By Miriam Mogilevsky, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer
BEAVERCREEK — In early May, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped a case against Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, two former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The former staffers of the powerful pro-Israel lobby were accused of espionage several years ago and have since undergone a grueling prosecution and the devastation of their reputations.
The details of the case against Rosen and Weissman are complicated and seem to come from a spy thriller, complete with a CBS report alleging that “a spy is working for Israel at the Pentagon…The suspected mole supplied Israel with classified materials, passing classified information to two men at AIPAC, and on to the Israelis.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, no actual espionage took place, and the Department of Justice acknowledged this when the charges were finally dropped.
The men were indicted under the Espionage Act of 1917, and this was the first time that it was used against civilians who weren’t working for the government. However, it wasn’t the first time that Jews were irrationally feared and suspected of conspiring to harm the United States.
When a user on Digg.com, my favorite social news Web site, posted a link to an outrageous article claiming that the World Trade Center had actually been bombed by Jews on Sept. 11, I assumed that such theories are few and rarely taken seriously.
I was wrong. A Google search for “Jews caused 9/11” brings up an astounding 6,620,000 hits.
One popular theory claims that the 9/11 hijackers had been trained by Mossad agents in an attempt to cause the United States to go to war against the Arab world and thus further Israel’s supposed interests.
Christopher Bollyn, a writer for the American Free Press, asserted that the presence of “Zionist agents” in the American government gives this theory credence.
When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, this theory’s proponents took the invasion as evidence of Israeli involvement in 9/11.
Other theorists, such as one ironically named Israel Shamir, rejects the entire idea of Islamic terrorism and blames Israel — along with the U.S. government — for “creating” 9/11 to further their own mutual goals.
He claims that this makes it possible for Israel to “massacre” Palestinians and call it a war on terror.
I suppose Jerusalem and Tel Aviv just bombed themselves during the Second Intifada, then, since there were no Islamic extremists to do it.
Some theories shift away from blaming the Jews for causing 9/11, and accuse them of knowing about the attack beforehand instead.
Many Arabic media sources, for instance, claimed that 4,000 Jews who worked in the World Trade Center had suddenly stayed home from work on the morning of Sept. 11, thus avoiding the attacks.
The Russian newspaper Pravda reported this as truth, too. The rumor-busting Web site Snopes.com dispelled this urban legend.
I’m sure that most of the world’s happenings have been blamed on a Zionist conspiracy at some point.
In 2008, an Arabic TV show featured a segment of a Harry Potter movie and proclaimed: “The early 1990s brought a revolution in digital technology to the world of cinema, helping the propaganda machinery of the 20th-century Jews adopt useful tools for witchcraft and brainwashing. Now, more than ever, this tool serves to spread the dark and evil essence of Zionism and its goals.”
The show goes on to explain that the Harry Potter movies are the Jews’ way of “targeting innocent children and youth” and turning them over to Satan.
The recent swine flu scare has brought along its own conspiracy theories too. One blog renames the illness “Jew Flu” and says, “To ease the global financial situation, the Jews have released a genetically engineered virus that kills children, old people and those with depressed immune systems.”
Meanwhile, a poll by Haaretz.com reports that 31 percent of Europeans blame Jews for the global financial crisis.
A Web site called FreeArabVoice.org claims that there is a Zionist conspiracy to conquer the Arab world by dividing it into tiny pieces.
When the space shuttle Columbia exploded in 2003, online forums claimed that the presence of an Israeli astronaut aboard the shuttle was cause for suspicion. Some conspiracy theorists even claim that Israel has manufactured and exploited the genocide in Darfur.
Clearly, there’s a pattern here. Why do Jews inspire so much fear and suspicion? It could be because we have such a unique history and religious beliefs.
But, more likely, it’s because Jews are remarkably pervasive for such a small group.
We’re always showing up in government offices, lists of Nobel prize winners, and credits of Hollywood movies.
People who don’t know much about Jewish history do not realize that, because of centuries of persecution and oppression, Jews have learned how to work hard and make their own luck.
Instead, they assume that Jews’ success is caused by a secret plot. From this kind of thinking, conspiracies regarding Sept. 11, swine flu, and Harry Potter spread.
Most conspiracy theories don’t affect individuals, but Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman are an exception. Though the charges against them have been dropped, they were fired from AIPAC and their reputations may never recover. It’s not enough to file lawsuits and then drop them; antisemitism masquerading as fear must end.
Miriam Mogilevsky is a senior at Beavercreek High School. She has been accepted for early admission to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.