Zionism and America
7 September 2004

Re:
FrontPage magazine.com :: True Patriots Support Israel by Don Feder

We've all heard it 1000 times. "I'm not anti-Semitic, I'm anti-Zionist." I'm inclined to turn that around, with a bit of a wink, more for the sake of symmetry than out of any deep feeling: "I'm a pro-Zionist anti-Semite." Sometimes I think I'd like to see all members of that well-known group of Semitic people scurry off to Zion and leave the rest of us alone. "Next year in Jerusalem!" Hey, why wait? ;)

In fact, I don't think of myself as anti-Semitic in any serious sense. But the war, however we think of it, makes it necessary to discuss the role of Jews in American politics and culture, just as Don Feder does in his article. So, from my non-Kosher perspective.....

America has many roots, one of the larger ones being ancient Israel. Early Americans found much moral, theological, philosophical and cultural guidance from the Old Testament. As recent arrivals to a vast New World, they also found inspiration in the story of the Israelites' incursion into the "promised land." That is not the same as being "inspired by a Jewish worldview," as Feder claims. The Puritans did not study the Talmud. They did not dwell in the midst of other civilized peoples and derive their sustenance from dealings with those peoples while maintaining their own group cohesiveness and identity. That trait is neither uniquely Jewish, nor is it universal amongst Jews, but I think it's fair to say that those aspects of the "Jewish worldview" supporting that way of life were not shared by American Puritans.

Members of minority groups tend to exaggerate the contributions of their groups to American society. Jews do this, I believe, to a greater extent than other minorities. Feder, for example, writes:

A Jew named Einstein gave America the weapon to win the war in the Pacific and keep our freedom during the Cold War.
Actually, Einstein had almost nothing to do with the development of the atomic bomb, beyond the letter he sent to President Roosevelt stating that such a thing was possible. As to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," some might think of it as a "second national anthem," but I regard it as a screechy abomination. Its melody has nothing of the charm of the old English drinking song devoted to the pagan deities Venus and Bacchus, whose tune was appropriated for our "Star Spangled Banner."

I do think Berlin's "White Christmas" is one of the prettiest songs ever written, but it also illustrates another point. Most Jews, of course, do not go about deliberately trying to redefine other people's cultures, and Jews have no monopoly on on that practice, but I will say: this redefinition tendency is a significant aspect of Jewish influence on American society which non-Jews need to be aware of and to discuss. Christmas is about Christ, not pretty winter landscapes. Easter is about the resurrection of Christ, not fashion parades.

Feder's article is filled with distortions of American history and culture. He states, for example, that America was "founded on ideals." Ideals were certainly part of its founding, but the folkways, political traditions and ethnic interests of settlers from different parts of the Brittish Isles were even more important.

The most egregious instance of redifinition in Feder's article happens to be the whole point of it: he defines "patriot" as a person who supports Israel. He does not even use the phrase "American Patriot" in the title, because it would reveal the absurdity of his thesis. "True American Patriots Support Israel?" No. True Israeli patriots support Israel. True American patriots support America.

Islamic aggression is part of today's world. The United States of America cannot ignore it. The interests of America and Israel may converge in some cases and diverge in others. But when someone makes the ludicrous claim that Colonial America was the beginning of an intimate connection between the U.S.A. and Israel, I have to wonder whose side that person is really on. When someone claims that the U.S.A. and Israel are "soul-mates," I have to say: you leave my soul alone, alien! And if someone were to tell me in person that an American who does not support Israel "is no patriot at all," then, after punching him in the nose and breaking a few of his ribs, I would say: Your people are not my people. Your country is Israel. My country is America.

 
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