Middle East studies in the News
The Jewish Paradox [incl. Rashid Khaldi]
by David Solway
Although I am not an observant Jew and may have little in common with such well-known online commentators as Dennis Prager and Shmuley Boteach, I am nevertheless strongly pro-Zionist, recognize Israel as the legitimate and historic Jewish homeland built on solid moral foundations, and am always aware that, should the antisemitic fever in the world ever rise to epidemic proportions, Israel through the Law of Return represents the only asylum available to those like myself. As historian Robert Wistrich writes, "the current rise [of antisemitism] is a herald of a catastrophe already in the making." For Jews not to pay heed to what is erupting all around them, and even to abet it by one or another form of complicity, is as tragic as it is imbecilic.
I am fully persuaded that Israel must survive as a sovereign Jewish nation regardless of the world's growing animosity, which expresses itself in any number of different ways: the demand that Israel make endless concessions to the Palestinians, that it must not respond effectively to rocket attacks from Gaza, that it shrink its borders to indefensible limits, that it allow itself to be dissolved in a so-called "binational state," and that it remain dormant before the threat of a nuclear Iran. And then, of course, there are the manifold libels and flagrant canards to which it is constantly exposed: apartheid policies, organ harvesting, gratuitous violence, the targeting of civilians, and all the rest of the fictive and absurd vilifications hurled its way.
My concern, however, is not only with antisemites and anti-Zionists. It is also with diaspora Jews living comfortably assimilated lives in North America, who unfailingly cast their ballots for the so-called "progressive" parties that tend to put the interests of Israel's enemies over Israel's well-being. In Canada, for example, the vast majority of Jews are captive to the Liberal Party which regularly voted pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian on UN resolutions, regarded itself as an "honest broker" in the region which in practice meant favoring the anti-Israeli side of the Middle East controversy, and also depended—and still depends—heavily on the large Muslim voting bloc in the province of Ontario to promote electoral success. Although the Conservatives, who are currently in power, have reversed all these Liberal trends, they still cannot rely on the Jewish vote.
The same counter-intuitive situation prevails in the U.S., where nearly 80% of the Jewish community gathers dust in the pockets of the Democrats and indeed voted enthusiastically for Barack Obama. The main reason for this electoral deformity is that Jews consider themselves "liberal" in their politics, that is, as pro-welfare, pro-abortion on demand, pro-big government, and pro all the other planks that constitute the Democratic platform. Some have also distanced themselves both from their cultural and religious heritage and from the existential concerns of the Jewish state.
Yet many continue to identify with Israel's needs and problems and are involved in various programs and organizations that contribute to the defense, solvency and social improvement of the beleaguered state. At the same time, they eschew the Republican Party which, like the Conservatives in Canada, stands firmly behind Israel. Most Jews would never vote for someone like Mike Huckabee, who has fully embraced the Israeli position in the ongoing conflict and seen through the Palestinian propaganda smokescreen, and are openly contemptuous of Sarah Palin, who installed an Israeli flag in her office and has come out in staunch support of the country. No matter. The ordinary run of American Jews remains unmoved. Fifty four congressmen have recently signed a letter taking issue with Israel's "current blockade" of the terrorist statelet in Gaza. That all fifty-four were Democrats should come as no surprise. Nor is it in any way remarkable that the letter was backed by the Jewish advocacy group, J Street.
An exemplary case in point is furnished by Alan Dershowitz, who has written book after book and article after article defending Israel against its enemies, but still throws in his lot with Obama and the Democrats, unwilling to realize that perhaps Israel's most determined adversary in the world today, after Iran's Ahmadinejad, is Barack Obama himself. It is as if Dershowitz, like the majority of his nominal co-religionists in the U.S., has simply refused to acknowledge the personal history and political behavior of the American president and his loyal minions—some of whom happen to be Jewish, put in place to protect an anti-Israeli president, as Moshe Dann suggests, "from charges of anti-Semitism." But some American Jews may be capable of learning, apparently. Marty Peretz, editor in chief of The New Republic, who once campaigned for Barack Obama, is now singing a very different tune with a different set of lyrics—"Obama's real rage against Israel." But this is still the exception.
Anyone who has followed the president's social and political itinerary, his background, his contacts, his actions, should have instantly understood he would be, at best, an unreliable ally to Israel, at worst, a clever and unscrupulous antagonist. As I've had occasion to point out before, as have many others, this is the man who spent twenty years' worth of Sundays sitting beneath pastorJeremiah Wright's antisemitic pulpit. This is the man who chummed around with former PLO spokesman and rabid anti-Zionist Rashid Khalidi. The rambling, unctuous and insincere drivel of his unteleprompted speech to the residents of rocket-battered Sderot should have given his game away even before he had finished orating.
Once in power he appointed manifestly anti-Israeli figures like Susan Rice andSamantha Power to positions of official eminence. One of his advisers was the old antisemite Zbigniew Brzezinski, the same who recommended that the American air force should engage Israeli fighter jets should Israel have the temerity to attack Iran's nuclear installations. It was the President's administration that reneged on the settlement consensus worked out between Israel and the former American administration. Obama's shallow and ignorant Cairo addressequated the Holocaust with Palestinian suffering and tellingly ignored the historical and continued presence of the Jewish people in the Holy Land. Though he has visited a slew of Muslim states, he studiously avoided Israel during his many presidential junkets, sending his subalterns instead.
Then we had his sly choreographing of meetings with Jewish organizations to exclude critics of his policies, his awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Israel-hater and secretary-general of the infamous Durban I conference on racism Mary Robinson, his backing of the Saudi peace plan (which envisages Israel's retreat to indefensible borders, the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens from their homes, and the "return" of millions of manufactured Arab "refugees" to Israeli territory, thus putting paid to the Jewish state), and more recently his attempt to humiliate Israel by legislating down to it, requiring it to make ever more concessions to a Palestinian negotiating team that refuses to negotiate and forbidding Israel from building in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem—which just happens to be its capital. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Obama deliberately provoked a crisis to weaken Israel's bargaining position and bring it into even greater disrepute among the wider public. Yossi Klein Halevi, writing in The New Republic, has no doubt that "Obama's one-sided public pressure against Israel could intensify the atmosphere of 'open season' against Israel internationally" and that Obama is intent on launching a "political intifada" that could well turn into a Palestinian third intifada. Obama's malice toward Israel is quite frankly undeniable.
Anyone who says that this president is a friend to Israel is lying to himself or is living in some alternate universe. Anyone who cannot see what National Postcolumnist George Jonas calls the "anti-Semitism, and Arabist agenda that emanates from the Obama administration" should be treated for cataracts. As peremptory and unnuanced as this may sound, any Jew who approves of Obama or continues to invest his fealty in the Democratic Party works insidiously against the well-being and even the survival of the Jewish state as we know it. According to recent polls, 96% of Jewish Israelis have recognized this indubitable fact, yet Canadian and American Jews foolishly persist in massively endorsing the very political parties that, whether subtly or overtly, would diminish Israel's ability to defend itself against its sworn aggressors.
Of course, Jews have a long history of turning against their own, from Korah, Dathan and Abiram who revolted against Moses to those who helped further the Medieval blood libels to the Yevsektsiya (the Jewish section of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union) to the despicable Richard Goldstone today—and the uncountable numbers in between. This is not—repeat, not—to suggest that the ordinary run of American and Canadian Jews are quislings and delators of the same perfidious stamp; nevertheless, there is something almost inexplicable in their political loyalties that calls their collective acuity into question. According to the old cliché, Jews are supposed to be smart, but sometimes the facts seem to argue otherwise.
In any case, as we survey the North American diaspora, there can be little question that something is seriously amiss in the Jewish community.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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