January 24, 2019

Rationalizing bigotry away

The past few days have seen a bizarre interplay of forces within the Jewish community precipitated by the Trump election and the appointment of Steve Bannon as a top counselor to the president-elect. Rarely have such divergent views on an important issue—-namely, anti-Semitism—been so publicly on display.

The major players are the Anti-Defamation League, headed by its relatively new and fairly young director, Jonathan Greenblatt; Morton Klein, an older, militantly pro-Israel activist who is unhinged (see “>here) and runs the once venerable Zionist Organization of America; and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a media savvy author whose books include Kosher Sex and Kosher Lust: Love is not the Answer and a “>The Daily Beast]

The question that Bannon has precipitated in the Jewish world is whether he is anti-Semitic and/or do his policies and actions put Jewish interests at risk. His supporters claim to know present and former Jewish, even Orthodox, employees of Breitbart.com (the website Bannon runs) whom Bannon treated well and who never reported any untoward actions by him—as if that means anything.

The “>said,

…we're not conspiracy-theory guys, but there's certainly – and I could see this when I worked at Goldman Sachs – there are people in New York that feel closer to people in London and in Berlin than they do to people in Kansas and in Colorado, and they have more of this elite mentality that they're going to dictate to everybody how the world's going to be run.

A troubling permutation of that pernicious view was promoted in the “>Black crime “), “>globalists, international bankers” and “renegade Jews”) and Asians (in an interview that recently surfaced he “>Morton Klein and “>a brave fighter against anti-Semitism “. [In a strange twist and irony, over the past two decades Klein has repeatedly attacked The New York Times' Tom Friedman as “>describe Bannon as “a racist, anti-Semite” (John Weaver, consultant to Ohio Governor Kasich) and as a “disreputable and unstable extremist” (William Kristol) the bizarreness of two Jewish “leaders” advocating on Bannon's behalf is striking.

We have seen this story before, “leaders”—with hidden agendas that are different than what they publicly purport to be— who compromise the principles and the best interests of their community. The communities usually sniff out these phonies.

Marx once observed that “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce;” it's not clear whether we are at the laughable or the tragic—-only time will tell. Kudos to the ADL and Greenblatt for aiming to avoid tragedy.