10 Comments on Mike Huckabee and the Purveyors of Jewish Hate-porn

Israel will overcome the Iranian threat - but the American Jewish community could succumb to right wing Inquisitors who aim to tear it apart.

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1. If you could go back in time, would you kill Hitler? This question is endlessly debated in social gatherings, philosophical forums and the fantasies of most Jewish adolescents at one point or another. It is often used to highlight the Grandfather Paradox of time travel: if one goes back in time to kill Hitler, one changes the past and eliminates the future need to kill him in the first place.

But what if Hitler is still among us? What if he spawned successors hell bent on ensuring that his Solution for the Jewish Problem truly becomes Final?  As Aaron Keyak of Washington DC’s Bluelight Strategies first pointed out:  What if a respected American politician and Christian clergyman told you that a President of the United States is actively engaged, as we speak, in ‘marching Israelis to the doors of the ovens’? What would you do?

2. There are countries in which Mike Huckabee could face criminal prosecution for incitement over his ‘oven’ attack against Obama. In 2013, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen was stripped of her parliamentary immunity for comparing Muslim street prayers to Nazi occupation. In 2014 the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office complained about a Palestinian newspaper that compared Benjamin Netanyahu to Nazi leaders, saying that such incitement sparks terror attacks against Jews in Israel. A few months later, remarking on photo-shopped pictures of Israel leaders in Nazi uniforms that had been uploaded to Facebook, Israeli Police Minister Aharonovich said “we all remember where such incitement led in the past and we must act quickly to find those involved and bring them to justice.”Aharonvich was referring, of course, to the notorious picture of Yitzhak Rabin in an SS uniform that featured in the demonstration in Jerusalem’s Zion Square that took place a month before his assassination, in which Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon spoke to the crowd from a balcony. Netanyahu subsequently claimed that he could not see the incendiary posters from his vantage point while right wing conspiracy theorists said that the poster was planted by the Shin Bet’s agent provocateur, Avishai Raviv. But no one disputed the fatal potential of a direct comparison between a political leader and the plot to kill all the Jews.

3. Huckabee, of course, did not invent the facile analogies between 2015 Israel and World War II European Jewry. Such comparisons have been made throughout Israeli history, accelerating with the ascent of Menachem Begin to power in 1977 and enjoying a renaissance of sorts in recent years under Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu, who frequently compared and sometimes differentiated Yasser Arafat from Hitler, has not gone as far with Obama: the President in this narrative is only the great appeaser, Neville Chamberlain, not the Fuhrer himself. Nonetheless, Netanyahu has repeatedly invoked the legacy of the 1938 Munich Accords in his campaign against the Iran deal, with Israel alternately cast as abandoned Czechoslovakia or helpless European Jewry.

4. Such comparisons, whether they come from Huckabee or Netanyahu, are inherently Holocaust denying and intrinsically anti-Zionist. They make light of the uniquely satanic Nazi campaign to exterminate the Jews and they belittle the unbridgeable gulf between helpless European Jewry and modern, nuclear-equipped Israel. If the Zionist Organization of America endorses Huckabee’s message, as they most forcefully have, perhaps it should consider changing its name to the Anti-Zionist Organization of America.

Just to make things clear, if there is a need: way before the Iranians or anyone else comes close to bringing Israelis to the “doors of the oven”, they will be pulverized and, if necessary, incinerated as well. I don’t need secret information for this assertion. And I have no doubt that the ayatollahs in Tehran have gotten the memo, even if Huckabee missed it. They don’t need him to remind them what ‘Never Again’ portends.

5. But perhaps Huckabee is getting a raw deal. Compared to what Jews are saying these days about each other, his words are relatively mild and mellow. Consider this: “But the times have dramatically changed. Israel and its Jews are directly threatened with nuclear extinction and J Street is working hard to enable this catastrophe.” I will repeat, in case you didn’t believe it the first time: “Israel and its Jews are directly threatened with nuclear extinction and J Street is working hard to enable this catastrophe.”

This was the case made in an article published last week under the headline Time to Evict J-Street from the Communal Jewish Tent. The authors, Charles Jacobs and Elliott Hamilton, work for an organization called Americans for Tolerance and Peace, which only proves that they also have a sense of humor. It was published online in social media and in several right wing media outlets, Tweeted and Facebooked repeatedly, with no one giving a second thought to the fact that an organization that voluntarily describes itself as “pro-Israel” stands accused of “working hard” in order to enable the genocidal extermination of Israeli Jews.

6. Jacobs has long flirted with such incendiary rhetoric. In 2012, the Anti-Defamation League in Boston accused him of using demagoguery, distortion and McCarthyism in his attacks on ADL leader Abe Foxman. J Street, I suspect, won’t enjoy such a defense, if only because such over the top lunatic drivel, a kind of Jewish hate-porn, has moved from the smutty fringes to the mainstream, growing ever more acceptable in public Jewish discourse, both in Israel and the Diaspora.  Jewish organizations are loath to defend a group that their donors may abhor, that the Israeli government dislikes and which they themselves often shun. It is part of the exclusionist phase that organized American Jewry is going through.

7. Now it’s J Street, which one way or another represents a sizeable chunk of American Jewry, that is first barred from joining the Conference of Presidents and is now being denounced for daring to buck the line adopted by much of the organized establishment in connection to the Iran deal. The fact that J-Street seems to be reflecting the opinion of a majority American Jews, mind you, makes no impression on the group’s detractors.

Together with J-Street in the right-wing’s rogues gallery is the perennial favorite, the New Israel Fund (NIF) - a bunch of idealistic Jewish do-gooders if I ever saw one - which is repeatedly defamed, maligned and falsely accused of supporting the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement. NIF is so toxic that its poison apparently spreads to anyone who happens to support it or come in contact with it, as we saw in this year’s campaign to evict the group and other progressives from New York’s Celebrate Israel Parade. The United Jewish Appeal, the Jewish Communal Fund, the Jewish Community Relations Council were all condemned and pilloried for resisting the edicts of the right-wing Jewish Inquisition in our midst.

8. So here are three questions: 1. Why are people who fancy themselves defenders of the Jewish people devoting so much time and effort to fighting the Jewish people? 2. Why are people ostensibly repelled by boycotts so incurably addicted to the much harder drug of excommunication? 3. And if these self-appointed community bouncers are so eager to purify their camp and not contaminate themselves with divergent views – why doesn’t the Jewish community grant them their wish? To take a cue from Americans for Peace and Tolerance, Isn’t It Time to Eject Right-Wing Haters from the Jewish Communal Tent?

9. I’m sure you could guess, even before checking, that one of the main funders of a group such as Americans for Peace and Tolerance would be Sheldon Adelson. According a 2013 tax file the Adelson Family Foundation, which states that its “primary purpose to strengthen the State of Israel and the Jewish people”, gave $100,000 to the group that seems to believe that it is strengthening the State of Israel and the Jewish people by accusing a large part of it of being an accessory to genocide of Jews.

Adelson has given much larger sums over the years to the Huckabee-promoting ZOA as well as to other causes, some of them eminently worthy, such as Yad Vashem and Birthright.

Recently he took upon himself organize a well-publicized “secret summit” meant to fight BDS on campus, a project for which $50 million were reportedly raised.

It almost goes without saying that J-Street, whose university affiliate J Street U has proven invaluable in the fight against BDS, wasn’t invited to the summit. Americans for Peace and Tolerance, on the other hand, were on the invitation list, as well the David Project, with which Jacobs was previously associated, and with a bevy of other hawkish, right wing groups. The Clarion Project, whose controversial 2005 film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against The West was miraculously distributed in 28 million copies to coincide with Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign (and which includes scenes juxtaposing suicide bombers with Nazi rallies) was represented. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s World Values Network, which recently ran the infamous ad accusing National Security Advisor Susan Rice of turning a blind eye to genocide (sound familiar?), was also there.

But the most telling item to emerge from the summit is the appointment of David Brog, who heads the Evangelical Christians United for Israel (CUFI) to direct the anti-BDS campaign. No one can believe that an Adelson-funded student group called “Campus Maccabees”, headed by a conservative right wing executive who will continue to be associated with CUFI, stands any chance of making inroads among those students, Jewish or otherwise, who are torn between their criticism of Israel and support for the BDS movement. Especially when their closest peers, Jewish supporters of a two-state solution who are affiliated with J-Street, are being boycotted themselves.

One can only assume, therefore, that the new anti-BDS movement, no matter how lavishly funded, will be preaching mainly to the converted and casting out those that the right wing deems untouchable. Perhaps that was its purpose from the outset.

10. Deal or no deal, I have no doubt that Israel will overcome whatever dangers are posed by the Iranian nuclear drive. I am far less confident that that the American Jewish community will be as resilient in withstanding those who seem hell bent on tearing it apart.