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Two Presidential Campaigns, Two Anti-Semitism Scandals

July 11 2016

Last week, Max Blumenthal—a professional hater of Israel and the Jews whose father is a sometime confidant of Hillary Clinton—assaulted the memory of Elie Wiesel. While Clinton has privately praised the younger Blumenthal’s work in the past, her campaign responded by condemning his latest outburst. Meanwhile, Donald Trump faced an anti-Semitism scandal of his own. Ben Cohen compares the candidates’ responses:

After retweeting an image sourced to a white-supremacist website that showed a grinning Clinton superimposed onto a pile of money and a Star of David, Trump compounded the offense by blockheadedly sticking to his guns, criticizing his staff for deleting the tweet instead of “defending it.”

At the same time that Trump engages in anti-Semitism denial—something he does every time the issue of his white-supremacist supporters comes up—his campaign pursues the tiresome tactic of putting his Jewish daughter and Jewish son-in-law before the media in his defense. . . .

Except that nobody serious has called Trump an anti-Semite. The charge is that he tolerates anti-Semites and even enables them when it suits him to do so. Citing your Jewish relatives and friends is a favored method of the Israel-haters—“Some of my best friends are Jews!”—and most Jews aren’t fooled by it. They also aren’t fooled by Trump, who further insults our community by insinuating that we’re stupid enough to believe that he understands what constitutes anti-Semitism better than we do.

What both candidates need to do is declare a zero tolerance policy for anti-Semitism around their respective campaigns.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump, Elie Wiesel, Hillary Clinton, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Presidential election

 

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy