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

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey