It's springtime for Jew-haters.
This week Oscar winning conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone joined Helen Thomas and Mel Gibson in the swelling ranks of out-of-the-closet celebrity Jew-haters. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Stone said that Adolf Hitler had been given a bum rap and that through "Jewish domination of the media," the Jews have inflated the importance of the Holocaust and wrecked US foreign policy.
In the wake of criticism in Jewish circles, on Wednesday Stone's publicist issued a mealymouthed clarification.
Stone failed to retract or amend his statement that "There's a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f---ed up United States foreign policy for years."
He also did not retract his view that Jews use the Holocaust to control American foreign policy.
Stone simply referred to his claim that Jews make too much of the Holocaust because the Germans killed more Russians than Jews as "clumsy."
He then broadened his initial allegation that Jews make too much of the Holocaust by allowing that we are joined in our efforts by non-Jews.
And since non-Jews are involved also, he was wrong to criticize us.
As Stone put it, "The fact that the Holocaust is still a very important, vivid and current matter today is, in fact, a great credit to the very hard work of a broad coalition of people committed to the remembrance of this atrocity." (Emphasis added.)
Stone still believes that the rounding up and exterminating of three-quarters of Europe's Jews is really not as notable or morally troubling as high Russian wartime casualties, but it's not solely Jews' fault that people don't share Stone's views.
Arguably even more despicable than Stone's display of Jew-hatred was the manner in which it was received. On the one hand, there was the thunderous silence of the media. And on the other hand there were the insistent, repeated attempts to justify his statements.
Readers' talkbacks to write-ups of his remarks were rife with assertions that Stone's statements were not bigoted. Many agreed that Jews dominate the media, and since they believe this is true, they argued that saying so is not a bigoted act.
Others claimed that while Stone's statements were inaccurate, there is no evidence that he hates Jews and therefore, his statements weren't bigoted. At any rate, Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times and many others have argued, it would be wrong for Stone to be discredited for his attacks against Jews.
It is difficult to imagine that if someone trafficked in ethnic stereotypes about groups like blacks, and claimed that they wreck US foreign policy to serve their own nefarious aims, Goldstein and the talk-backers would defend him.
But then anti-Jewish bigotry has different rules than other hatreds.
Stone and his defenders are not alone in either their attitude towards Jews or their denial of their attitude towards Jews. Indeed, they are part of a worldwide trend.
TAKE THE situation in Malmo, Sweden. Last Friday, Jew-haters set off firecrackers outside a synagogue in Malmo. The blasts came a day after Jew-haters posted a bomb threat on the wall of the synagogue for the second time in two weeks.
Malmo is a hotbed of anti-Jewish violence and the Jews of the city are fleeing in droves.
Yet in the face of all this, Malmo's non-Jews cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that there is a problem with anti-Semitism in their city.
Even those who are supposed to be responsible for combating anti-Semitism refuse to acknowledge that Jews in Malmo are being attacked because they are Jews.
Bjorn Lagerback is the man in Malmo who is supposed to care about anti-Semitic violence.
Lagerback serves as the coordinator of the local forum in the city charged with combating hate crimes. In an interview with Malmo's The Local cited by the World Jewish Congress, Lagerback tried to impress on the world that the bombing was serious. Not because it was violence aimed at Jews, of course.
No, according to Lagerback, this bombing is serious because it might hurt non-Jews. As he put it, "We condemn this completely. Such an event is not just directed against the synagogue, but also at other targets that could be described as ethnic or religious."
Forget about the fact that only Malmo's synagogues, and not its churches and mosques, require around the clock security. If no other ethnic or religious groups were targeted, would bombing synagogues no longer warrant condemnation?
The acceptance of anti-Semitism has reached epidemic proportions.
In Amsterdam, anti-Semites are making the mundane act of walking around outside in broad daylight a dangerous prospect for Jews.
Jews are regularly attacked verbally and physically by anti-Semites as they walk on the streets of the Dutch capital.
In an attempt to catch and punish anti-Semitic thugs, the Amsterdam police force has dispatched policemen dressed as Jews to pound the pavement. The hope is that these decoys will be able to draw out the offenders and arrest them.
Apparently, some Dutch have a problem with punishing anti-Semitic attackers. As Paul Belien reported in the online Brussels Journal, "Evelien van Roemburg, an Amsterdam counselor of the Green Left Party, says that using a decoy by the police amounts to [entrapment], which is itself a criminal offence under Dutch law."
In other words, Van Roemburg thinks that people who walk around while appearing to be Jewish are asking for it.
Van Roemburg no doubt also believes that women in mini-skirts deserve to be raped.
ALL OF this brings us to a discussion of the most endemic form of contemporary anti-Semitism: Anti-Zionism. There is no reason for anyone to be surprised that anti-Semites deny that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. After all, they deny that every other form of anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism. Why should anti-Zionism receive special treatment? It is self-evident that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
Zionism after all is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. To say that Jews - uniquely among all the nations - have no right to freedom and self-determination is obviously anti-Semitic.
Anti-Semites give a variety of excuses to justify their rejection of the Jewish people's right to freedom and sovereignty in our homeland. Sometimes they say they have no problem with Jewish nationalism per se. They are simply anti-nationalist generally. But remarkably, these anti-nationalist anti-Zionists invariably just happen to be outspoken supporters of Palestinian nationalism.
Moreover, it is curious that universalist antinationalists only have a special term to describe their opposition to Jewish nationalism. No one ever mentions being anti-Irishist, for instance.
When someone says they oppose Irish nationalism, the obvious conclusion is that they don't like Irish people. Just so, people who are anti-French tend not to like French people. And yet, the anti- Zionists would have us believe that their opposition to the Jewish state has nothing to do with their feelings about Jews.
Beyond their nonsensical attempts to deny the fact that anti-Zionism is a specific rejection of a specific - that is Jewish - type of nationalism, there is the fact that anti-Zionists tend inevitably to drink from other anti-Jewish sewers as well.
Take former British parliamentarian Clare Short for example.
During her just ended career in the British Parliament, Short became known as an outspoken anti-Zionist. Short rejected Israel's right to exist and castigated it for its "bloody, brutal and systematic annexation of land, destruction of homes and the deliberate creation of an apartheid system."
But Short's Israel kick didn't end with her frequent condemnations of imaginary but lurid Israeli crimes. As time went by, Short began channeling centuries of British Jew-hatred. Like her forefathers who blamed Jews for rain, drought, plague and fire, Shore blamed Israel for global warming.
As she put it in a speech at the European Parliament three years ago, Israel "undermines the international community's reaction to global warming."
As Shore saw it, European leaders are properly obsessed with attacking the Jewish state. But because Israel insists on existing and so requires Europeans to condemn it, Israel prevents the Europeans from attending to the threat of carbon that, if left unregulated, will "end the human race."
So if the world boils over, the cauldron will be made in Israel.
One of the most prominent anti-Zionists today is Prof. Juan Cole from the University of Michigan.
Part of being a successful anti-Zionist involves claiming that Jews have no right to the land of Israel. So to be a good anti-Zionist, one needs to deny Jewish history. To this end, in March Cole published a piece of historical fiction in the Salon online magazine. Titled "Ten reasons why East Jerusalem does not belong to Israel," Cole mixed half truths with flagrant lies to justify his denial of Jewish history and belittlement of the Jewish rights.
Cole wrote, "Jerusalem not only was not being built by the likely then non-existent 'Jewish people' in 1000 BCE, but Jerusalem probably was not even inhabited at that point in history. Jerusalem appears to have been abandoned between 1000 BCE and 900 BCE, the traditional dates for the united kingdom under David and Solomon."
This assertion is so mendacious that it takes your breath away. As anyone who has actually been in Jerusalem can attest, it is all but impossible to be physically present in the oldest areas of the city and not bump into relics dating from between 1000 and 900 BCE.
Cole's allegation is the academic equivalent of Louis Farakhan's claim that white people are devils planted on earth by aliens. As an anti-Zionist anti-Semite, it was just a matter of time until Cole traveled into the fetid swamp of denying the historical record to facilitate his false claim that Jews are not a people and therefore are bereft of rights as a nation to our national homeland.
And why shouldn't he cover himself in anti- Semitic muck? So far, the stench has brought him great success. The very fact that I felt compelled to write an essay explaining why anti- Semitism is anti-Semitism and why anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism is depressing proof that anti- Semites have been wildly successful in whitewashing their bigotry.
What makes contemporary anti-Semitism unique is its purveyors' great efforts to hide its very existence. Their motivation is clear. Outside the openly genocidal anti-Semitic Muslim world, most anti-Semites are self-described liberals who claim to oppose bigotry. For these people, pretending away their prejudice is the key to their continued claim to enlightenment.
And so the likes of Oliver Stone publish clarifications.
And Cole invents history. And the Europeans blame Jews and Israel and Zionism when Jews inside and outside Israel are assaulted and killed.
And I am sorry I wrote this column.
Because an audience that demands an explanation of why evil is evil is an audience that has already sided with evil.