[Tablet] One of the things that’s fascinating about my WASPy friends and compatriots is that so many dislike the State of Israel, to varying degrees. It bugs them. What interests me is trying to suss out the underlying or psychological impetus or sense of injury beneath these feelings, which are frankly less common in general among American gentiles than they are among American Jews. When I’ve asked them, “Why does this particular injustice bother you so much – why not Tibet?” the answers are very interesting. They come down to something like, “Why on one hand do you Jewish people come to us and say we have to be democratic and inclusive because otherwise we’re anti-Semites, and then back in the old country, where you go on your family vacations or Birthright trips, you get to strut around with automatic weapons and oppress everybody else, which isn’t fair, and is probably what we would want to do here, in some secret corner of our WASPy brains.”
[Ginsberg] That is a very good line, and I think it’s totally true. The animus is some form of displaced anti-Semitism.
[Tablet] Is that what I’m saying? I actually think that American Jews are in this sense way too quick to label such feelings as anti-Semitism, even when the effects may be anti-Semitic.
[Ginsberg] I think you’ve characterized it very well. It’s not 1930s anti-Semitism, but it’s a resentment. It’s a resentment of a particular evil that the Jews have done, which is the Jews have undermined WASP America but refuse to do the same thing in their own country.
You know, there’s an old joke: Three elderly Jewish Communists in the Bronx are talking. They’re in their eighties. One is in a wheelchair. So they say, “Abie Cohen, have you heard from him lately?” “Abie, he’s had some health problems but he’s living in Los Angeles in a nursing home, still working for socialism.” “All right, what about Mike Abramowitz, have you heard from him?” “Well, you know Mike is in rehab, he fell, he broke his hip, a lot of problems. But even in the nursing home he’s fighting for socialism!” So someone says, “What about Moe Goldberg?” “Oh, Moe, he moved to Israel, didn’t you know that?” “Well, is he fighting for socialism?” The guy answers, “In his own country? What kind of man do you think he is?!”
So I think as Jewish humor often does, that captures the point that you made. I’ve actually had students say exactly this. They say, “How come in my high school we couldn’t sing Christmas carols; however, in Israel they can establish a religion?” And they believe that it was the Jews who brought this about in the United States. And are they wrong? No.
“How come in my high school Whites are a minority in the same school that was all-White when my parents attended. However, in Israel they can enact immigration laws that keep out non-Jews?” And they believe that it was the Jews who brought this about in the United States. And are they wrong? No.