Don’t Make Anti-Semitism a Partisan Football

March 3 2017

Responding to the desecrations of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia, the bomb threats against Jewish community centers, and numerous other recent incidents, Gary Weiss finds something amiss in the attention these crimes have received in the media:

I’m heartened by this sudden focus on anti-Semitism—at least when it is perceived as originating from the right. Yet somehow, I find myself uneasy. Something isn’t quite right. Something . . . stinks.

It’s the stench of cynicism, of rank hypocrisy, and of media double standards. The press was largely uninterested in December 2010, when 200 tombstones were overturned—an assault just as large as the one in St. Louis—at the . . . Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn. There were no fundraisers by Muslim-Americans or anybody. It was covered by the New York Post and Brooklyn weeklies but otherwise largely ignored. Not a word in the New York Times. To be sure, this was not part of a “wave” of anti-Semitism, such as we have seen. Still, 200 tombstones is 200 tombstones. Two-hundred families traumatized, assuming they knew. Not even worth a paragraph?

More recently, outside the pro-Israel echo chamber there was little interest in February 2015, when President Obama said—and his spokesman reiterated—that the attack on a Jewish grocery in Paris by Islamist terrorists was just a “random” attack on a bunch of “folks.” I doubt very much that the press would have accepted such mumbo-jumbo from Donald Trump or Sean Spicer. . . .

The reason, I would suggest, is that anti-Semitism has become politicized, and has become entwined in the widespread disdain for [President Trump]. . . . That brings me to the other reason I’m feeling uneasy. It’s the way people who make me feel uneasy are jumping on the anti-anti-Semitism bandwagon.

In a statement, the American Studies Association (ASA) said that it “strongly reproves the recent wave of attacks on synagogues, mosques, and religious community centers in North America and on the Jewish and Islamic people using those institutions.” The ASA, of course, is widely known not for “reproving” anti-Semitism but for quite the opposite, a widely condemned resolution boycotting Israeli academics—a singling-out of the Jewish state [in lockstep with] the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. . . . [I]t’s possible . . . the ASA [is] just bubbling over with empathy for the Jewish community. . . . It’s also possible that [it and others showing sudden concern] are cynically exploiting the wave of anti-Semitism as political cover for their BDS advocacy. I lean toward the latter theory. It’s a bit like “Jew-washing”—the use of Jewish supporters in anti-Israel agitation—except that in this instance the Jews are safely dead.

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Read more at National Review

More about: American Studies Association, Anti-Semitism, BDS, Donald Trump, Jewish World, Mainstream Media, New York Times

Jerusalem’s Economic Crisis, Its Arabs, and Its Future

Oct. 18 2018

The population of Israel’s capital city is 38-percent Arab, making Arab eastern Jerusalem the largest Arab community in the country. Connected to this fact is Jerusalem’s 46-percent poverty rate—the highest of any Israeli municipality. The city’s economic condition stems in part from its large ultra-Orthodox population, but there is also rampant poverty among its Arab residents, whose legal status is different from that of both Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Jerusalem’s Arab inhabitants are not Israeli citizens—in part because Palestinian society views acceptance of Israeli citizenship, [available to any Arab Jerusalemite who desires it], as acceptance of Israeli claims of sovereignty over the city, and in part because Israel is not eager to accept them, even as it formally views itself as having annexed the area. Nevertheless, they have a form of permanent residency that, unlike West Bank Palestinians, allows them unimpeded access to the rest of Israel. . . .

There are good reasons for this poverty among eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs, rooted in the political trap that has ensnared the Arab half of the city and with it the rest of the city as well. Right-wing Israeli political leaders have avoided investing in Arab eastern Jerusalem, fearing that such investments would increase the flow of Palestinians into the city. Left-wing leaders have done the same on the grounds that the Arab half would be given away in a future peace deal.

Meanwhile, eastern Jerusalem’s complicated situation, suspended between the Israeli and Palestinian worlds, means residents cannot take full advantage of their access to the Israeli economy. For example, while most Arab women elsewhere in Israel learn usable Hebrew in school, most Arab schools in eastern Jerusalem teach from the Palestinian curriculum, which does not offer students the Hebrew they will need to find work in the western half of the city. . . .

It is not unreasonable to argue that Jerusalem cannot really be divided, not for political reasons but for economic ones. If Jerusalem remains a solely Israeli capital, it will have to integrate better its disparate parts and massively develop its weaker communities if it hopes ever to become solvent and prosperous. Arabs must be able to find more and better work in Jewish Jerusalem—and in Arab Jerusalem, too. Conversely, if the city is divided into two capitals, that of a Jewish state and that of a Palestinian one, that won’t change the underlying economic reality that its prosperity, its capacity to accommodate tourism and develop efficient infrastructure, and its ability to ensure access for all religions to their many holy sites, will still require a unified urban space.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli economy, Jerusalem