The appointment of Steve Bannon, a white supremacist also accused of harbouring antisemitic views, as chief strategist for the Presidency of Donald Trump was met with a startling silence of many American Jewish organizations and key figures of the Jewish pro-Israel community.
At a time when American Jews could become one of the numerous groups at risk of harassment and discrimination under a Trump presidency, American Jewish elites are stunningly silent.
AIPAC’s spokesperson, the powerful Israeli lobby group, stated that AIPAC has a “long-standing policy of not taking positions on presidential appointments”.
Well-known author Alan Dershowitz said that “Mr. Bannon has very good relationships with individual Jews”, and that allegations of antisemitism against him strip the term of its meaning, and that one must be “very careful” to use it.The comment is utterly laughable, as in recent years Dershowitz has specialized in throwing baseless accusations of antisemitism to whoever criticized Israel, including Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Black Lives Matter, Norman Finkelstein and Richard Goldstone.
David Goldman, a conservative economist and author, wrote that “Steve [Bannon] is fervently pro-Israel, and it is utterly ridiculous to suggest that he is anti-Semitic”.
POLITICO reported the words of Daniel Kurtzer, U.S. ambassador to Israel under G.W. Bush, who asserted that “unless Bannon influences the foreign policy side of things in a way that is detrimental to Israeli interests, Israelis might turn a blind eye to the internal issues”.
The progressive magazine Mother Jones writes that it has contacted “a dozen other major Jewish American organizations on Monday, the majority of which did not address Bannon’s hire”.
It appears that American Jewish elites are willing to sacrifice the safety of American Jews to maintain their influence at the top echelons of American power and to pursue Israel’s interests.
In fact, the American Jewish leadership has a long history of siding with the US’ powerful establishment; in his book “The Holocaust Industry”, renowned scholar Norman Finkelstein writes that American Jewish organizations have always sought to “ingratiate themselves with US ruling elites”. For example, Finkelstein recalls how during the immediate postwar period “American Jewish elites ‘forgot’ the Nazi Holocaust because [West] Germany … became a crucial postwar American ally in the US confrontation with the Soviet Union”.
Also, Finkelstein writes, some American Jewish organizations “did not shrink from sacrificing fellow Jews on the altar of anti-Communism” as they “actively collaborated in the McCarthy-era witch-hunt”; to “boost their anti-Communist credentials”, American Jewish elite also “enlisted in” and “financially sustained … right-wing extremist organizations”, while they “turned a blind eye as veterans of the Nazi SS entered the country”.
The (non)reaction, which in practice amounts to tacit support, to the appointment of Bannon simply brought to light even more starkly the willingness on the part of American Jewish elites to do whatever it takes to retain their influence and power.
In addition to fomenting antisemitism around the world by systematically conflating Jews with the State of Israel through the regular and disingenuous equation of anti-Zionism or criticism of Israel with antisemitism, many American Jewish organizations now appear to be ready to tolerate domestic antisemitism as long as the US-Israel special relationship remains intact.
The ironic, and tragic, thing about all this is that Israel is not a safe haven for Jews as many proclaim, but is, on the contrary, one of the most dangerous places for Jews to live. As Chomsky has written, the most ardent pro-Israel factions are actually leading Israel on a path of “moral degeneration” and, ultimately, “physical destruction”.
American Jewish elites are the enemies of ordinary Jews and of the prosperity of Israeli citizens. As Finkelstein writes, the combination of a “lethal brew of formidable power, chauvinistic arrogance, feigned (or imagined) victimhood, and Holocaust-immunity to criticism has sprung a terrifying recklessness and ruthlessness on the part of American Jewish elites. Alongside Israel, they are the main fomenters of anti-Semitism in the world today. Coddling them is not the answer. They need to be stopped”.
© Tommaso Segantini