While Anti-Semitism Flourishes under His Watch, Jeremy Corbyn Refuses to Acknowledge Its Existence

Despite official inquiries, public scandals, and the formal censure of several party activists, anti-Semitism is very much alive and well in the British Labor party; indeed, at its most recent conference, a motion was proposed to question the historicity of the Holocaust. The novelist Howard Jacobson comments on the feeble efforts of Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leader, to deny anti-Semitism’s presence while insisting that it has nothing to do with “anti-Zionism.”

By way of a sop to critics, a rule warning against such conduct as might be deemed detrimental to the party—such as hostility to disability, gender reassignment, civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, oh, and anti-Semitism—was adopted. But condemnation of Zionism was as febrile as ever and any Jew—particularly any Israeli Jew—willing to join in could count on a standing ovation. No man is a prophet in his own land, but an anti-Zionist Israeli is a hero in this one. . . .

To this, Jeremy Corbyn and those closest to him are tetchily indifferent. Mr. Corbyn goes out of his way not to use the word “anti-Semitism,” and when he is forced into condemnation of it he invokes the platitude that Labor opposes all racism and discrimination. The “all” is important. Burying anti-Semitism among offenses such as bullying and sexual harassment is a dodge to equalize things that are not equal and in the process ensure that anti-Semitism is rarely privileged with a mention of its own.

There is method in this evasiveness. To implicitly deny the existence of anti-Semitism—as some continue to deny the Holocaust—is to render it as a sick fantasy of the Jews’ own making, a pathology whose function is to blunt the edge of the anti-Zionist critique. That Jews invoke anti-Semitism primarily to silence critics of Israel is a tired canard, but it continues to be pressed into service. It serves a purpose: it libels the Jews as liars in the act of protesting innocence of any such offense. And if anti-Semitism is a chimera, then anti-Zionism, so often conflated with it, has nothing after all to apologize for. . . .

What needs to be insisted on is that Zionism—the idea not the political events to which it has given rise—is integral to the Jewish mind and imagination. Those who say they are against Zionism but not Jews are speaking in riddles. It is not the Jew who needs to see himself apart from anti-Zionism; it is the anti-Zionist who needs to ask himself what feeds his fervor.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Howard Jacobson, Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party (UK), Politics & Current Affairs

Winning Islam’s War of Ideas, Saudi-Style

March 19 2018

Since September 11, 2001, U.S. policymakers have understood the need to confront jihadism not only militarily but also ideologically; yet, writes John Hannah, they have had little success. Now Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’ reformist crown prince, appears willing and able to take up the fight, and Hannah urges Washington to support his efforts:

By an order of magnitude, al-Qaeda in 2018 enjoys a larger presence in more countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia than it did the day the Twin Towers were felled. . . . What’s consistently been missing from America’s strategy have been powerful partners in the Muslim world who can reliably be counted on to speak out authoritatively on matters of Islamic theology in ways that the United States simply cannot. That’s where Saudi Arabia comes in. It’s the birthplace of Islam and host to the faith’s two holiest mosques. Combined with abundant oil wealth, these assets bestow on the Saudis a measure of soft-power influence unrivaled in the Muslim world. . . .

For months, the crown prince and his closest advisers have relentlessly hammered the theme that Saudi Arabia’s modernization requires an embrace of “moderate Islam.” He’s slammed the extremist ideology that the kingdom did so much to empower after the Iranian revolution and acknowledges that “the problem spread all over the world.” . . . At home, the powers of the kingdom’s notorious religious police have been scaled back. Prominent hardline clerics have been jailed. On the all-important issue of female empowerment, the pace of change has been breathtaking. . . .

Now the U.S. imperative should be pressing Mohammed bin Salman to take his campaign for moderate Islam on the road. . . . There should be multiple elements to such an effort, but some immediate tasks come to mind. First, school textbooks. The Saudis promised to eliminate the hate-filled passages a decade ago. Progress has slowly been made, but the job’s still not done. Mohammed bin Salman should order it finished—this year. Behind the scenes, U.S. experts should provide verification.

Second, working with trusted partners in indigenous communities known for their religious moderation, the Saudis should conduct a thorough audit of the global network of mosques, schools, and charitable organizations that they’ve backed with an eye toward weeding out radical staff and content. Third, [they should] initiate a worldwide buyback of Saudi-distributed mistranslations of the Quran and other religious materials notorious for propagating extremist narratives.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Moderate Islam, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Saudi Arabia, War on Terror