October 24th, 2021

Not Funny

Three things are certain: Death, taxes and anti-Semitism

Jackie Mason

By Jackie Mason

Published Sept. 8, 2014

  Three things are certain: Death, taxes and anti-Semitism
Why is anti-Semitism so popular and prevalent all over the world? Why does it continue, unchecked despite the horrors of 70 years ago? People who care about the fate of the Jews are always searching for subtle, indefinable reasons to explain the continuing intensity of anti- Jewish hostility and hatred. The answer is far from mysterious.

As a matter of fact, the truth is so obvious that you'd have to be brainless not to see it. My honest view is that as Jews we do little if anything to fight back against such prejudice. Everyone knows that whatever the crime committed against any Jew, the only price you'll pay will be the price of the ride to the crime scene and back. Then, instead of blaming the criminals, Jews will get involved in an orgy of self-reproach and guilt. And after blaming themselves, they'll start blaming each other. Somebody will be screaming, "It's your own fault! Why would you be walking in front of a mosque at 2 a.m.," and the other one will argue, "Why would I think they would recognize that I am Jewish," and another voice yells, "At least you could've been smart enough to wear sneakers!" Then somebody says, "Let's report this to the police," while somebody else is saying, "Are you crazy? What if they find out we reported it? Do you want to get us all killed? Right now they don't know who we are. Let's just get out of the neighborhood!"

It's because anti-Semites are aware that these are the typical reactions of Jews to any violence committed against them, that they feel free to launch their attacks whenever they please. Is it any accident that in Britain and Europe you hear about a rising tide of anti-Jewish attacks, but you rarely hear about the same thing against Muslims? (I know that even right now, you the reader are trembling in fear of what I might write about the Muslims.)

And the sad truth about Israel is that its very existence serves as either a cloak or a spur for such bigotry. While I defend anyone's right to censure the Israeli government, the fact is that too often such criticism is either a coded means of attacking Jews or it has the unintended consequence of feeding and encouraging anti-Semitism.

Take the British MP Ms Clare Short who in the House of Commons attacked Israelis as vicious racists, when the only crime she could think of is that the country still exists - which she seems to consider an offense to human decency? What right do they have to try to live in peace with the Arabs and constantly thwart every attempt of the Palestinian suicide bombers to annihilate their whole population, she seemed to ask? She claimed that the Jews in Israel practice an even more egregious form of apartheid than that which existed in South Africa. Why does she call it "apartheid", when every Arab has equal access in every school, to every job, every health-care service, and every unemployment benefit? Currently, they even hold office in the Israeli parliament and every other branch of the Israeli government.

Is Ms Short so ignorant that she doesn't know that none of these opportunities would be granted to any Jew living in an Arab nation? Besides, how would a Jew be able to achieve any of these same opportunities when in most cases, it wouldn't even be safe for a Jew to live there? My point is that when people like Ms Short attack Israel in such unbalanced, irrational and extreme terms, they simply give licence to thousands of anti-Semites to pedal the kind of bigotry and hatred from which Jews have suffered for so many hundreds of years.

But Ms Short is aware, as are anti-Semites all over the world, that you suffer few consequences by attacking Jews, particularly if you do so under the cover of attacking Israel. If people really thought that Jews could represent any kind of risk, they would cower before expressing such hostility, as they now do with Muslims. When was the last time that an Englishman made a hateful speech against Muslims? Not that I'd approve of that, on the contrary - but people are so fearful of Muslims that there're even afraid to say "hello" without apologising. British and American people are now begging forgiveness from Muslims for things they don't even remember doing.

And don't get me started on Mr. George Galloway, who makes Clare Short look like Simon Wiesenthal. Mr Galloway is yet another person who attacks Israel while making nice with terrorists, dictators and some of the most vicious anti-Semites on the planet. And all of this he does while claiming, of course, that it's Zionists he hates and not Jews — he has even gone so far as to suggest that the Zionist movement funded Hitler before World War Two — in fact he has described Israel as a "little Hitler state". And if you think I'm over-reacting to this champion of the oppressed, bear in mind that this is someone who was actually kicked out of Egypt for being too extreme - so what does that tell you? But once again we see hostility to Israel being used as a blanket prejudice, a blunt instrument with which to attack Jews (remember that such bigots also describe Israel as "the Jewish State") in place of any reasoned criticism of the Israeli government who — just like any other government — cannot be exempt from censure or disapproval.

The point is this: when you criticise an Israeli administration, you express views (rightly or wrongly) about the policies of a particular party or group of politicians. When you attack Israel, you express hostility towards an entire population, a nation whose founding and continuing purpose is to provide sanctuary to one of the most oppressed peoples in the history of mankind. Of course, if you don't think they should be given such sanctuary then that's another matter - but bear in mind that you'll find yourself in the good company of a host of despots and tyrants.

However, Ms Short and Mr Galloway are by no means alone. Take one of our former Presidents, Harry Truman. Jews still wax lyrical about his love for the Jewish people. Whenever two Jews get together and mention Truman, out comes the story of his Jewish business partner, Eddie Jacobson. What they forget is that Truman actually found Jews distasteful and he treated his partner with utter disdain. At no time more so than when Mr Jacobson pleaded with his former associate, by now the US President, to recognise the State of Israel. Truman's reaction does not bear repeating on the pages of a family newspaper.

As reprehensible, if not worse, was another of our recent Presidents - Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the height of Hitler's atrocities many Jews died needlessly because Roosevelt totally ignored their plight and, in some cases, even helped Hitler along by refusing to open up our borders, thus sending thousands back to their deaths in the camps. Was this born out of anti-Semitism? Or plain indifference? In the end, is there any distinction?

And just the other day the US Ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, came awfully close to finding anti-Semitism excusable in some circumstances. Calling modern Muslim hatred of Jews a "different phenomenon" from other kinds of anti-Semitism, New Yorker Mr Gutman declared: "It is a tension and perhaps hatred largely born of and reflecting the tension between Israel, the Palestinian territories and neighbouring Arab states in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem." And this coming from the son of a holocaust survivor; but of course instead of firing him, Mr Obama remained mute. And as a result, whether by design or just by plain stupid omission our President has given a quiet thumbs up that "it's ok to dislike Israel." Unfortunately as America goes, so goes the world -Mr Obama could take a few lessons from Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. But sadly, as the Haggadah says, "in every generation one rises up to destroy us".

Unlike the Jews of Britain, who spend much of their time trying to blend into the background, Muslims spend much of the time making demands and warning the people that they better be careful to respect them, be concerned how loud they talk to them, and not to criticize them. You also dare not paint the wrong cartoon, sing the wrong song, write the wrong book, look the wrong way, or even laugh without an explanation. The Jews will never survive if they don't learn a great lesson from the power of the Muslim people.

If this world had the same fear of offending Jews as it has of offending Muslims, the attacks on the Jews would never have existed. Outside Israel, people never feel threatened when attacking a Jew because he's a little guy with glasses carrying a briefcase, and in case of an attack, he won't pull out a gun, he'll take out a fountain pen. He won't be ready to shoot the attacker; he'll be busy looking for a piece of paper to write his name down. The attacker always knows that when his victim is a Jew, he won't get hit or hurt. The Jew won't fight. He'll cry, beg, scream or run. The attacker knows he can't lose life or limb because the victim can't fight; he's only preparing to sue. As I say, this applies to the Jews outside of Israel. If we in the Diaspora continue to follow this pattern of traditional helplessness, instead of emulating the Israelis, who are ready to fight and survive at any price, we will continued to be hounded by anti-Semitism for the rest of our lives. This is how we must behave — we must stand up and be counted, we must show how proud we are to identify with a people surrounded by nations who are committed to their destruction. Even if it infuriates this yenta, the Right Honourable Ms Clare Short, the great humanitarian Mr Galloway and the brilliant historian Mr Ambassador Gutman. It invariably takes more courage to stand up against prejudice that than to join in with it, but is it too much to ask that our leaders display such courage from time to time?

And by the way, in case you think that - despite everything I'm saying - the battle has been won and that Israel is no longer needed to fulfil its historic purpose, take a look at what is happening in Hungary right now. Respected public figures — newspaper editors and journalists, judges, political commentators, human rights campaigners (a number of them Jews) — are being removed in favour of members belonging to the ruling, extreme right-wing party. Only last week the Director of Hungary's National Theatre was thrown out by the government and replaced with an actor who recently campaigned for the right-wing extremist, ant-Semitic Jobbik Party and a playwright who is a professed anti-Semite. And if that doesn't sound horribly familiar and frighten the hell out of you, it should do.

But in spite of all that, consider this: If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one per cent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.

His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also very out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world in all ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself and be excused for it. The Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greeks and Romans followed and made a vast noise, and they were gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, and have vanished.

The Jew saw them all, survived them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert but aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

Good question. And no, these aren't my words, they were written in 1897, by another American, the great Mark Twain.

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