Seeing Illusory Anti-Semitism While Ignoring the Real Thing

July 14 2017

The campaign to reelect Viktor Orban, the current prime minister of Hungary, has put up posters across the country depicting the Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros with the words “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh.” Orban has repeatedly attacked Soros’s support for efforts to liberalize Hungary’s immigration laws. As Soros is Jewish, the Israeli ambassador to Hungary, the country’s Jewish Federation, and even an EU official have condemned Orban’s rhetorical attacks on Soros as anti-Semitic. Yet, writes Evelyn Gordon, there is no clear evidence of anti-Semitism here: Orban has made no mention of Soros’s Jewishness, and hundreds of millions of dollars have in fact been directed by Soros’s foundation to political causes in Hungary that Orban opposes. Gordon contrasts the reaction to the posters with reaction to actual clear-cut cases of anti-Semitism:

Some attacks on Soros are anti-Semitic, like when someone at an anti-refugee rally in Poland in 2015 set fire to an effigy of an Orthodox Jew which he said represented Soros. That’s classic anti-Semitism; it implies both that the real problem is Soros’s Jewishness rather than anything he did, and that all Jews are responsible for Soros’s actions.

The Hungarian campaign, however, targets Soros not for his Jewishness, which it never even mentions, but for his actions: specifically, the fact that he is one of the main financial backers of pro-immigration organizations in Hungary. . . . Yet both Jews and non-Jews have risen up to declare such criticism “anti-Semitic” solely because he happens to be Jewish. . . .

Now contrast this with, say, what happened at last month’s “Chicago Dyke March,” when three people carrying rainbow flags with Stars of David on them were kicked out of the march because the flag was “pro-Israel,” and therefore unacceptable at a progressive demonstration. The Star of David is the most recognizable Jewish symbol in existence; . . . that’s precisely why Israel put it on its national flag. That’s also why the so-called “Jewish pride” flag has a Star of David on its rainbow background—not to represent Israel, but to represent the marchers’ Judaism. . . .

In other words, these marchers were expelled solely for carrying an obviously Jewish symbol at a progressive event. This is classic anti-Semitism: Jews are welcome only if they divest themselves of anything that could identify them as Jews. Yet in the progressive world, such anti-Semitism is deemed perfectly acceptable so long as you claim, as the march organizers did, that the victims were expelled for being “Zionists.”. . . .

[Thus, for] the progressive left . . . targeting people for being Jewish is no longer anti-Semitic, but targeting people for being progressive activists is. . . . [I]nstead of being a shield to protect Jews, charges of anti-Semitism have become a shield to protect leftists. And thereby the left has completed the process of redefining anti-Semitism to its own benefit, to the detriment of the Jews.

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Read more at Evelyn Gordon

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hungary, Jewish World, Progressivism

The Struggle for Iraq, and What It Means for Israel

Oct. 17 2018

Almost immediately after the 2003 invasion, Iraq became a battleground between the U.S. and Iran, as the latter sent troops, money, and arms to foment and support an insurgency. The war on Islamic State, along with the Obama administration’s effort to align itself with the Islamic Republic, led to a temporary truce, but also gave Tehran-backed militias a great deal of power. Iran has also established a major conduit of supplies through Iraq to support its efforts in Syria. Meanwhile, it is hard to say if the recent elections have brought a government to Baghdad that will be pro-American or pro-Iranian. Eldad Shavit and Raz Zimmt comment how these developments might affect Israel:

Although statements by the U.S. administration have addressed Iran’s overall activity in the region, they appear to emphasize the potential for confrontation in Iraq. First and foremost, this [emphasis] stems from the U.S. perception of this arena as posing the greatest danger, in light of the extensive presence of U.S. military and civilian personnel operating throughout the country, and in light of past experience, which saw many American soldiers attacked by Shiite militias under Iranian supervision. The American media have reported that U.S. intelligence possesses information indicating that the Shiite militias and other elements under Iranian auspices intend to carry out attacks against American targets and interests. . . .

In light of Iran’s intensifying confrontation with the United States and its mounting economic crisis, Tehran finds it essential to maintain its influence in Iraq, particularly in the event of a future clash with the United States. The Iranian leadership has striven to send a message of deterrence to the United States regarding the implications of a military clash. . . .

A recently published report also indicates that Iran transferred ballistic missiles to the Shiite militias it supports in Iraq. Although Iran has denied this report, it might indeed attempt to transfer advanced military equipment to the Shiite militias in order to improve their capabilities in the event of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States and/or Israel, or a confrontation between [the militias] and the central government in Baghdad.

From Israel’s perspective, after years when the Iraqi arena received little attention from Israeli decision makers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have mentioned the possibility of Israel’s taking action against Iranian targets in Iraq. In this context, and particularly in light of the possibility that Iraq could become an arena of greater conflict between the United States and Iran, it is critical that there be full coordination between Israel and the United States. This is of particular importance due to [the American estimation of] stability in Iraq as a major element of the the campaign against Islamic State, which, though declared a success, is not yet complete.

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More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy