Suddenly I remembered where I had seen it before.
The same kind of face. The same chin thrust forward, to produce an impression of force and determination.
The same way of speaking. One sentence and then a pause, waiting for the mob to shout approval.
The same combination of monster and clown.
Yes. Unmistakable. I saw it in my early childhood. On newsreels.
Benito Mussolini. Rome. Piazza Venezia. The Duce on a balcony, The huge mob down below in the piazza. Delirious. Applauding. Shouting until they were hoarse. A mass orgy of mindlessness.
This week I saw and heard it again. This time on TV.
There were differences, of course.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump was speaking in Washington DC, the modern successor to ancient Rome.
The Duce was bald, and therefore always wore a fanciful hat especially designed for him. The Trump wore his trademark orange hair, very carefully arranged by himself (according to his butler).
Mussolini spoke Italian, one of the world’s most beautiful languages, even coming from the mouth of a dictator. Trump spoke American English, a language that even its most ardent admirers would not call melodious.
But the largest difference was the character of the audience. The Duce spoke to a Roman mob, a late successor to the ancient Roman plebs who, not far from there, had cried for blood in the arena.
Trump spoke – unbelievably! – to an assembly of mostly elderly, wealthy and well educated Jews.
Jews, for God’s sake! People who secretly believe that they are the most intelligent on earth! Delirious Jews, shouting, clapping, jumping up and down after every sentence, as if possessed.
What has happened to these Jews?
It’s a sad story. During World War II, when the Holocaust was in full swing, American Jews kept quiet. They did not use their already considerable political might to induce the President to do something significant to save the Jews. They were cowed. They were afraid of being accused of war mongering.
Once somebody brought me a Nazi leaflet dropped by the German Luftwaffe over American lines in Italy. It showed a fat, ugly Jew embracing a blond American girl. It said something like: “While you are shedding your blood here, the rich Jew at home is seducing your girlfriend!”
The Jews were afraid to do anything that could be seen as a confirmation of the Nazi propaganda slogan that this was a war instigated by the Jews and their stooge, “President Rosenfeld”, to destroy the Aryan race. So they kept quiet.
These Jews had come to America one or two generations earlier. The victims of the Holocaust were their close relatives. The remorse for their inactivity during the Holocaust is haunting them – especially the elderly among them – to this very day.
Their blind allegiance to the “Jewish State” is a result of this remorse. Many American Jews – especially the elderly – feel more attached to Israel than to the US. The British slogan “My country, right or wrong” is applied by them to Israel.
This was the audience of Trump at the AIPAC mass meeting.
AIPAC is the embodiment of Jewish might and Jewish complexes.
In a way, it is the late actualization of that famous Russian forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, about the Jews ruling the world. By many accounts, it is the second most powerful lobby in the US (after the lobby of the gun crazies).
How did a small political organization, some 60 years ago, reach these dizzy heights? The Jews are far from being the most numerous ethnic community in the US. But, as a result of the inbuilt fear of anti-Semitism, they stick together. And, far more importantly, they donate money. Lots and lots of money. In both respects, they outdo much larger communities, like the Arab one.
The American political process, once the envy of democrats around the world, is by now basically corrupt. Political advertising is both necessary and expensive. Anyone running for office needs heaps of money.
Looking for money is now the main job of an American politician.
In today’s America, almost every politician can be bought. Literally.
So can entire party organizations. The sums are not even very impressive. AIPAC has pushed this corruption to a climax.
To demonstrate their power, AIPAC has produced some glaring examples.
They are not satisfied with denying money to politicians that have criticized Israel in any way. They have actively put an end to the political careers of critics by taking competing nobodies, stuffing them with money and getting them elected in their place.
If there were such a thing as political terrorism, AIPAC would take the crown.
What is this immense power used for?
The Israeli journalist Gideon Levy wrote an article this week that shocked many, claiming that AIPAC is in fact an anti-Israeli organization. If I had written that article, it would have been even more extreme.
If, God forbid, the State of Israel does not survive the next 100 years, historians will put a lot of the blame on American Jewry, headed by AIPAC.
Since 1967, Israel has faced a simple but fateful choice: Give up the occupied Palestinian territories and make peace with Palestine and the entire Arab and Muslim world – or cling to the territories, build settlements and go on with an endless war.
This is not a political opinion. It is a historical fact.
Any true friend of Israel will do everything possible to push Israel in the first direction. Every dollar, every ounce of political influence, should be used for this purpose. In the end, the two states – Israel and Palestine – will live side by side, perhaps in some kind of confederation.
An anti-Semite pushes Israel in the other direction. Within the next 100 years Israel would turn into a bigoted, nationalist, even fascist, isolated apartheid state with a growing Arab majority, and the entire country would eventually become an Arab state with a shrinking Jewish minority.
Everything else is a pipedream.
So what is AIPAC doing?
In his monumental work “Faust”, Goethe describes the devil, Mephisto, as a force that always wills the bad and always achieves the good. AIPAC is the exact opposite.
It supports the existence of a “Jewish State” but pushes it forcefully along the road to another of the huge disasters in Jewish history.
They have an excuse, of course: it’s the Israelis themselves who have chosen this course. AIPAC only supports whoever the Israelis elect in democratic elections. Israel is the Only Democracy in the Middle East.
Nonsense. AIPAC and its sister groups are deeply involved in Israeli elections. They support Binyamin Netanyahu, the far-far-right Prime Minister, and the entire ultra-right spectrum of Israeli parties.
Perhaps I should put the blame on American Jewry in general. It’s not just AIPAC, but millions of other Jews. They all support Israel, wrong or worse.
But that may be out of date. I am told that a new generation of Jews in America is turning their backs on Israel altogether, even supporting Israel-haters. That would be a pity. They could play a role in resurrecting the Israeli peace camp instead, doing their bit for an enlightened Israel, upholding the old Jewish values of peace and justice.
I don’t see that happening. What I see is young and progressive American Jews quietly disappearing from the stage, leaving it to the new American Mussolini and his delirious, shouting up-and-down-jumping Jews.
Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, co-founder of Gush Shalom, and a former member of the Knesset
This article first appeared on the website of Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc)- an Israeli based peace organisation
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This post was written by Uri Avnery