Anti-Semitism And Anti-Americanism

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Osama bin Laden hates Americans and Jews with equal passion. In his videotaped diatribes broadcast over the past few weeks, he rages against plots by "Jews and Crusaders" and calls for a counterattack on Israel and the United States.

This is no coincidence. Anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism are blood brothers. Fanatics from the Christian militia camps of Middle America to the cafés of Cairo believe the United States is the centre of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

Anti-Semites down the centuries have portrayed Jews as soulless, rootless, money-grubbing, devious. Modern America-bashers portray the United States as the money-mad citadel of "predatory capitalism." "Anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are closely interwoven historically," U.S. historian Tony Judt told London's Sunday Times recently. Both "are in part about fear of openness, rootlessness, change, the modern anomic world: Jews as a placeless people, America as history-less land." Whenever anything went wrong in the ancient world, they came to get the Jews.

In today's world, too, there are always those who are willing to blame Americans for the world's ills, from Third World sweatshops to suffering Iraqi children to disappearing rain forests. Every hater needs a demon, and Americans -- wealthy, powerful, confident -- fit the bill nicely.

Even when something happens to them,it's their own fault. Within days of Sept. 11, critics were lining up to say that Americans had brought it on themselves.

As British author Ian Buruma pointed out a week after the attacks, Jews, as well, are often accused of bringing their misfortunes on themselves. If only they could be a little less pushy, a little less clannish, a little less arrogant, says the classic anti-Semite, then people wouldn't dislike them so much.

America-bashers say the same thing: If only Americans would stop flooding the world with their junk culture, putting the dollar above all...