"How odd / Of God / To choose / The Jews." Thus the British journalist (and communist) William Norman Ewer, in the early part of the last century. The reply came from Cecil Browne: "But not so odd / As those who choose / A Jewish God / But spurn the Jews."
Browne's riposte may have won the poetic exchange. But Ewer's anti-Judaism prevailed in the next decades in Europe. Buried there after World War II, hatred of the Jews flourished for the rest of the 20th century in the Middle East. Is anti-Judaism now enjoying a broader revival? It would seem so.
University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer came to Washington late last month along with his sidekick, Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Speaking to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, they attacked the "Israel lobby" (of which they claim I am a part) for its pernicious deeds, and singled out several Jews who served or serve in the Bush administration. These Jews, they explained, have special "attachments" in the Middle East. Their attachment? Their religious belief — Judaism. Bigotry now has an academic cachet.
Some of the activists at Moveon.org, the political organization that raises millions for Democratic candidates and generates support for left-wing policies, had a curious reason for cheering the Democratic primary defeat of Sen. Joe Lieberman. As Robert Goldberg reported in the Washington Times, after one Moveon member celebrated the defeat of "Jew Lieberman," 95 percent of those who responded to the post on the Moveon website expressed their approval.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder, author of "Sophie's World," announced in Norway's leading newspaper, the Aftenposten, the end of Israel: "There is no turning back. It is time to learn a new lesson: We do no longer recognize the state of Israel . . . . We must now get used to the idea: The state of Israel in its current form is history. . . . Fear not! The time of trouble shall soon be over. The state of Israel has seen its Soweto. . . . May spirit and word sweep away the apartheid walls of Israel. The state of Israel does not exist. It is now without defense, without skin. May the world therefore have mercy on the civilian population."
Mr. Gaarder's distaste for Israel seemed to be based on his dislike of Israel's policies, his revulsion against the God of Israel ("an insatiable sadist"), and his anger that, "for two thousand years, we have rehearsed the syllabus of humanism, but Israel does not listen." It's not clear who that "we" has been for two thousand years. But since Israel has only existed since 1948, it is presumably the Jews, not merely, Israel, who have not listened. (It was, however, generous of Mr. Gaarder to call for mercy for the Jewish civilian population.)
And then there's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — bidding fair to be the most powerful leader in the Islamic world. Mr. Ahmadinejad has called, of course, for the "the elimination of the Zionist regime" and "the destruction of Israel." He wants Israel eliminated because he wants Judaism eliminated (Christianity will take longer). Javier Solana of the E.U. and Kofi Annan of the U.N. are eagerly paying him court. Will Mr. Solana or Mr. Annan stand up in the presence of Ahmadinejad and denounce Jew-hatred? No.
Jews are under attack. And no one seems much concerned. Liberal Jews are more concerned about Mel Gibson than Mr. Ahmadinejad. The mainstream Jewish organizations have played the "anti-Semitism" card so often that it has been devalued. Much of the world is in denial about the jihadist threat. No one wants to be alarmist. This is, in a way, understandable. There are two large Jewish communities in the world. The Jews of America prosper in comfort and security. The Jews of Israel have been able to defend themselves. It's not 1938 again.
But the jihadists are on the move. Recently, in Gaza, kidnapped journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig were forced to "convert" to Islam before being released. What would have happened to them if they had been Jewish? And, incidentally — if they had refused to "convert," as some Jews and Christians have in the past — what would have happened then?
William Kristol is editor of The Weekly Standard. This article originally appeared in the September 8, 2006 edition of the Wall Street Journal.
By William Kristol