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In 2002 Mark Weber, a director of The Institute for Historical Review wrote an article about the powerful Jewish Lobby in the United States (US). What Weber articulates in his article is very relevant to the current brouhaha about the alleged comments made by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fatima Hajaig. As a result of those alleged comments, the Deputy Minister has now been vilified and accused of anti-Semitism, hate speech, bigotry and all manner of things that are intended to whip up the emotions of the Jewish community and social activists and inflate her comments beyond what they truly represented. In his article Weber beautifully outlines how Jewish money influences and controls the US Congress.
The Deputy Minister is alleged to have said: “They in fact control [America]. No matter which government comes into power, whether Republican or Democratic, whether Barack Obama or George Bush. The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money and if Jewish money controls their country then you cannot expect anything else.”
It is important to examine whether there is any measure of truth to claims by detractors of the Deputy Minister that she had indeed been anti-Semitic. A common understanding of anti-Semitism would generally refer to prejudice against or hostility towards Jews, although the appropriate meaning is not limited to Jews. I would immediately dismiss as utter rubbish claims that the above comments by the Deputy Minister are prejudicial against and hostile towards Jews. Moreover, these comments have no relevance whatsoever to Jews in South Africa.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies is reported to have lodged a complaint against the Deputy Minister with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). Wendy Kahn, who is a director of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, is also reported to have said that the alleged comments by the Deputy Minister were classic anti-Jewish stereotyping and conspiracy-theory mongering, which were typically used by those seeking to portray Jews as scheming, manipulative and disloyal to the countries in which they lived. In her tirade against the Deputy Minister, Kahn went further to state that, “the Jewish community is outraged by such a public display of bigotry by a senior government representative. As South African citizens, we cannot allow this kind of comment to be brought into this country”.
The action by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies is an abuse of such national institutions such as the SAHRC. The SAHRC has a constitutional mandate to promote the protection of human rights of citizens of South Africa. Unless the SA Jewish Board of Deputies regards those South African Jews they represent as Westerners, their much-reported tirade is misguided and appears to be a publicity-seeking stunt.
The temptation after reading newspaper headlines and listening to the SA Jewish Board of Deputies go off at a tangent would be to lambaste and condemn the Deputy Minister and opportunistically rally behind the Democratic Alliance’s Tony Leon who called for her head and demanded her to apologise to the US President Barack Obama. Tony Leon may perhaps plead ignorance to Obama’s speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference when he said, “Those who threaten Israel threaten us. Israel has always faced these threats on the front lines. And I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security … I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat — from Gaza to Tehran … As president, I will implement a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30-billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade.”
Given this unequivocal support of Israel none of us should impose the Deputy Minister’s confidence on Obama’s administration, or any other before. The behaviour and over-reaction of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies is tantamount to fear mongering and a despicable attempt at playing victim to some invented threat to their dignity and human rights. The question we should all ask is whether or not Jews wield immense power and influence in the US. By answering this question we would arrive at an informed conclusion on whether these absurd attacks on the Deputy Minister are warranted instead of immediately dismissing them as I have.
Benjamin Ginsberg, a Jewish author and political science professor, in his book he published in 1993, The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, said that, “Since the 1960s, Jews have come to wield considerable influence in American economic, cultural, intellectual and political life. Jews played a central role in American finance during the 1980s, and they were among the chief beneficiaries of that decade’s corporate mergers and reorganisations.”
Mark Weber also wrote that, “though barely 2% of the nation’s population is Jewish, close to half its billionaires are Jews. The chief executive officers of the three major television networks and the four largest film studios are Jews, as are the owners of the nation’s largest newspaper chain and the most influential single newspaper, the New York Times … The role and influence of Jews in American politics is equally marked.
Jews are only 2% of the nation’s population, yet comprise 11% of what this study defines as the nation’s elite. However, Jews constitute more than 25% of the elite journalists and publishers, more than 17% of the leaders of important voluntary and public interest organisations, and more than 15% of the top ranking civil servants.”
Seymour Lipset and Earl Raab, both Jewish writers, agree with the assertion that Jews in the US wield disproportionate political power and validate the alleged comments by the Deputy Minister. In their 1995 book, Jews and the New American Scene, they say that “during the last three decades Jews (in the US) have made up 50% of the top two hundred intellectuals … 20% of professors at the leading universities … 40% of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington … 59% of the directors, writers and producers of the 50 top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58% of directors, writers and producers in two or more prime time television series.”
Instead of condemning the Deputy Minister she should have been commended for her will to trounce the preservation of falsehoods and expose these self-evident yet unspoken and vexing truths about the influence and power of Jews in America. There is this fear to speak truth to power that is prevalent everywhere and so is the risk present of having one’s voice silenced with a nauseating anti-Semitism card. It is those of robust constitution who, regardless of the awful consequences of revealing these truths, rise above feeble others who allow suppression of their voices. Criticism of Jews has far too often triggered a backlash of unimaginable proportion, a sign of ingrained intolerance to robust and unflattering appraisal.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies should perhaps inform the rest of us, who struggle to see hate, anti-Jewish stereotyping and conspiracy-theory mongering in the alleged comments of the Deputy Minister, whether the US congress is not biased towards Israel; whether they disagree with Dr. Stephen Steinlight, Fellow at the Centre for Immigration Studies in the US when he says, “… we (Jews) will continue to court and be courted by key figures in Congress … power is exerted within the political system from the local to national levels through soft money and especially the provision of out-of-state funds to candidates sympathetic to Israel …”; and whether Hamas possesses the capacity to destroy Israel.
The Archbishop Desmond Tutu also lamented this intolerance to criticism that pervades a larger section of Jewish communities when he said, “The Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US] and to criticise it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic.”
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies needs to get over themselves!