When we left off last week, columnist Joe Sobran was suggesting that perhaps “black-mail” could explain the evident tilt toward Israel on the part of the Bush administration.
Blackmail by and against whom Sobran wouldn’t say, but he didn’t have to, not with the rest of the column given over to paranoid ruminations on how, in Sobran’s Bizzaro world, a consortium of all-powerful Zionist Jews and “cowardly and venile gentiles” conspire to keep a resentful but subjugated American media towing a straight and narow pro-Israel line.
None of this is new for Sobran, who never tires of looking for the Jew in the woodpile. This, after all, is a man who’s written that “History is replete with the lesson that a country in which the Jews get the upper hand is in danger,” and that “there are people who are neither fanatic nor stupid nor insane nor mean-spirited who argue that it was never Hitler’s purpose or policy to exterminate the Jews. Maybe not; they are far more informed on the subject than I care to be, and it never surprises me when the Zionist lobby lies or grossly exaggerates…”
Sobran responded to some of the Monitor’s earlier criticisms with a lengthy letter, cordial on its face and even somewhat charming in its candor – as when he owned up to the realization that he “may sound like an unpleasant sorehead” and confessed, “I wish I thought I had more to be grateful for.”
He also lamented, rather cryptically, that if he had a theme song it would probably be “I’ll Never Smile Again,” and added, disarmingly, “I don’t blame you or anyone else who finds me hard to put up with.”
Naturally, Sobran’s letter revolved around the perception of his hostility to Israel. And while he chose not to address the Monitor’s concerns about his feelings toward Jews in general, he showed no such reticence in discussing his attitude toward the Jewish state.
“As for Israel,” he wrote, “I can’t accept its claims. How could I? I’m a Catholic. I don’t think a U.S.-Israeli alliance is good for the U.S., and particularly for any Sobran boys who may wind up in another war. I’m not especially pro-Palestinian; in some ways I admire the Israelis; but mostly I want to stay OUT of their quarrel. As they say, I don’t have a dog in that fight; I just want to protect my own puppies.”
Sounds reasonable enough, no? A concerned father worried for the welfare of his sons, fearful of losing them over something far removed from his sphere of interest and concern.
(The part about his being unable to “accept” Israel’s “claims” because of his being a Catholic, is, however, an entirely false argument: While Catholicism has never embraced the State of Israel with anything approaching the exuberance manifested by Bible-believing Protestants, anybody wishing to could compile a long list of prominent Catholics, living and dead, lay and clergy, who under any criterion would be classified as staunchly supportive of Israel.)
But Sobran has left enough of a paper trail for any but the dimmest of readers to realize that his animus toward Israel would be just as strong even if had no “puppies” to “protect.” In his letter to the Monitor he tried to cast that animosity as simply part of his greater distrust of all governments, even his own.
“The Israelis’ treatment of the U.S.,” he wrote, “has earned my distrust. Any country billed as ?ally’ should be dealt with warily. We should learn from the way England has inveigled us into fighting its wars. Nothing against the English people, but their government has always played us for suckers.
“To put this all in perspective, I believe - I KNOW – that my worst enemy isn’t the Israeli government, but the U.S. government. It robs me daily, it constantly violates its own Constitution, and it may claim my children’s lives in what it’s pleased to call ‘defense.’ ”
It may well be that Sobran harbors such a frightening degree of alienation living as an American in America, but Israel, the Israeli government, and, yes, Jews in and of themselves, remain his special obsession. He just can’t help himself, as he demonstrated in a recent column on President Bush’s labeling of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an “axis of evil” in his State of the Union speech – a statement to which Sobran took great umbrage.
The Bush speechwriter responsible for the statement happened to be David Frum, whom Sobran duly described to his readers as “a Canadian Zionist journalist for whom ‘evil’ means ‘enemy of Israel.’ ”
Once again, Sobran found his Jew in the woodpile.
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org