Memo To: Richard Bernstein, NYTimes
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: "An Ugly Rumor Or an Ugly Truth?"
Dear Mr. Bernstein.... You may remember my MediaGuide, when we regularly rated your fine work in Paris for the Times. As I did not see a date-line on your excellent "Week in Review" piece yesterday on anti-Semitism in Europe, "An Ugly Rumor Or an Ugly Truth," I assume you wrote from NYC. It is quite shocking to find "respectable" intellectuals in London, for goodness sakes, willing to be quoted that American-born Jews who have settled on the Israeli-occupied West Bank "should be shot dead," and that Israeli soldiers are "the Zionist SS." You quote another "prominent conservative writer and editor as saying that he had "reluctantly" concluded that "Israel no longer had a right to exist."
We do not find a parallel in the United States, certainly not in any quarters considered "respectable," and you devote your piece to the question of why Jews get so much heat when there is so much less moral outrage in Russia and in China about human rights abuses. As you put it, "The Guardian... editorialized that Israeli actions in Jenin were 'every bit as repellent' as the terrorist attacks of Sept.11 against the United States, and many publications simply accepted as fact Palestinian accusations of massacres and atrocities." You went on:
Indeed, the death toll in the most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which began in September 2000, is just over 2000 people, roughly 1500 of them Palestinian. That is a far lower number than in most of the world's conflicts, and a fact that seems to make condemnation of Israel in Europe seem all the more disproportionate.
I've been following the Arab/Israeli struggle since Israel's earliest days as a nation, Mr. Bernstein, and I think I can tell you why this is so. The fact is that Jewish influence in American politics and the American news media is orders of magnitude greater than it is in Europe. American politicians and American press people really do not understand, as Europeans do, and as Israelis themselves do, that there still exists in the Israeli political establishment the original Zionist dream of a "Greater Israel," which has no room for a Palestinian state. The idea of the original founders of Israel that -- with patience -- they could get all of the Transjordan, the Golan Heights and even Southern Lebanon is essentially unknown to almost all Americans. They continue to read and hear that the Palestinians are the "bad guys," who are disrupting all the peaceful efforts by their suicide bombings, but it was only recently that they got the confusing news that Ariel Sharon's Likud Party officially voted almost unanimously against the concept of a Palestinian state.
European intellectuals – left and right – had been able to figure this out a long time ago, which is why they see Tel Aviv as being the culprit in sabotaging all efforts by moderate Israelis to bring about a two-state solution. There is nothing else in the world with the potential for a 9-11 or for an Armageddon that ends the world than the continued resistance of the dreamers in Israel who will do anything to stop any interference with a Greater Israel encompassing all of the "Promised Land."
Our politicians are only beginning to ask themselves the question you pose. Why are the Europeans so unconcerned about the threat from Iraq? Why is there universal opposition – except for Israel – to a U.S. military strike to replace Saddam Hussein? Take a few minutes and watch the sensational C-SPAN interview (Real Video required) of Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector, and you will wonder some more.
Then ask yourself: "If there suddenly appeared, by magic, a Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza that approximates what the negotiators reached at Tabas, Egypt, when Barak was still Prime Minister, would there still be a bone of contention between Tel Aviv and Baghdad? I don't think so. In no time at all there would be commercial relations between Iraq and Israel, then diplomatic relations. Before the June 1967 war, there were 200,000 Jews in Baghdad, and there are still active synagogues there, I am told. There soon would be no more pressure from American Jews to oblige the Likudniks by helping install a puppet regime in Baghdad -- with scads of oil money and a powerful military regime -- to protect that "Greater Israel" against a unified Arab League and Muslim world. President Bush wants a Palestinian state and Ariel Sharon says it might be possible way, way, way down the road if the Palestinians produce leaders willing to take what they get. The Palestinians and the European intellectuals you cite as being "anti-Semitic" are simply being realistically anti-Zionist in the extreme.
This, by the way, is the belief at the editorial page of the Jewish weekly Forward, which does not trust Sharon. If you see that, then you can see that the price being paid thus far on behalf of the Zionist dream has been the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqi civilians under the UN sanctions, the desperate conditions of the several million Palestinians held in the equivalent of concentration camps for a half century, and 9-11. Those are big numbers compared to the 2000 deaths you cite in this second intifada, Mr. Bernstein. When Louis Farrakhan in 1996 compared the suffering of the Iraqi children to the suffering of the Jewish children in the Holocaust, he was denounced as being anti-Semitic and "inherently evil" by Edgar Bronfman of the World Jewish Congress. No kidding. Check it out, now that you have opened up this can of worms, check them out one at a time and we might soon find a peaceful solution to the problems of the Holy Land.