Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 04.15.02


Israel's moral edge blunted

When I was a kid back in the early 60s my father was chagrined to discover that Jews were not allowed to join his golf club. It was also the days of restricted communities that were reserved for non-Jewish families.

This type of anti-Semitism has thankfully been legally dead for a long time. I could never understand the world's hatred of Jews throughout the ages.

One theory is that they became bankers and thus held sway over those who borrowed money from them and with that came power over others. It was explained that Jews became bankers because they were not allowed to own land in many countries so lending money became a business for them. People supposedly hated them for their business acumen.

This doesn't make sense but what bigotry does?

There is also the "Jews killed Jesus" argument for being anti-Semitic. Of course it was really the Romans who did it, according to the Bible. Bigots preferred to lay the blame on Jews, nevertheless.

Everyone in the Jew-baiting-hating society conveniently forgets that Jesus himself was Jew. Not a problem for the faithful Christian apparently.

When the holocaust was exposed as one of mankind's greatest atrocities, the Jewish population garnered great sympathy. Six million Jews perished at the hands of madmen and the world took notice.

I have always wondered at the world's unwillingness to grant the same sympathy, emotions, historical novels, and movies to the over 20 million Ukrainians and others that Stalin wiped out. We all know Stalin as a great butcher but Hitler remains the poster boy for savagery. But that's another issue.

I have argued long and hard with a friend of mine who believes that the "Jews" are responsible for the troubles in the Middle East. I have always insisted that he should restrict his accusations to the Israelis and not on the Jews as a whole. How could Jews in the US, for example affect, our mid-eastern policies?

It is time to look at what is happening in the Middle East and in America without the blinders. I haven't come to any conclusions about our policies in the Mid East. I do see that Israel appears to be taking advantage of the homicide bombings to behave like Nazis.

They have invaded Palestinian towns, done house-to-house searches and allowed wounded and sick Palestinians to die for lack of supplies and medical attention. I could hardly believe what I was reading when reputable news agencies told me about Israeli troops gunning down civilians, including fleeing women and children.

The high ground that they had always held has sunk to the sewer along with the homicide bombers that they detest. They are fast spending the good will that they have built up over the years since their nation was born.

We looked at Israelis in the late forties, fifties and sixties as freedom fighters, then nation builders who carved a fertile land out of the desert while the surly, lazy Arabs just looked on and grumbled about their desert being stolen. Now Israel, under the pall of a warmongering government, has embarked on a blitzkrieg that looks way too much like the German invasion of Poland.

Why, if we Americans are giving military aid to Israel to the tune of $3 billion per year, can we not just threaten to cut off the spigot if Israel doesn't desist from its invasion of Palestinian towns?

Is there a giant covert block of influential Jews that can sway our foreign policy in the same fashion as the expatriate Cuban population of Florida is able to maintain our idiotic Cuban policy?

The question is not rhetorical -- I really don't know.

Why then is Colin Powell taking the scenic route to Israel to talk peace? I join the King of Morocco who asks "What are you doing in Morocco when all hell is breaking loose in Israel?"

We appear to be supporting this Israeli offensive with our arms and our timid talk of withdrawal. While we vacillate and tiptoe around Sharon. our enemies are whipping up anti-American hysteria in Muslim capitols worldwide. In addition, we are snookering our strategy of building support for an invasion of Iraq.

Iraq is piously aligning itself with the Palestinians and looking like an Arab team player all the while feverishly creating a doomsday smorgasbord of bio and possibly nuclear weaponry for use on us if he can manage it.

Palestinian leaders have no excuse for their obvious support of homicide bombings. Blowing up civilians is the lowest form of human behavior. The fact that Israel didn't overtly go after civilians was always their moral edge.

Now it appears that edge is blunted and barbarism is festering on both sides.