27 JANUARY 1990, Page 47

High life

Most unmannerly


ichael Thomas writes a column in the New York Observer, fortunately the smallest (4,000) circulation weekly in the Big Bagel. I say fortunately because the Observer, like most things published in this town, is left-wing, although its owner, one Arthur Carter, is a multi-millionaire Wall Street wizard who was once a close friend of Ivan Boesky's. Thomas writes against the super rich — the junk bond kings and those who get their picture in Women's Wear Daily reg- ularly. Needless to say, his enemies are many and powerful, but at the time of writing his knee-caps are still on his per- s'?n. This is because so few people read him. As of two weeks ago, however, he has begun to make his mark. A New York ?Imes book reviewer has called him anti- Semitic, and five million people in Tel Aviv-by-the-Hudson have pricked up their ears.

Thomas has written a novel, his third I believe, called Hanover Place, and Judith Martin, who writes under the name of Miss Manners about manners, is the one that levelled the charge. First of all, a word about Miss Manners. Although I have never met her, I am sure she could do with a dose of her pen name. She is, after all, an

American female hack, and I have met as many in this particular field that know how to spell the word as there are communists in Hobe Sound.

The trouble with her review is that it's totally phoney. Martin is Jewish, but the Thomas book is as anti-Semitic as I am pro-feminist. Thomas has been accused (as I have) of Jew-baiting because of what he

has written about Jews. But what is one to

do when almost all the people who have made billions through insider trading, greenmailing, leveraged buy-outs and junk bonds are Jews? Put an '0" in front of their names and make them Irish?

When the charges first surfaced Thomas reminded readers that 'there seem to be quite a few people around ready to shout "Holocaust" when given a parking-ticket'. Then he sat down and wrote a 600-page blockbuster depicting Jews in Wall Street as entirely brainy, over-achieving, stoical and pretty well wonderful. Which makes his book as phoney as Judith Martin's review.

And there's something else. Thomas, whom I have known for almost 30 years and have had trouble with in the past, is not a good-looking man, nor a particularly rich one. Though he had a rich father, he did not inherit. I have often suspected a certain bitterness in his writing against those whom Nature and biological acci- dents have favoured. Otherwise I agree with most things he says.

Given that Jews are not the types to let bygones be bygones, I fear that the Martin reiiiew might trigger Thomas to write yet another novel, this time depicting Palestin- ian children shooting unarmed Israeli sol- diers by the hundreds. Perhaps then Miss Manners might change her mind. In the meantime, the greatest political columnist in the USA, Pat Buchanan, is the only one with the guts to agree with Senator Dole and ask that Israel's aid be slashed:

When it suits them Israelis launch air strikes on Tunis, Baghdad or Beirut, enlist US, traitors to loot the secrets of a nation that is responsible for its survival a Likud-led regime whose behaviour on the West Bank would trigger a US embargo if conducted by Gorbachev in Lithuania..

The last two politicians to ask for an even-handed policy in the Middle East were targeted by the Israeli lobby and soundly defeated in 1984. I hope Dole, an honourable man, survives — without hav- ing to write a 600-page opus on how the Israeli lobby targets only enemies of Palestinians.