December 4, 2003
The Top 10 Reasons Why Today Is Different
The top 10 reasons why the vulnerability of the 1930s cannot be compared with contemporary Jewish vulnerability:
10. Hitler ruled most of Europe; Arafat can't move beyond the rubble of his compound.
9. In the 1930s, Jews were without adequate power to defend themselves. Those with power and access were reluctant to use it on behalf of some parochial concerns, afraid to call attention to their Jewishness and/or jeopardize their access.
8. There is no network of antisemites with the influence of Father Coughlin, Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh. Al Qaeda has money, people and influence in parts of the world where there are few Jews. 1933 touched Jews where they lived.
7. Anti-Semitism is a barrier rather than a spur to political advancement in the United States. It is a ticket to marginality in the political dialogue so that those who want to enter American political life must mute their anti-Semitism.
Witness the transformation of Al Sharpton in the current Democratic presidential primaries. Witness the vote that Pat Buchanan received in the last election. Anti-Semitism is constrained in Germany by law and by social convention.
In France, the Cabinet met in emergency session -- albeit belatedly, terribly belatedly -- to consider the outbreaks of anti-Semitism. Pope John Paul II apologized for Christian anti-Semitism at the Western Wall and said: "anti-Semitism is anti-Christian."
6. Every Administration since John F. Kennedy has been Pro-Israel and increasingly more so. There is no anti-Israel candidate on the horizon that is likely to become president of the United States. Even Howard Dean had to backtrack when he spoke of being evenhanded.
5. If Jews are not as powerful as our enemies accuse us of being, we are far more powerful than we perceive ourselves to be.
4. Anti-Semitism is currently a tool of the powerless, not the instrument of the powerful. Jews do not live where anti-Semitism is most rampant and anti-Semitic rhetoric least constrained.
3. By all accounts, Israel has the third- or fourth-most powerful army in the world, and with some measure of security at home is a potential economic dynamo, whose per-capita standard of living could rival Switzerland. The recent leak that Israeli submarines are capable of carrying nuclear weapons was a warning to Iran, which is close to developing the bomb, and to those forces that might want to purchase a North Korean bomb. The world of mutual-assured destruction is a far cry from Auschwitz.
2. To participate in the global economy and to benefit from it, one must deal with a philo-Semitic United States and with Jews who are at the forefront of globalization.
1. In 1933, Adolf Hitler was the elected chancellor of a major European power, with all the weapons of a nation-state at his disposal to carry out his genocidal plans. In 2003, not only do the outbreaks of anti-Semitism come nowhere near to genocide, but their perpetrators are social outcasts in scattered cells.
Hitler is dead. Antisemitism is not. Generals who fight the last war almost always lose. We need new tools to fight new forms of anti-Semitism. --MB >