeting was deliberately planned as an affront to the
Some days before that, another friend of Netanyahu's, William Kristol,
one of the Jewish neo-con power-brokers, had publicly hinted that a huge
White House sex-scandal was about to break. Immediately afterwards, the
Monica Lewinsky scandal was unleashed and the public was informed that
the President had had sex in the White House with the young intern with
the very Jewish-sounding name.
Two weeks before the Netanyahu visit, an American Jewish paper had
published an ad demanding that the President abstain from pressuring
Israel. The ad included a photo of Clinton taken from the back - the
very shot of Clinton embracing Monica that was later published all
around the world.
Falwell practically brags that he helped Netanyahu to blackmail Clinton.
If so, he was successful. No pressure on Israel materialized at that
By the way, the magazine in which Falwell published his allegation,
Vanity Fair, belongs to the publishing empire of Si and Donald Newhouse,
generous contributors to the pro-Israel lobby.
(Another high-profile leader of the Christian fundamentalists, Pat
Robertson, declared last week that the stroke that felled Sharon was
God's punishment for giving away a piece of the Holy Land to the Arabs.
He later apologized, probably hoping to save an agreement he has with
the Israeli government to build a huge tourist complex near the Sea of
THE PICTURE that emerges for the American public is that Israel and the
Jews dominate Washington and that the US government dances to their
tune. That is, of course, a wild exaggeration, but many may come to
believe it. That may not have any immediate influence, but constitutes a
very serious long-term danger. When things repeat themselves again and
again, the effect is cumulative.
Such events must serve as a warning. The Israeli government and the
leaders of the US Jewish community must think again about this danger.
Disapproving words about "the rise of anti-Semitism" are not enough,
what is required is a profound change of behavior. We must stop all
contact with crooks, especially if they are Jewish, and with
fundamentalists of all sorts. Everyone who has the best interests of
Israel at heart must demand that. The matter concerns the national
security of Israel, especially when the policy of our government is
completely based on unstinting American support.
Ariel Sharon was too overbearing to consider this danger. Let's hope
that his successors will be a little more sober.