Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Half Century’s Slander

It isn’t conservatives who must answer for Fascism


If you search Lexis-Nexis for articles from just the last two years in which “Bush” and “fascist” are used in the same sentence, the results exceed 2,000. Search for the years encompassing his entire term, and smoke will start to come out of your computer.

A stack of recent books have branded Bush, Cheney, Republicans, conservatives, the Christian Right, and, of course, “neocons” as fascists, Nazis, or sympathizers with fascism and Nazism. Feminist author (and former Gore consultant) Naomi Wolf argues that America has already gone Nazi, equating the United States of today with the Germany of the early 1930s. The dyspeptic left-wing journalist Joe Conason warns that America is on the verge of fascism in It Can Happen Here. The Pulitzer Prize–winning former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges’s book on the Christian Right gets straight to the point, beginning with its title: “American Fascists.”

Today’s F-bombers will tell you that conservatives have brought such charges on themselves by supporting George W. Bush and “his” War on Terror. What passes for the Left’s argument is by now so familiar that we need not dwell on it for long. Nazis cracked down on civil liberties; America is cracking down on civil liberties. Nazis used terror and, allegedly, so does the Bush administration. Nazis invaded countries; America invaded countries. Hitler lied; Bush lied. Nazis rounded up Jews after labeling them enemies of the state; Bush is rounding up Muslims and labeling them enemies of the state. Hitler was a bad guy; Bush is a bad guy. Auschwitz, Guantanamo: What’s in a name?

But this is nothing new. In 2000, when Bush was still promising a “humble” foreign policy, Jerrold Nadler denounced Republican efforts in the Florida recount as having “the whiff of fascism.” Jesse Jackson lamented that, in the hanging-chad controversy, Holocaust survivors were being victimized “again.” Earlier that year, Bill Clinton denounced the Texas GOP platform as a “fascist tract.”

During the fight over the Contract with America, Rep. Charlie Rangel complained that “Hitler wasn’t even talking about doing these things.” (This is technically accurate in that Hitler wasn’t pushing term limits for committee chairmen and “zero based” budgeting.) When Newt Gingrich invited black congressmen to Capitol Hill social events, Rep. Major Owens responded by declaring, “These are people who are practicing genocide with a smile. They’re worse than Hitler. . . . We’re going to have cocktail-party genocide.”

Ronald Reagan was of course called a fascist by Communists from his earliest days fighting Reds in Hollywood. Before that, “everyone knew” that Barry Goldwater was a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer.

Two generations of Hollywood scriptwriters, actors, and producers have been warning that the fascist peril lurks beneath the surface of the Right. Pleasantville, Falling Down, Fight Club, American Beauty, American History X, and countless other films advanced this idea. In the film adaptation of Tom Clancy’s novel The Sum of All Fears, the all-too-real threat of Islamist terror is switched to a cabal of rich, white, conservative businessmen who just happen to be — you guessed it — Nazis. Even after 9/11, it seems liberals think the fascist Right is America’s real, and only, existential threat.

* * *

This received wisdom is understandably vexing for conservatives, who have never had a kind word for fascists or Nazis. I’ve gotten used to it. When speaking on college campuses, I’ve been called a Nazi many times. The kids, accustomed to bullying their opponents with charges of intolerance that would be better aimed at themselves, rarely expect a response.

“So, tell me,” I usually ask my accuser, “except for the bigotry, murder, and genocide, what exactly is it about Nazism you don’t like?”

Taking advantage of the ensuing pierced-tongue-tied silence, I explain: The Nazis were socialists. The Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser put it succinctly: “We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today’s capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money.” The speech that first attracted a young Adolf Hitler to fascism was titled “How and by What Means Is Capitalism to Be Eliminated?” The Nazi-party platform demanded guaranteed jobs, the “abolition of incomes unearned by work,” the nationalization of all large corporations and trusts, profit-sharing in all major industries, expanded old-age insurance, a government takeover of big department stores (think Wal-Mart), the prohibition of child labor, and countless other “progressive” reforms.

Then I explain that the Nazis — all in the name of “progress” — sought to purge the authority of Church and tradition from society, and to replace them with the supremacy of the state and the dictates of political correctness. The Nazis partly grew out of and co-opted the first “green,” youth, and health movements in the West. The proto-Nazi philosopher (and rabid anti-Semite) Ludwig Klages wrote one of the founding texts of modern environmentalism, Man and Earth, which presages most of the contemporary complaints from Al Gore and others on the environmental left. In 1980, the German Greens reissued his manifesto to celebrate the founding of their party.

The Nazi war on smoking would make Michael Bloomberg’s heart leap. Nazis led the world in researching organic foods and alternative medicines (the concentration camp Dachau boasted the largest alternative- and organic-medicine research lab in the world). According to the medical historian Robert Proctor, the National Socialist “campaign against tobacco and the ‘whole-grain bread operation’ are, in some sense, as fascist as the yellow stars and the death camps.”

Nazism rejected open scientific inquiry in favor of research dictated by “holistic” imperatives, and was tainted with a mysticism that exalted the “natural order” above reason (such postmodern buzzwords as “logocentrism” and “deconstructionism” originate in the Nazi canon). Heinrich Himmler was an animal-rights activist and proponent of “natural healing.” Hitler and his advisers endlessly discussed the need to move the entire nation to vegetarianism as a response to the unhealthiness promoted by capitalism.

And then there were the Italian Fascists. Benito Mussolini was raised on the mother’s milk of revolutionary socialism. His father, an ardent socialist who was a member of the First International along with Marx and Engels, read Das Kapital to young Benito as a bedtime story. He first earned the title “Il Duce” as leader of Italy’s Socialist party.

Mussolini’s Fascism was dubbed “right-wing” by orthodox Communists as a way to discredit dissent from the Bolshevik party line. But Mussolini and the Italian Fascists remained committed to socialism. When he was kicked out of the Socialist party solely for supporting World War I — to “save socialism,” in his words — he responded, “Whatever happens, you won’t lose me. Twelve years of my life in the party ought to be sufficient guarantee of my socialist faith. Socialism is in my blood.”

When you point to these and myriad other facts which support the conclusion that National Socialism, as well as Italian Fascism, was a phenomenon of the Left, liberals fall back on a very different argument. So maybe the National Socialists were socialists after all, they say. But that’s incidental to the “true nature” of Nazism and fascism. They only posed as socialists cynically, to attract more followers. In reality, Nazism and fascism are about war, racism, and mass murder.

Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that this position is flatly untrue, and ask what it entails about conservatives. If all the manifestly leftist attributes of fascism are irrelevant but it’s still fair to call conservatives Nazis and fascists, then conservatives must be Nazi-like because we too are murderous bigots. This is isn’t an argument. It’s slander. And it’s high time we set the record straight.

* * *

On a warm July day in 1932, H. G. Wells visited Oxford University’s summer school to deliver a major address to the Young Liberals, a group of progressive activists. Wells is remembered today primarily as a science-fiction writer, but this hardly does justice to the man. He was arguably the most influential English-speaking public intellectual during the first half of the 20th century. His writings were foundational to the linked progressive and social-gospel movements. He was a prominent member of the Fabian Society. His articles on religion and politics were read from the pulpit with electric excitement by American pastors. He was a frequent guest of Franklin Roosevelt in the Oval Office, and his meetings with the president were front-page news.

On that summer day at Oxford, Wells sought to summarize the unifying political idea of his life’s work. That idea expressed itself in different forms over the years. He championed a “world brain” that would unify mankind under the auspices of a collective intelligence overseen by special men — variously identified as scientists, priests, warriors, even airmen and “samurai.” But always they would lead and rule from above, making the hard decisions about everything from war and peace to eugenics and economics. The “will and the ideas of public-minded, masterful people” working through “a militant organization” were necessary to forge a “modernized state” that would “release the human community from the entanglements of the past.” This idea, this urge, defined Wells’s political vision. “I have never been able to escape altogether from its relentless logic,” he declared. But until that day at Oxford he lacked a name for it. The name he came up with?

“Liberal fascism.”

Wells’s term was provocative, but not nearly as controversial as you might think. For it wasn’t until the early 1930s that men of the Left were increasingly required to dissociate themselves from fascism (W. E. B. Du Bois lasted longer than most, praising Nazism as late as 1937). The Kremlin had declared at the Sixth Congress of the Third International that fascism was the last gasp of capitalism long prophesied by Marxist theology. While many useful idiots believed this, Stalin’s intent was more strategic than ideological. National Socialism was proving to be a seductive alternative to his failing brand of international socialism. The workers of the world, it seemed, did not want to unite — but the workers of Germany, Italy, and other nations did. So Stalin issued his theory of “social fascism,” which declared any socialist movement or organization that dissented from international socialism to be “objectively fascist.” (Trotsky was anathematized as the leader of a “fascist coup.”)

But before this hoax worked its way through the Western mind, fascism was still “progressive.” Indeed, at the climax of the Progressive era, the Western world was in the throes of what I call a “fascist moment.”

If the hallmark of classic fascism is the blending of war and politics, then the progressives were as fascistic as any devotee of Mussolini. They used the war in Europe as an excuse to launch a sweeping social “experiment” that we are still paying for today. John Dewey, the most important American philosopher of the 20th century, supported the war because of the “social benefits” it would provide at home. The New Republic editorialized that the war “should bring with it a political and economic organization better able to redeem its obligations at home.” Another progressive put it more succinctly: “Laissez-faire is dead. Long live social control.”

Under Woodrow Wilson, the first American president to embrace the new cult of pragmatism and power that had overtaken “enlightened” thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic (and the first American president to openly disdain the U.S. Constitution), the progressives unleashed a crackdown on freedom that makes the supposed fascism of the McCarthy era and the Bush years seem like a teach-in at Smith College. Wilson established the American Protective League, a group of domestic fascisti charged with crushing dissent, beating “slackers,” and intimidating average Americans. Wilson’s Committee for Public Information was the first modern propaganda ministry. Indeed, according to the late sociologist and intellectual historian Robert Nisbet, the “West’s first real experience with totalitarianism — political absolutism extended into every possible area of culture and society, education, religion, industry, the arts, local community and family included, with a kind of terror always waiting in the wings — came with the American war state under Wilson.”

Exhilarated by their power during the war, progressives were crestfallen when America abandoned its war socialism after the armistice. “We planned in war!” they cried, imploring that they be allowed to plan in peace as well. Whereas progressives once saw America as joining, in Jane Addams’s words, a “world-wide movement,” now America was turning its back on Progress and slouching toward the classical liberalism of the founders. So they looked abroad for inspiration.

Two great “experiments” ignited their imaginations: Soviet Russia and Fascist Italy. The muckraker Lincoln Steffens returned from Russia to declare: “I have been to the future — and it works!” Just a year earlier, Steffens had proclaimed that God “formed Mussolini out of the rib of Italy.” Ida Tarbell, the muckraker who “exposed” Standard Oil, took a similar view. She and other progressives referred to the “Russian-Italian” method, recognizing the kindred spirit that animated both Fascism and Bolshevism. Charles Beard, the left-wing economic historian, wrote in The New Republic that Mussolini’s Italy was, “beyond question, an amazing experiment.” Herbert Croly, The New Republic’s first editor, often defended Mussolini’s crackdowns as necessary. Italian Fascism, he wrote, had “substituted movement for stagnation, purposive behavior for drifting, and visions of great future for collective pettiness and discouragement.”

The New Deal did not try to copy Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, or Soviet Russia, as many on the old anti-Communist left and old right charged. Rather, it followed America’s domestic fascist tradition, hoping to pick up where Wilson had left off. But the Brain Trusters did look at European Fascism and Bolshevism as proof that they were moving in the right direction. FDR tapped Hugh Johnson — the Army’s representative to Wilson’s War Industries Board — to run his National Recovery Administration, the cornerstone of the New Deal. There was no contradiction in the fact that Johnson openly admired Mussolini, hanging a portrait of the dictator on his office wall and handing out copies of the Italian Fascist text The Corporate State to members of the administration. Roosevelt himself privately acknowledged that “what we were doing in this country were some of the things that were being done in Russia and even some of the things that were being done under Hitler in Germany. But we are doing them in an orderly way.”

Ah yes, the great defense against the charge of fascism: We’re more orderly!

* * *

Today’s liberals still worship the New Deal. But they look to another era for inspiration as well: the 1960s. Here too the parallels with classic fascism are too obvious to ignore. What are fascism’s hallmarks? Among other things, the cult of action, the glorification of violence, the exaltation of youth, the perceived need to create “new men,” the hatred of conventional morality and traditional authority, the adoration of “the street” and “people power,” the justification of crime as political rebellion, and the denigration of the rule of law as a form of oppression. All recognizable features of the “youth movement” of the ’60s.

“Their goal,” historian John Toland writes of the German youth movement that became the feedstock of the Nazi party, “was to establish a youth culture for fighting the bourgeois trinity of school, home and church.” Studies found that students generally outpaced any other group in their support for National Socialism because they wanted to belong to die Bewegung, the “Movement.” The Nazis may have been striving for a utopian, thousand-year Reich, but their first instincts were radical: Destroy what exists. Tear it down. Eradicate das System — another term shared by the New Left and the fascists. Burn, baby, burn.

“The future of our struggle is the future of crime in the streets,” declared Tom Hayden, a co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society. In June 1969 he declared the “need to expand our struggle to include a total attack on the courts.” He dubbed the Black Panthers “our Viet Cong.” Here was a street-based paramilitary group that sought the violent overthrow of the government in the name of racial separatism. Nothing fascistic here, folks.

During the guns-on-campus crisis at Cornell, then-professor Walter Berns fooled his students by reading them excerpts from Mussolini’s speeches. The students cheered — until they learned the identity of the author. Peter Berger, a Jewish refugee from Austria and, at the time, a respected peace activist and left-wing sociologist, identified a long list of themes common to 1960s radicalism and European fascism. Irving Louis Horowitz, a revered leftist intellectual specializing in revolutionary thought, saw this fanaticism for what it was: “Fascism returns to the United States not as a right-wing ideology, but almost as a quasi-leftist ideology.”

* * *

Some recognized that America would defend itself against the violent radicalism of the Weathermen and the Black Panthers. So there was a softer side to the fascistic awakening of the 1960s. These softer radicals were peaceful, process-oriented, and career-minded. But they remained no less dedicated to imposing “a new social order,” and when pressed they defended the barbarians for having their “hearts in the right place.”

It’s worth remembering that it was Benito Mussolini who coined the word “totalitarian.” Today that label has justifiably taken on the connotation of political evil. But that isn’t how Mussolini meant it. He used it to convey “all-encompassing” and “holistic.” His totalitarian society was one in which everyone belonged, no one was left out, no child was left behind. The state was a spiritual institution, intended to supplant traditional religion and give “meaning” to every individual. Mussolini defined Fascism in many ways, but his most enduring summation was “Everything within the State, nothing outside the State.” Replace “State” with “Church and community,” and you get a sense of what he meant. Fascism was a “politics of meaning” in which every citizen derived his personal worth from his relation to the state.

The 20th century’s literature gave us two famous visions of a dystopian future: Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. For many years it was assumed that Nineteen Eighty-Four was the more prophetic tale. No longer. The totalitarianism of Nineteen Eighty-Four reflects the age of Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini, dictators on a continent with a grand tradition of political and religious absolutism. Brave New World is a dystopia based on a future in which the world has been Americanized and the cult of youth defines society. Everything is easy under Huxley’s World State. Everyone is happy. Indeed, the great dilemma for the reader of Brave New World is to answer the question, “What’s wrong with it?”

Another important difference between the two dystopias: Nineteen Eighty-Four is a vision of a masculine totalitarianism. Huxley’s totalitarianism, by contrast, isn’t a “boot stamping on a human face forever,” as in Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s one of smiling, happy, bioengineered people chewing hormone gum and blithely doing what they’re told. Democracy is a forgotten fad because things are so much easier when the state makes all your decisions. In short, Huxley’s totalitarianism is feminine. Orwell’s is a daddy dystopia, where the bullying state maintains its authority through the manufacture of convenient enemies and useful crises in a climate of permanent war. Huxley’s is a maternal misery, where man is smothered with care, not cruelty. But for all our talk about the “nanny state,” political correctness, and the like, we still don’t have the vocabulary to fight off nice totalitarianism, today’s liberal fascism.

Which brings us to Hillary Clinton, the leading but by no means sole exemplar of liberal fascism in our time. Deeply influenced by the socially engaged, “progressive” Methodism of her youth, Hillary was also a protégée of Saul Alinsky (and Barack Obama was trained by Alinsky’s organization in Chicago), a man whose writings drip with fascist themes from the cult of action to the necessity of violent conflict to the dehumanization of the enemy as an abstract “other.” While at Yale Law School, she volunteered to help the legal team of Black Panther Bobby Seale as he stood trial for murder. She also helped edit the Yale Review of Law and Social Action, a thoroughly radical organ that supported the Panthers and implicitly endorsed the murder of policemen. Despite Alinsky’s urging, she declined to work with him full time, opting instead to pursue a legal career and change the system from within.

Clinton herself rejects the liberal label, preferring “modern progressive,” and like the progressives — and the fascists — she subscribes to a fundamentally religious vision of politics. Her failed effort to launch a new “politics of meaning” was essentially a spiritual enterprise aimed at “redefining who we are as human beings in this postmodern age.” Writing in the Harvard Educational Review in 1973, she scorned the idea that “families are private, nonpolitical units whose interests subsume those of children.” In 1996, she proclaimed to the United Methodist General Conference that Americans “have to start thinking and believing that there isn’t really any such thing as someone else’s child.”

Mrs. Clinton’s book It Takes a Village is a sweeping liberal-fascist manifesto. She asserts that children are born in a condition of “crisis” that urgently requires state intervention. This strategy was pioneered by the Children’s Defense Fund — where Clinton served as chairman — in order to safeguard ever-increasing welfare payments. But it has a long pedigree. Ever since Plato’s Republic, politicians, intellectuals, and priests have been fascinated with the idea of “capturing” children for social-engineering purposes. This is why Robespierre advocated that children be raised by the state, and why Hitler — who understood the importance of winning the hearts and minds of youth — once remarked, “When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already. . . . In a short time they will know nothing but this new community.’” Woodrow Wilson held that the primary mission of the educator was to make children as unlike their parents as possible. Feminist icon Charlotte Perkins Gilman denounced the “unchecked tyranny of the home” and declared the importance of recognizing “children . . . as citizens with rights to be guaranteed only by the state.”

In Clinton’s village, cadres of social workers, psychologists, teachers, and bureaucrats enforce the idea that there is no such thing as someone else’s child. Government and business must collude at the most fundamental level to defend the “holistic” idea that everything is inside the village and nothing outside it. In Clinton’s village, the cult of youth is expanded almost to infancy: “I have never met a stupid child,” she insists, and “some of the best theologians I have ever met were five-year-olds.”

Don’t let the namby-pamby sentiment blind you to what is actually being said here. By defining the intellectual status of children up, she is defining adulthood down. In her vision, children will not become citizens, but citizens will be treated like children. Her liberal forebear Walter Lippmann had a similar outlook, observing that most citizens are “mentally children or barbarians” and must be forced to surrender their individuality to the new “order.”

Mrs. Clinton has been working assiduously to redefine what it means to be Mrs. Clinton. But she hasn’t been able to hide her true views. In Iowa, the weekend before the caucuses, she recalled her argument in It Takes a Village that every child needs a “champion” and went on to say, “I think the American people need a president who is their champion. And I’ve been running to be that champion.” It didn’t occur to her to note that the voters she’s appealing to are not, in fact, children. Her village may have replaced the fasces with a hug, but an embrace from which you cannot escape is just a nicer form of tyranny.

* * *

In 1968, in a televised debate during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, when American fascists were taking to the streets outside the studio, Gore Vidal slandered William F. Buckley Jr. as a “crypto-Nazi.” Vidal, a pagan, statist, and conspiracy theorist, had good reason to cast this charge as far from himself as possible. Buckley, a patriotic, pro-market, anti-totalitarian gentleman of impeccable manners, could take it no more and responded: “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.”

It was one of the few times in Buckley’s long public life that he abandoned civility, and he instantly regretted it. Nonetheless, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for him. For at some point it is necessary to throw down the gauntlet, to draw a line in the sand, to set a boundary, to cry at long last, “Enough is enough.” To stand athwart “progress” and yell, “Stop!” That time is now.

Mr. Goldberg, an NR contributing editor, is the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, from which this essay is adapted.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

California lawmakers backtrack, push repeal of raw milk limits

Dairies hit by a new law two weeks ago say the bacteria regulations will force them to shut, and a state agency draws heat

Just two weeks after new restrictions on raw milk took effect, the Assembly Agriculture Committee voted unanimously this week to repeal them after the state's two raw milk producers said they would go out of business if they had to comply. Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, the Hanford Democrat who supported the new limits last year and is now leading the charge to repeal them, said she was deceived by agriculture officials in the Schwarzenegger administration who said the limits had broad support.

As the committee met Wednesday, hundreds of raw milk backers protested the tighter restrictions on bacteria counts, which took effect Jan. 1.

Parra's measure, Assembly Bill 1604, would stop enforcement of limits for raw milk of 10 coliform bacteria or less per milliliter until June 30. Effective July 1, it would fix the limit at 50 coliform bacteria or fewer per milliliter. Co-authors are Assembly Republican leader Mike Villines of Clovis and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles.

The 90-minute hearing opened with sharp criticism of the state Department of Food and Agriculture, none of whose representatives appeared before the committee. Parra, the committee's chairwoman, said she was misled by department staff who "purposely omitted mention of opposition to the bill." She also faulted the agency for not contacting the two producers, Organic Pastures Dairy Co. in Fresno County and Claravale Farms Inc. in San Benito County. And she shouldered some of the blame for "not grilling my ag consultant and (the department) more thoroughly."

Nearly 50 people voiced support for Parra's bill, including Walter Robb, president of Whole Foods Market, a chain based in Austin, Texas. "Raw milk is a small part of our dairy case, but a significant choice," Robb said. Opponents of Parra's bill included Teresa Kline of the California Medical Association and Dr. Michael Payne of the University of California Western Institute of Food Safety and Security, both of whom cited risks posed by raw milk consumption.

Department representatives have contended that coliform levels serve as an indicator of dairy sanitation. Department spokesman Steve Lyle said the bill passed last year followed the normal legislative process: "It was voted on six times in the Legislature – three in the Assembly, three in the Senate. And was heard twice in committee as part of that. This was a process that played out over months."

The two raw milk producers have sued the state to stop enforcement of the law. Some of raw milk's appeal is that it contains "essential probiotic good bacteria," said Mark McAfee, founder and an owner of Organic Pastures. McAfee and Ron Garthwaite, who shares ownership of Claravale Farms with his wife, Collette Cassidy, said that complying with the new limit of 10 coliform bacteria per milliliter has been disrupting production. The lawsuit, filed in San Benito County, contends that "the only coliforms that cause illness when consumed in raw milk are specific, identifiable strains of E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter." The lawsuit disputes an agriculture department claim that the new limits were required to comply with federal guidelines on interstate milk shipment. It points out that federal law prohibits interstate shipment of raw milk for human consumption.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tending Everyone Else’s Garden

By Arlene Peck

There was a time when I used to feel a burning desire to write about the injustice that I felt which were done to Israel. However, I’ve noticed that I’m not doing that as so much anymore and find myself turning the pages in the Los Angeles biased news reading the next incident about ‘wild-child’ Britney Spears melt-down, her pregnant teen sister Jamey, or who is up for an award in their latest movie. Oh, it still bothers me when I read about the latest ‘activist’, never terrorists, who lobbed in the daily ‘homemade’ bomb into Israel. I don’t like it when the savages who never waver in their desire to destroy the Jewish state are still referred to as ‘peace partners’ or, ‘extremists’.

Yet, I’m tired of watching the scene and shaking my head in amazement and disgust at how two men, Ehud Olmert and George Bush, both of which have no credibility with their constitutes or concern for the country make decisions that have the potential to destroy the Jewish state. I used to wonder why the people living there weren’t rioting or at least marching by the millions on a weekly basis in protest to obvious incompetence that is now running the country. But then I also used to wonder when Israel became a banana republic and it changed to when Condi Rice would snap her anti-Semitic fingers and shout “jump” Israel’s Prime Minister would say “How high?”

Closer to home, I remember when I first became discouraged when I had the brain storm that since I have a celebrity television talk show, I would start an organization called, “Hollywood Stars Against Terrorism” I even called a couple of meetings at my home and had some strong supporters of Israel such as Bridgette Gabriel and Wafa Sultan in attendance along with several stars and community leaders. The only ones who didn’t respond were those at the Israeli Consulate. I called their office three, or four times and asked for a copy of the list they had might have cooperated with them during the Lebanon War and no response. Needless to say, they never attended any of our three meetings to give us the much needed input or help. Eventually, the new regime came in however, the moment had passed. I figured if they weren’t interested, why I should make myself crazy.

Now, however, I’m changing my thinking and the realization is coming closer to home with me that the strong tie of Israel is losing their connection because the link to Judaism by those living here is fading.

Last year, I received a call from the Federation asking me for money. One of the first ‘selling points’ of the solicitor was “Let me tell you about our inner city program” Then she went on to relate how they are helping the poor Latino and black children in the crime areas. Lovely.

Around the same time I had just attended a fabulous charity dinner at the Beverly Hills Hilton that was given by one of our local billionaires. Most of the well-heeled men in attendance were Jewish and real estate developers. Together, they raised over a million dollars that night to support a community center which was mostly used by poor Latinos in a suburban area.

Massive amounts of money are being given by wealthy Jews for the opera, symphony, art and similar cultural organizations; much to selected universities, often with a name on a building; and much to medical activities. Some toward meeting the needs of the poor, minorities and/or the disadvantaged. All in the name of advancing society. Nothing wrong on the surface. Yet, the contributions by these wealthy philanthropists toward Jewish causes are only a small percentage of the total, usually in a single digit percentage.

Out here, I see so many wealthy Jewish men with Barbie Doll trophy wives whose names are constantly in the papers for their philanthropic deeds. But rarely do they have anything to do with Jewish causes. The same goes for wealthy patrons of other faiths. The difference? They never give to Jewish organizations. The bottom line? Only Jews give to Jewish causes but never on the scale needed to meet the requirements of these same organizations. The Jewish Federations even have programs for Hispanics to leave charity hospitals with a layette or for black children to attend camp. I’d love to see a group of black preachers take a busload of Jewish day school kids…anywhere.

Jewish day schools and community centers are closing at an alarming rate because of lack of funds yet, where are the Hilton dinners and benefits for them? Out here, everyone has a cause. I’m regularly invited to events to save the whales, dolphins and there is even an organization to save the ferrets.

My daughter came home yesterday in tears because the synagogue sponsored school that her two year old, Ivy attends is closing because B’nai Tikvah Nursery School affiliated with Congregation Tikvat Jacob voted to shut their doors at the end of the school year. Why? Because, there are no funds to continue.

A few months ago when she began going I was leery that she was too young. However, it wasn’t long when I began to change my mind when I realized that unfortunately, this was the refuge where my grandbaby was acquiring her Jewish education. The amazing thing was that out of the thirty or so children who attend this school a third of them are Hispanic, black or Asian. Yet, every Shabbat these precious babies would share in the experience of having Sabbath services.

I’ve watched the beauty of the rabbi and cantor who would come to take part in leading the babies in making the Sabbath a fun time and most importantly a memorable one for these children. Yet, this has become the core of her early Jewish education. The non-Jewish children are benefiting just as much. I sat with tears in my eyes as I watched the beauty of these babies lighting the candles and saying their prayers over the chalet. Yet, to the rabbi and board members of Tikvat Jacob the doors to the school and the important early Jewish education and love of Israel are being slammed shut.

Obviously, it’s not important enough or trendy enough like the dog refuges to capture the attention of the money people to set aside the funds to keep these smaller independent schools going. The neighborhood schools don’t have the funding or the wealthy members like those in Beverly Hills to write a check for seventy-five thousand dollars for a grant. And, for some reason, the wealthy men who sponsor the benefits for the poor and deprived residents from across the border don’t see the need to keep the synagogue schools going.

We wonder why the love of Israel isn’t as strong as it ought to be. Strong enough to fight against corrupt and incompetent leadership? Maybe it begins at the three year old level? And, maybe it’s time the Jewish organizations and Federations cut back on their bloated salaries and inner city programs and reiterate that the word is JEWISH Federation. My momma used to tell me, those who weed everybody else’s garden, gets weeds in their own…” She was right.