Buried on page 43 of the latest issue of The Economist is a rather enlightening 12-page special report titled, “Judaism and the Jews: Alive and Well.” In comparison, the cover story, “Another Fine Mess: Big Government or Small? America’s Great Debate” gets a whopping single page devoted to it.
The report shows just how well Judaism has thrived and how well Jews are doing as a people. However, this is not the message that the hard-right leaning Israel lobby would have you believe. Maybe the fact that the lobby is so powerful, and that the publisher didn’t want to deal with the political flak, is why this front-page-worthy report has been hidden? Maybe I sound like a conspiracy theorist, but one can’t help wondering why a report of this magnitude that could drum up so much conflict has been exiled to the latter half of the issue.
Aside from a few suspect sources, the report is exhaustingly thorough and well-cited. However, those who know anything about Iran can’t help being irked by page 9 of the report, where it states that: “Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is both anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, and a Holocaust denier to boot. His government is working hard to obtain the means to implement his threats to annihilate the Jewish state.”
First, there is zero verifiable proof that Iran is working on developing a nuclear weapon, as the authors seem to be implying.. Second, Ayatollah Khamenei has said time and time again that he disapproves of the Zionist regime in Israel, not of Jews as a people. Third, I would take any opinions of President Ahmadinejad as strictly politically- motivated statements meant to get a reaction of some type at home and abroad, nothing more. I can’t say that I’m a fan of using the Anti-Defamation League--a rabidly pro-Israel organization--for their source on rising anti-Semitism numbers either, but I digress.
In any case, Jews and Judaism are indeed flourishing, as page 3 of the report details. Not since 1939 have Jews been more abundant in the world, totaling about 13,580,000. Moreover, Israelis are considered to be the 14th happiest people on the planet. This is all well and good, but what about Israel lobby representatives who use the “never again” argument to support the existence of Israel as a non-negotiable safe-haven for Jews everywhere and who always seem to think that Israel is just one rocket attack away from annihilation?
It’s all nonsense of the worst kind: politically-motivated nonsense. The Israel lobby needs funding to operate and to push its agenda. It acquires said funding by spreading such disinformation to its older Jewish donors who still remember the tragic and despicable stories their parents told them of Auschwitz and Birkenau, and who therefore happily give their money to organizations that maintain that annihilation is still a possibility. To a thinking person, this is insane.
Never has Israel been more secure, and for the diaspora community it feels great to be Jewish. According to the report, Jews in America are proud to be Jewish, which is a different story than just a few decades ago. As J.J. Goldberg, a Jewish writer cited by The Economist, notes, “Jewish is cool in America. Celebrities used to change their names to hide their Jewish identity. Now they talk on television about how they try to instill Jewish identity into their half-Jewish children.”
Israel is flourishing as well. With an intricate security infrastructure, U.S. backing for almost everything they do, and the most powerful military industrial complex in the Middle East, Israel has never been more secure. In fact, Israelis don’t even fret about Iran, said to be Israel’s biggest “existential” threat. According to a recent poll, only 19% of Israelis favor a unilateral strike on Iran, and only 42% favor a strike if supported by the U.S. Of those Israelis polled, many prefer to “have to live with the consequences” of not carrying out a unilateral strike. This doesn’t sound like a country terrified of its impending demise, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cronies may have you believe.
I find it odd that the good people at The Economist felt as though a one-page article was a better fit for the cover story than this report. The issue would have been sure to drum up some serious debate and would have helped to dispel a dangerous myth that is being used to strengthen the argument for war by American and Israeli leaders alike.