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Exclusive Book & Movie Reviews:
Speaking Out on Anti-Semitism
The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred and the Jews, by David Mamet, NY: Schocken Books, 2006, 189 pp., $18

by Mitchell Bard


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A lot of people have written about anti-Semitism, but David Mamet is probably the first Pulitzer Prize winner to do it. Reading his erudite, no-holds-barred evisceration of anti-Semites and self-hating Jews makes you wish he took on more topics related to Jews and Israel. Who else would write a sentence like this when talking about the attacks on Israel: “The masochistic and sadistic imagination engages in fantasies wherein the cryptosexual delight of unlimited power is experience (equally and perhaps interchangeably) as victim and perpetrator.” What does this mean? He explains a couple of paragraphs later that people see two Palestines and two Israelis. “To many,” Mamet says, “the fantasy Palestinians: totally wronged, totally powerless, offers the masturbator fantasy of a mythic race so put-upon that they are empowered, limitlessly, to kill.”

Mamet points out the hypocrisy of the world in treating terror against Israelis differently than terror against others. He asks if the Palestinians’ demand for land excuses their murder of Jews. If so, he says, the 9/11 bombers should be asked to list their demands “so that we may better understand and, perhaps, reward them.”

As an example of the world’s logic toward Jews, Mamet cites an Economist story saying that Ariel Sharon deserved some of the blame for the second intifada because of his “provocative eve-of-the intifada walk on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.” Mamet notes the anti-Semitism behind the idea that “Sharon-took-a-walk-and-so-thousands-must-die.”

Have you ever heard someone attack Israel wish you had a response or think of a biting comeback later? Mamet has the responses at the tip of his pen. For example, when his friends suggest that Israel’s security fence forced Palestinians to suffer indignities and to wait for hours to travel from their homes to their jobs, Mamet’s response was that “many Israelis did not have that problem, because they were dead, killed by suicide bombers, killed in their buses on the way to school.”

Mamet says he is “coeval” with Israel because he was born on November 30, 1947, that is the day the UN voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Like Israelis, Mamet is prepared to fight against those who seek the destruction of the Jews. He notes that people often fantasize about what they would have done during the Nazi period, but nothing can be done about the past. We can, however, speak up now, he insists. This is the most important message of the book:

Don’t let an instance of anti-Semitism pass. Stand up for yourself, and stand up for your people. It is possible to support the Palestinian cause without being an anti-Semite, and there are people of goodwill who do so. But much of the pro-Palestinian feeling in the West is a protected example of anti-Semitism, and, when and as it is such, it should be opposed.


Sources: Mitchell Bard is the AICE Executive Director

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