One of the favorite myths of American anti-Semites on both the left and right is that the Jews push America into wars for the sake of Israel, or for the sake of the Rothschilds,* or both. So U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent tough talk about Iran is red meat for anti-Semites.
Nevertheless, Trump is right to pressure Iran to end its nuclear program. If you are the U.S. president, and a country that chants “Death to America” every day several times before breakfast is clearly developing nuclear weapons (despite a worthless “nuclear deal”), the rational thing to do is make them stop, right? How hard is this?
OK, Obama didn’t agree, but then … never mind. I’m talking about today.
Trump is being accused of dragging America into war, and Israel—and by extension, the Jews—are being accused of dragging Trump. That is precisely the point of the hateful anti-Semitic cartoon that created such a furor when it appeared in The New York Times International Edition recently.
I am sure that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a majority of Israelis, myself included, would be happy to see the United States destroy Iranian nuclear facilities. The United States has the power to do it, and Israel would doubtless offer to help.
But this doesn’t imply that the United States would be doing it on behalf of Israel, let alone on behalf of the Jews. As a general rule, the United States, like other nations, does what it does to advance its interests. In this case American self-interest includes protecting itself and its allies, as well as preventing the rise of a hostile caliphate in the Near East, and keeping Iran from taking control of a big chunk of the world’s oil supply.
Saudi Arabia has as much or more influence in the United States than Israel, and has had a “special relationship” with America since February, 1945, when Franklin Roosevelt met King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud on board a Navy destroyer in the Suez Canal. Indeed, when the Saudis went head-to-head with the vaunted “Israel lobby” over the sale of AWACS airborne warning and control systems aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1981, Israel lost.
The Saudis, who are presently fighting Iran in a proxy war in Yemen, are perhaps even more worried about Iran than Israel is. But that is less interesting to those who want to blame the Jews.
A conflict with Iran could result in attacks on American bases in the region (there are more of these than you may think) or terrorism against the homeland. If this were to happen, there’s no doubt that it would be used as an excuse for anti-Jewish acts. It’s ironic that even those Jews that supported the Iran deal, hate Trump, and have no connection whatever to Israel would find themselves targeted (ironic, yes, but it serves them right).
This is something that today’s American Jews are not ready for. Having grown up during the Golden Age of American Jewry, they are not expecting irrational, unfair treatment. They are not expecting the kind of crazy conspiracy theories that blame the Jews for 9/11 to become mainstream. They are not expecting their ideas and opinions to be discounted because they come from Jews, their children to be rejected from elite schools—or admitted, and then tormented and threatened there. They are not expecting to be cursed or even knocked down in the street if they look Jewish, something that seems to happen on a daily basis now in New York City.
Most do not understand, yet, that every Jew is responsible for every other Jew, and that, as someone recently said, “when visibly Jewish people are victimized, then every Jewish person is victimized.” And finally, they almost never realize that, whatever they think about it, the Jewish state—not Brooklyn and not Los Angeles—is the center of the Jewish world.
But they will learn. Either the United States will follow the courageous policy of the Trump administration and confront and defeat its enemies (who are also the enemies of Western civilization overall), or it will return to the cowardly strategy of appeasement and obsequiousness of the previous administration.
Either way, the Jews will be in the middle, and it will be hard for them. They will either learn to stick together and fight against the anti-Semites, or they will save themselves by giving up their Jewishness, insofar as this will protect them (it didn’t during the Nazi period).
What’s changed in the last two millennia or so?
*Full disclosure: My daughter is married to a Rothschild. They both work and are saving up to buy their own apartment. Apparently he’s not one of those Rothschilds.
Victor Rosenthal was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., lived on a kibbutz through the 1980s and returned home to Israel in 2014 after 26 years in California. He writes at the Abu Yehuda blog.
This column first appeared on AbuYehuda.com.