Lamentations for Client No. 9 (Extract)

Extract of an article in Issue 26, April 14, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. If, we learned that in 620 BCE Jeremiah had kept an idol hidden in a hole in his humble hut, what would we have said? Some would laugh. "I always distrusted that holier than thou fellow," they would say. Many would have felt betrayed and angry. Someone might have thrown a stone. Surely his dog would have stayed by his side as he answered questions from an unruly populace. If he showed up at city gates, he would be ignored. Now that would have been bad for the Jews. Our trust in prophets would have dropped 100 points in the polls. Our belief that God really wanted us to be monotheists would have shaken on its already shaky foundations. Our conviction that right and wrong existed and that someone could tell them apart would have wavered. A majority of Jews might have rushed to put coins at Baal's feet. Now, Eliot Spitzer, the ex-governor of New York, the very same Eliot Spitzer who went after prostitution rings when he was attorney general, has been exposed as "Client No. 9" of a ring with the wonderful name, "The Emperor Club." But does it mean anything at all that the disgraced governor is Jewish? Is his personal public ruin bad for the rest of us? Perhaps 60 years ago it would have been. But today? Will his naughty behavior really evoke anti-Semitism or bring shame on the entire Jewish community? Yes, a very small, really insignificant, non-public backlash against the rest of us will result. But we are not going to see a tidal wave of prejudice summoned up from the muck of the American soul. Those, who behind closed doors of country clubs, in local bars, at church socials, whisper nasty jokes, resent the success of the Jews in their professions, in their businesses, in their universities, will see in the Spitzer expensive prostitute affair confirmation of their convictions that Jews cause dark shadows to fall over the "rightful citizens" of Christian America. Of course such anti-Semitism still exists. But it is muted, it is aged, it is unfashionable, and it is irrelevant to the life that Jews lead in safety and prosperity across this country. At least for the present, those who believe that Jews are greedy and unscrupulous are mostly banished from the airwaves, from the public square, and from the culture we share as Americans with many religions and diverse racial groups. But, of course, what people think in private, what they say to their children at the dinner table, is another matter. We all know that virulent anti-Semitism could rise again, given the right circumstances. It has not been eradicated. It's just hushed up. Which is, of course, a good thing, even if our history reminds us that the warm feeling, now encased in the hyphen between Judeo-Christian, could be easily deleted if conditions permit. The Ebola virus may live in the blackest of caves, but nobody believes it will stay there until the messiah comes. Nevertheless, that this latest hypocrite is Jewish is hardly worth mentioning. A lot of people in New York are Jewish. Some of them are crooks and some of them are poseurs, and some of them are philanderers and most of them aren't. Some of them went to Harvard Law School and most of them didn't. Extract of an article in Issue 26, April 14, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. Contributing editor Anne Roiphe is a novelist and journalist living in New York.