"Crucifixion is a Privilege"

Never let it be said that Israeli Cabinet Minister Natan Sharansky doesn’t know how to cut a promo. On the June 2 edition of C-SPAN’s Washington Journal Sharansky, who the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel dubbed “the long-imprisoned symbol of the Jewish struggle for freedom and human rights”, was asked by a caller to reconcile Jewish support for the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth [apparently, said caller had access to the Zogby of the day] with the idea that “Jews… are the Chosen People.”

To me, the caller sounded like a garden-variety heckler, the kind a slick operator like Sharansky, recently lauded by the Jerusalem Post for having “opened his traditionally Russian-based party to the Anglo community”, should’ve been able to squash with just a smile and a reminder to C-Span viewers to support their local AIPAC representative. After all, the former Soviet Refusenik wasn’t in Washington to enjoy the June balm; a cynic might suggest that it was Natan’s “turn” to bid for Congressional contributions.

But I digress. How did Sharansky respond to this heckler? In a long-winded fashion, he explained that Israel [and by extension, all of those who keep the Jewish Sabbath] have special prerogatives, responsibilities to God and his creation due to their unique positioning in Yahweh’s eyes. So long-winded was Sharansky’s response, in fact, that one could’ve missed him saying that “the crucifixion of Christ” was a “privilege.”

Mistakes happen, apparently, and Messiahs get offed. Sharansky, who thought Jonathan Pollard deserved to be freed, since he committed espionage not for an enemy but for one of America’s many friends in the world, is entirely willing — on a fund-raising trip to the US, no less! — to write off the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth as a clerical error.

Sharansky, who in 1997 denied that such an entity as the “Russian mafia” existed, right around the time he threatened to bolt from the Israeli guvmint because his party didn’t have final say on who the Israeli Ambassador to Moscow would be, cuts quite the figure. In a country where politicians have built careers around piddly crap like cutting funding to the NEA, leading the charge against flag-burning, and protecting our nation’s youth from the menace of reefers, or blunts, or whatever the rappers call them on ClearChannel radio these days, Sharansky makes light of the crucifixion of Christ in the United States.

May I remind Sharansky why that’s a problem? The United States, nominally a Judeo-Christian nation, fortifies Israel in no small part because of the Christian Zionist assumption that such profligate aid buys certain Christians the best possible seats for the impending end times. A lucrative cottage industry, the US-Israel alliance, as everyone from Pat Robertson to Bill Kristol can attest.

But loose talk like Sharansky’s will undermine the foundation of that cottage, built on the illusory foundation that there is such a thing as a shared “Judeo-Christian” interest to use Israel as a pivot point for US domination of what is called the Middle East. No skin off my nose, though. I know why Sharansky, an advocate of massive Russian immigration into the war-torn state of Israel, has come to America.

To secure another billion, or two. To remind Congress that the last few dozen stragglers who refuse Israel unconditional support need to be purged. To observe the American scene.

And it’s just as well that his trip stateside coincided with the President’s absence. If Bush had heard Sharansky, who accepted $85,000 in “charities” from Israeli convict Grigory Lerner [international embezzler, with ties to the apparently mythical Russian Mafia], downplay the significance of Christ’s crucifixion by claiming that it’s just another “privilege” due “the Chosen People”, he may have choked on a pretzel.

ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He accepts emails at Gancarski@Hotmail.Com


ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com