But how do most people explain this preoccupation? There is no fully rational explanation for the amount of attention paid to the Jews and the Jewish state. And there is no fully rational explanation for the amount of hatred directed at Jews and the Jewish state.
A lifetime of study of this issue, including writing (with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin) a book on anti-Semitism ("Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism") has convinced me that, along with all the rational explanations, there is one explanation that transcends reason alone.
It is that the Jews are God's chosen people.
Now, believe me, dear reader, I am well aware of the hazards of making such a claim.
It sounds chauvinistic. It sounds racist. And it sounds irrational, if not bizarre.
But it is none of these.
As regards chauvinism, there is not a hint of inherent superiority in the claim of Jewish chosen-ness. In fact, the Jewish Bible, the book that states the Jews are chosen, constantly berates the Jews for their flawed moral behavior. No bible of any other religion is so critical of the religious group affiliated with that bible as the Hebrew Scriptures are of the Jews.
As for racism, Jewish chosen-ness cannot be racist by definition. Here is why: a) The Jews are not a race; there are Jews of every race. And b) any person of any race, ethnicity or nationality can become a member of the Jewish people and thereby be as chosen as Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah or the chief rabbi of Israel.
And with regard to chosen-ness being an irrational or even bizarre claim, it must be so only to atheists. They don't believe in a Chooser, so they cannot believe in a Chosen. But for most believing Jews and Christians (most particularly the Founders who saw America as a Second Israel, a second Chosen People), Jewish Chosen-ness has been a given. And even the atheist must look at the evidence and conclude that the Jews play a role in history that defies reason.
Can reason alone explain how a hodgepodge of ex-slaves was able to change history -- to introduce the moral God-Creator we know as God; to write the world's most influential book, the Bible; to devise ethical monotheism; to be the only civilization to deny the cyclical worldview and give humanity belief in a linear (i.e., purposeful) history; to provide morality-driven prophets and so much more -- without God playing the decisive role in this people's history?