Saturday, November 16, 2013

Anti-Semitism in Europe Is Getting Worse. By Cathy Young.

Anti-Semitism in Europe Is Getting Worse. By Cathy Young. Real Clear Politics, November 16, 2013.


Is hostility toward Israel linked to hostility toward Jews? A report on anti-Semitism in Europe, released on November 8—the day before the anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom that marked the start of the Nazi war on Jews 75 years ago—addresses this contentious question. While Israel’s supporters have long warned of a new strain of anti-Semitism camouflaged in pro-Palestinian advocacy and opposition to Israeli policies, Israel’s critics complain that charges of anti-Jewish bigotry are used to silence dissent. Yet the latest study, “Discrimination and Hate Crime Against Jews in EU Member States,” strongly suggests that “the new anti-Semitism” is not a propagandist myth but a depressing reality.
The evidence is especially compelling since it comes from a neutral source: the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). The agency surveyed nearly 6,000 self-identified Jews in eight European Union countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom). While the online survey, publicized through Jewish community organizations and media outlets, did not have a random sample of respondents, it was designed with expert input to be as representative as possible.
A few findings:
* Two-thirds of respondents said that anti-Semitism was a serious problem in their country; three out of four felt it had worsened in the past five years.
* One in four said they had personally experienced anti-Jewish harassment in the past twelve months; while this included verbal attacks on the Internet, almost one in five had been harassed in person.
* During the same period, three percent said they had been targets of anti-Semitic vandalism; four percent reported hate-motivated physical assaults or threats.
* Nearly half worried about anti-Jewish harassment or violence; two-thirds of those with school-age children or grandchildren were concerned that the children might experience such harassment at school or on the way to school.
* Close to a quarter said they sometimes refrained from visiting Jewish events or sites out of safety concerns. Nearly two out of five usually avoided public displays of Jewish identity such as wearing a Star of David.
* Almost one in three had considered emigrating because they did not feel safe as Jews.
Even if the self-selected the pool of respondents was skewed toward those affected by or strongly concerned about anti-Semitism, these are still disturbing results.
The survey also reveals some interesting—and not entirely surprising—facts about the face of anti-Jewish bigotry in 21st Century Europe. Most of those who reported anti-Semitic harassment identified the culprit or culprits as having either “Muslim extremist views” (27 percent) or left-wing political views (22 percent); only 19 percent said it came from someone with right-wing beliefs.
This tendency is even stronger for anti-Semitic hate speech, from Holocaust denial to claims that the Jews “exploit Holocaust victimhood” or have too much power. (The exceptions are Latvia and Hungary, where anti-Semitism is more likely to be of the traditional far-right variety.) Among Western European Jews who reported encountering such slurs in the past year, 57 percent had seen or heard them from left-wingers; 54 percent, from Muslim extremists; 37 percent, from right-wingers; 18 percent, from Christian extremists. Moreover, the most common anti-Jewish comment reported in the survey was that Israelis act “like Nazis” toward the Palestinians—rhetoric European institutions have repeatedly condemned as anti-Semitic.
Of course criticism of Israeli policies does not equal anti-Semitism: All states are fallible, and the state of Israel is locked in an excruciatingly complex conflict with the Palestinians in which there is very real suffering on both sides. Yet the Israelis-as-Nazis metaphor is a stark illustration of how far such criticism has gone beyond the pale. Such analogies do not get thrown at states with far worse human rights records, such as China or Russia; even South Africa’s racist apartheid regime, however reviled, was not routinely attacked as Nazi-like. The Israelis are singled out for this comparison precisely as Jews—the primary targets of Nazi genocide—who have supposedly traded places with their murderers. If this is not anti-Semitism, what is?
Yet such parallels are creeping into mainstream left-wing discourse, even in the United States. The new book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel by Max Blumenthal, heavily promoted by The Nation—the leading magazine of the American left—features such chapter titles as “The Concentration Camp” and “The Night of Broken Glass.” (Even Nation columnist Eric Alterman, himself a vocal critic of Israel, has slammed Goliath for, among other things, the “implicit equation of Israel with Nazis.”)
There are even more striking examples of the fusion between Israel-bashing and Jew-bashing. A 2011 tract called The Wandering Who? by Israeli-born British musician and self-styled “self-hating Jew” Gilad Atzmon not only asserts that Israel is “far worse than Nazi Germany” but suggests that historical anti-Semitism in Europe must have been the Jews’ fault. Atzmon brags about getting suspended from school as a child for asking the teacher how she knew that Jews didn’t really murder Christian babies for ritual use of their blood. He also blames American Jews in the 1930s for provoking Hitler by calling for a boycott of German goods.
While some anti-Zionist leftists and pro-Palestinian activists denounced Atzmon’s book, it received a disturbing amount of praise—including a blurb from University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, co-author of the controversial book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. A major British newspaper, The Guardian, carried The Wandering Who? in its online bookshop before pulling it in response to criticism.
In this toxic climate, the lines between “new” and “old” anti-Semitism keep getting more and more blurred. Last year, veteran Norwegian academic Johan Galtung, the founder of “peace studies” and a distinguished professor at the University of Hawaii, came under fire for some eyebrow-raising statements. Among other things, Galtung had described the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a 1903 hoax “documenting” a Jewish world domination plot, as a useful tool for understanding the modern world; he had also made outlandish claims about Jewish control of the American media, apparently drawn from neo-Nazi guru William Luther Pierce.
Sympathy for the Palestinians, who are seen as Third World victims of pro-Western colonialists, has led many on the left to condone anti-Jewish attitudes presumably driven by anger at Israeli oppression. Take Alterman, the anti-Goliath polemicist, who in a recent blogpost writes that he himself has often been attacked and tarred with the anti-Semitism brush by Israel sympathizers. I am one of those polemicists, and I regretfully admit that in a 2005 column I made some inappropriate comments about Jewish self-hatred. Yet there remains the fact that Alterman has written off anti-Jewish violence by young Arab immigrants in France as a backlash against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank (rather than real anti-Semitism) and defended a British Muslim group’s decision to boycott a Holocaust remembrance event. Whatever the motive, such excuses effectively amount to enabling anti-Semitism. And as long as such enabling continues, the problem will keep getting worse.

People Thought the Industrial Revolution Was Servile Too. By Walter Russell Mead.

People Thought the Industrial Revolution Was Servile Too. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, November 16, 2013.

The Demise of Pax Americana. By Caroline Glick.

The Demise of Pax Americana. By Caroline Glick., November 15, 2013. Also at the Jerusalem Post.

Iran Negotiations Coming to a Head? By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, November 9, 2013.


What happened in Geneva last week was the most significant international event since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The collapse of the Soviet Union signaled the rise of the United States as the sole global superpower. The developments in the six-party nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva last week signaled the end of American world leadership.
Global leadership is based on two things – power and credibility. The United States remains the most powerful actor in the world. But last week, American credibility was shattered.
Secretary of State John Kerry spent the first part of last week lying to Israeli and Gulf Arab leaders and threatening the Israeli people. He lied to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Saudis about the content of the deal US and European negotiators had achieved with the Iranians.
Kerry told them that in exchange for Iran temporarily freezing its nuclear weapons development program, the US and its allies would free up no more than $5 billion in Iranian funds seized and frozen in foreign banks.
Kerry threatened the Israeli people with terrorism and murder – and so invited both – if Israel fails to accept his demands for territorial surrender to PLO terrorists that reject Israel’s right to exist.
Kerry’s threats were laced with bigoted innuendo.
He claimed that Israelis are too wealthy to understand their own interests. If you don’t wise up and do what I say, he intoned, the Europeans will take away your money while the Palestinians kill you. Oh, and aside from that, your presence in the historic heartland of Jewish civilization from Jerusalem to Alon Moreh is illegitimate.
It is hard to separate the rise in terrorist activity since Kerry’s remarks last week from his remarks.
What greater carte blanche for murder could the Palestinians have received than the legitimization of their crimes by the chief diplomat of Israel’s closest ally? Certainly, Kerry’s negotiating partner Catherine Ashton couldn’t have received a clearer signal to ratchet up her economic boycott of Jewish Israeli businesses than Kerry’s blackmail message, given just two days before the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Kerry’s threats were so obscene and unprecedented that Israeli officials broke with tradition and disagreed with him openly and directly, while he was still in the country. Normally supportive leftist commentators have begun reporting Kerry’s history of anti-Israel advocacy, including his 2009 letter of support for pro-Hamas activists organizing flotillas to Gaza in breach of international and American law.
As for Kerry’s lies to the US’s chief Middle Eastern allies, it was the British and the French who informed the Israelis and the Saudis that far from limiting sanctions relief to a few billion dollars in frozen funds, the draft agreement involved ending sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas sector, and on other industries.
In other words, the draft agreement exposed Washington’s willingness to effectively end economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s agreement to cosmetic concessions that will not slow down its nuclear weapons program.
Both the US’s position, and the fact that Kerry lied about that position to the US’s chief allies, ended what was left of American credibility in the Middle East. That credibility was already tattered by US fecklessness in Syria and support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
True, in the end, Kerry was unable to close the deal he rushed off to Geneva to sign last Friday.
Of course, it wasn’t Iran that rejected the American surrender. And it wasn’t America that scuttled the proposal. It was France. Unable to hide behind American power and recognizing its national interest in preventing Iran from emerging as a nuclear armed power in the Middle East, France vetoed a deal that paved the way a nuclear Iran.
Kerry’s failure to reach the hoped-for deal represented a huge blow to America, and a double victory for Iran. The simple fact that Washington was willing to sign the deal – and lie about it to its closest allies – caused the US to lose its credibility in the Middle East. Even without the deal, the US paid the price of appeasing Iran and surrendering leadership of the free world to France and Israel.
Just by getting the Americans to commit themselves to reducing sanctions while Iran continues its march to a nuclear weapon, Iran destroyed any remaining possibility of doing any serious non-military damage to Iran’s plans for nuclear weaponry. At the same time, the Americans boosted Iranian credibility, endorsed Iranian power, and belittled Israel and Saudi Arabia – Iran’s chief challengers in the Middle East. Thus, Iran ended Pax Americana in the Middle East, removing the greatest obstacle in its path to regional hegemony. And it did so without having to make the slightest concession to the Great Satan.
As Walter Russell Mead wrote last week, it was fear of losing Pax Americana that made all previous US administrations balk at reaching an accord with Iran. As he put it, “Past administrations have generally concluded that the price Iran wants for a different relationship with the United States is unsustainably high. Essentially, to get a deal with Iran we would have to sell out all of our other allies. That’s not only a moral problem. Throwing over old allies like that would reduce the confidence that America’s allies all over the world have in our support.”
The Obama administration just paid that unsustainably high price, and didn’t even get a different relationship with Iran.
Most analyses of what happened in Geneva last week have centered on what the failure of the talks means for the future of Obama’s foreign policy.
Certainly Obama, now universally reviled by America’s allies in the Middle East, will be diplomatically weakened. This diplomatic weakness may not make much difference to Obama’s foreign policy, because appeasement and retreat do not require diplomatic strength.
But the real story of what happened last week is far more significant than the future of Obama’s foreign policy. Last week it was America that lost credibility, not Obama. It was America that squandered the essential component of global leadership. And that is the watershed event of this young century.
States act in concert because of perceived shared interests. If Israel and Saudi Arabia combine to attack Iran’s nuclear installations it will be due to their shared interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal. But that concerted action will not make them allies.
Alliances are based on the perceived longevity of the shared interests, and that perception is based on the credibility of international actors.
Until Obama became president, the consensus view of the US foreign policy establishment and of both major parties was that the US had a permanent interest in being the hegemonic power in the Middle East. US hegemony ensured three permanent US national security interests: preventing enemy regimes and terror groups from acquiring the means to cause catastrophic harm; ensuring the smooth flow of petroleum products through the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal; and demonstrating the credibility of American power by ensuring the security of US allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. The third interest was an essential foundation of US deterrence of the Soviets during the Cold War, and of the Chinese over the past decade.
Regardless of who was in the White House, for the better part of 70 years, every US government has upheld these interests. This consistency built US credibility, which in turn enabled the US to throw its weight around.
Obama departed from this foreign policy consensus in an irrevocable manner last week. In so doing, he destroyed US credibility.
It doesn’t matter who succeeds Obama. If a conservative internationalist in the mold of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan is elected in 2016, Obama’s legacy will make it impossible for him to rebuild the US alliance structure. US allies will be willing to buy US military platforms – although not exclusively.
They will be willing to act in a concerted manner with the US on a temporary basis to advance specific goals.
But they will not be willing to make any long term commitments based on US security guarantees.
They will not be willing to place their strategic eggs in the US basket.
Obama has taught the world that the same US that elected Truman and formed NATO, and elected George H.W. Bush and threw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, can elect a man who betrays US allies and US interests to advance a radical ideology predicated on a rejection of the morality of American power. Any US ally is now on notice that US promises – even if based on US interests – are not reliable. American commitments can expire the next time America elects a radical to the White House.
Americans uninterested in surrendering their role as global leader to the likes of Tehran’s ayatollahs, Russia’s KGB state and Mao’s successors, must take immediate steps mitigate the damage Obama is causing. Congress could step in to clip his radical wings.
If enough Democrats can be convinced to break ranks with Obama and the Democratic Party’s donors, Congress can pass veto-proof additional sanctions against Iran. These sanctions can only be credible with America’s spurned allies if they do not contain any presidential waiver that would empower Obama to ignore the law.
They can also take action to limit Obama’s ability to blackmail Israel, a step that is critical to the US’s ability to rebuild its international credibility.
For everyone from Anwar Sadat to South American democrats, for the past 45 years, America’s alliance with Israel was a central anchor of American strategic credibility. The sight of America standing with the Jewish state, in the face of a sea of Arab hatred, is what convinced doubters worldwide that America could be trusted.
America’s appalling betrayal of Jerusalem under Obama likewise is the straw that has broken the back of American strategic credibility from Taipei to Santiago. If Congress is interested in rectifying or limiting the damage, it could likewise remove the presidential waiver that enables Obama to continue to finance the PLO despite its involvement in terrorism and continued commitment to Israel’s destruction. Congress could also remove the presidential waiver from the law requiring the State Department to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Finally, Congress can update its anti-boycott laws to cover new anti-Israel boycotts and economic sanctions against the Jewish state and Jewish-owned Israeli companies.
These steps will not fully restore America’s credibility.
After all, the twice-elected president of the United States has dispatched his secretary of state to threaten and deceive US allies while surrendering to US foes. It is now an indisputable fact that the US government may use its power to undermine its own interests and friends worldwide.
What these congressional steps can do, however, is send a message to US allies and adversaries alike that Obama’s radical actions do not represent the wishes of the American people and will not go unanswered by their representatives in Congress.

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Can Be Managed. By Ophir Falk.

Conflict can be managed. By Ophir Falk. Ynet News, November 14, 2013.


Every Israeli would like to wake up tomorrow morning and hear that the century-old conflict with the Palestinians is over; that the leaders have reached a viable agreement on the outstanding issues and now we can all live happily ever after.
That is not going to happen.
The core issues are currently irreconcilable. This basic truth can be ostracized by overly optimistic or pathetic politicians, but at the end of the day – it is what it is. Israel has made concessions and is willing to make more, but no Israeli leader, (unless he’s under criminal investigation), will be willing to withdraw to pre-1967 borders.
Such borders were long ago depicted by legendary Labor Foreign Minister Abba Eban as the “borders of Auschwitz,” and the topography has yet to change. Neither has the demography. Israel’s prime minister will not divide his nation’s capital and will insist that Israel be recognized as the Jewish state by its partners to peace.
Concurrently, the current Palestinian president will not detract from his demand for the return of refugees and isn’t even willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian one.
In fact, even if the Palestinian leader would be willing to compromise, he lacks the legitimacy to do so. He is a persona non grata in Hamas-held Gaza and almost a decade has passed since he was elected in Ramallah. Abbas may represent his political party, but not his people. That weakness, binds him to a “no-budge position” on all the core issues.
Despite political stalemate, Israelis and many Palestinians want peace and quiet. The politicians need to facilitate that.
The conflict cannot be resolved at this time, but it can be managed. Many international disagreements and border disputes are being managed peacefully, and have been for decades. There are border disputes between Spain and Morocco, the United Kingdom and Ireland, France and Italy, China and India, Russia and Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, the Netherlands and Germany, Ukraine and Russia and many more. There are even seven different territorial disputes between Canada and the United States, which share the longest non-militarized border in the world.
Israel and its Palestinian neighbors can also manage their conflict by agreeing on agreeable issues and agreeing to disagree on issues that are currently unsolvable. A stable economic environment and a sustainable security situation are in the common interest of both sides. It is especially important for the Palestinians, and they would be wise to act accordingly. The imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians and economic comparisons with neighboring Syria, Jordan and Egypt make that observation crystal clear.
The earth will not quake if the status quo continues in Jerusalem and if Jews and Palestinians are permitted to continue living where they live.

Israel Increasingly Courting China as an Ally. By Dan Levin.

Israel Increasingly Courting China as an Ally. By Dan Levin. New York Times, November 12, 2013.

A New Wave of Palestinian Violence Is Not a Third Intifada. By Ron Ben-Yishai.

It’s not a third intifada. By Ron Ben-Yishai. Ynet News, November 14, 2013.

Kerry, give it a rest. By Alex Fishman. Ynet News, November 10, 2013.