Dialogue: A Satire

“Here’s a quiz for you. What do the following men have in common? Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, William Safire, Dennis Ross, Kenneth Adelman, Elliot Abrams, David Remnick, Jeffery Goldberg, Senator Joseph Lieberman, Robert Kagan, David Frum, Martin Peretz, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Thomas J. Freidman? And – oh – I’ll throw in one organization, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.”

“Whew – that’s a pretty touch subject.”

“Take a stab at it anyway.”

“Well, of course, they all favored war with Iraq.”

“Favored it?”

“Okay, really strongly favored it. Advocated it, urged it, beat the drums for it for months, demanded it.and in a couple of cases planned it.”

“Good, anything else?”

“Well, they don’t like Europeans, aside from Tony Blair. They call them ‘quiche-eating Euro-weenies’ and stuff like that. They especially detest the Germans and the French. Friedman in particular is a real nut on this subject. European objections to genetically modified American beef sends him around the bend. And he hates, hates Dominique de Villepin. Said de Villepin’s objections to war with Iraq were “utterly incoherent.” All the rest on your list are more or less withering on the subjects of French and German duplicity, cowardice, moral relativism and all around perfidy.”

“Anything else in common?”

“Well, most of those guys hate the U.N. too, not just the Security Council, but the Secretariat as well. Ooh, does that Kofi Annan make their blood boil! They tend to think the U.N. is washed up, irrelevant, a hindrance, and think – or hope – the time is fast approaching when it will be kaput, finis.

“Excellent. And what else might they have in common?”

“Well, except maybe for Friedman and Remnick, they’re all neo-conservatives, and, of the rest, Republican too, except for Lieberman and Peretz. Yes, they’re strongly neo-conservative, I’d say, if you wanted to characterize them as a group.”

“And would they have anything else in common?”

“Uh uh – sorry, pal, I’m not going there.”

“Excuse me?”

“Come off it; I know where you’re trying to take me with this.”

“And where would that be?”

“It’s obvious, man. You’re trying to get me to say the J-word, and I’m just not going to do it.”

“Hmm And why would you be reluctant to utter this ‘J-word,’ as you call it?”

“Because that would lead directly to the fact that almost all of the guys on your list are tight with the Likud and flaming hawks on Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Wolfowitz’s protégé to lead the new Iraqi democracy is this guy Ahman Chalabi who hasn’t been in Iraq since 1957, but whose first order of business would be to recognize Israel. Wolfowitz and Perle see the Iraq war as a sort of bank shot to shatter Palestinian resistance in the West Bank. All those guys pretty much subscribe to that view including Friedman, who remembers every few months that he disapproves of Sharon, but loves Ehud Barak, by whole time there was little of substance to separate Labor from Likud anyway. The only country in the world whose population overwhelmingly favored the war against Saddam was Israel. Ditto the press. Ha’aretz on the nominal left was just as enthusiastic as the Jerusalem Post. If you excluded the one-fifth of the population that’s Arab, what would be the approval rating for the Iraq war in Israel – ninety percent? Sharon said the American victory over Iraq meant the beginning of a “new era” in the Middle East. In a triumphant column titled “V-I Day” -see, the win in Iraq is as momentous as V-E Day or V-J day – Safire said the victory over Saddam would cr4eate “an arc of freedom stretching from Turkey in the north to Israel in the south,” and who doesn’t know what he meant by that? At any rate, that’s what all the guys on your list devoutly hope.

“But it would be a gross breach to use the J-word in association with ‘neo-conservatives.’ It’s just not done, not on any of the networks, including PBS, and certainly not in the Washington Post or the New York Times. And if the connection can’t be suggested there, I’d be a damned fool to do it myself, wouldn’t I?”

“Just what is it you’re afraid of if you were to suggest a relationship between ‘neo-conservative’ and this ‘J-word’ of yours?”

“Oh, you can just see it, can’t you? The ADL would have a quarter-page ad on the Times opinion page saying that such a slander sends us all a chilling reminder of the dark days of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. There would be three columns in the “letters” section: Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East; ‘I seem to have forgotten’ that Israel is the only democracy protecting itself from terrorism; how do I explain Condi Rice?; thank God for President Bush, and blah, blah, blah. Safire and Krauthammer would have columns on successive days with quotations from Mein Kampf to show where I really come from. Tom Friedman would write the ‘world’s oldest and most loathsome prejudice now appears newly-garbed in chic pro-Europe political correctness.’ The Times would run an editorial toward the bottom of the column sadly noting that I had ‘gravely, perhaps irreparably’ damaged any reputation I might once have had for decency.’ If I were a Jew – whoops, I said it – there’d be speculation about my motives, surely in some way sick, for saying such a thing. That’s why Paul Krugman, Tony Judt, Stanley Hoffmann, and Anthony Lewis may be able to say ‘neo-conservative’ but not, in the Times or the Post anyway, “Jewish neo-conservative.” The relationship between Iraq hawkery and Likud militancy is simply not a fit subject for discussion in an American family newspaper.”

“Thank you. This has been most interesting. Do you know what it all suggests to me?”

“No. What?”

“It suggests to me that you may be an anti-Semite.”

Courtesy Israel Shamir