“Why are you so obsessed with Israel?” someone (I’ll call him Elmer) asked me. “You’re not even Jewish.”
Obsessed is a strong word. It’s also the wrong word. Literally, it means: to preoccupy or fill the mind of someone continually and intrusively to a troubling extent. (For example, “Roger Waters is obsessed with demonizing Israel for reasons that are clear only to him, Linda Sarsour and David Duke.”)
I’m not obsessed with Israel. I strongly support Israel. Elmer probably meant to ask, “Why do you choose to publicly talk about your support of Israel instead of the other things you care about?” The quick answer – and the one I gave Elmer — is that the other things I care about aren’t being daily vilified in the New York Times and other media outlets where facts are optional.
It shouldn’t be suspicious when a non-Jew like me supports Israel. It should be very suspicious, however, when a non-Jew is constantly attacking Israel. Right? I mean, if someone says, “I love Puerto Rico,” you say, “That’s nice.” If someone says, “I hate Puerto Rico,” you say, “Why, what did Puerto Rico do to you?” while automatically concluding that the person hates Puerto Rico because he hates Puerto Ricans.
Here’s the other thing: You don’t have to be Jewish to hate double standards, and those are the lifeblood of the anti-Israel movement. If it weren’t for double standards, you could put all Israel’s critics in a stadium with megaphones and there would be complete silence, just as there was complete silence from the anti-Israel crowd last week when three Israelis were slaughtered in Halamish.
I love Alan Dershowitz’s anecdote about Harvard’s notorious anti-Semitic president Laurence Lowell, who imposed anti-Jewish quotas near the beginning of the twentieth century.
When asked by Judge Learned Hand why he singled out Jews for quotas, Lowell replied, “Jews cheat.” When Judge Hand reminded him that Christians cheat too, Lowell responded, “You’re changing the subject. We are talking about Jews now.”
Critics of Dershowitz – most notably, Mondoweiss.com, an online meeting place for people who were born Jewish but hate Israel — questioned the authenticity of Dershowitz’s story. Of course, they ignored the premise of the story for the same reason they ignore human rights abuses in every country that surrounds Israel: That’s what they do when the truth interferes with their agenda; they ignore it.
It’s not a matter of Jew or non-Jew; it’s a matter or right and wrong.
It’s interesting. I posted Dershowitz’s anecdote on Facebook a couple years ago. It got more than sixty “Likes.” All of those likes came from Jews – except five. Here’s the interesting part: The five non-Jews who liked it were all from the same high school as me in the predominantly-Jewish community of Brighton in Rochester, New York.
Those non-Jews aren’t obsessed with Israel either. I can’t speak for them, of course, but my guess is that their anti-Semitic radar is keener than most non-Jews because of where we grew up. We’ve heard it all before. Every anti-Semitic slur you can hurl at Jew has sailed right past our faces on its way to our friends.
And I can you this: It’s the exact same grade school trash talk I hear from anti-Israel activists on college campuses. They’re just using bigger words.
In 1983, at a wrestling tournament in Hilton, New York, a couple wrestlers from the Buffalo area came up to a group of us who were eating and asked: “Could we get some of them Jewish bagels?” He pronounced it BAG-ells.
David Hirsh turned to me and said, “Are they mocking us?”
It was so hard to tell sometimes. To play it safe, our mostly Jewish wrestling squad pounded the crap out of them on the mat later that day.
The non-Jews at Brighton were occasionally called Jew-lovers, a term that undoubtedly flies from the mouth of Roger Waters when he hears the name Ted Cruz. Jew or non-Jew, those were always fighting words, and they still are.
That’s why me and at least five other non-Jews from Brighton detest the anti-Israel movement and reject the rhetoric. Like I said, we’ve heard it all before.
John C. Wolfe is the former Chief Speechwriter to New York Gov. George E. Pataki and author of “You Can’t Die: A Day of Clarity” on Amazon/Kindle.