Is anyone surprised that – with his back against the wall – Bashar Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies would threaten “retaliation” against Israel if President Barack Obama goes through with his threatened strike against the Syrian regime? The Jewish state has played the role of Middle East bogeyman for distressed Arab dictators for so long no one even bothers to ask: how dare you threaten “retaliation” against a nation that has no involvement in your civil war? More shocking, however, are the Israel-haters and Syria apologists in Europe and the US who’ve launched their own preemptive strike accusing American Jews as well as the Jewish state of fomenting yet another US war in the Middle East.

Of course, that charge is bunk. Israelis don’t need the threat of US intervention to deter Assad. Bashar knows that the first chemicaltipped missile he tries to launch at Israel will guarantee his demise. It is true that some, but far from all, American Jews support limited military action to punish the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons use, but – as the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier told The Washington Post – this is not “a Jewish issue,” but a humanitarian challenge.

We believe that an appropriate response to such brazen “crimes against humanity” is called for because, left unchallenged, Assad will continue to deploy chemical weapons which could help set the stage in the near future for WMDs to be delivered to a zip code near you.

The “Jews as warmongers” canard is not new. Back in the 1920s, you could purchase a Model T at a Ford dealership for $250 and for a quarter more a copy of the four-volume The International Jew, an American knockoff of the notorious Russian forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Readers of The International Jew learned that “the Jewish Liquor Trust” monopolized bootleg beer and that jazz was “Yiddish moron music.” But those charges were tame compared to Ford’s post-World War I embrace of “the ancient saying” that “Wars are the Jews’ harvest.”

Echoing the libel that all wars were manufactured on a Jewish assembly line, Henry Ford’s admirer, Adolf Hitler, warned “World Jewry” on January 30, 1939, that: “If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the bolshevization of the earth and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!” By 1945, six million “warmongering” European Jews, who controlled no territory and had no armies to threaten anyone, had been murdered by Hitler’s henchmen and his eager enablers.

In our time, the toxic libel of Ford and the fuhrer that “wars are the Jews’ harvest” is being repackaged and applied to the Middle East: • A motley crew of conspiracy theorists, ranging from Lyndon LaRouche to Pat Buchanan to Louis Farrakhan to Mel Gibson, blamed America’s toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 on Israelis and American “Jewish neo-cons” despite the fact that the Israeli government had doubts about the wisdom of focusing primarily on Iraq rather than Iran and that George W.

Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have yet to be accused of being Jews.

• During the UK debate about punishing the Syrian regime, British MP George Galloway, a long-time supporter of Saddam, Hezbollah and Hamas, posed the question: “Who’s responsible for the most recent chemical weapons attack in Syria? ...If there has been use of chemical weapons, it wasn’t al- Qaida.... Here’s my theory.

Israel gave them the chemical weapons.”

• William Polk, an old State Department Middle East hand and seasoned Israel basher, writing in The Atlantic, charged Israel’s Mossad of falsifying taped transcripts of Syrian officials discussing WMDs. Polk also blames the Jewish state – without a scintilla of evidence – of using chemical weapons in Lebanon and Gaza.

• Bob Dreyfus in The Nation magazine – which in the 1930s and 1940s supported Stalinist totalitarianism before, during and after the Hitler-Stalin Pact – reveals the “dirty little notso- secret behind President Obama’s much-lobbied-for, illegal and strategically incompetent war against Syria is that it’s not about Syria at all,” but rather about an implied Israeli conspiracy to draw the naïve Obama into a war against Islamist Iran.

• Blogger Andrew Sullivan accuses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee of “storming... [Capitol] Hill...

for yet another major war in the Middle East.”

In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein used poison gas to murder thousands of Iraqi Kurds.

Simon Wiesenthal warned then that we would all pay a price for our silence in face of the tyrant’s crime against humanity. Imagine what the world would be like today if a coalition of the willing had punished Saddam, then and there for verified WMDs, but we didn’t. Now Assad has taken a page from Saddam’s mass-murder playbook.

Many of us believe that failure to act now could bring a wider and deadlier wider war later. But whatever the outcome – one thing is certain – they’ve already blamed the Jews.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Dr. Harold Brackman, a historian, is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

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