In Bahrain, Repression Plays into Iran’s Hands

Feb. 22 2018

A prominent Bahraini human-rights activist was recently arrested for “insulting” the government. His crime? Reporting on torture in Bahrain’s prisons. To Elliott Abrams, his case highlights the dangers of the island nation’s increasingly repressive rule:

Since 2011, when protests arose in the context of the Arab Spring, the government has reacted to them with repression. It will not work. Resentment of the royal family, which is Sunni while most Bahrainis are Shiite, will only widen among Shiite citizens and all citizens who want a free society. The worst fears expressed in 2011 and after—that the repression would create disaffection, which would lead to more repression and then Iranian meddling—have been borne out. Today, there is real Iranian subversion including shipping weapons into Bahrain. Bahrain is in a downward spiral.

Whether it can be stopped is not clear, at least to me. The current path will lead to more and more repression, more and more Iranian subversion, and more and more violence. Moving off that path would require courageous national leadership, from the Shiite community to be sure but above all, and first, from the royal family. It has been absent. If it remains absent in the months and years ahead, Bahrain’s future will be darker and darker.

A joint effort by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE is the only solution I can imagine. Together these three governments have the influence to broker a solution—assuming it is not already too late. . . . What is needed now is a higher-powered effort that takes into account both the fate of the [U.S.] Fifth Fleet (headquartered in Bahrain) and the likelihood of increasing Iranian subversion and the violence it can produce.

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More about: Bahrain, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Zionists Can, and Do, Criticize Israel. Are Anti-Zionists Capable of Criticizing Anti-Semitism?

Dec. 12 2018

Last week, the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg defended the newly elected anti-Israel congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, ostensibly arguing that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism aren’t identical. Abe Greenwald comments:

Tlaib . . . has tweeted and retweeted her enthusiasm for terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh, who murdered two American students in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969. If Tlaib’s anti-Zionism is of the Jew-loving kind, she has a funny way of showing it.

Ilhan Omar, for her part, once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And wouldn’t you know it, just because she believes that Zionist hypnotists have cast global spells masking Israeli evil, some people think she’s anti-Semitic! Go figure! . . .

Goldberg spends the bulk of her column trying very hard to uncouple American Jewishness from Israel. To do that, she enumerates Israel’s sins, as she sees them. . . . [But] her basic premise is at odds with reality. Zionists aren’t afraid of finding fault with Israel and don’t need to embrace anti-Zionism in order to [do so]. A poll conducted in October by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that a majority of Americans Jews have no problem both supporting Israel and criticizing it. And unlike Goldberg, they have no problem criticizing anti-Semitism, either.

Goldberg gives the game away entirely when she discusses the discomfort that liberal American Jews have felt in “defending multi-ethnic pluralism here, where they’re in the minority, while treating it as unspeakable in Israel, where Jews are the majority.” She adds: “American white nationalists, some of whom liken their project to Zionism, love to poke at this contradiction.” Read that again. She thinks the white nationalists have a point. Because, really, what anti-Semite doesn’t?

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, New York Times