Today’s Washington Post runs a Pat Oliphant cartoon portraying the state of Israel as a headless jackbooted soldier, marching with sword thrust forward, and pushing a Star of David whose shark’s mouth is gaining on a Gazan mother and child.
To call the Washington Post’s decision to run unadulterated Nazi-inspired anti-Semitism a crisis of judgment is to relegate the incident to a headline-grabbing class of occasional sensitivity lapses. To speak of apologies, hurt feelings, and free speech is to invite “debate” where there is no moral ambiguity. To contextualize by adducing Oliphant’s previous forays into sensation is to miss the point entirely. The cartoon can only be understood as heralding a new popular acceptance of Jew-hatred: the capstone of all that talk about anti-Semitism being “on the rise around the world.”
The acceptance of anti-Semitism moves quickly, in tandem with the ambitions of anti-Semites. Today in America, this means a new forum where a number of hate-filled isolationists can collude with self-righteous liberals to erase entirely the line between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitic fervor. Until recently, suspect critics of Israel made an effort (however unconvincing) to draw distinctions between their objections to Israeli policy and rank Jew-hatred. The cartoon in today’s Washington Post aspires to unify the two phenomena for all to see.