Commentary Magazine


Topic: anti-Semitism

ASA’s Anti-Israel Gesture Politics

“Big Win for Boycott Movement” reads the headline of the Inside Higher Ed report on yesterday’s decision by the American Studies Association (ASA) to shun collaboration with Israeli academic institutions. The report correctly points out that this is the second time this year that an academic body in the U.S. has endorsed the boycott, following a similar decision in April by the Asian American Studies Association. The report goes on to observe that the ASA move,

…is seen as a major victory for the movement for an academic boycott of Israel. The academic movement to boycott Israel has considerable support in Europe, but has been largely opposed by major academic associations in the United States, citing longstanding objections to countrywide boycotts as antithetical to academic freedom…Supporters of the boycott have argued that just the discussion of the idea at a meeting as large as the American Studies Association marks a significant departure for American academe.

It is certainly true that supporters of the boycott are now hoping for a ripple effect elsewhere in academia. As one boycott activist remarked on Twitter, “these victories don’t exist in a vaccuum (sic)–they’re part of a much larger movement.” Still, when understood in the context of recent history, the ASA decision looks much less like a “victory” and much more like a demonstration of the kind of futile gesture politics beloved on the far left.

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“Big Win for Boycott Movement” reads the headline of the Inside Higher Ed report on yesterday’s decision by the American Studies Association (ASA) to shun collaboration with Israeli academic institutions. The report correctly points out that this is the second time this year that an academic body in the U.S. has endorsed the boycott, following a similar decision in April by the Asian American Studies Association. The report goes on to observe that the ASA move,

…is seen as a major victory for the movement for an academic boycott of Israel. The academic movement to boycott Israel has considerable support in Europe, but has been largely opposed by major academic associations in the United States, citing longstanding objections to countrywide boycotts as antithetical to academic freedom…Supporters of the boycott have argued that just the discussion of the idea at a meeting as large as the American Studies Association marks a significant departure for American academe.

It is certainly true that supporters of the boycott are now hoping for a ripple effect elsewhere in academia. As one boycott activist remarked on Twitter, “these victories don’t exist in a vaccuum (sic)–they’re part of a much larger movement.” Still, when understood in the context of recent history, the ASA decision looks much less like a “victory” and much more like a demonstration of the kind of futile gesture politics beloved on the far left.

Recall that the proposal for an academic boycott was first launched in 2004, by a group calling itself the “Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel,” or PACBI. In its founding document, PACBI made it very clear that the ambition of the boycott is not to secure an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, but the comprehensive dismantling of the Jewish state. This position was reflected in PACBI’s denunication of the “Zionist ideology” underlying “Israel’s colonial oppression of the Palestinian people” and the “denial of its responsibility for the Nakba–in particular the waves of ethnic cleansing and dispossession that created the Palestinian refugee problem.”

Almost ten years later, the academic boycott aimed at the destruction of Israel has signally failed to make an impression outside of those university bodies that were already predisposed to support it–labor unions on European campuses controlled by far left elements, as well as groups like ASA, who regard scholarship as a mission to perpetuate the pernicious, if fading, influence of the New Left in our classrooms. It has also failed to foster the kind of general public revulsion toward Israel that was inflicted upon the old apartheid regime in South Africa. Indeed, if this was the “big win” heralded by Inside Higher Ed, then we might expect Cornell University to immediately reconsider its decision to build a sparkling new technology center on Roosevelt Island in collaboration with Israel’s Technion; as things stand, it is doubtful that the executives involved with this project are even aware of the ASA decision.

Rather than being a mass movement that has electrified universities globally, the academic boycott is more accurately seen as an irritant that generates the occasional ugly scandal, such as the decision by Jake Lynch, a professor at Sydney University in Australia, to engage in racial discrimination against Professor Dan Avnon of the Hebrew University, or the withdrawal by the renowned scientist Stephen Hawking from a prestigious conference hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres. If we remain under the impression that the academic boycott punches far above its weight, that’s in part because the first serious attempt to implement it, undertaken by British academics in 2005, generated a slew of reportage and shocked comment on major outlets like the BBC, the Washington Post, and the Guardian. Contrast that with this year’s ASA decision, which has mainly been covered by Israel-fixated anti-Semitic websites like Mondoweiss and the Electronic Intifada. Beyond the ranks of the faithful, then, the academic boycott of Israel just isn’t that exciting anymore.

There will be those who counter that we cannot be complacent, and that we must continue to challenge and counter the boycotters. I have no quarrel with that, but I don’t expect those arguments to get very far. For example, the unarguable truism that there are far worse offenders in this world than Israel leaves the boycotters unmoved, for two principal reasons. Firstly, the boycotters don’t understand the profound moral difference between totalitarian regimes and democratic Israel: asked by Insider Higher Ed why ASA wasn’t boycotting Syria or North Korea, its president, Curtis Marez, replied that he wasn’t aware of boycott demands being made by the “civil society” in those countries. Someone who thinks that “civil society” even exists in these citadels of torture is clearly a lost cause.

Secondly, a large number of boycotters actually support these foul regimes, viewing them as progressive bulwarks against American and “Zionist” global domination. Max Blumenthal, the propagandist who currently serves as the poster child for anti-Zionists everywhere, recently published a rant targeting “hardline anti-Castro activists” pushing for the “overthrow of Cuba’s socialist regime”–a regime which habitually locks up dissidents both inside and outside academe.

The ASA decision is therefore an indication of the far left’s frustration. Unable to impact policy decisions, it turns instead to largely symbolic acts like a boycott, enabling those who endorse it to feel like they are “doing something.” So, yes, we must remain vigilant, but we must also happily recognize that a decade of anti-Zionist propaganda has very little to show in the way of concrete achievement.

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Anti-Semitism Becomes Respectable in D.C.

Anti-Zionism, as Jonathan noted, is acquiring “an undeserved veneer of respectability in Barack Obama’s Washington”: The latest anti-Zionist screed to hit the bookstores will receive a prominent platform at an event organized by the New America Foundation, a prestigious Washington think tank headed by a former senior Obama administration official. But frankly, I don’t see why anyone should be surprised. After all, anti-Zionism is merely an offshoot of a much older evil, anti-Semitism. And since the original has become perfectly respectable in Barack Obama’s Washington over the last month, why be surprised that the offshoot is as well?

Exhibit A occurred at the Geneva talks with Iran earlier this month, when an unnamed senior U.S. official refused to condemn the latest rant by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. Though many commentators found this silence disturbing mainly because Khamenei termed Israel a “rabid dog,” I was even more disturbed by the American representative’s tolerance of the part of the diatribe aimed at France, in which Khamenei used one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes in the book.

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Anti-Zionism, as Jonathan noted, is acquiring “an undeserved veneer of respectability in Barack Obama’s Washington”: The latest anti-Zionist screed to hit the bookstores will receive a prominent platform at an event organized by the New America Foundation, a prestigious Washington think tank headed by a former senior Obama administration official. But frankly, I don’t see why anyone should be surprised. After all, anti-Zionism is merely an offshoot of a much older evil, anti-Semitism. And since the original has become perfectly respectable in Barack Obama’s Washington over the last month, why be surprised that the offshoot is as well?

Exhibit A occurred at the Geneva talks with Iran earlier this month, when an unnamed senior U.S. official refused to condemn the latest rant by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. Though many commentators found this silence disturbing mainly because Khamenei termed Israel a “rabid dog,” I was even more disturbed by the American representative’s tolerance of the part of the diatribe aimed at France, in which Khamenei used one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes in the book.

Since France had singlehandedly thwarted what it termed a “sucker’s deal” in the previous round of talks with Iran, forcing its negotiating partners to make some significant (though still insufficient) improvements, it was understandably in Khamenei’s bad graces. But rather than admit that France could possibly have had its own concerns about Tehran, he accused it of simply “kneeling before the Israeli regime.” Paris was furious and condemned the remarks, but neither the senior U.S. official nor a spokesman for EU foreign-policy czar Catherine Ashton would do the same. The best America’s official representative could do was mutter that yes, such rhetoric is “uncomfortable,” but Americans also “say difficult things about Iran and Iranians” (is it any wonder he or she was too embarrassed to be named?).

The claim that Jews control the world–or in this case, France’s foreign policy–is classic anti-Semitism; this alone makes it worthy of condemnation. But the official’s silence was particularly outrageous because the target of this slur was America’s negotiating partner in the talks: France’s representative was on the same side of the table as the U.S. official and Ashton, with Khamenei’s representatives on the opposite side. If American officials aren’t willing to condemn anti-Semitic slurs hurled at their own negotiating partner by their mutual opponent while the talks are taking place, when would they be willing to do so?

Answer: Never, as proven by Exhibit B–the administration’s silence in the face of an anti-Semitic slur against some even closer allies that same week. I’m referring, of course, to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s outrageous assertion that lawmakers are siding with Israel against Obama on Iran not “from any careful consideration of the facts,” but “from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.”

Not only is this another classic example of the anti-Semitic “Jews control the world” trope, but many of the lawmakers whom Friedman accused of blindly obeying Jewish dictates rather than thinking for themselves are President Obama’s fellow Democrats, who have loyally shepherded his domestic agenda through Congress. Yet even so, the administration couldn’t be bothered to utter a word in their defense.

When an administration doesn’t see fit to condemn anti-Semitic slurs even against its closest allies–its negotiating partner abroad and congressional Democrats at home–you know anti-Semitism has attained the height of respectability. My only question is when all the American Jews who voted for this administration are going to wake up and start objecting.

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FBI Stats Again Belie Islamophobia Myth

When it comes to the question of America’s alleged Islamophobia, there is a consensus in the American media: American Muslims have been under siege since the 9/11 attacks. Every attempt on the part of law-enforcement agencies to probe the growth of homegrown terrorism and the possible incitement to hate and violence being conducted at some mosques, as well as by community groups influenced or controlled by Islamists, is branded as more proof of the allege persecution of Muslims and Arabs. The fact that no proof of discrimination or systematic violence other than anecdotal claims is ever brought forward is disregarded so as not to impinge on the need for Americans to feel guilty about the treatment of Muslims.

But with the annual release of the FBI’s hate crime numbers, statistical proof is once again available for those who are interested in the real answer as to which groups are subjected to the most attacks. This year’s numbers, like those of every other previous year since they began compiling such statistics, are clear: Jews remain the No. 1 target of hate crimes in America and no other group comes even close. Incidents involving Muslims, who are, according to the unchallenged meme that is central to every story or broadcast about the subject, the prime targets actually suffer only a fraction as much as Jews. Is it too much to ask reporters who regurgitate the same tired, unproven story lines about Muslims in the coming year to take these facts into account?

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When it comes to the question of America’s alleged Islamophobia, there is a consensus in the American media: American Muslims have been under siege since the 9/11 attacks. Every attempt on the part of law-enforcement agencies to probe the growth of homegrown terrorism and the possible incitement to hate and violence being conducted at some mosques, as well as by community groups influenced or controlled by Islamists, is branded as more proof of the allege persecution of Muslims and Arabs. The fact that no proof of discrimination or systematic violence other than anecdotal claims is ever brought forward is disregarded so as not to impinge on the need for Americans to feel guilty about the treatment of Muslims.

But with the annual release of the FBI’s hate crime numbers, statistical proof is once again available for those who are interested in the real answer as to which groups are subjected to the most attacks. This year’s numbers, like those of every other previous year since they began compiling such statistics, are clear: Jews remain the No. 1 target of hate crimes in America and no other group comes even close. Incidents involving Muslims, who are, according to the unchallenged meme that is central to every story or broadcast about the subject, the prime targets actually suffer only a fraction as much as Jews. Is it too much to ask reporters who regurgitate the same tired, unproven story lines about Muslims in the coming year to take these facts into account?

As in previous years, Jews top the figures for hate crimes, which the FBI claims are down from previous years. Of the 1,340 incidents of anti-religious hate crimes reported, 674 or 62.4 percent were anti-Jewish in nature. Only 130 incidents or 11.6 percent involved Muslim victims. These figures are not much different from those assembled by the government for previous years. In virtually every year, the number of anti-Semitic incidents is a multiple of those involving Muslims.

It is possible that some anti-Muslim attacks might be categorized as an ethnic issue involving Arabs rather than a religious one. But even if we were to try and take some attacks involving national origins, again the enormous gap between the anti-Semitic incidents and those about Muslims is not bridged. The total number of those attacks involving that category that were not about targeting Hispanics (which make up over 60 percent of that total) was 283 and it is likely that, at best, only some of those were about Muslims or Arabs.

It is true that the Anti-Defamation League has criticized the FBI report for trumpeting the overall decline in hate crimes. The ADL rightly points out that hate crimes reporting isn’t mandatory in parts of the country and that the number of agencies funneling figures to the FBI actually declined from 14,500 to 1,3022 in 2012. So it’s likely that there wasn’t any real decline in the number of hate crimes.

But there is no proof or any logical reason to believe that this flaw would lead to any underreporting of anti-Muslim crimes since the percentage of such incidents in 2012 is essentially the same as in previous years.

What does this all mean?

First, as much as we should decry all hate crimes and urge those responsible to be prosecuted and harshly punished, no matter who their victims might be, there is no epidemic of such incidents directed at any single group.

Though Jews are the most likely victims of religious crimes, no reasonable person can claim that they are under siege or that Jewish life is under attack in any manner in this country. Indeed, as the Pew Survey on American Jews that I discussed in the November issue of COMMENTARY reported, less than 20 percent of Jews have even experienced an anti-Semitic remark, let alone an attack. Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world and particularly in Europe, but in a nation where a tenth of the U.S. Senate and a third of the U.S. Supreme Court are Jews, its impossible to argue that there are any genuine obstacles to Jewish achievement, let alone a wave of Jew-hatred.

Yet, we are asked by the mainstream media to believe that a group which claims to have roughly the same small slice of the national population as the Jews but which, at best, suffers only a fifth of the hate crimes incidents as Jews, is actually laboring under a grievous and discriminatory wave of bias attacks. It not only makes no sense, it is not even remotely congruent with the facts.

America isn’t perfect. Hate still exists against religious and ethnic groups, and religious minorities. Yet once again the annual release of FBI statistics debunks the notion of a post 9-11 backlash against Muslims. But don’t expect the liberal mainstream media to notice this or to take it into account when they resurrect the same misleading story lines in the coming year.

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Iranian Regime: Israel Killed Kennedy

As Americans reflected on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Iranian government—now depicted as having moderated by journalists taken in by President Rouhani’s charm offensive—showed its true colors.

Press TV, Iran’s official English-language  propaganda outlet, published an article by an American 9/11 revisionist arguing that Israel “called the shots” from the grassy knoll:

Israel and its global Zionist crime syndicate were major players if not THE main player in the JFK assassination – must be taken seriously. Israel had a powerful motive… Ben Gurion haughtily refused to answer JFK’s letter demanding that Israel abandon its nuclear aspirations. Instead, he resigned. Six months later, JFK was publicly executed. A few years after that, Ben Gurion got his nuclear weapons… and his longed-for war of aggression to steal Jerusalem.

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As Americans reflected on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Iranian government—now depicted as having moderated by journalists taken in by President Rouhani’s charm offensive—showed its true colors.

Press TV, Iran’s official English-language  propaganda outlet, published an article by an American 9/11 revisionist arguing that Israel “called the shots” from the grassy knoll:

Israel and its global Zionist crime syndicate were major players if not THE main player in the JFK assassination – must be taken seriously. Israel had a powerful motive… Ben Gurion haughtily refused to answer JFK’s letter demanding that Israel abandon its nuclear aspirations. Instead, he resigned. Six months later, JFK was publicly executed. A few years after that, Ben Gurion got his nuclear weapons… and his longed-for war of aggression to steal Jerusalem.

Those who see the Zionists as prime movers in the JFK assassination argue that none of the other anti-JFK factions had such an overpoweringly existential motive, nor a track record of such wildly reckless deception and violence. Without Zionist involvement, the U.S. military, CIA, and organized crime might have pushed back against JFK using gentler means.

Were the Zionists really in a position to set the JFK assassination wheels in motion? Skeptics argue that Israel is just a tiny entity of eight million people, so it is preposterous to imagine that it is dominating the U.S. empire or steering history. Yet the facts are otherwise: The tiny Zionist entity of eight million people, together with its millions of fanatical loyalists all over the world, clearly dominates U.S. foreign policy, and has done so since the murder of JFK.

The whole thing is noxious hate, but it is true to the ideology and conspiracy theories which Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Rouhani, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif endorse. Perhaps President Obama will congratulate himself on the temporary nuclear deal, but there should be no naïveté about the regime which he now treats as a diplomatic partner.

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Taking Iranian Jews Hostages

While Iranian Jews have traditionally had it better than some of their religious brethren in Arab lands, the situation for the Iranian Jewish community since the Islamic Revolution has been precarious. The community may number as much as 20,000 now, but that represents less than a fifth of the community’s numbers before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s return.

While traditionally Iranians treated Jews relatively well, the notion that Persia and Iran were havens for the Jewish community is nonsense. I’ve previously outlined some excellent histories of the Iranian Jewish community, here and here, for example, while noting the unresolved problem of Iran’s missing Jews, seized and imprisoned, but apparently never formerly charged and certainly never released.

In the past week, however, there have been worrisome signs inside Iran. First, the Jewish representative in Iran’s parliament (a seat is always set aside for one Jewish representative; whomever takes the position is widely despised and treated as collaborating with an oppressive regime) was trotted out to attack Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Fars News Agency described the representative’s speech on Wednesday:

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While Iranian Jews have traditionally had it better than some of their religious brethren in Arab lands, the situation for the Iranian Jewish community since the Islamic Revolution has been precarious. The community may number as much as 20,000 now, but that represents less than a fifth of the community’s numbers before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s return.

While traditionally Iranians treated Jews relatively well, the notion that Persia and Iran were havens for the Jewish community is nonsense. I’ve previously outlined some excellent histories of the Iranian Jewish community, here and here, for example, while noting the unresolved problem of Iran’s missing Jews, seized and imprisoned, but apparently never formerly charged and certainly never released.

In the past week, however, there have been worrisome signs inside Iran. First, the Jewish representative in Iran’s parliament (a seat is always set aside for one Jewish representative; whomever takes the position is widely despised and treated as collaborating with an oppressive regime) was trotted out to attack Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Fars News Agency described the representative’s speech on Wednesday:

“We Iranian Jews condemn the spiteful, brazen, warmongering and unrealistic statements of Netanyahu, and reiterate that neither him (Netanyahu) nor any other alien has the right to meddle in Iran’s affairs,” [Siamak] Marreh Sadeq said, addressing an open session of the Iranian parliament on Wednesday. “The Zionist regime’s prime minister with its long track record of crime, occupation, assault, savagery and manslaughter cannot comment on Iran’s international conditions or the global peace or the relations of the monotheist Iranian nation with other world countries,” he said.

Then, Iranian officials trotted out members of the Iranian Jewish community to collectively demonstrate in favor of Iran’s negotiating position. “Jews from all Iranian Jewish communities, especially from Tehran, will take part in this gathering to show their solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s stances in the recent talks, specially the issues proposed to Group 5+1,” Marreh Sedq announced, also on Wednesday.

When Iran displays its remaining Jews as props—spontaneous and voluntary demonstrations are rare in Iran, and limited to opposition to the regime—there is an implicit threat that if they do not participate, jobs, education, and housing are at stake, as could be their very freedom. Jews, along with Baha’is, have, as minorities, long been the canary in the Iranian coal mine. The West should not miss the message: We have 20,000 hostages. Such are the tactics of an untrustworthy regime, not a friendly or sincere partner.

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Time for European Jews to Leave?

Swedish Jewish activist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein admires her country’s long tradition of offering asylum to those who seek refuge from persecution. She just wishes it also applied to Jews. Hernroth-Rothstein writes today in Mosaic magazine to say that has decided to apply for asylum to her own country. The rising tide of anti-Semitism that is threatening Jewish life throughout Europe is nowhere more virulent than in Sweden, where acts of open hostility toward Jews are commonplace and the parliament is considering bans on circumcision and even the importing of kosher meat (kosher slaughter has been outlawed in Sweden since 1937) with the support of both the political left and the right. In response to this situation, Hernroth-Rothstein thinks the best thing to do is to ask her government for the same protection it routinely extends to others. She writes:

EU statutes provide that asylum be granted to persons with “well-founded reasons to fear persecution due to race; nationality; religious or political beliefs; gender; sexual orientation; or affiliation to a particular social group.” Jews in Sweden meet these criteria, and should be eligible for the same protection and support extended to non-natives.

Hernroth-Rothstein’s application is, of course, a stunt. But it encapsulates a heartbreaking dilemma for European Jews. Well-meaning onlookers in the United States and Israel believe the only answer for European Jews is to leave as soon as they can. But she is understandably reluctant to accept being run out of a home that is supposed to be a haven for free expression merely because she is Jewish. Pointing this disconnect between the EU’s pose as the champion of diversity while Jews are made to feel unwelcome is not so much a matter of irony as it is an ongoing tragedy.

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Swedish Jewish activist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein admires her country’s long tradition of offering asylum to those who seek refuge from persecution. She just wishes it also applied to Jews. Hernroth-Rothstein writes today in Mosaic magazine to say that has decided to apply for asylum to her own country. The rising tide of anti-Semitism that is threatening Jewish life throughout Europe is nowhere more virulent than in Sweden, where acts of open hostility toward Jews are commonplace and the parliament is considering bans on circumcision and even the importing of kosher meat (kosher slaughter has been outlawed in Sweden since 1937) with the support of both the political left and the right. In response to this situation, Hernroth-Rothstein thinks the best thing to do is to ask her government for the same protection it routinely extends to others. She writes:

EU statutes provide that asylum be granted to persons with “well-founded reasons to fear persecution due to race; nationality; religious or political beliefs; gender; sexual orientation; or affiliation to a particular social group.” Jews in Sweden meet these criteria, and should be eligible for the same protection and support extended to non-natives.

Hernroth-Rothstein’s application is, of course, a stunt. But it encapsulates a heartbreaking dilemma for European Jews. Well-meaning onlookers in the United States and Israel believe the only answer for European Jews is to leave as soon as they can. But she is understandably reluctant to accept being run out of a home that is supposed to be a haven for free expression merely because she is Jewish. Pointing this disconnect between the EU’s pose as the champion of diversity while Jews are made to feel unwelcome is not so much a matter of irony as it is an ongoing tragedy.

Last month I wrote about the latest survey of European Jewry conducted by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights that illustrated how dangerous Europe has become for Jews and how pervasive the revival of anti-Semitism there has become. Hernroth-Rothstein told her own story of ordinary Jewish life in Sweden in Mosaic back in August. Her description was blunt. The only way to survive there as a Jew is to “shut up and fade into the woodwork.”

It needs to be understood that the problem in Europe is not merely the rise of radical neo-Nazi groups like Golden Dawn, troubling as they may be. It is the way anti-Jewish attitudes have leached into mainstream opinion finding, as she points out, support throughout the political spectrum. Hatred for Israel has become an acceptable way to openly express traditional anti-Semitic attitudes. At the same time the same people who pose as enlightened liberals seek to ban Jewish rituals as “barbaric,” effectively marginalizing and driving Jews out one law at a time.

Is it possible to shame Europe into seeking to turn back the tide of hate only 70 years after the Holocaust? Hernroth-Rothstein hopes so, but the answer to her question is to be found by one detail that she mentions. When optimists cite the growth of Jewish activities in Europe, she notes:

What I see is that the Holocaust wing at the Jewish Museum is crowded with visitors, while the synagogues are empty. I see cute Woody Allen-ish activities being promoted, and actual Jewish life being banned. The dead, suffering Jew is glorified; the healthy, active Jew is vilified.

What has happened in Europe is that Jews who speak up for Israel or who wish to practice their faith in the public square are endangered:

True: we are not being murdered, and we are not being physically driven out. But our religious observances are being interdicted, our persons are being threatened, our safety is being endangered, and—in short—our human rights are being violated. Why do we put up with it? And why do pundits and politicians assure me that Jews in Sweden are perfectly safe when what they really mean is that we will be safe only so long as we agree to become invisible as Jews and cease to practice Judaism?

We can only wish her good luck with her brave crusade to try and awaken Europeans or at least Swedes to their responsibility to stand up against anti-Semitism. But given the deep roots of Jew-hatred at the core of European culture as well as the growing influence of Muslim immigrants who bring their own legacy of hate with them, it’s difficult to envision much success. But even if she cannot alter the arc of history with respect to Jewish life in Europe, she is at least helping to expose the hypocrisy of European liberals who profess tolerance and respect for the rights of every people to self-determination except for the Jews.

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Correct Translation? The UN Is a Joke

That the United Nations long ago became a cesspool of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist incitement is not news. Indeed, the prejudice against the State of Israel that is on display at virtually every General Assembly session as well as those of its component agencies, especially those supposed to be devoted to the cause of human rights, is so blatant that few involved even bother to deny the disproportionate nature of the proceedings. While the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians has created victims on both sides, the numbers of those who are affected or even inconvenienced are miniscule compared to far greater ongoing tragedies in nearby Arab and Muslim countries or elsewhere in Africa and Asia. But when it comes to the world body, all other causes are mere sideshows when compared to the crusade against Israel. But it’s nice to know that at least some of those who work within the UN are aware of this travesty.

That was made manifest yesterday when the GA voted on nine separate resolutions condemning Israel while ignoring every other conflict on the globe, almost all of which concern far greater numbers of people. But the monotony of this ritualized singling out of the Jews for sacrifice was broken when, during the course of the votes in which 150 or more UN members voted in lockstep against Israel, one of the translators was heard to comment on the absurd nature of what she was forced to transmit. Speaking over a hot mic that caught her genuine feelings about the proceedings, the anonymous translator said the following at the 1:55 mark of this instant UN YouTube classic:

I think when you have… like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? I mean I know… There’s other really bad s**t happening, but no one says anything about the other stuff.

Never have truer words been spoken at the United Nations.

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That the United Nations long ago became a cesspool of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist incitement is not news. Indeed, the prejudice against the State of Israel that is on display at virtually every General Assembly session as well as those of its component agencies, especially those supposed to be devoted to the cause of human rights, is so blatant that few involved even bother to deny the disproportionate nature of the proceedings. While the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians has created victims on both sides, the numbers of those who are affected or even inconvenienced are miniscule compared to far greater ongoing tragedies in nearby Arab and Muslim countries or elsewhere in Africa and Asia. But when it comes to the world body, all other causes are mere sideshows when compared to the crusade against Israel. But it’s nice to know that at least some of those who work within the UN are aware of this travesty.

That was made manifest yesterday when the GA voted on nine separate resolutions condemning Israel while ignoring every other conflict on the globe, almost all of which concern far greater numbers of people. But the monotony of this ritualized singling out of the Jews for sacrifice was broken when, during the course of the votes in which 150 or more UN members voted in lockstep against Israel, one of the translators was heard to comment on the absurd nature of what she was forced to transmit. Speaking over a hot mic that caught her genuine feelings about the proceedings, the anonymous translator said the following at the 1:55 mark of this instant UN YouTube classic:

I think when you have… like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? I mean I know… There’s other really bad s**t happening, but no one says anything about the other stuff.

Never have truer words been spoken at the United Nations.

Of course, as soon as she realized that the official broadcast of the meeting was picking up her comments, the translator apologized repeatedly while the official running this kangaroo court merely smiled and noted that there had been “a problem with the interpretation” as some nervous laughter was heard. Undaunted by the unscheduled bout of candor, the delegates went on and finished their work passing a few more anti-Israel resolutions before patting themselves on the back for their principled support for human rights and adjourned.

As UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer wrote about this in the Times of Israel:

By the end of its annual legislative session next month, the General Assembly will have adopted a total of 22 resolutions condemning Israel—and only four on the rest of the world combined. The hypocrisy, selectivity, and politicization are staggering.

As Neuer rightly notes, one of the resolutions condemned Israel’s continued presence in the Golan Heights, which it took from Syria in a defensive war in 1967. Since then, various Syrian dictators have turned down several feelers from Israel about negotiating a withdrawal as the Assad clan preferred a continuation of the conflict to peace since the strife helped prop up their dictatorship. But no matter what one thinks about the rights and wrongs of that issue, the fact that Syria came up at the UN this week with Israel without one mention of the brutality of the Assad regime or the fact that over 100,000 have been killed during the civil war there is considered unremarkable. Israel was unfairly condemned for being on the Golan and for supposedly mistreating Syrian citizens, but the world body could find no time to address Assad’s ongoing depredations or his use of illegal chemical weapons to slaughter his foes.

Nor, during the course of the standard flaying of the Jews for building communities in Jerusalem and the West or for having the temerity to defend themselves against terrorists, did the UN pause even for a moment to condemn Palestinian terrorism against Israel, the tyranny of the Hamas rulers of Gaza, or the fomenting of hatred and anti-Semitism on official Palestinian Authority print and broadcast outlets.

Only Israel’s alleged wrongs are worthy of discussion and censor at the UN. Everything else is merely an unimportant detail to be swept under the rung no matter how many lives are lost or how awful the circumstances.

Let there be no mistake that what is on display there is nothing short of anti-Semitism no matter how high-minded those involved pretend to be. By treating the one Jewish state by a different standard than every other country and singling it out for condemnation for acting no differently than any other sovereign state under attack, the UN is promoting and practicing prejudice.

It would be nice to think this incident will set off some serious soul searching in Washington about a change in attitude toward the UN. But given President Obama’s infatuation with the world body, that is about as likely to happen as him conceding that ObamaCare was a mistake. We should be grateful to this translator and must hope that she has not been fired for her offensive truth telling. But the real shame here is that civilized people, including the government of the United States, still treat the UN as if it were a legitimate institution rather than a parody of world government run by a corrupt gang of anti-Semites.

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Norway Moves Against Circumcision

Almost one year after Chancellor Angela Merkel successfully leaned on the German parliament to pass legislation guaranteeing the rights of parents to have their infant boys circumcised, the practice is now under threat in another European country. This week, Norway’s health minister, Bent Hoie, announced that new legislation is in the pipeline to “regulate ritual circumcision.”

Hoie took his cue from Anne Lindboe, Norway’s children’s ombudsman, who believes that “non-medical circumcision”–in other words, circumcision of boys in accordance with the laws of both Judaism and Islam–is a violation of children’s rights. JTA quoted Lindboe as having told the leading Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten: “This is not due to any lack of understanding of minorities or religious traditions, but because the procedure is irreversible, painful and risky.”

Lindboe is certainly not a lone voice in this debate. A large number of parliamentarians from the opposition Labor Party have expressed support for a ban, while the Center Party, which controls 10 of the seats in Norway’s 169-member legislature, is officially in favor. Small wonder, then, that Ervin Kohn, the head of Norway’s tiny Jewish community of 700 souls, has described the issue as an “existential matter.” Clearly, the push factors that led nearly 50 percent of Jews in Belgium, Hungary, and France to confess, in a survey on anti-Semitism conducted by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency, that they are considering emigration have manifested in Norway also.

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Almost one year after Chancellor Angela Merkel successfully leaned on the German parliament to pass legislation guaranteeing the rights of parents to have their infant boys circumcised, the practice is now under threat in another European country. This week, Norway’s health minister, Bent Hoie, announced that new legislation is in the pipeline to “regulate ritual circumcision.”

Hoie took his cue from Anne Lindboe, Norway’s children’s ombudsman, who believes that “non-medical circumcision”–in other words, circumcision of boys in accordance with the laws of both Judaism and Islam–is a violation of children’s rights. JTA quoted Lindboe as having told the leading Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten: “This is not due to any lack of understanding of minorities or religious traditions, but because the procedure is irreversible, painful and risky.”

Lindboe is certainly not a lone voice in this debate. A large number of parliamentarians from the opposition Labor Party have expressed support for a ban, while the Center Party, which controls 10 of the seats in Norway’s 169-member legislature, is officially in favor. Small wonder, then, that Ervin Kohn, the head of Norway’s tiny Jewish community of 700 souls, has described the issue as an “existential matter.” Clearly, the push factors that led nearly 50 percent of Jews in Belgium, Hungary, and France to confess, in a survey on anti-Semitism conducted by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency, that they are considering emigration have manifested in Norway also.

The Norwegian developments follow the October vote by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a 47-member body that is not institutionally linked to the EU, recommending restrictions on ritual circumcision. The ensuing outcry among European Jewish leaders and Israeli politicians led a nervous Thorbjorn Jaglund, the council’s secretary-general, to assure the Conference of European Rabbis “that in no way does the Council of Europe want to ban the circumcision of boys.” But given that the Council of Europe has no control over national legislatures, that statement is essentially toothless.

The abiding question here is why hostility to ritual circumcision has become such a hot topic in European states. When it comes to circumcision, the kinds of survivors groups that push for tougher legislation on, say, child sexual abuse or violence against women simply don’t exist. Hence, if the vast majority of men who have undergone ritual circumcision aren’t clamoring for a ban, why the insistence on portraying them as victims?

According to Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the head of the Conference of European Rabbis, the anti-circumcision campaign is an integral component of a continent-wide “offensive” against Muslim communities, in which Jews represent “collateral damage.” There is some merit to this view, yet it ignores the fact that legal measures against Jewish ritual have a long and dishonorable pedigree in Europe. It’s widely known that the Nazis banned shechita, or Jewish ritual slaughter, three months after coming to power in 1933, but they were beaten to the punch by Switzerland in 1893 and Norway in 1930–and you don’t need to be an expert on European history to know that there were no Muslim communities of any meaningful size in these countries when these legislative bills were passed. 

Moreover, it can be argued that by grouping male circumcision with the horrific practice of female genital mutilation, which in Europe mainly afflicts women from Muslim countries, the Council of Europe was going out of its way not to target Muslim communities specifically. In a classic example of the cultural relativism that plagues European institutions, its resolution on the “physical integrity of children” listed as matters of concern, “…female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersex children, and the submission to or coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.”

As this week’s edition of the Economist argues, this categorization is nonsensical:

Our intuition tells us that the circumcision of baby boys is probably okay, at worst harmless and culturally very important to some religions, while the excision practised on baby girls in some cultures certainly is not okay.

The same piece observes that, in any case, the determination of European leaders to prevent a ban on circumcision will likely foil any parliamentary legislation to that end. A similar point was made in a recent Haaretz piece by Anshel Pfeffer, who derided fears among Israeli legislators of a ban on circumcision as just so much hyperbole.

However, what’s missing here is the understanding that a practice doesn’t have to be proscribed for it to be frowned upon. Large numbers of Europeans already regard circumcision as a backward ritual, and the current Norwegian debate is likely to persuade many more that circumcision should be opposed in the name of human rights. Over the last decade, European Jews have watched helplessly as their identification with Israel has been stigmatized: with a similar pattern now emerging over Jewish ritual, an adversarial political climate that falls short of actual legislation may yet be enough to persuade them that their future on the continent remains bleak.

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Rouhani’s Moderate Iran Not So Moderate

Secretary of State John Kerry is asking Americans not to “break faith” with Iran as he attempts to convince the Senate not to pass tougher sanctions on the Islamist regime. Given Kerry’s obvious lust for a deal, even if it means recognizing Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium and setting in place factors that will allow Tehran to eventually go nuclear, his credibility is shot and both Democrats and Republicans are calling into question the policy to which he has committed the administration. But rather than just focus on what’s wrong with a U.S. stand that is so weak that even the French couldn’t stomach it, it’s appropriate for the nation to also take another hard look at who Kerry is asking us to keep faith with.

If you listen to Kerry or watch the mainstream media in recent weeks, Iran’s defining characteristic has become “change” in the person of its new President Hassan Rouhani. The administration has bought into the conception that Rouhani’s election last summer as part of Iran’s faux democracy has heralded a new openness and an opportunity for the nation to change. But so far signs of change have been few and far between. Not only, despite Washington’s commitment to reviving diplomacy with Iran, has there been no give in the regime’s positions on nuclear issues or its involvement in Syria, the nation that Kerry believes he must reach out to has continued to promote anti-Semitism via its official media.

As the Anti-Defamation League reports:

Press TV, Iran’s government-run English-language satellite news network, has taken its usual viciously anti-Semitic conspiracy theories a step further. It now claims not only that Jews are to blame for the Holocaust, but also that because Jews did not learn from their supposed wrongs in Nazi Germany that “American Zionists” are “incubating another Hitler.”

The November 9 article, “American Zionists incubating another Hitler,” was written by a Press TV colum­nist named M.I. Bhat, who also writes for the conspiratorial anti-Semitic website Veterans Today. The Press TV piece was additionally published two days earlier in Veterans Today under the title “Are American Jews incubating another Hitler?”

In both articles, Bhat claims that “American Zionists” control America’s “banks, Wall Street, media, Hollywood, markets, politicians, foreign policy, indeed the whole life of Americans.” The article also asserts that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a “false flag” attack committed by “American Zionist Jews and Israel” to further their control of American foreign policy.

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Secretary of State John Kerry is asking Americans not to “break faith” with Iran as he attempts to convince the Senate not to pass tougher sanctions on the Islamist regime. Given Kerry’s obvious lust for a deal, even if it means recognizing Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium and setting in place factors that will allow Tehran to eventually go nuclear, his credibility is shot and both Democrats and Republicans are calling into question the policy to which he has committed the administration. But rather than just focus on what’s wrong with a U.S. stand that is so weak that even the French couldn’t stomach it, it’s appropriate for the nation to also take another hard look at who Kerry is asking us to keep faith with.

If you listen to Kerry or watch the mainstream media in recent weeks, Iran’s defining characteristic has become “change” in the person of its new President Hassan Rouhani. The administration has bought into the conception that Rouhani’s election last summer as part of Iran’s faux democracy has heralded a new openness and an opportunity for the nation to change. But so far signs of change have been few and far between. Not only, despite Washington’s commitment to reviving diplomacy with Iran, has there been no give in the regime’s positions on nuclear issues or its involvement in Syria, the nation that Kerry believes he must reach out to has continued to promote anti-Semitism via its official media.

As the Anti-Defamation League reports:

Press TV, Iran’s government-run English-language satellite news network, has taken its usual viciously anti-Semitic conspiracy theories a step further. It now claims not only that Jews are to blame for the Holocaust, but also that because Jews did not learn from their supposed wrongs in Nazi Germany that “American Zionists” are “incubating another Hitler.”

The November 9 article, “American Zionists incubating another Hitler,” was written by a Press TV colum­nist named M.I. Bhat, who also writes for the conspiratorial anti-Semitic website Veterans Today. The Press TV piece was additionally published two days earlier in Veterans Today under the title “Are American Jews incubating another Hitler?”

In both articles, Bhat claims that “American Zionists” control America’s “banks, Wall Street, media, Hollywood, markets, politicians, foreign policy, indeed the whole life of Americans.” The article also asserts that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a “false flag” attack committed by “American Zionist Jews and Israel” to further their control of American foreign policy.

For anyone who has been following the conduct of the Iranian regime, there’s not much new here. Such views are mainstream discourse in Tehran. Iran has been a fount of anti-Semitic incitement ever since the Islamic Revolution. Its print and broadcasting services are consistent purveyors of conspiracy theories about Jews and hatred directed at Israel. But this must be understood in the context of a regime that doesn’t merely talk about hate, but practices it in the form of oppressing religious minorities and exporting terrorism.

While Kerry is telling himself that this time the Iranians mean it when they say they want détente with the West, the same regime has, with the help of its Hezbollah terrorist auxiliaries, kept Bashar Assad in power in Syria and secured it as a base from which Iran can threaten moderate Arab nations and Israel.

In fact, nothing about Iran has changed in the last several months and given Rouhani’s policy statements, there’s no sign that will change. This is not, as Kerry and other administration apologists claim, because the moderates are worried about being ousted by hardliners. It’s because the entire political class in Iran—including a faithful servant of the revolution like Rouhani—are in agreement about their government’s use of terrorism, hate speech, and nuclear program.

Contrary to the statements coming out of the White House and State Department, these issues aren’t peripheral to the question of whether to tighten sanctions on Iran, but integral to them. If Iran is ever to change, it can only be as a result of the regime admitting defeat in its nuclear standoff with the West. Only when the ayatollahs are forced to back down will the stirrings of dissent that took to the streets of Tehran in the summer of 2009 (and were ignored by an Obama administration still besotted with the idea of “engagement” with the regime) reappear and begin the process of transforming a dangerous tyranny into a nation that America really can do business with.

Détente with such tyrants and anti-Semites will only lead to more deceptions and diplomatic disasters for the West. That’s something Congress should keep in mind when it listens to the entreaties of Obama and Kerry for them to lower the pressure on Iran.

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The Significance of Hamas’s New Textbooks

The Hamas-Fatah civil war’s impact on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has long been a blind spot for reporters who seek to cover the conflict as a two-dimensional struggle between identifiable enemies. And so it is encouraging to see today’s highly-placed New York Times story on the new Hamas textbooks–a story which covers a second common blind spot for the media: Palestinian incitement and officially sanctioned anti-Semitism.

Today’s Times story explains that schools in Gaza are using new textbooks that, for the first time since Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip, deviate from the Palestinian Authority’s standard texts “as part of a broader push to infuse the next generation with its militant ideology.” I’m not sure what is worse: that until now the official PA curriculum was anti-Semitic enough and sufficiently bloodthirsty for Hamas, or that Hamas is looking to ratchet up the hate even further. Either way, this should raise the alarm because in this (and just about every other) respect Gaza is not Vegas: What happens in Gaza does not stay in Gaza.

The significance of textbooks for propaganda purposes is not lost on the Times:

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The Hamas-Fatah civil war’s impact on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has long been a blind spot for reporters who seek to cover the conflict as a two-dimensional struggle between identifiable enemies. And so it is encouraging to see today’s highly-placed New York Times story on the new Hamas textbooks–a story which covers a second common blind spot for the media: Palestinian incitement and officially sanctioned anti-Semitism.

Today’s Times story explains that schools in Gaza are using new textbooks that, for the first time since Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip, deviate from the Palestinian Authority’s standard texts “as part of a broader push to infuse the next generation with its militant ideology.” I’m not sure what is worse: that until now the official PA curriculum was anti-Semitic enough and sufficiently bloodthirsty for Hamas, or that Hamas is looking to ratchet up the hate even further. Either way, this should raise the alarm because in this (and just about every other) respect Gaza is not Vegas: What happens in Gaza does not stay in Gaza.

The significance of textbooks for propaganda purposes is not lost on the Times:

“When a leader says something, not everyone is listening. But when we talk about textbooks, all the children, all of a particular peer group, will be exposed to a particular material,” he added. “This is the strongest card.”

What Gaza teenagers are reading in their 50-page hardcover texts this fall includes references to the Jewish Torah and Talmud as “fabricated,” and a description of Zionism as a racist movement whose goals include driving Arabs out of all of the area between the Nile in Africa and the Euphrates in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

“Palestine,” in turn, is defined as a state for Muslims stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. A list of Palestinian cities includes Haifa, Beersheba and Acre — all within Israel’s 1948 borders. And the books rebut Jewish historical claims to the territory by saying, “The Jews and the Zionist movement are not related to Israel, because the sons of Israel are a nation which had been annihilated.”

The reaction to stories like this is usually a mix of low expectations and the sunny search for a silver lining by noting that the situation is better in the West Bank, where Israel’s “peace partners” reside. And the response to the latter part of that reaction is, but for how much longer?

In fact, the gap between Hamas and Fatah/PA policy is misleading. That the gap doesn’t narrow often confuses outsiders into thinking there has been no overall, significant shift. But the truth is quite often the opposite. The Hamas-Fatah split manifests in competition over which side can be trusted to best lead the efforts to dismantle the Jewish state next door.

When Hamas increases its militancy in some way, it adversely affects the behavior of Mahmoud Abbas’s PA in at least one of two ways: it makes the PA’s incitement seem milder than it is by comparison, as if the PA has taken a step forward when in reality Hamas has taken a step back. And it encourages the PA to play catch-up by trying to prove its anti-Israel bona fides.

It’s not as though PA textbooks were models of coexistence. As the Jerusalem Post reported in 2011:

“There is generally a total denial of the existence of Israel – and if there is an Israeli presence it is usually extremely negative,” said Eldad Pardo, an IMPACT-SE board member, and head of the organization’s Palestinian textbook research group. “For the next generation, there is no education at all about collaboration and no information about the many collaborations that already exist between Israelis and Palestinians in environmental and other areas.”

In geography textbooks, Israel usually does not appear in maps of the Middle East, instead “Palestine” is shown to encompass Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Jaffa is also shown on maps of Palestine, but Tel Aviv and other predominantly Jewish cities, such as Ramat Gan, kibbutzim and moshavim, are not displayed. …

Other textbooks told students that “the rank of shahid stands above all ranks,” and included a Muslim hadith about the destruction of Jews by Muslims on the day of the resurrection, which also appears in the Hamas charter.

The Hamas deviation from the PA’s anti-Israel brainwashing means that for now, the two Palestinian territories will be teaching their children different versions of history. Both versions are false, and are fabricated in a spirit of hatred that is then instilled in Palestinian youth. But the teaching of parallel histories in the territories is not sustainable–certainly not for a stateless people seeking a unified national identity.

And so the danger in the new Hamas textbooks is not simply that Palestinians in Gaza will be poisoned with an even more malevolent form of Jew-hatred. It is that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, recipient of American aid and global diplomatic legitimacy, will follow suit.

The new high school textbooks, we are told, “do not recognize modern Israel, or even mention the Oslo Peace Accords.” What will a “peace process” be like with a Palestinian polity raised to believe there was never any such thing? Looks like we’re about to find out.

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Nothing Legitimate About Anti-Semitic Slur

Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is pleading innocent. Called out for comments made during a Round Table Global Diplomatic Forum held at the House of Commons last week, Straw insists that there’s nothing anti-Semitic about raising points that he says are merely matters of genuine concern. As the Times of Israel reports, former Labor Party Knesset member Einat Wilf, who took part in the debate, described Straw’s presentation in the following manner:

Wilf participated in the debate and posted some of what she said were Straw’s comments on her Facebook page, saying she nearly fell off her chair when she heard them: “Listing the greatest obstacles to peace, he said ‘unlimited’ funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC in the US are used to control and divert American policy in the region and that Germany’s ‘obsession’ with defending Israel were the problem. I guess he neglected to mention Jewish control of the media….”

The British politician is right when he says criticizing Israel’s policies is not anti-Semitic. But, like many others who want to bash Israel without being branded as Jew-haters, he crossed a very important line when he injected traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish money and insidious attempts to control the policy discussion into the question of how best to advance the cause of peace. That’s why someone like Wilf, who opposes the Netanyahu government, was so outraged. In doing so, he not only demonstrated ignorance of how American politics works as well as insensitivity to Israel’s position, but also showed the way disagreements with the Jewish state quickly morph into conspiracy theories that are thinly veiled new versions of traditional myths about Jews. While Straw is neither the first nor the last member of Parliament or prominent Briton to play this game, the fact that someone who was a former foreign minister would not only feel free to vent this nasty stuff, but also think there’s nothing wrong with it, tells you all you need to know about the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe.

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Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is pleading innocent. Called out for comments made during a Round Table Global Diplomatic Forum held at the House of Commons last week, Straw insists that there’s nothing anti-Semitic about raising points that he says are merely matters of genuine concern. As the Times of Israel reports, former Labor Party Knesset member Einat Wilf, who took part in the debate, described Straw’s presentation in the following manner:

Wilf participated in the debate and posted some of what she said were Straw’s comments on her Facebook page, saying she nearly fell off her chair when she heard them: “Listing the greatest obstacles to peace, he said ‘unlimited’ funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC in the US are used to control and divert American policy in the region and that Germany’s ‘obsession’ with defending Israel were the problem. I guess he neglected to mention Jewish control of the media….”

The British politician is right when he says criticizing Israel’s policies is not anti-Semitic. But, like many others who want to bash Israel without being branded as Jew-haters, he crossed a very important line when he injected traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish money and insidious attempts to control the policy discussion into the question of how best to advance the cause of peace. That’s why someone like Wilf, who opposes the Netanyahu government, was so outraged. In doing so, he not only demonstrated ignorance of how American politics works as well as insensitivity to Israel’s position, but also showed the way disagreements with the Jewish state quickly morph into conspiracy theories that are thinly veiled new versions of traditional myths about Jews. While Straw is neither the first nor the last member of Parliament or prominent Briton to play this game, the fact that someone who was a former foreign minister would not only feel free to vent this nasty stuff, but also think there’s nothing wrong with it, tells you all you need to know about the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe.

As for Straw’s charges, they are easily dismissed. Contrary to the Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel Lobby” conspiracy theory thesis, the vast, wall-to-wall bipartisan coalition that supports the Jewish state is a function of American public opinion, not Jewish money. As frustrating as it may be for Israel’s critics, support for Zionism is baked into the DNA of American politics and is primarily the function of religious attitudes as well as the shared values of democracy that unite the U.S. and Israel. Other lobbies (such as the one that promotes the oil interests or pharmaceuticals) have far more money. Hard as it is for some people to accept, the reason why American politicians back Israel’s democratically elected government is because opposing them is bad politics as well as bad policy.

Making such accusations is offensive rather than just wrong because, as Straw knows very well, talking about Jewish money buying government policy is straight out of the anti-Semitic playbook of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The purpose of such claims is not to argue that Israel’s supporters are misguided so much as that they are illegitimate.

That Straw is similarly frustrated with German refusals to try and hammer the Israelis is equally appalling. While Germany’s government has, contrary to Straw’s comment, often been highly critical of Israel, if Berlin has some sensitivity to Israel’s position as a small, besieged nation, it is because they understand that the underlying factor that drives hostility to Zionism is the same anti-Semitism that drove the Holocaust.

But the main point to be gleaned from this story is the way Straw has illustrated just how mainstream anti-Semitic attitudes have become in contemporary Britain. It is entirely possible that Straw thinks himself free from prejudice. But that is only possible because in the intellectual and political circles in which he and other members of the European elite move, these ideas have gone mainstream rather than being kept on the margins as they are in the United States. The ease with which Western European politicians invoke these tired clichés about Jewish power and money is a reflection of the way attitudes have changed in the last generation as the memory of the Holocaust fades and people feel empowered to revive old hate. Chalk it up to the prejudices of intellectuals, especially on the left, as well as to the growing influence of Muslim immigrants who have brought the Jew-hatred of their home countries with them.

Straw may not be alone in not liking the Netanyahu government, but he can’t get out off the hook for the anti-Semitic rationale for his views that he put forward. The pity is, he’s speaking for all too many Europeans when he speaks in this manner.

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Israel and Evangelical Christians

Robert W. Nicholson has written a fascinating essay for Mosaic magazine titled “Evangelicals and Israel: What American Jews Don’t Want to Know (but Need to).” That essay, in turn, has generated commentaries by Wilfred McClay, Elliott Abrams, Gertrude Himmelfarb, and James Nuechterlein. Each of them has a somewhat different take on what Nicholson wrote; all are worth reading.

The Nicholson essay explores the explanation for Christian Zionism, locating it in eschatology for some Christians while in God’s eternal covenant with Israel for others. Mr. Nicholson argues that many evangelicals feel not only a strong sense of protectiveness toward the State of Israel but a deep cultural affinity with the Jewish people. But he also highlights the growing strength among evangelicals of what he calls a “new anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian movement.” 

The latter is something I can testify to first-hand. Several years ago my wife and I left a Washington D.C. church we were members of over what I came to discover was a deep, though previously hidden-from-view, hostility to Israel. The more I probed the matter, the more disturbing it was, to the point that I didn’t feel we could continue to worship there in good conscience. So we left, despite two of our children having been baptized there and despite having developed strong attachments to the church and many of its congregants over the years.

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Robert W. Nicholson has written a fascinating essay for Mosaic magazine titled “Evangelicals and Israel: What American Jews Don’t Want to Know (but Need to).” That essay, in turn, has generated commentaries by Wilfred McClay, Elliott Abrams, Gertrude Himmelfarb, and James Nuechterlein. Each of them has a somewhat different take on what Nicholson wrote; all are worth reading.

The Nicholson essay explores the explanation for Christian Zionism, locating it in eschatology for some Christians while in God’s eternal covenant with Israel for others. Mr. Nicholson argues that many evangelicals feel not only a strong sense of protectiveness toward the State of Israel but a deep cultural affinity with the Jewish people. But he also highlights the growing strength among evangelicals of what he calls a “new anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian movement.” 

The latter is something I can testify to first-hand. Several years ago my wife and I left a Washington D.C. church we were members of over what I came to discover was a deep, though previously hidden-from-view, hostility to Israel. The more I probed the matter, the more disturbing it was, to the point that I didn’t feel we could continue to worship there in good conscience. So we left, despite two of our children having been baptized there and despite having developed strong attachments to the church and many of its congregants over the years.

Mr. Nicholson does an excellent job explaining the rise of pro-Palestinian sentiment among some segments of American evangelicalism. The basis for this movement rests in part on the belief that Israel is a nation whose very founding in 1947 was illegitimate and immoral; since then, it is said, Israel has become an enemy of justice and peace. Authentic Christianity therefore requires one to embrace the pro-Palestinian narrative, or so this line of argument goes. “The bottom line is simply this,” writes Nicholson. “More and more evangelicals are being educated to accept the pro-Palestinian narrative – on the basis of their Christian faith.”

As for my own attitudes toward the Jewish state, I find myself closely aligned to the view of Nuechterlein. “In the present instance,” he writes, “one need not depend on biblical prophecy or covenantal theology to find reasons to support the state of Israel.”

Israel has the only truly democratic political culture in the Middle East. It is a friend of the West in politics and political economy, and, more important, a consistent and unswerving ally of the United States. It is a regional bulwark against the radical Islamists who are its and America’s sworn enemies. The more I see of the populist Arab spring, the stronger is my commitment to Israel. I support Israel not because I am a Christian—though nothing in my Christian beliefs would preclude that support—but because that support coincides with the requirements of justice and the defense of the American national interest. 

That strikes me as quite right. In a region filled with despots and massive violations of human rights, Israel is the great, shining exception. Indeed, based on the evidence all around us, it is clear that Israel, more than any nation on earth, is held not simply to a double standard but to an impossible standard. Its own sacrifices for peace, which exceed those of any other country, are constantly overlooked even as the brutal acts of its enemies are excused. (I offer a very brief historical account of things here.)

Israel is far from perfect—but it is, in the totality of its acts, among the most estimable and impressive nations in human history. Its achievements and moral accomplishments are staggering—which is why, in my judgment, evangelical Christians should keep faith with the Jewish state. Set aside for now one’s view about the end times and God’s covenantal relationship with Israel. Israel warrants support based on the here and now; on what it stands for and what it stands against and what its enemies stand for and against; and for reasons of simple justice. What is required to counteract the anti-Israel narrative and propaganda campaign is a large-scale effort at education, not simply with dry facts but in a manner that tells a remarkable and moving story. That captures the moral imagination of evangelicals, most especially young evangelicals.

I’m sure some evangelical Christians would appreciate it if more American Jews showed more gratitude toward them for their support of Israel over the years. But frankly that matters very little to me, and here’s why: What ought to decide where one falls in this debate on Israel are not the shadows but the sunlight. On seeing history for what it is rather than committing a gross disfigurement of it. And on aligning one’s views, as best as one can, with truth and facts, starting with this one: The problem isn’t with Israel’s unwillingness to negotiate or even any dispute over territory (Israel has repeatedly proved it is willing to part with land for real peace); it is with the Palestinians’ unwillingness to make their own inner peace with the existence of a Jewish state.

The suffering the Palestinian people (including Palestinian Christians) are enduring is real and ought to move one’s heart. Many Palestinians suffer from circumstances they didn’t create. And so sympathy for their plight is natural. But these circumstances they suffer under are fundamentally a creation not of Israel but of failed Palestinian leadership, which has so often been characterized by corruption and malevolence. Checkpoints and walls exist for a reason, as a response to Palestinian aggressions. Nor has anyone yet emerged among the Palestinian leadership who is either willing or able to alter a civic culture that foments an abhorrence of Jews and longs for the eradication of Israel. That is the sine qua non for progress. 

To my coreligionists I would simply point out an unpleasant truth: hatred for Israel is a burning fire throughout the world. Those of the Christian faith ought to be working to douse the flames rather than to intensify them.

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The Anti-Israel Peace Partner

The Anti-Defamation League issued its list of America’s top 10 anti-Israel groups this week. In compiling the list, the ADL used various criteria, including how active the groups are in sponsoring anti-Israel activity, how vicious their slurs against Israel are, and whether their accusations are “balanced with an acknowledgement of Israel’s repeated efforts to make peace with the Palestinians or the legitimate terrorism concerns faced by Israeli citizens,” as ADL National Director Abraham Foxman put it.

While I have no quarrel with either the ADL’s criteria or its choices, the list inspires an obvious question: How can you blame fringe groups like Jewish Voice for Peace for doing exactly what Israel’s so-called “peace partner”–a man feted in capitals the world over, including Washington–does every single day?

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The Anti-Defamation League issued its list of America’s top 10 anti-Israel groups this week. In compiling the list, the ADL used various criteria, including how active the groups are in sponsoring anti-Israel activity, how vicious their slurs against Israel are, and whether their accusations are “balanced with an acknowledgement of Israel’s repeated efforts to make peace with the Palestinians or the legitimate terrorism concerns faced by Israeli citizens,” as ADL National Director Abraham Foxman put it.

While I have no quarrel with either the ADL’s criteria or its choices, the list inspires an obvious question: How can you blame fringe groups like Jewish Voice for Peace for doing exactly what Israel’s so-called “peace partner”–a man feted in capitals the world over, including Washington–does every single day?

The Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, are world leaders in sponsoring anti-Israel activity and promoting boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns. Just this week, for instance, Abbas toured European capitals to urge the EU to step up sanctions against Israel, while the PA took the bizarre step of asking the French government to strip French nationals living in Israeli settlements of their citizenship. A few weeks ago, Palestinian legislators asked the Inter-Parliamentary Union to approve a motion urging national parliaments to boycott Israel. Last month, the PA sent letters to 50 countries urging them to impose commercial boycotts on Israel. And all this anti-Israel activity is taking place while Israeli-Palestinian talks are ostensibly at their height, with negotiators meeting several times a week.

Nor can you beat Abbas and the PA for hurling vicious slurs at Israel. Earlier this month, for instance, the PA’s culture minister granted an award to the author of a poem describing “my enemy, Zion” as “Satan with a tail,” and the PA’s official television station has repeatedly shown children reciting this charming poem. PA officials regularly accuse Israel of disseminating drugs to encourage Palestinian addiction and plotting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque; indeed, in his UN address last month, Abbas accused Israel of “near-daily attacks” on Al-Aqsa and other religious sites in Jerusalem (in reality, since a 1969 arson attack on the mosque, the only attacks at Al-Aqsa have been Palestinians stoning Jews–see here, here or here, for instance). And this year’s UN speech was tame compared to last year’s, in which he accused Israel of “one of the most dreadful campaigns of ethnic cleansing and dispossession in modern history,” as well as of launching a military operation in Gaza solely to punish the Palestinians’ bid for UN recognition.

Abbas also excels at denying Israel’s “legitimate terrorism concerns.” In last month’s UN speech, for instance, he accused Israel of “relying on exaggerated security pretexts and obsessions in order to consecrate occupation.” The 1,200 Israelis killed in terrorist attacks following Israel’s partial withdrawal from the territories under the 1993 Oslo Accords, like the years of daily rocket launches at Israel after it left Gaza entirely in 2005, are evidently figments of its imagination: Far from being legitimate grounds for concern about security under a final-status agreement, they are mere “pretexts” to “consecrate occupation.”

In short, by the ADL’s own criteria, any list of anti-Israel bodies ought to be headed by Abbas and his Palestinian Authority. The only question that remains is why both Israel and the world are instead dignifying them with the undeserved title of “peace partners.”

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Turkish Jews Begin to Leave

Turkish Jews have long had a secure position in Turkish society. Jews were one of the few peoples who had not rebelled against the Ottoman Empire, and so Turks—and Turkish school books—always treated them as far more loyal citizens than others. It was no wonder, therefore, that Turkey retained a relatively large Jewish community—probably the second-largest in the Middle East, as Iran’s Jewish population has continued to decline. The stability of the Turkish Jewish community has been one straw upon which those in denial about the change in Turkey have grasped. It’s time to stop the denial. According to Hürriyet Daily News:

Anti-Semitism, triggered by harsh statements from the Turkish government, has led to the migration of hundreds of Jewish youngsters from Turkey to the U.S. or Europe, Nesim Güveniş, deputy chairman the Association of Turkish Jews in Israel, told the Hürriyet Daily News on Oct. 21. This unease went before the Mavi Marmara incident, and was aggravated by the notorious “one minute” spat between the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos, according to Güveniş.

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Turkish Jews have long had a secure position in Turkish society. Jews were one of the few peoples who had not rebelled against the Ottoman Empire, and so Turks—and Turkish school books—always treated them as far more loyal citizens than others. It was no wonder, therefore, that Turkey retained a relatively large Jewish community—probably the second-largest in the Middle East, as Iran’s Jewish population has continued to decline. The stability of the Turkish Jewish community has been one straw upon which those in denial about the change in Turkey have grasped. It’s time to stop the denial. According to Hürriyet Daily News:

Anti-Semitism, triggered by harsh statements from the Turkish government, has led to the migration of hundreds of Jewish youngsters from Turkey to the U.S. or Europe, Nesim Güveniş, deputy chairman the Association of Turkish Jews in Israel, told the Hürriyet Daily News on Oct. 21. This unease went before the Mavi Marmara incident, and was aggravated by the notorious “one minute” spat between the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos, according to Güveniş.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used religious incitement to reinforce his domestic political constituency, and anti-Semitism has permeated the Turkish bureaucracy. Rather than a bastion of tolerance, Turkey is a country in which the prime minister’s political allies can finance a movie featuring a subplot about Jews smuggling organs and then the prime minister’s wife can urge everyone to see it.

That the emigration occurs against the backdrop of Turkey’s economic boom of the past decade suggests that Turkish Jews aren’t simply taking advantage of their minority status to seek better economic opportunities. Rather, they are leaving because they are afraid of what Turkey is becoming. More liberal Turks and Turkish tour guides still like to point out the religious diversity of Istanbul society. They may need to change their talking points. Emigration often starts slowly, but it is a tide difficult to reverse. Within a decade or two, Turkey’s Jewish community might much more resemble Egypt’s. Unfortunately, that is a result Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu would probably call success.

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Rising Tide of Hate for European Jews

Earlier this month I wrote about the new Pew Research Center study that detailed the demographic challenges facing an American Jewish community that is losing touch with religion and key elements of Jewish identity. I have a lot more to say about it and the way America’s embrace of Jewry has led to trends that threaten the future of non-Orthodox and especially secular Jews that will be published in the November issue of COMMENTARY’s print edition. But the positive news coming out of their survey focused on the pride felt by most American Jews, even if they were indifferent to core Jewish values and not raising or educating their children to carry on Jewish tradition and faith. At the heart of the comfort felt by American Jews is the fact that few had experienced even the mildest forms of anti-Semitism in the form of a social snub let alone violence.

But that is not the case with European Jewry.

As a survey of European Jews conducted by the European Union reveals, a large percentage of them are not only conscious of anti-Semitism but live their lives in such a way as to try to avoid being the victims of anti-Semitic violence. Across the continent, one in four Jews say they are afraid to wear a kippah or any symbol of Jewish identity in public, figures that rise far higher in countries such as Sweden, France and Belgium. This shows just how dangerous Europe is becoming for Jews and how deadly the revival of Jew hatred around the globe — undoubtedly the worst since the Holocaust — has become.

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Earlier this month I wrote about the new Pew Research Center study that detailed the demographic challenges facing an American Jewish community that is losing touch with religion and key elements of Jewish identity. I have a lot more to say about it and the way America’s embrace of Jewry has led to trends that threaten the future of non-Orthodox and especially secular Jews that will be published in the November issue of COMMENTARY’s print edition. But the positive news coming out of their survey focused on the pride felt by most American Jews, even if they were indifferent to core Jewish values and not raising or educating their children to carry on Jewish tradition and faith. At the heart of the comfort felt by American Jews is the fact that few had experienced even the mildest forms of anti-Semitism in the form of a social snub let alone violence.

But that is not the case with European Jewry.

As a survey of European Jews conducted by the European Union reveals, a large percentage of them are not only conscious of anti-Semitism but live their lives in such a way as to try to avoid being the victims of anti-Semitic violence. Across the continent, one in four Jews say they are afraid to wear a kippah or any symbol of Jewish identity in public, figures that rise far higher in countries such as Sweden, France and Belgium. This shows just how dangerous Europe is becoming for Jews and how deadly the revival of Jew hatred around the globe — undoubtedly the worst since the Holocaust — has become.

The poll conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights was taken online over the course of the last year in Sweden, France, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Romania and Latvia. It will be published next month but the Jewish Telegraphic Agency obtained the results. Though the fact that it is Internet-based diminishes its credibility and once the raw numbers are released it will have to be given a thorough analysis. But the figures are still startling in that they show just how many Jews are worried about being the victims of anti-Semitic violence.

Among the most disturbing responses is the fact that 49 percent of the 800 respondents (by no means a small sample size) say they “avoid visiting places and wearing symbols that identify them as Jews for fear of anti-Semitism. Forty percent of French Jews and 36 percent of those in Belgium feel the same way.

Also alarming is the fact that, in contrast to the American experience, a majority of Jews in some countries are convinced that anti-Semitism is on the rise.

In Hungary, 91 percent of more than 500 respondents said anti-Semitism has increased in the past five years. The figure was 80 percent or above in France, Belgium and Sweden. In Germany, Italy and Britain, some 60 percent of respondents identified a growth in anti-Semitism, compared to 39 percent in Latvia.

Figures for people who said they had experienced an anti-Semitic incident in the 12 previous months were 30 percent for Hungary, 21 percent for France and 16 percent in Germany.

Just as interesting is the fact that those who have experienced such incidents are almost equally split on the identity of the anti-Semites:

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said the perpetrators were Muslims; 22 percent blamed people with “left-wing views”; and 19 percent said the people responsible had “right-wing views.”

But an even better indicator of the tone of European society is revealed in the question about reporting such incidents:

More than 75 percent of respondents said they do not report anti-Semitic harassment to police and 64 percent said they do not report physical assaults, with 67 percent saying that reporting incidents was either “not worth the effort” or otherwise ineffectual.

If Jews don’t think it is worth it to report even physical assaults, it can only mean one thing: that they believe such behavior is no longer considered beyond the pale or even frowned upon by mainstream European opinion. Given the drumbeat of incitement against Israel, which serves as a thinly veiled excuse for traditional anti-Jewish attitudes, throughout Europe, it is little surprise to see that this is being reflected in such incidents.

After a period during which Jewish life revived there in the aftermath of the Holocaust, it is obvious that much of the continent is in the process of reverting to its pre-World War Two attitudes. At the very least, surveys like this call into question the future of Jews in Europe. At worst, it portends worse to come. But either way, the lack of security for Jews in supposedly enlightened Europe makes the defense of Israel all the more important.

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Rand Paul and the War on Christians

Senator Rand Paul may be the leading advocate of a new isolationism in American foreign policy but he sounded an appropriate note of alarm over the weekend when he decried a worldwide war on Christianity at the Values Voter Summit. Noting the vast upsurge in attacks on Christians throughout the Muslim world, Paul rightly blamed “a fanatical element of Islam,” rather than all adherents of the faith. But he also made it clear that this upsurge in violence is not the product of a tiny outlier minority but of an international movement of Islamists who number in the tens of millions.

Paul said the primary responsibility to deal with this problem rests with moderate, peaceful Muslims and he’s right about that. However, it is impossible to separate this religious conflict from the broader terrorist aims of Islamists rendering his call to action on this issue at odds with his other foreign policy stands in which he favors what would in effect be an American withdrawal from a forward policy against these forces. But I’ll leave my fervent disagreements with his worldview that constitutes a genuine threat to a viable U.S. foreign and defense policy aside for the moment. Let’s give him credit for speaking up on an issue of grave concern that most politicians ignore and which most of the foreign policy establishment has been actively seeking to bury. Even more important, let’s address some of the criticism he has been receiving over this speech from some liberals as well as those who claim to speak for American Muslims. Whatever the political motivations for Paul’s speech (one suspects he is trying to woo Evangelicals who dislike his cool attitude toward Israel), those who deny this problem or, even worse, try to depict anyone who calls attention to Muslim intolerance as a bigot, are doing neither Islam nor Muslims any good.

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Senator Rand Paul may be the leading advocate of a new isolationism in American foreign policy but he sounded an appropriate note of alarm over the weekend when he decried a worldwide war on Christianity at the Values Voter Summit. Noting the vast upsurge in attacks on Christians throughout the Muslim world, Paul rightly blamed “a fanatical element of Islam,” rather than all adherents of the faith. But he also made it clear that this upsurge in violence is not the product of a tiny outlier minority but of an international movement of Islamists who number in the tens of millions.

Paul said the primary responsibility to deal with this problem rests with moderate, peaceful Muslims and he’s right about that. However, it is impossible to separate this religious conflict from the broader terrorist aims of Islamists rendering his call to action on this issue at odds with his other foreign policy stands in which he favors what would in effect be an American withdrawal from a forward policy against these forces. But I’ll leave my fervent disagreements with his worldview that constitutes a genuine threat to a viable U.S. foreign and defense policy aside for the moment. Let’s give him credit for speaking up on an issue of grave concern that most politicians ignore and which most of the foreign policy establishment has been actively seeking to bury. Even more important, let’s address some of the criticism he has been receiving over this speech from some liberals as well as those who claim to speak for American Muslims. Whatever the political motivations for Paul’s speech (one suspects he is trying to woo Evangelicals who dislike his cool attitude toward Israel), those who deny this problem or, even worse, try to depict anyone who calls attention to Muslim intolerance as a bigot, are doing neither Islam nor Muslims any good.

One such example comes in today’s Daily Beast from Dean Obeidallah who writes that Paul’s attempt to draw attention to the problem is nothing less than an act of hate speech and even likened it to utterances of Al Qaeda leaders seeking to inflame Muslims against Westerners. He writes:

Paul’s speech is likely a mirror image of one that would be given by an al Qaeda recruiter.  The difference being that an al Qaeda leader would cite isolated bad actions committed by the West and claim these incidents were proof that the West was waging an all out war on Islam.

Let’s be brutally honest: If Rand Paul had given a 19 minute speech listing every bad act committed by Jews anywhere in the world under the guise of “warning” people about Jews, he would rightfully be dubbed an Anti-Semite.  Or if Paul had given a similar speech setting forth a litany of crimes committed by African-Americans in the US as defining that race, he would be deemed a racist.

The problem with this formulation is not just that, for all of his faults, there isn’t the slightest comparison between Paul and a terrorist movement. It’s that treating a worldwide upsurge in anti-Christian violence as merely the acts of a few random malefactors is an act of brazen denial that is divorced by the reality of the Muslim world.

Let me brutally honest in reply to Obeidallah. If Jews were committing violence against Christians or Muslims around the world on the scale that Muslims are doing against non-Muslims, and if a branch of Judaism that could call on the support of a substantial plurality if not the majority of most Jews in many countries were using faith to justify terrorism or to wage war against all non-Jews, such a statement would be justified.

But, of course, we know just the opposite is true. The Muslim world is the driving force behind the international upsurge of anti-Semitism in which hatred for the state of Israel is used as a thinly veiled cover for traditional Jew hatred. The one Jewish state on the planet may have its faults but its Muslims citizens are equal before the law, something that cannot be said of those nations with a Muslim majority. And please don’t waste our time citing puppets like the intimidated remnant of Iranian Jewry as an example of Islamist tolerance or democratic Israel’s attempts to defend itself against a war fought by those who seek to destroy it as an analogy to al-Qaeda.

Radical Islam is a threat not just because of its vicious nature but because it can draw on the support of a large body of Muslim opinion and a long tradition of jihadist warfare against non-believers. The reason why there are virtually no Jews left in Muslim countries and an embattled, discriminated against remnant of Christians there is not due to the actions of outliers who can be easily disowned but a culture and a political system that regards such people as Dhimmi who can be abused with impunity.

What is really troubling about the debate about Paul’s speech is the way that purveyors of the myth of the post-9/11 backlash against Muslims will use it to justify their attempt to impose a new political correctness on discussions of Islamism. To listen to groups like CAIR, a group that masquerades as a defender of civil rights but which was founded as a political front for Hamas fundraisers, to even speak of terrorism or of Islamist violence against non-believers offends the sensibilities of Muslims. In so doing, they seek to effectively silence critiques of American Islamists and to stifle investigations of homegrown terrorism. To this end, they’ve largely succeeded in convincing most of the media that Islamists are more sinned against than they are culpable. Every time an act of Islam-inspired terror occurs, the reflex action of both the government and the media is to deny that religion plays any role in the crime even when we know that it has done so.

Discrimination or prejudice against Muslims is as hateful as that aimed against Jews or Christians. But what those who would damn Paul as a bigot for his speech are doing is, despite their disclaimers, to deny the reality of Islamist hate and to silence those who wish to bring attention to crimes that should outrage all Americans. American Christians should heed Paul’s speech (at least on this topic) and treat religious persecution of non-Muslims as an important issue. And they should ignore those who seek to distract us from the reality of mainstream Muslim intolerance.

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Critiquing Anti-Semitism With Restraint

In the preface to his important new book, The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Anti-Semitism, former Harvard professor Daniel Jonah Goldhagen says he considered many options before conceptualizing anti-Semitism as the devil. He realized some people might think the metaphor overdrawn, but he believes it is not: anti-Semitism has induced people to “commit mass murder again and again, including one of humanity’s most cataclysmic assaults, the attempted murder of an entire people, felling six million of them in one historical instant,” and it “threatens a similar destruction again.”

The book is a chilling explication of the explosion of anti-Semitism in the last two decades, fueled by the Internet and other modern means of global communication, as well as a sophisticated analysis of the inter-related international institutions and political trends that underpin it. It is essential reading.

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In the preface to his important new book, The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Anti-Semitism, former Harvard professor Daniel Jonah Goldhagen says he considered many options before conceptualizing anti-Semitism as the devil. He realized some people might think the metaphor overdrawn, but he believes it is not: anti-Semitism has induced people to “commit mass murder again and again, including one of humanity’s most cataclysmic assaults, the attempted murder of an entire people, felling six million of them in one historical instant,” and it “threatens a similar destruction again.”

The book is a chilling explication of the explosion of anti-Semitism in the last two decades, fueled by the Internet and other modern means of global communication, as well as a sophisticated analysis of the inter-related international institutions and political trends that underpin it. It is essential reading.

In yesterday’s New York Times Book Review, Jeffrey Goldberg reviewed the book and found it written in “a hyperventilating style, starting with its title,” which he considers “heavy breathing.” (Mr. Goldberg suffers on occasion from breathing in and out too rapidly himself: he thinks Sarah Palin may be a “rapture-enraptured evangelical” who “hopes that I will convert to Christianity and then die;” last week he wrote – the day after 700,000 people gathered in Jerusalem to mourn the death of Ovadia Yosef, a former chief rabbi of Israel – that Yosef was the “Israeli Ayatollah,” whose admitted good works Goldberg argued could not ameliorate his “egregious words”). 

In his review, Goldberg quoted the following paragraph from the book (it is Goldhagen’s one-paragraph conclusion following three pages of description of Turkey’s sustained, serious, and systematic mistreatment of Kurds, Greeks, Armenians, Cypriots, and others): 

“In a rational world, the Turks’ systemic and large-scale violence against and suppression of Kurds’ legitimate rights and national aspirations, not to mention the Turks’ genocide of the Armenians, and mass killings of Greeks and others, not to mention their invasion, dismembering and occupation of half a sovereign country, Cyrus, in 1974, the occupation lasting now for almost forty years, might have brought upon Turkey the world’s condemnation and generated in international organizations, including the United Nations, a preoccupation with its predations and the production of intensively negative beliefs and passions, including prejudice (if one believes, as all those who blame Jews and Israel for the existence of anti-Semitism believe, that prejudice is a reaction to a people’s misdeeds) similar to and perhaps far exceeding that against Jews. But it has not – not even 1 percent as much.” 

Goldberg wrote that: 

Goldhagen’s strengths and weaknesses are on display in this previous (typically dense and over-intricate) paragraph. He makes a valid point, but the hectoring tone and the hyperbole – how did he reach the conclusion that Turkey is criticized 1 percent, and not 2 percent, as much as Israel? – undermine the message. … Goldhagen’s book has its uses, but today we need something decidedly better: a book on anti-Semitism that combines original reporting, accessible writing and a sense of restraint.” 

My impression is Goldhagen was being charitable: the real percentage, rounded down, is probably zero. But admittedly, I haven’t done the research. So yes, perhaps what we really need is for someone to run down the exact Turkish-Israeli percentage, and write it up in a restrained and easy-to-understand way. But those who read Goldhagen’s book will not likely think this is a morally serious reaction to it. 

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West Bank Reality: Arab, Not Jewish Hate

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is planning on using the United Nations to publicize what he characterizes as violations of Arab rights in Jerusalem and settler violence in the West Bank. According to Abbas, the chutzpah of some Jews to demand the right to pray on part of their faith’s holiest site — the Temple Mount — is intolerable. But aside from his push to declare all of those parts of the city that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967 as exclusive Palestinian property (a stand that would include the Western Wall as well as the Temple Mount in the Palestinian state he wants to create), Abbas is trying to focus the world on what he says is a campaign of outrages by Jews living in the West Bank against their neighbors. The latest example is an incident in which a mosque was defaced and cars vandalized in an Arab village by what appears to have been settlers.

Such instances are outrageous and should be punished. But those who commit such crimes are a tiny minority of even the Jewish population in the territories. The Israeli government, settler groups as well as the overwhelming majority of the Israeli people condemn these occurrences. But as shameful as they are, to pretend, as most mainstream media outlets do, that it is Jewish violence that is the everyday occurrences in the West Bank, let alone the most serious threat to the peace, is beyond absurd. Evidence for just how wrong this assumption is can be found throughout the year as the number of instances of violent attacks, lethal stone throwing and sundry other forms of terrorism that result not just in damaged windshields but wounded and dead Jewish bodies. Just last night, infiltrators near his home in the Jordan valley killed an Israeli. Last weekend, Arab terrorists shot a nine-year-old Israeli girl in a settlement. And yet you can bet that the U.N. and its sundry agencies dedicated to delegitimizing Israel will take up Abbas’ complaints rather than investigating the wave of anti-Jewish violence or ask what role the PA media plays in inciting these attacks.

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Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is planning on using the United Nations to publicize what he characterizes as violations of Arab rights in Jerusalem and settler violence in the West Bank. According to Abbas, the chutzpah of some Jews to demand the right to pray on part of their faith’s holiest site — the Temple Mount — is intolerable. But aside from his push to declare all of those parts of the city that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967 as exclusive Palestinian property (a stand that would include the Western Wall as well as the Temple Mount in the Palestinian state he wants to create), Abbas is trying to focus the world on what he says is a campaign of outrages by Jews living in the West Bank against their neighbors. The latest example is an incident in which a mosque was defaced and cars vandalized in an Arab village by what appears to have been settlers.

Such instances are outrageous and should be punished. But those who commit such crimes are a tiny minority of even the Jewish population in the territories. The Israeli government, settler groups as well as the overwhelming majority of the Israeli people condemn these occurrences. But as shameful as they are, to pretend, as most mainstream media outlets do, that it is Jewish violence that is the everyday occurrences in the West Bank, let alone the most serious threat to the peace, is beyond absurd. Evidence for just how wrong this assumption is can be found throughout the year as the number of instances of violent attacks, lethal stone throwing and sundry other forms of terrorism that result not just in damaged windshields but wounded and dead Jewish bodies. Just last night, infiltrators near his home in the Jordan valley killed an Israeli. Last weekend, Arab terrorists shot a nine-year-old Israeli girl in a settlement. And yet you can bet that the U.N. and its sundry agencies dedicated to delegitimizing Israel will take up Abbas’ complaints rather than investigating the wave of anti-Jewish violence or ask what role the PA media plays in inciting these attacks.

The prevailing narrative of evil settlers attacking innocent Palestinians is popular precisely because it dovetails with the frame of reference through which Israel’s critics view the conflict. When they choose to notice the far more frequent instances of Arab violence against Jews, the victims are reported as being “settlers” — even when the targets are children — so as to make the point that they had it coming in some way. The settlers are seen as the possessors of stolen property, not people whose rights to live in the heart of the Jewish homeland are actually guaranteed by international law. If the media were to put settler violence in the context of the siege of attacks with which they have to live, the relatively small number of such incidents would be rightly seen as proof of the restraint and law-abiding nature of the vast majority of Jews living in the territories rather than as evidence of their incorrigible and hateful character.

More to the point, were the media to focus as they should on the drumbeat of incitement of hate against Israel and Jews that comes not from Palestinian outliers but the government that is the Jewish state’s supposed peace partner — Abbas’s PA — the notion that an accord merely requires an Israeli territorial retreat would be seen as a transparent fiction.

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Will Hamas Relocate to Turkey?

Hamas is a terrorist group in search of a home. Uprooted by the Syrian civil war, and shaken by the Egyptian coup, the Hamas leadership has taken temporary shelter in Qatar, but that tiny emirate is showing every sign that they want the Islamist radicals to move on. So where would a radical Islamist terrorist group dedicated to the eradication of the State of Israel and whose charter endorses the crudest anti-Semitism turn? Perhaps to Turkey, America’s NATO ally and a country whose leader President Obama identified as one of his top personal foreign friends. According to Hürriyet Daily News:

The prime ministry in Ankara was the venue for a meeting between the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today. The meeting, which started at 7 p.m. and lasted for three hours, was closed to the press. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Agency (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan, Deputy Undersecretary for the Prime Minister’s Office İbrahim Kalın and advisor Sefer Turan were also present at the meeting, Anadolu Agency reported. The meeting between Mashaal and Erdoğan came around four months after their latest meeting. It came at a time when rumors suggest that Mashaal, currently in exile in Qatar, is searching for another place to live.

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Hamas is a terrorist group in search of a home. Uprooted by the Syrian civil war, and shaken by the Egyptian coup, the Hamas leadership has taken temporary shelter in Qatar, but that tiny emirate is showing every sign that they want the Islamist radicals to move on. So where would a radical Islamist terrorist group dedicated to the eradication of the State of Israel and whose charter endorses the crudest anti-Semitism turn? Perhaps to Turkey, America’s NATO ally and a country whose leader President Obama identified as one of his top personal foreign friends. According to Hürriyet Daily News:

The prime ministry in Ankara was the venue for a meeting between the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today. The meeting, which started at 7 p.m. and lasted for three hours, was closed to the press. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Agency (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan, Deputy Undersecretary for the Prime Minister’s Office İbrahim Kalın and advisor Sefer Turan were also present at the meeting, Anadolu Agency reported. The meeting between Mashaal and Erdoğan came around four months after their latest meeting. It came at a time when rumors suggest that Mashaal, currently in exile in Qatar, is searching for another place to live.

It will be interesting to see how many members of the “Caucus on U.S.-Turkey Relations” in the U.S. Congress may realize they will soon be shilling for a terror sponsor in all but formal designation.

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A Brief History of Iranian Holocaust Denial

Iranian Holocaust denial—while the stuff of international headlines—during the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presidency neither began when Ahmadinejad took office nor did it end when Ahmadinejad’s term ended. Some journalists believe that the bedrock ideology of the Islamic Republic has changed since Hassan Rouhani’s election. Some American journalists appear to have given more credence to Rouhani’s alleged Rosh Hashanah tweet than they do the Islamic Republic’s record.

When it comes to Iranian Holocaust denial and revisionism, George Michael, author of The Enemy of my Enemy, had an informative article in the Middle East Quarterly several years back:

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Iranian Holocaust denial—while the stuff of international headlines—during the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presidency neither began when Ahmadinejad took office nor did it end when Ahmadinejad’s term ended. Some journalists believe that the bedrock ideology of the Islamic Republic has changed since Hassan Rouhani’s election. Some American journalists appear to have given more credence to Rouhani’s alleged Rosh Hashanah tweet than they do the Islamic Republic’s record.

When it comes to Iranian Holocaust denial and revisionism, George Michael, author of The Enemy of my Enemy, had an informative article in the Middle East Quarterly several years back:

Holocaust denial was an outgrowth of Iranian anti-Semitism, propelled by the Islamic Republic’s antipathy toward Israel. Long before Ahmadinejad shocked the West with his blunt rhetoric, Supreme Leader ‘Ali Khamenei suggested the Holocaust to be an exaggeration. ‘Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an Iranian figure often labeled a pragmatist by Western journalists, voiced morale support for Holocaust revisionists in the West, suggesting the West persecuted one prominent denier for “the doubt he cast on Zionist propaganda.” However, it was during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, whose rhetorical calls for a dialogue of civilizations won European and U.N. plaudits, that the Islamic Republic became a sanctuary for revisionists. Tehran granted asylum not only to [Swiss Holocaust denier Jürgen] Graf but also to Wolfgang Fröhlick, an Austrian engineer who argued in court under oath that Zyklon-B could not be used to kill humans. Indeed, it was under Khatami that Iranian policy shifted from anti-Zionism to unabashed anti-Semitism.

In August 2003, the Iranian government invited Frederick Töben, a retired German school teacher living in Australia, to speak before the International Conference on the Palestinian Intifada held in Tehran in which he impugned the Holocaust by contending that Auschwitz concentration camp was physically too small for the mass killing of Jews….

Of course, this was at a time when Rouhani was a top regime official and when pundits now singing Rouhani’s praises in the New York Times and elsewhere actually worked in the Foreign Ministry’s “Institute for Political and International Studies,” a sponsor of the Holocaust revisionism.

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