With every passing day – and there are precious few left – another enormous constituency turns against President George W. Bush in his race against John Kerry.
First, the Hollywood celebrities mobilized against Bush. Then came the recording industry, with mega-stars like Bruce Springsteen offering free concerts in order to defeat Bush. Next it was the turn of the academic and scientific communities to pummel the president, with 54 Nobel Prize winners announcing they would tour the universities denouncing Bush. Of course, the president had already been abandoned by Europe, with their million-man rallies against him where he was burned in effigy. The Guardian newspaper in England even suggested (they say flippantly) that Bush ought to be assassinated.
That Bush lost these constituencies is not surprising or even alarming. Neither Hollywood nor the music industry are serious or respectable and more than a few Americans are actually inclined to support Bush precisely because he is their nemesis. As to the scientists, it is no secret that most universities, and the academics who inhabit them, are hopelessly liberal and out of touch. Historically, many of the greatest Western intellectuals have disgraced themselves as apologists for tyrants, from Stalin to Mao. As for Europe, well, it lives today in the post-Christian era where anyone who talks, as Bush does, of good and evil is dismissed as a dangerous religious fanatic.
But there are two constituencies whose abandonment of President Bush is not just surprising, but downright shameful. They are, ironically, the Arabs and the Jews. Polls show that 90 percent of Arab and Islamic Americans will vote for John Kerry, while 80 percent of the Jewish community will do the same.
Arab-American disdain for President Bush is positively shocking. With Afghanistan and Iraq, George Bush has liberated more Arabs and Muslims than any other man in all human history. In Saddam, he also removed from power the man who murdered more Arabs than any other, a figure numbering – according to the New York Times – at least 800,000 Arabs (not to mention 300,000 Kurds). After 9-11, President Bush also defended the Islamic faith eloquently as a religion of peace, even while many Americans were feeling implacable hostility. With all this, Arab-Americans still see Bush as their enemy, which makes you wonder whether the Arabs really know who their friends are.
The misguided Arab approach toward President Bush is inversely reminiscent of the misguided African-American relationship with President Clinton, the man who famously stood by and did absolutely nothing while 800,000 black Africans were hacked to death with machetes in 1994. Still, he is revered today by African-Americans as “the nation’s first African-American president,” an epithet which, in light of his inaction in the face of African genocide, is nothing short of obscene.
But I am a Jew, and it is the actions of my own community which most concern me. With just days left in this presidential race, it is time we take the gloves off, point a finger, and say, “J’accuse.” I accuse the American Jewish community of profound ingratitude toward a man who has repeatedly stood up for the justice of the Israeli cause, thereby incurring the implacable hatred of a world who have long loathed Israel and assassinated the character of its defenders.
While Bill Clinton invited Yasser Arafat to the White House more than any other world leader (but refused for months to meet with Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s democratically elected leader) President Bush utterly isolated the murderous Arafat and made him into an international pariah. Bush vetoed countless unjust U.N. resolutions against Israel and courageously defended Israel’s right to build its anti-terror wall. While Ariel Sharon was falsely maligned by Europe as the butcher behind Sabrah and Shatilla, President Bush praised Sharon as “a man of peace.” And in his Sept. 2 acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, Israel was the only country Bush chose to single out with the memorable words, “our good friend Israel.”
To be sure, I do not believe that any group ought to support a candidate out of a sense of gratitude. Churchill won the war for the British, but a month later he was booted out of office because the British people decided he was the right man for war but not for peace.
Rather, I point out Bush’s audacious defense of Israel so that we may be reminded of the horrendous Clinton years and how John Kerry is almost certain to bring them back. To President Clinton, peace in the Middle East was conditional on Israeli concessions rather than Arab democratization. Immense pressure was brought to bear on Israel ceding strategic land rather than the Arabs reigning in murderous extremists and subjecting their leadership to elections. This was an obscene policy, pressuring a democracy to lower its defenses rather than compelling a tyranny to put down its weapons – and it lead to the death of hundreds of Jews.
In November 2000, I went with Elie Wiesel to a reception where we met President Clinton, by that time a lame-duck president with only six weeks left in office. Clinton was working feverishly for a final Middle East settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, even though nearly every day there was another terrorist attack in Israel. Clinton hugged Wiesel warmly and said to him, “Elie, I think we’re going to have a deal before I leave office.” Wiesel turned to me and said in Yiddish that this otherwise impressive man had taken leave of his senses.
John Kerry will undoubtedly pick up where Clinton left off. I believe John Kerry is a genuine friend of Israel, but he is a Clinton-type of friend – sure to push, shove and pressure Israel to make concession after concession in order to achieve peace. Kerry, who has made rebuilding international alliances a cornerstone of his campaign, knows that he can win back the favor of the Arab states and Europe only by doing what Clinton did: bullying Israel into territorial concessions, that will inevitably and irreversibly weaken it against its enemies.
In most countries, the biggest insult you can give to a citizen is to call them a traitor. We Jews have always known that there is something far worse: to be called an ingrate.