LONDON A bitter row broke out at the end of a rally Friday in Golders Green, north London. Under the slogan Golders Green Together, the rally was called to demonstrate opposition to a proposed neo-Nazi gathering that had been planned for the neighborhood, which is nicknamed Londons Jewish heart. But the display of Israeli flags at the largely good-natured event proved divisive.
Earlier this week, Londons Metropolitan Police announced that it had relocated the neo-Nazi rally to a secure area in Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, where the demonstrators will be confined to a one-hour slot on Saturday before being made to disperse.
In preparation for the anticipated neo-Nazi invasion, however, mainstream Jewish opponents, including the umbrella organization the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the London Jewish Forum, and the pluralistic anti-fascist group HOPE Not Hate, had banded together in Golders Green to declare a Day of Action on Friday.
A variety of faith communities in the area had lent their support to the Day of Action, and organizers decided it would go ahead despite the relocation of the far-right action.
On Friday morning two women appeared at the event carrying a huge Israeli flag and proceeded to decorate parts of the Golders Green war memorial, where the rally was being held, in Israeli bunting and pennants.
Sharon Klaff (left) and Amber Shetreet, claimed to represent five grassroots organizations which monitor anti-Semitism, and sparked a quarrel at the Golders Green Together rally against neo-Nazis with their use of Israeli flags, on July 3, 2015. (Jenni Frazer/The Times of Israel)
The women, Sharon Klaff and Amber Shetreet, claimed to represent five grassroots organizations which monitor anti-Semitism. They denounced the Board of Deputies for what they called its kumbaya cooperation with HOPE Not Hate, which they insisted is virulently anti-Israel. (Gemma Levine, HOPE Not Hates deputy director, emphatically denied this claim.)
Although the women attempted to broadcast their ideas through a megaphone during the mornings event, for the most part the other participants, busy draping lamp posts and flower troughs in the Golders Green campaign colors of gold and green, did not interact with them.
But a furious Israeli businessman, Eyal Landau, was not ready to ignore them. Despite angry protests from Klaff and Shetreet, Landau accused them of disrespecting the Israeli flag.
People died for that flag, he proclaimed, as he went around the war memorial taking down the womens flags. You have no right to use this flag here, Landau told the women. You are doing great damage. This event is not about Israel, it is about anti-Semitism. Enough is enough.
Israeli flags not welcome at London rally against anti …
History of Israel: The Descendants of Abraham The history of Israel commences with God’s covenant with Abraham in approximately 2000 B.C., “I will make you into a great nation” (Genesis 12:2). The name “Israel” (meaning either “one who fights victoriously with God” or “a prevailing prince with God”) comes from the new name God gave Abraham’s grandson Jacob, after Jacob withstood a spiritual struggle at Jabbok (Genesis 32:28). It is at this point that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are often referred to as the “Children of Israel.”
History of Israel: Its Selection as a Special Nation The history of Israel goes back even further than 2000 BC. In fact, the selection of Israel as a special nation was part of God’s plan from the beginning of time. God’s choice of Israel as His “chosen people” did not lie in any special size, nature or attraction. Actually, the nation of Israel was the least in number among all the nations (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). Rather, God chose these people because of His love for them and His unconditional covenant with Abraham. This doesn’t mean that God loved Israel more than other people, it was just that He intended to use Israel as His means to love and bless everyone. It was God’s plan from the beginning to bring forth the Messiah through Israel to act as the savior for the entire world.
History of Israel: The Biblical Record The history of Israel as detailed in the Bible encompasses around 1800 years. It proclaims a dynamic account of God’s miracles, judgments, promises, and blessings. Israel begins as a unilateral promise to one man, Abraham. For more than 400 years, Abraham and his descendants rely on that promise, even during a significant period of slavery in Egypt. Then, by means of an amazing series of miraculous events, God delivers the Israelites of out Egypt in the Exodus (Hebrew: “a going out”). The Exodus is the occasion that most Jews look to as the foundation of the nation of Israel. The Exodus is the act of deliverance which Israelites dwell on as the demonstration of God’s love and protection of Israel. Once the Exodus was completed, God established a conditional covenant with the Israelites at the Mountain of Sinai. It is there that God proclaimed His Law (the Ten Commandments). It is there that God promises blessings for adherence to His Law and curses for noncompliance. The rest of Israel’s history as recorded in the Bible is a continuing cycle of blessing and punishment for Israel’s obedience and disobedience to God’s Law. Throughout times of victory and defeat, king and judges, priests and prophets, restoration and exile – the Israelites are blessed when they obey God and disciplined when they do not. As a nation, Israel was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. At that time, the Jews scattered throughout the whole world, keeping the hope based on prophetic promises of an eventual regathering to the chosen land God gave to Israel. In 1948, after almost 1900 years had passed, Israel was again declared a sovereign nation and officially reestablished in the promised land. Through a series of miraculous events, including the Jews retaking of Jerusalem in 1967, this generation is witnessing the fulfillment of prophecy with respect to God’s special nation.
History of Israel: God’s Ultimate Purpose Why is so much of the Bible focused on the history of Israel and the future of its people? Why was one nation called out as “God’s chosen people”? These questions are answered when we examine God’s ultimate purpose for Israel. When God made His unconditional promise to Abraham that He would make his descendants a great nation, God also promised to bless all people through that nation (Genesis 12:1-3). Therefore, Israel was never considered a sole recipient of God’s blessings, but rather, a channel for God’s blessings to all mankind. God’s miracles for Israel, such as their dramatic deliverance from Egypt, were intended not only for the Israelites themselves, but as evidence of God’s absolute power and uniqueness for a watching polytheistic world (Exodus 7:5; 14:18; Joshua 2:9-11). The Messiah that would come through the nation of Israel was always intended to be the Savior for all mankind (Isaiah 49:6). The Old Testament also contains many invitations to the entire world to come and worship the one living God in Israel (Psalm 2:10-12; 117:1).
Based on recent events in the Holy Land, it is clear that God’s promise to Abraham is still being fulfilled. Accordingly, God’s promise to bless all peoples through Israel is still absolutely apparent. The teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the growth and influence of His church, were made possible through God’s choice of Israel as His people. All people who accept Jesus as their Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile, receive the great blessings of God channeled through His chosen people, the nation of Israel.
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Anti-Semitism in Europe has increased to a level where many committed Jews ask themselves if they should emigrate. The same is true for a significant number of more assimilated Jews. Even more widespread across the Jewish community is the question of whether their children should remain in their native country.
In an environment where the Jewish community has great doubts regarding its future, it helps to get a greater perspective by looking back to the European anti-Semitism that reached unprecedented post-war levels after the Second Intifada in 2000.
Of all the European countries, France is a good one to use as an example, for a number of reasons. Since 2000, the level and nature of anti-Semitic incidents occurring in France which included several murders of Jews by Muslims have been more severe than in other European countries. France not only has the largest Jewish community in Europe, with half a million Jews, but also has the largest Muslim community, with an estimated five million. In addition, the first high-level analysts who came forward to assess the new anti-Semitism which differs, to a large extent, from the classic religious and ethnic anti-Semitism, did so in France.
The work of these analysts is not well-known internationally because most of it was published in French. It remains of great importance, however, because so much of what they originally observed has expanded to even greater proportions. This is due, to a large extent, to the failure of governmental authorities. The sociologist Shmuel Trigano, one of Europes leading Jewish thinkers, was one of the first to make a substantial contribution in exposing and assessing the situation. At the end of 2001, Trigano began publishing a series of articles titled, Observatoire du monde juif. (Observatory of the Jewish world), a series which lasted more than two and a half years.
Trigano succeeded in organizing the collaboration of a substantial number of authors who analyzed many aspects of the hate-fueled outbursts. The first issue, dated November 2001, contained titles indicative of the climate for the French Jewish community: The Jews of France Targeted by the Intifada?, An Atmosphere of Insecurity, The Middle East Conflict is Exported to Western Democracies, The Anti-Jewish Aggressions, The Perverse Logic of French Politics, Religious Anti-Semitism, Political Anti-Semitism, and The Extreme Left and its Ideological Manipulations. These could very well be titles of current essays. since the situation has only worsened.
In another issue published in 2002, Alexandre del Valle explained the convergence of various totalitarianisms in an article titled, The New Red, Brown, and Green Faces of Anti-Semitism, referring to the coming together of communism, fascism and Islamism in regard to anti-Semitism. In the next issue, Michle Tribalat described how the Islamist social network was full of messages comparing Israel with Nazis.
Another important scholar who greatly contributed to diagnosing the anti-Semitic reality in France is Pierre-Andr Taguieff. This non-Jewish philosopher published his book, The New Judeophobia in 2002, which made a major contribution to the understanding of anti-Israelism. Taguieff discussed this latest mutation of anti-Semitism and how it hit French Jewry. He noted that although classic anti-Semitism is considered to be politically incorrect, anti-Israelism did not encounter such resistance and was thus able to expand rapidly.
…[Taguieff] identified the new myth of the intrinsically good Palestinian, or, in other words, that the Palestinians can do no wrong. Taguieff exposed the process by which the crimes of the allegedly deprived, a group to whom the Palestinians claim to belong, are condoned. He described the role of the media in justifying violence and portraying criminals as victims. He pointed out that the next step in the distortion process was to declare that the criminals, now disguised as victims, were not to be held responsible for their acts because they are molded by their socio-economic conditions.
Taguieff also exposed other key issues such as the belief that Muslims and Arabs behave as they do because they are supposedly humiliated or persecuted. He identified the new myth of the intrinsically good Palestinian, or, in other words, that the Palestinians can do no wrong. Taguieff stated that blind pacifism places both the aggressor and his victim at the same level of morality and turns legitimate self-defense into a criminal transgression. These days we can see many examples of this phenomena, including the newly published report of the United Nations Human Rights Commission report on the 2014 Gaza war.
Taguieff also exposed the widespread fallacy that Islamophobia was a larger problem than anti-Semitism. The risk for Jews of being attacked in France was and remains many times greater than the risk of Muslims being attacked.
France: The Early Diagnosis of the New Anti-Semitism – Op …
anti-Semitism,hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial group. The term anti-Semitism was coined in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr to designate the anti-Jewish campaigns under way in central Europe at that time. Although the term now has wide currency, it is a misnomer, since it implies a discrimination against all Semites. Arabs and other peoples are also Semites, and yet they are not the targets of anti-Semitism as it is usually understood. The term is especially inappropriate as a label for the anti-Jewish prejudices, statements, or actions of Arabs or other Semites. Nazi anti-Semitism, which culminated in the Holocaust, had a racist dimension in that it targeted Jews because of their supposed biological characteristicseven those who had themselves converted to other religions or whose parents were converts. This variety of anti-Jewish racism dates only to the emergence of so-called scientific racism in the 19th century and is different in nature from earlier anti-Jewish prejudices.
Anti-Semitism has existed to some degree wherever Jews have settled outside Palestine. In the ancient Greco-Roman world, religious differences were the primary basis for anti-Semitism. In the Hellenistic Age, for instance, Jews social segregation and their refusal to acknowledge the gods worshiped by other peoples aroused resentment among some pagans, particularly in the 1st century bce1st century ce. Unlike polytheistic religions, which acknowledge multiple gods, Judaism is monotheisticit recognizes only one god. However, pagans saw Jews principled refusal to worship emperors as gods as a sign of disloyalty.
Although Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples were practicing Jews and Christianity is rooted in the Jewish teaching of monotheism, Judaism and Christianity became rivals soon after Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate, who executed him according to contemporary Roman practice. Religious rivalry initially was theological. It soon also became political.
Historians agree that the break between Judaism and Christianity followed the Roman destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in the year 70 ce and the subsequent exile of Jews. In the aftermath of this devastating defeat, which was interpreted by Jew and Christian alike as a sign of divine punishment, the Gospels diminished Roman responsibility and expressed Jewish culpability in the death of Jesus both explicitly (Matthew 27:25) and implicitly. Jews were depicted as killers of the Son of God.
Christianity was intent on replacing Judaism by making its own particular message universal. The New Testament was seen as fulfilling the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible); Christians were the new Israel, both in flesh and in spirit. The God of justice had been replaced by the God of love. Thus, some early Church Fathers taught that God had finished with the Jews, whose only purpose in history was to prepare for the arrival of his Son. According to this view, the Jews should have left the scene. Their continued survival seemed to be an act of stubborn defiance. Exile was taken as a sign of divine disfavour incurred by the Jews denial that Jesus was the Messiah and by their role in his crucifixion.
As Christianity spread in the first centuries ce, most Jews continued to reject that religion. As a consequence, by the 4th century, Christians tended to regard Jews as an alien people who, because of their repudiation of Christ and his church, were condemned to perpetual migration (a belief best illustrated in the legend of the Wandering Jew). When the Christian church became dominant in the Roman Empire, its leaders inspired many laws by Roman emperors designed to segregate Jews and curtail their freedoms when they appeared to threaten Christian religious domination. As a consequence, Jews were increasingly forced to the margins of European society.
Enmity toward the Jews was expressed most acutely in the churchs teaching of contempt. From St. Augustine in the 4th century to Martin Luther in the 16th, some of the most eloquent and persuasive Christian theologians excoriated the Jews as rebels against God and murderers of the Lord. They were described as companions of the Devil and a race of vipers. Church liturgy, particularly the scriptural readings for the Good Friday commemoration of the Crucifixion, contributed to this enmity. Such views were finally renounced by the Roman Catholic Church decades after the Holocaust with the Vatican II declaration of Nostra aetate (Latin: In Our Era) in 1965, which transformed Roman Catholic teaching regarding Jews and Judaism.
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anti-Semitism | Britannica.com
A year after the war that devastated the Gaza Strip, Israel is apparently helping Qatar which does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel partner with the Islamist movement and longstanding enemy Hamas to rebuild the the territory.
“Life is full of contradictions and strange things, Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of research for Israel’s military intelligence, told NPRwhen commenting on Israel’s recent move to allow Qatar to channel its reconstruction aid through Hamas, which is a US-designated terrorist group.
Israel has always tried to isolate Hamas and has accused Qatar of financing the Islamist movement. Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, rejects all agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and calls for Israel’s violent destruction in its founding charter.
But now Israel is letting a Qatari official channel millions of dollars to help the Palestinian faction rebuild the Gaza Strip, which was heavily damaged during last summer’s war with Israel.
Kuperwasser told NPR that letting Qatar help Hamas will be beneficial for Israel in the long run. We believe that better conditions in Gaza would lessen the incentive of Hamas and the population to go again to a war, so in a way, it is helping the deterrence, he said.
He also mentioned that Qatar was the only country willing to help despite a pledge of over $5 billion in aid for rebuilding the Strip in 2014 after the war.
Qatar alone has pledged $1 billion, the USpledged $212 million, the European Union $568 million and the United Arab Emirates and Turkey both committed $200 million. But of February 2015, only about 5% of what had been promised reached Gaza, according tohumanitarian news service IRIN.
Mohammad al-Emadi, a Qatari official, has been traveling between Israel and Gaza to discuss reconstruction projects in Gaza,NPR reported. Qatar does not recognize Israel and the countries have no diplomatic relations.
Nevertheless, al-Emadi met with the Israeli brigadier general in charge of letting goods and people through the country’s various crossings with Gaza, according to NPR.
Emadi said that Qatar was there to help Palestinians and not specifically Hamas but that there was no way to achieve that goal in the Strip without Hamas’s help. “You have to support them. You don’t like them … But they control the country, you know,” Emadi said during a visit to Gaza, according to NPR.
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Why Israel allows Qatar to support Hamas in Gaza …
By Jews for Justice in the Middle East Published in Berkeley, CA, 2001 Jews for Justice has made this excellent resource available to people around the world. We have converted their booklet to a more easily copied format. Download it!
As the periodic bloodshed continues in the Middle East, the search for an equitable solution must come to grips with the root cause of the conflict. The conventional wisdom is that, even if both sides are at fault, the Palestinians are irrational terrorists who have no point of view worth listening to. Our position, however, is that the Palestinians have a real grievance: their homeland for over a thousand years was taken, without their consent and mostly by force, during the creation of the state of Israel. And all subsequent crimes on both sides inevitably follow from this original injustice.
This paper outlines the history of Palestine to show how this process occurred and what a moral solution to the regions problems should consist of. If you care about the people of the Middle East, Jewish and Arab, you owe it to yourself to read this account of the other side of the historical record.
The standard Zionist position is that they showed up in Palestine in the late 19th century to reclaim their ancestral homeland. Jews bought land and started building up the Jewish community there. They were met with increasingly violent opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, presumably stemming from the Arabs inherent anti-Semitism. The Zionists were then forced to defend themselves and, in one form or another, this same situation continues up to today.
The problem with this explanation is that it is simply not true, as the documentary evidence in this booklet will show. What really happened was that the Zionist movement, from the beginning, looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population so that Israel could be a wholly Jewish state, or as much as was possible. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never be sold or even leased back to Arabs (a situation which continues to the present).
The Arab community, as it became increasingly aware of the Zionists intentions, strenuously opposed further Jewish immigration and land buying because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Arab society in Palestine. Because of this opposition, the entire Zionist project never could have been realized without the military backing of the British. The vast majority of the population of Palestine, by the way, had been Arabic since the seventh century A.D. (Over 1200 years)
In short, Zionism was based on a faulty, colonialist world view that the rights of the indigenous inhabitants didnt matter. The Arabs opposition to Zionism wasnt based on anti-Semitism but rather on a totally reasonable fear of the dispossession of their people.
One further point: being Jewish ourselves, the position we present here is critical of Zionism but is in no way anti-Semitic. We do not believe that the Jews acted worse than any other group might have acted in their situation. The Zionists (who were a distinct minority of the Jewish people until after WWII) had an understandable desire to establish a place where Jews could be masters of their own fate, given the bleak history of Jewish oppression. Especially as the danger to European Jewry crystalized in the late 1930s and after, the actions of the Zionists were propelled by real desperation.
But so were the actions of the Arabs. The mythic land without people for a people without land was already home to 700,000 Palestinians in 1919. This is the root of the problem, as we shall see.
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The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict
The newly retired Israeli general who served as the commander of the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 came out strongly on Monday against the notion of a two-state solution, saying that the demographic reasoning behind the removal of Jewish settlers was a manipulation and that Israel would yet build settlements in the Strip.
Maj. Gen. (res) Gershon Hacohen, who comes from a family of national religious rabbis and is himself a believer, was tapped to head the August 2005 Disengagement Plan precisely because of his deep ties to the settlement movement.
Over the years he has revealed how difficult the decision was for him on a personal level. On Monday, at a settlers conference for advocacy and media in Jerusalem, he told a semi-circle of still grieving settlers, after his formal address, that my heart was with you there and that I didnt want it to happen.
When a man from the Jewish settlement in Hebron told him he should have served as an example and stepped down the moment he received the order, he replied, You have no idea how much worse it would have been had I not been there.
Forgiveness, he said, was something he would seek from the Ruler of the World.
A Jewish settler argues with a female soldier during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip on August 17, 2005. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/ Flash90)
The pullout from Gaza was part of prime minister Ariel Sharons plan to draw formal state borders and to receive US backing for unilateral moves that may have continued into the West Bank but likely would not have included all of the territory won in the Six Day War.
Speaking from the podium before a nearly entirely religious crowd, many of whom still feel hurt by the move, Hacohen said that the withdrawal had been an experiment and that the very idea of partition and of two states for two peoples was anachronistic.
Those who speak of a two-state solution, he said, belong to the 20th century. Whoever is part of the 21st century understands: one state.
Hacohen said that in an age of asymmetric warfare, civilian settlements were, once again, a pillar of Israels security. He added that even his dead mother, who lies in dust on the Mount Olives, was fulfilling a strategic role in holding a patch of earth.
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Gaza pullout commander says settlers will return to the Strip
Creation of Israel, 1948
On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day.
Eliahu Elath presenting ark to President Truman
Although the United States supported the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which favored the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had assured the Arabs in 1945 that the United States would not intervene without consulting both the Jews and the Arabs in that region. The British, who held a colonial mandate for Palestine until May 1948, opposed both the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine as well as unlimited immigration of Jewish refugees to the region. Great Britain wanted to preserve good relations with the Arabs to protect its vital political and economic interests in Palestine.
Soon after President Truman took office, he appointed several experts to study the Palestinian issue. In the summer of 1946, Truman established a special cabinet committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Henry F. Grady, an Assistant Secretary of State, who entered into negotiations with a parallel British committee to discuss the future of Palestine. In May 1946, Truman announced his approval of a recommendation to admit 100,000 displaced persons into Palestine and in October publicly declared his support for the creation of a Jewish state. Throughout 1947, the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine examined the Palestinian question and recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. On November 29, 1947 the United Nations adopted Resolution 181 (also known as the Partition Resolution) that would divide Great Britains former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states in May 1948 when the British mandate was scheduled to end. Under the resolution, the area of religious significance surrounding Jerusalem would remain a corpus separatum under international control administered by the United Nations.
Although the United States backed Resolution 181, the U.S. Department of State recommended the creation of a United Nations trusteeship with limits on Jewish immigration and a division of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab provinces but not states. The State Department, concerned about the possibility of an increasing Soviet role in the Arab world and the potential for restriction by Arab oil producing nations of oil supplies to the United States, advised against U.S. intervention on behalf of the Jews. Later, as the date for British departure from Palestine drew near, the Department of State grew concerned about the possibility of an all-out war in Palestine as Arab states threatened to attack almost as soon as the UN passed the partition resolution.
Despite growing conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews and despite the Department of States endorsement of a trusteeship, Truman ultimately decided to recognize the state Israel.
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Creation of Israel, 1948 – 19451952 – Milestones – Office …
May. 23, 2015
World Bank report finds Gaza’s economy is near collapse due to 2014 war with Israel, border restrictions and dysfunctional government; cites conflict between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Palestinian Authority Pres Mahmoud Abbas as reason for delay in reconstruction efforts, and notes unemployment rate stands at 44 percent, world’s highest level. MORE
Pope Francis, during meeting at Vatican, calls Palestinian Authority Pres Mahmoud Abbas ‘angel of peace'; Vatican reiterates hope that Palestinians and Israel will find lasting solution to regional conflict. MORE
Palestinian Authority owes $430 million in electricity bills to Israel, and debt is at center of latest deterioration in relations with Israel; two sides cannot agree on how much energy is used, how bills should be calculated or how payments should be made. MORE
Israel agrees to transfer some $470 million in tax revenue collected on behalf of Palestinians, resolving months-long dispute over issue; money was accrued since Israel suspended payments in response to Palestinian move to join the International Criminal Court. MORE
Diplomatic conflicts between Israel and Palestinians endanger relative stability and peace West Bank has experienced in recent years; Palestinian Authority threatens to scale back its shared security responsibilities with Israeli military, but both sides appear to have interest in preventing outbreak of violence. MORE
Palestinians join the International Criminal Court, making most significant and controversial step yet toward seeking statehood; Palestinian Authority hopes to use membership to increase international pressure on Israel and to hold it accountable for policies and actions that Palestinians charge are war crimes; stops short, however, of calling for immediate investigation of Israeli officials. MORE
Palestinians are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with Palestinian Authority Pres Mahmoud Abbas, highlighting divisions that could impede progress toward statehood. MORE
Israeli Prime Min Benjamin Netanyahu, in attempt to ease tensions with Palestinians and United States, will release 90 days worth of tax revenues to Palestinian Authority; funds have collected since Israel began withholding them in response to Palestinian attempt to join International Criminal Court. MORE
Manhattan jury finds Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Liberation Organization liable for their role in six terrorist attacks in Israel from 2002 to 2004 that killed and injured Americans; award of $218.5 million in damages is tripled under special terrorism law to $655.5 million, ending decade-long legal battle; Palestinian groups say they will appeal. MORE
The Palestinian Authority – Times Topics
Something unusual has begun in the Washington-New York corridor. Journalists and policy analysts have begun a critical public discussion about President Obamas understanding (or misunderstanding) of the significance and nature of the anti-Semitism of the Iranian regime. They are asking how his view on that subject affects prospects for a nuclear deal to stop the ayatollahs from getting the bomb. Insights about the history and nature of anti-Semitism that we historians have elaborated over the years are finding their way into the pages of several of our major newspapers and at least one important policy-related international relations journal.
The President himself, apparently stung by criticism that his approach to Iran is facilitating rather than preventing its path to the bomb and that he bears primary responsibility for the tensions in American-Israeli relations, initiated this discussion when he recently gave an extensive interview to The Atlantic magazine journalist Jeffrey Goldberg. The interview was published on May 21. Then, on May 22, the President spoke at Adas Israel, a Conservative Washington, D.C. synagogue whose congregants include many of the citys politics and policy leaders. There, the President spoke of unbreakable bonds and a friendship that cannot be broken between the United States and Israel. He said he was interested in a deal that blocks every single one of Irans pathways to a nuclear weapon every single path. The President eloquently recalled the role American Jews played in the Civil Rights Movement and spoke of the values we share. A week later, foreign policy analyst Michael Doran, whose excellent commentary about Iran I have discussed previously in this blog, wrote a Letter to My Liberal Jewish Friends in which he argued that the existence of shared values, though important, was not the key issue. It was, instead, the necessary criticism of Obamas policies towards Irans nuclear program.
In the interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, the President finally laid out in public for the first time his view of the role of anti-Semitism in the government in Tehran. As a historian who has written a great deal about anti-Semitism, I welcome this terribly belated public discussion of anti-Semitism in the American foreign policy world. A year ago almost to the day, on June 2, 2014, I published Taking Irans Anti-Semitism Seriously in the American Interest magazine. Adam Garfinkle, that journals fine editor, combines an insiders grasp of US foreign relations with an understanding of the nature of anti-Semitism, which he discussed in an essay in 2012. In my essay, I wrote:
The scholarship on the history of anti-Semitism hasnt yet had a significant impact on the policy discussions in Washington about Iran. Perhaps too many of our policymakers, politicians, and analysts still labor under the mistaken idea that radical anti-Semitism is merely another form of prejudice or, worse, an understandable (and hence excusable?) response to the conflict between Israel, the Arab states, and the Palestinians. In fact it is something far more dangerous, and far less compatible with a system of nuclear deterrence, which assumes that all parties place a premium on their own survival. Irans radical anti-Semitism is not in the slightest bit rational; it is a paranoid conspiracy theory that proposes to make sense (or rather nonsense) of the world by claiming that the powerful and evil Jew is the driving force in global politics. Leaders who attribute enormous evil and power to the 13 million Jews in the world and to a tiny Middle Eastern state with about eight million citizens have demonstrated that they dont have a suitable disposition for playing nuclear chess.
On April 6 I returned to these themes in this blog: The Iran Deal and Anti-Semitism. Here I expressed concern about Obamas reference to the practical streak in the Iranian government. So I was very pleased to see that Goldberg had decided to raise precisely this issue in his now much-discussedwithin some circlesinterview with the President. Goldberg thought it was difficult to negotiate with people who are captive to a conspiratorial anti-Semitic worldview not because they hold offensive views, but in his words because they hold ridiculous views. Obama responded as follows:
Well the fact that you a re anti-Semitic, or racist, doesnt preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesnt preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesnt preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesnt mean that this overrides all of his other considerations.
In reply to Goldbergs oblique comment that anti-Semitic European leaders had made irrational decisions, Obama stated:
They may make irrational decisions with respect to discrimination, with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool. At the margins, where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest. But the costs here are not low, and what weve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have. Thats what the sanctions represent. Thats what the military option Ive made clear I preserve represents. And so I think it is not at all contradictory to say that there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime, but that they also are interested in maintaining power, having some semblance of legitimacy inside their own country, which requires that they get themselves out of what is a deep economic rut that weve put them in, and on that basis they are then willing and prepared potentially to strike an agreement on their nuclear program.
Because Goldberg spoke vaguely about European leaders, the President either did not have to or did not choose that moment to speak about his understanding of the role of anti-Semitism in the Nazi regime and during the Holocaust. That is unfortunate, because it seemsto this historian at leastthat his grasp of the subject leaves something to be desired. The consensus among the numerous scholars who have worked on the subject is that for the Nazis, anti-Semitism was not primarily a form of discrimination or an organizing tool. It was an ideology that justified mass murder and did so not for the ulterior purpose of organizing others but because they believed that exterminating the Jews in the world would save Germany from destruction and eliminate the primary source of evil in the world. The extermination was carried out for the sake of these beliefs. Nor was this ideology at the margins of Nazi policy; it was at its center. The Presidents comments to Goldberg raise questions about whether the President fully or accurately understands the link between ideology and policy during the Holocaust. As I wrote in The Jewish Enemy, the Nazi leadership interpreted the entire Second World War through the prism of anti-Semitic paranoia in such a way as to interpret the war as one, incredibly, launched by world Jewry to exterminate the German people. Anti-Semitism then was a key interpretive framework that the Nazis employed to misunderstand the political realities of the time. If the President understands this dimension of anti-Semitism it was not evident in his interview with Goldberg.
Of course, Nazi Germany is gone and Hitler is dead. So a policy question facing any President of the United States now and in years to come remains the following: What is the place and the nature of anti-Semitism in the Iranian regime, and what impact does this ideology have on its foreign and military policy toward the United States and its allies, including Israel? For the first time in his six years in office, the President publicly acknowledged what scholarly observers of Iran, such as Tel Aviv Universitys Meir Litvak, among others, have pointed out for the past two decades, namely that indeed there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime. Aside from the obvious rejections of Mahmoud Ahmadinejads Holocaust-denial circus, this may have been the first time that any official of the United States government during the Obama years has said anything remotely approaching the Presidents remark about deep strainsin the core regime. On the contrary, during this era of euphemism, even pointing to the regimes radical anti-Semitism could raise suspicions of Islamophobia. So President Obamas long-overdue acknowledgment of what has been obvious to informed observers for decades is most welcome. Yet, in the same sentence in which he acknowledged this inconvenient truth, he suggested that the ideological imperative would give way to practical and rational interests in maintaining power. In so doing, he diminishes the impact of the ayatollahs radical anti-Semitism on the whole spectrum of Irans foreign and military policy.
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Obama and his American critics on Irans anti-Semitism …