Commentary Magazine


Why Walker?

Why Walker?
Would a respected Jewish institution welcome and honor a writer who fervently supports the boycott of Israel and even refuses to allow Hebrew translations of her work? The answer is yes. In May, New York’s 92nd Street Y hosted writer Alice Walker at an event where she spoke with Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler. Defenders of the invitation claim there is a distinction between her anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, but Walker’s actions indicate otherwise. Last year she said no to having her signature book, The Color Purple, translated into Hebrew. In May, Walker demanded that popular singer Alicia Keys cancel a scheduled concert in Tel Aviv and endorsed the work of British conspiracy theorist David Icke, who claims that Jews are the accomplices of space aliens that prey on the human race.

Walker has a constitutional right to advocate for the boycott of Israel, to refuse to let her works appear in Hebrew, and to endorse any wacky theory she likes. But what obligates a venerable Jewish community center to praise her and have her appear in its auditorium? Nothing. Jews who have not yet lost their sense of Jewish peoplehood have no viable rationale for supporting a place that gives Walker this honor.

Anti-Semites Needn’t Fear the Jews
The European campaign against circumcision reached another new low in May with the publication of a viciously anti-Semitic cartoon in the Norwegian daily Dagbladet. The depiction of the brit milah as a grotesque bloodbath generated Jewish protests that had little impact on the paper or the rising tide of Jew hatred in Scandinavia. But the newspaper responded by claiming that those who peacefully objected were no different from those Muslims who, in 2005, rioted and murdered innocents in response to the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Despite their faux outrage, the Euro elites who promulgate anti-Semitic views and images know they have nothing to fear from the Jews. There have been no fires or deaths in response to the cartoon, just the peaceful objection to the demonization of Jewish ritual.

The End of Palestinian Reform
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has made good on his promise to resign, and the PA’s Fatah Party leadership happily replaced him at the beginning of June. The change will have no impact on a peace process that is dead in the water (even though U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hasn’t noticed). The accession to power of Rami Hamdallah won’t make the Palestinians negotiate without preconditions or reconsider their long-standing rejection of Israeli peace. But it will reverse the effects of Fayyad’s good governance and allow the Fatah kleptocracy to resume control of the flow of European and American aid to the Palestinians.  Those in charge of sending money to the Palestinians should take note. So, too, should those pressuring Israel to further empower Fatah. Fayyad earned the plaudits of America and Israel, but he was ultimately a man without a party who was despised by the terrorist factions that run the West Bank and Gaza.

The Russian Empire and Israel
Under Vladimir Putin, the chief aims of Russian foreign policy are to frustrate American influence and reassemble as much of the Soviet empire as possible. That’s why the Syrian civil war has become a crucial part of Putin’s effort to expand Moscow’s influence. Russia’s commitment to keeping Bashar al-Assad’s regime afloat became clear when Putin rebuffed the Obama administration’s pleas to stop shipping weapons to Damascus. But the shipment of Russian missiles to Syria presents more than a threat to the Syrian rebels. Israel is rightly worried about Assad having those missiles and even more concerned about the possibility that they will wind up in the hands of his Hezbollah terrorist allies. While Israeli relations with Russia have at times been cordial in recent years, the revival of Russia’s empire is creating a new potential conflict with unforeseen and deadly consequences for the Jewish state.

Iran’s Nuclear Shell Game
With the international community focused more on Iran’s intervention in Syria to save the Assad regime, the threat from Tehran’s nuclear program has gotten less attention in recent months. But the United Nations agency tasked with monitoring nuclear weapons is saying that Iran’s efforts to deceive the international community have accelerated. International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said in June that Iran had been leading the group around “in circles,” particularly when it came to disclosing information about weapons research. Amano reported that Iran is continuing with nuclear enrichment that is almost certainly aimed at building a weapon. The conflict in Syria should not distract from the Obama administration’s failure to avert the danger of an Iranian nuclear bomb through diplomacy and sanctions.

Hezbollah Wants the Golan
The Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah has played a major role in keeping the regime of Bashar al-Assad afloat. But, like Iran itself, the organization has also been doing a lot more than helping Assad to defeat his opponents. The group is reportedly trying to establish a presence in the Golan Heights. While Israel has tried to stay out of the Syrian civil war, it has used targeted bomb strikes to prevent Damascus from transferring arms to Hezbollah. But Hezbollah is hoping to use the conflict to strengthen ties with Assad loyalists living in the Israeli-controlled Heights and to create a base there. Given that Hezbollah already threatens Northern Israel from its impregnable Lebanese base, any Hezbollah foothold in the Golan could dramatically undermine Israeli security and complicate efforts to defend the Jewish state.

About the Author

Jonathan Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY.




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