Some Americans apparently believe that we are going to war with Iraq "because of the Jews." Having written a book explaining anti-Semitism (Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism, Simon & Schuster [buy book]), all I can do is marvel at the durability of anti-Semitism and the eternality of the charge that the Jews are responsible for everything anti-Semites fear.
No group in the world has been the target of nearly as many twisted and ludicrous accusations.
Tens of millions of European Christians once believed -- and tens of millions of Muslims believe today -- that Jews kidnap and slaughter non-Jewish children before Passover to use their blood for baking matzo.
Vast numbers of Europeans believed that Jews caused the Plague.
Much of France believed that the near-bankruptcy brought on by its failure to build the Panama Canal was caused by the Jews.
The great majority of Arabs believe that Jews knew about the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and that 4,000 Jews who worked there stayed home that day.
The great majority of Arabs and tens of millions of Muslims believe that the Jews (i.e., Israel) are responsible for the poverty, tyranny, absence of freedom and brutality that pervade the Arab world.
And now Pat Buchanan and other Americans believe (or at least say) that America is going to war against Iraq "because of the Jews."
Many groups have been hated in history, but their haters never made up as many lies -- let alone such grandiose lies -- as have Jews' enemies.
It is worth analyzing this latest libel -- if only to understand anti-Semitism and the enormous role it plays in the world.
First, the charge is demonstrably a lie. There is not a single Jew in this administration's Cabinet, and the president owes nothing to Jews, the great majority of whom voted for his Democratic opponent.
George W. Bush is an evangelical Christian from Texas; Dick Cheney is a conservative from Wyoming (not a state with an influential Jewish community); Condoleezza Rice is of Jamaican stock with no discernible ties to Jews; and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was secretary of Defense under the first President Bush, in the same Cabinet as James Baker, noted for saying "F--- the Jews."
Jewish support for the war against Iraq is significant only if you consider the following to be Jewish: George Will, Ann Coulter, Gary Bauer, Bill Bennett, evangelical pastors and churches throughout America, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Thomas Sowell, and The Wall Street Journal editorial page -- not to mention British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spain's President Jose Aznar.
Second, Jews are some of the leading opponents of the war, especially in academia and the media.
Aside from being a lie, the libel that Jews have somehow pushed the Bush administration into war against Iraq is based on two other odious beliefs.
One is that support for the war is un-American, or even anti-American, and therefore if a particular group of Americans can be identified with promoting the war, that group must be un-American. The other belief, or at least inevitable implication, is that the vast number of non-Jewish Americans who support the war have no values or ideas of their own, but are playthings in the hands of Rasputin-like Jews.
Given that neither facts nor logic support what is simply an attack on American Jews' patriotism, what needs to be explained is not why some Jews (like members of every other faith and ethnicity in America) support a war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. What needs to be explained is why some people see Jews behind a war initiated by non-Jews.
Alas, the explanation necessitates writing a book, since the reason people blame their troubles on the Jews is complex. So let us focus on the best known American who has made this argument, Pat Buchanan.
Buchanan has seen himself and his brand of conservatism -- which, in its isolationism and amoral view of America's role in the world, more often coincides with leftist positions -- rejected by mainstream conservatism. He has been rejected by William F. Buckley, the National Review, The Wall Street Journal, the Republican Party and just about every other conservative publication and institution. And he has decided, as millions have for millennia, to blame the Jews for his problems.
Let it be shouted from sea to shining sea: America is uniquely great and uniquely blessed because more than any other country it asks, "What is right?" when making foreign policy and because it has always blessed its Jews. Should Americans become like Europeans and remove morality from their foreign policies and start to blame Jews for their problems, it will cease to be America and cease to be great. That is why, as always, anti-Semitism threatens good non-Jews as much as it threatens Jews. If not confronted, Americans who blame the Jews will bring ruin to America, just as the Germans who blamed Jews brought ruin to Germany.