Those who label Ann Coulter an anti-Semite do damage to the battle against anti-Semitism.
I say this as a committed Jew, a religious Jew, a Jewish writer and lecturer, a past college instructor in Jewish history, co-author of a widely read book on anti-Semitism, recipient of the American Jewish Press Association's Prize for Excellence in Jewish Commentary, instructor in Torah at the American Jewish University, and a man who has fought anti-Semitism all his life.
There is nothing in what Ann Coulter said to a Jewish interviewer on CNBC that indicates she hates Jews or wishes them ill, or does damage to the Jewish people or the Jewish state. And if none of those criteria is present, how can someone be labeled anti-Semitic?
What damage has she ever done to Jews? What is wrong with a person believing that it would be better if another person adopted their faith? Is there one liberal who doesn't believe that a conservative would be better -- "perfected," if you will -- by embracing liberal beliefs and values? Why is it laudable for a liberal to hope that conservatives convert to liberalism, but dangerous and hate-filled when a Christian hopes that Jews or anyone else will go to heaven (that is, after all, Ann Coulter's and most other Christians' primary concern) by believing in Jesus?
I have read Jewish and non-Jewish writers who argue that Ann Coulter's words will lead to another Auschwitz. How does one respond to irrationality? How does one respond to hysteria?
There is also a move to boycott Ann Coulter, so dangerous are her words. Of course, there is no such Jewish or liberal boycott of former President Jimmy Carter, who has done real damage to the Jewish people by describing Israel as an "apartheid" state in the very title of his anti-Israel book. In fact, Carter was invited to speak on his loathsome book at Brandeis University, an ostensibly Jewish university. But for many Jews and liberals, real hatred, real damage to Jewish security can only come from the right, especially from Christians on the right. So Ann Coulter, who has done nothing in her life to compromise Jewish welfare, is to be boycotted, but Jimmy Carter is worthy of invitations to speak. Jewish groups even invite John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, the authors of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," which is essentially a tempered modern-day version of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." But Ann Coulter is beyond the pale. And she said nothing to harm Jews.
She said she believes that Jews who accept Jesus as their savior are "perfected." I fail to see why this is some form of hate-speech, let alone the basis of anti-Semitism, as stated by Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, which often defames conservative Christians, whom he and his organization hold to be the greatest domestic threats to America.
As a practicing Jew, I do not agree with Ann Coulter's theology any more than those attacking her do. But I am neither offended by her nor frightened by her or her beliefs. She believes that Christianity is better than Judaism. So what? Why is that in any way different from liberals thinking that liberalism is truer and morally superior to conservatism? Or conservatives thinking that their values are superior to liberal values?
Liberals not only believe that conservatives are philosophically imperfect, but they often believe that conservatives are bad human beings (something in no way implied by Coulter about Jews). Howard Dean has said that conservatives don't care about children who go to bed hungry. Liberals yearn for a world without conservatives at least as much as most believing Christians want a world without non-Christians. The difference is many liberals are immeasurably more likely to impose their views on others than Christian Americans are. Liberal judges impose their views -- e.g., on same-sex marriage -- on society. And liberal educators force young students to watch Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," the former vice president's hysterical beliefs about impending doom -- and offer no countering viewpoint.
As fate and irony would have it, this past Sunday night I was the keynote speaker at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. Since 1981, the church, led by Pastor John Hagee, has had an annual "Night to Honor Israel." Five thousand Christians came to this year's event, where they heard and sang Hebrew songs and watched their pastor give $8 million to various Israeli and Jewish charities.
Those are Ann Coulter's people, and they are, by and large, the best friends the Jewish people have today. And since Judaism teaches that we judge others by their behavior, not their beliefs, this Jew thanks them. And fears those who fear them. One day, God forbid, should there be real anti-Semitism in America, these hysterics will have cried wolf so many times that no one will listen.