Andy Martin responds to a column on anti-Semitism by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post.
ANDY MARTIN /2010
Republican for U. S. Senator
“He works for
the People of Illinois”
30 E. Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611-4723
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
ANDY MARTIN RESPONDS TO MICHAEL GERSON’S COLUMN IN FRIDAY’S WASHINGTON POST
(CHICAGO)(June 13, 2009) Initially I wasn’t going to comment on the anti-Semitic rampage earlier this week at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. My desk is piled high with work that is past due, and I have several columns of my own that I want to get out. The vicious and senseless attack was obviously the work of a madman.
But I was deeply moved by a column Friday in the Washington Post by Michael Gerson:
Mr. Gerson crystallized the evil and insanity of anti-Semitism.
My own upbringing was rather philo-Semitic. When other kids were being taught about baseball, my mother was lecturing me on our family friend Dr. Sigmund Neumann, who had fled the Third Reich. I learned about the Nazis and their murderous regime at an early age. When I was old enough to have a paper route, Dr. Neumann used to invite me in for a chat. He was a scholar at Wesleyan University. The Nazis had burned his books.
As a small boy, I still vividly remember the first time one of my friends made an anti-Semitic statement. I was stunned. I still am. How could anyone have poisoned my friend’s mind at such a young age?
I was also exposed to bigotry against my own family. My mother’s side of the family is Greek-American. When we went to the beach every summer I was occasionally reminded that Greeks still could not buy property on Ocean Boulevard. That was reserved for “Yankees,” as some people are still called in New England. Greeks were relegated to the swamps and side streets.
My mother told me that growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire some kids used to yell ethnic epithets at her on the street. That discrimination left a lasting impression on me.
As a young student in England, I observed the still-raw wounds of World War II. One child in my prep school had been part of the kindertransport, and his adoptive parents had disguised his name to protect him from some future outbreak of anti-Semitism.
My own father was an anti-Nazi warrior who regaled me with stories of “killing Jerries” and training Jews to defend the Middle East. I thank God that dad was there as part of the Greatest Generation. He gave me the greatest gift.
One of my best friends, who died recently, was featured in a movie, The Richie Boys, about Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany and returned on D-Day to fight the Third Reich.
My friend was fabulously wealthy, and donated large sums of money to support good works in Israel, primarily reconciliation between Israelis and Arabs.
And here the story gets more complex.
I am obviously identified with criticism of the Israeli government and its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Some Israelis and pro-Israel Americans like to brand anyone who challenges the occupation of Palestine as “anti-Semitic.” Its not anti-Semitism to challenge the Israeli government’s political and military policies.
When false accusations of anti-Semitism are used to silence critics of the Israeli government a potential anti-Semitic backlash can be created. Many Americans, including many Jews, are appalled at the lockstep, not to say goosestep, manner in which the U. S. Government has endorsed Israeli actions over the past decades.
I don’t agree with Barack Obama on many issues. But I do support his apparent efforts to level the playing field in the Middle East, and to return sanity to our government’s policy. And, of course, some Israelis are now accusing Obama of being an anti-Semite. Let me be clear, neither Obama nor I are anti-Semites. Presidents Jimmy Carter, George Bush (I) George Bush (II) were also called anti-Semites by some Israelis. We are all in good company.
Although I disagreed with George W. Bush’s Middle East policies, there has never been a more pro-Israeli administration than Bush-Cheney’s. But pro-Israeli voters still abandoned the Republican Party for Obama. Go figure.
Last year during the heat of the election, Obama sent his rotund rogue Robert Gibbs to the Fox News Channel’s Hannity & Colmes to falsely accuse me of being an anti-Semite. The Obama tactic was a crude distortion of the truth fostered by New York Times reporter James Rutenberg. The smear backfired. My profile rose after the Times and Fox News were used as mouthpieces to spread the anti-Semitic lie.
Transparently I was opposing Obama on political grounds. For Obama to authorize a smear against me, using false claims of anti-Semitism based on a decades-old lawsuit, was despicable conduct on his part. But Obama’s attack was also a compliment, confirming that his campaign staff feared my Internet newspaper’s influence over millions of voters. I am hopeful that some day Obama will apologize to me for his unfortunate behavior. (What the hell; he has apologized to everyone else.)
In the meantime, Mr. Gibbs has had to hire a lawyer and defend his malignant behavior in an Illinois court.
The truth is disarmingly simply. Decades ago, I was politically harassed by corrupt Democratic federal judges in Chicago. (I was rescued by Republican judges.) Thieves moved in to loot my property. Because all of my opponents in court were Jewish, I developed a claim of religious discrimination. But, in a second round of misuse of the law, crooked judges in New York and Connecticut tried to trump up my discrimination claim as “anti-Semitic.”
Their motive: Judge Jose Cabranes was a cocaine-crazed psycho who had been appointed as a federal judge to placate his own ethnic constituency. He had and has lived his entire life with rage at his own sense of inadequacy and unworthiness. When I stood before Cabranes and confronted him with his corruption, he exploded and retaliated by abusing his power as a judge to smear me.
In other words, the false accusations of anti-Semitism against me were nothing more than the efforts of a cocaine-crazed, crooked federal judge to harass me because I exposed him and touched his vulnerability. More amazingly, judicial careers were destroyed by Cabranes’ rage and venom. I attacked him and his fellow traveler Judge John O. Newman, and helped scuttle their nominations to the Supreme Court.
The lawyer who represented me against Cabranes’ depredations has advised me for 26 years and remains a friend.
In retrospect, my lawsuit was an unfortunate legal tactic, and I regret lodging the claim. Ironically, the U. S. Supreme Court soon upheld my legal theory in the federal discrimination case, in the unrelated proceeding of Shaare Tefila, 481 U.S. 615 (1987). Thus, my accusations of religious discrimination against the Connecticut crooks were legally arguable but unfortunately opened the door to false accusations of anti-Semitism against me.
Left-wing media try to portray me as anti-Semitic based on those events a quarter-century ago. They are pretty desperate to find dirt, and there is little of it in my long life.
As an aside, claims made in lawsuits are privileged precisely because people and their attorneys are often forced to make legal and factual claims which they do not personally endorse. That was my situation. I was not anti-Semitic, but was placed in a situation where my arguments could be distorted and falsely portrayed as anti-Semitic merely because I raised a claim of apparent bigotry.
Over the years I have collected money from people who falsely accused me of being anti-Semitic. I don’t sue in all instances, but I keep these lawsuits going to send a message: unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism are as irresponsible as anti-Semitism itself.
Of course, when people such as Obama and the New York Times trump up accusations of anti-Semitism against me, they usually boomerang. I hope to collect from the New York Times before that newspaper goes bankrupt.
The Andy Martin Peace Plan for the Middle East, which I announced in July 2000, called for protecting both Israelis and Palestinians with U. S. troops. Someone who is wiling to risk U. S. lives to defend both Israelis and Palestinians is hardly anti-Semitic. A decade later, the Andy Martin Peace Plan is now finding increased support as a pragmatic solution to the endless conflict between Israelis and Palestinians; I am proud of my ongoing efforts to foster peace in the Middle East.
Those of us who are active in working for genuine peace in the Middle East are still forced to defend against false accusations of anti-Semitism when we challenge Israeli government policies. Israelis who equate criticism of their government with anti-Semitism bear false fitness to anti-Semitism itself. Political criticism and anti-Semitism are not the same.
Sadly, there is very little that can be done to punish the anti-Semitic lunatic who attacked the Holocaust Museum on Wednesday. At his age and in his state of mind, punishment is problematic. We are left with a horrific crime for despicable reasons, in which the law is largely powerless to extract an adequate punishment.
Left-wing Democrats have now suggested that anti-Semitism is a right-wing or “conservative media” virus. Nothing could be further from the truth. But ultimately, for either Democrats or the mainstream media to politicize and propagandize with false accusations of anti-Semitism is disgraceful behavior.
A few closing thoughts.
My first day in high school, a football player was harassing a Jewish kid in our class, Stephen Mayer. He was making fun of Mayer’s religion. I told the football guy to stop, and when he didn’t, I beat the crap out of him. He never made another anti-Semitic remark in my presence.
My entire life has been devoted to fighting bullies and crooks, wherever they are found, but usually in government, the courts and politics. In my prequel to Obama’s Cairo speech, I offered to march hand-in-hand with pro-Israel senators and representatives who back a balanced U. S. policy and a just peace:
There has never been any room for anti-Semitism in my life. Not when I defended Steve Mayer, not today, not ever.
There was one point Mr. Gerson left out of his very moving and pertinent discussion of anti-Semitism in the Washington Post. Fear. One of the goals of anti-Semitism is to make people fearful, to depersonalize and dehumanize them. That is how the Holocaust in Germany became possible.
We must always be on guard to fight against fear, and those who would make us fearful. One of the greatest gifts America has given all of us is freedom from fear. We are free to live our lives in peace and freedom. On Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, Muslims and Jews live and trade in peace. Everywhere, we respect each other and support each other’s freedom to live in peace and safety, free from any form of fear. Freedom-from-fear is an American value; it is part of our national character. It is our legacy from the past, and our enduring gift to future generations. We must never let evil gain a toehold in our society.
Today, Barack Obama’s admirer Hugo Chavez is spreading anti-Semitism in Venezuela. Because I once had a Venezuelan Jewish girlfriend, who was a refugee from Egypt, she warned me very early about Chavez’ evil potential. If I could send Obama a message, it would be, “Speak out against Chavez. Don’t let his evil pass. Don’t let Chavez poison the Americas with anti-Semitism.”
When the New York Times lodged its false accusations of anti-Semitism against me last year, my Jewish friend was the first person on the phone offering unlimited financial assistance to mount a media counterattack. I have a deep and abiding loyalty to my departed friend. While I don’t have the resources he did to work for peace, I do have a voice.
That voice will always be raised in chorus with Mr. Gerson. Anti-Semitism is evil, and we should confront and attack anti-Semitism everywhere and wherever we find it.
That’s the American way.
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Andy Martin is a legendary Chicago muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. He has over forty years of broadcasting background in radio and television and is the dean of Illinois media and communications. He is currently promoting his best-selling book, Obama: The Man Behind The Mask and producing the new Internet movie “Obama: The Hawai’i years.” Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of www.ContrarianCommentary.com.
Martin comments on regional, national and world events with more than four decades of experience. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York.
His columns are also posted at ContrarianCommentary.blogspot.com; contrariancommentary.wordpress.com.
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