Confronting crackpots

Confronting crackpots

Question: What was happening in Germany in 1933 when Adolph Hitler rose to power?
Answer: The Great Depression, to date the worst financial crisis in modern world history.
Question: What is happening today when the Anti-Defamation League is reporting a spike in anti-Semitic rhetoric on the Internet?
Answer: The second worst financial crisis in modern world history.
So it’s not surprising that a Hamas official this week said the “Jewish lobby” is responsible for the global financial crisis.
Fawzi Barhum in a statement released Tuesday blamed the “Jewish lobby” in the United States for putting into place and controlling “bad administrative and financial management and a bad banking system.”
He added that the Jewish lobby “controls the U.S. elections and defines the foreign policy of any new administration in a manner that allows it to retain control of the American government and economy.”
Now you would expect that kind of incitement from Hamas (by the way, notice that Barhum used the word “Jewish” instead of “Zionist;” keep that in mind the next time someone suggests anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are two different things), but is it filtering into mainstream thinking?
As you read on page one this week, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” spoofed the $700 billion bailout plan this past week, portraying bankers who looked and sounded distinctly Jewish. SNL mysteriously removed the spot from its Web site days later.
Now before we go further, let us caution that we’re not trying to create hysteria. There are no neo-Nazis marching down the Boulevard of the Allies and we don’t think they ever will.
But as George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The world waited too long to respond to the Hitler threat. We must learn from that.
The Barhum statement breezed through the media without much objection. That was wrong. And given that many people around the world are sympathetic to Hamas, it was also dangerous.
Jews must remember that anti-Semitism is not yet a thing of the past — and may never be. Sadly, we must re-educate the world on this point time and again. We must be relentless, and we must not let any world leader — good, bad or just plain ignorant — get away with such a canard. The excuse that so and so is just a crackpot and should be ignored doesn’t fly. As Hitler showed, crackpots can find an audience.