When is a Jew-hater not a Jew-hater?
Actor Mel Gibson's "Jews cause all the wars" drunk driving tirade elicited a coast-to-coast butt-whupping. A contrite Mel Gibson apologized -- twice -- entered rehab and asked to speak with prominent Jewish figures to map out a "path for healing." But last Sunday, a puzzled Gibson probably cut off his television, shouting, "Where's CBS's Mike Wallace when I need him?"
You see, Wallace just aired his "60 Minutes" interview with the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an on-the-record, unrepentant Jew-hater and Holocaust-denier.
Ahmadinejad, at the October 2005 "World Without Zionism" conference, said, "The Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem must be wiped off the map." Following denials that Ahmadinejad would never use an English idiom like "wiped off the map," some Persian language specialists translated the sentence as, "This regime that is occupying Jerusalem must be eliminated from the pages of history."
And, oh, about America, Ahmadinejad said, "And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism." On another occasion, Ahmadinejad said, "They [Europeans] have invented a myth that Jews were massacred. . . . If you have burned the Jews, why don't you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel. . . . [I]f you have committed this huge crime, why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay . . . ?" Only days ago, for good measure, before the Israeli-Hezbollah "ceasefire," Ahmadinejad said, "[T]he main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime."
Therefore, when the pugnacious Wallace sat down with Ahmadinejad, one expected the fit to hit the shan. But, no. For, as Wallace later said, he found Ahmadinejad an "impressive fellow," "attractive," "smart as hell," "savvy" and "rational." Wallace, the intrepid reporter, apparently smitten by what he perceived as Ahmadinejad's charm, poise and carriage, refused to call the president an anti-Semite!
Here's Wallace, after the Ahmadinejad interview, but before it aired, on Sean Hannity's radio show.
Hannity: "So you don't think he's an anti-Semite?"
Wallace: "He himself -- by anti-Semite, anti-Jew? Anti-Jew? . . . No, I don't."
What about Ahmadinejad's assertion that "if" the Holocaust took place, it took place in Europe, so why should Palestine suffer?
Wallace: " . . . He says 'wipe off the map' and of course, I asked him, over and over, about that. He says, in effect, hey . . . it's perfectly sensible if there is a Holocaust -- and let's buy the fact that there was a Holocaust -- where did the Holocaust take place? Did it take place in an Arab neighborhood? Did it take place in Jerusalem? No. It took place in Germany. Then it seems to me, under those circumstances, take Israel, the Zionist entity, he called it, move it to Germany. Move it to Europe, that's where it happened. Move it to the United States."
Hannity: "Do you think that's a legitimate argument?"
Wallace: "It's an argument."
It's an argument? Never mind the over 3-millennia-old Jewish connection to ancient Israel. Or that Jews migrated to and legally acquired land under the Ottoman Empire, under the British Mandate, or by buying land from Arabs in the area long before the United Nations partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab nations. Or that pogroms against Jews occurred both in European and Arab countries before the modern State of Israel.
Is Wallace soft on Jew-hating? Years ago, Wallace arranged for a dinner with himself, Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman, Nation of Islam's firebrand anti-Semitic, Judaism-is-a-gutter-religion Rev. Louis Farrakhan, and their wives. Wallace, according to The Wall Street Journal, wanted to reach out to Farrakhan, " . . . to take tentative steps toward a rapprochement between blacks and Jews. . . . The dinner party was by all accounts warm and cordial. . . . By the time good-nights were said . . . it was agreed that Farrakhan's son-in-law . . . and someone from Mr. Bronfman's camp would explore opening a hotel in Washington . . . operated by black people and financed in part with money raised by Mr. Bronfman." But a few days after the meeting, Farrakhan resumed his public attack against Jews, and the deal was off.
If Wallace is soft on anti-Semitism, he's positively hard on the U.S. military. Wallace and ABC's Peter Jennings, in 1987, appeared on a PBS panel discussion. The moderator offered a hypothetical. You are covering a war, and you learn of the enemy's plans to attack U.S. soldiers. Do you warn the Americans? An emphatic Wallace said, "No, you don't have the higher duty [as an American citizen]. . . . No, no. You're a reporter . . . ." Jennings ultimately concurred with Wallace.
An outraged co-panelist, a Marine colonel, said, "I feel utter contempt. Two days later they're both walking off my hilltop, they're 200 yards away and they get ambushed. And they're lying there wounded. And they're going to expect I'm going to send Marines up there to get them. They're just journalists, they're not Americans. . . . But I'll do it. And that's what makes me so contemptuous of them. And Marines will die, going to get a couple of journalists."
With all due respect, Mr. Wallace, you are in your 61st minute. It's time.