In Responding to the New Anti-Semitism, Jews Must Refuse to Apologize for Themselves

In his reflections on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the British novelist and essayist Howard Jacobson urges Jews not to internalize the messages of today’s anti-Semitism, which so often come in the form of anti-Zionism:

The modern anti-Semite is more subtle than his great-grandparents. He doesn’t smash our windows or our bones. He insinuates himself into consciences that are already troubled and works on spirits that are already half-broken. And we are too responsive to his serpent insinuations. When the history of Jew-hating in our time comes to be written, Jewish collusion in it will feature heavily. . . .

To the question, . . . “How do any of us, as Jews, fulfill the great task imposed on us [by the memory of the Holocaust]?,” here is my part-answer: stop apologizing and resist the sirens who would lure you onto the rocks of guilt and self-dislike, singing of Jewish materialism, Jewish legalism, Jewish exclusivism, Jewish supremacism, Jewish imperialism, Zionism. . . .

[A]lthough we intone the words “never again”—now as a prayer, now as a supplication, now as a commitment—we cannot rid ourselves of the fear that it, or something like it, might indeed happen again. . . . [W]e now accept that it was wild fantasy to hope that after the Holocaust we’d be left alone. . . . But we thought anti-Semitism itself might take a short break. . . . What no one could have expected was the speed with which they found a way round any such compunctions, not least by denying that anything had happened at all. Holocaust—what Holocaust? . . .

But it’s not those obsessive “deniers” who trouble Jacobson the most; rather it’s those who wish to relativize the Holocaust by means of invidious comparisons:

[There is a] moral seesaw on which Holocaust relativists love to frolic—the contestable atrocity that was the Holocaust now rising, now falling, but always ultimately outweighed by the incontestable outrage that is Zionism. . . .

“Never again” is the sacred promise we gather annually to reaffirm. It must be more than a mere wish. It binds us in the necessity to be strong-minded and alert. And that means alert, above all, to the words those with hatred in their hearts employ to exploit the guilt in ours.

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The Dangers of Diplomacy with Iran

Aug. 21 2018

Although President Trump’s offer to meet with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic was rejected, the possibility of direct negotiations remains. Ray Takeyh and Mark Dubowitz warn that Tehran could use talks to stall and gain leverage over Washington:

The mullahs understand that just by staying at the table, Americans usually offer up concessions. [They] are betting that the Trump administration may become weaker over time, preoccupied with domestic politics. Best to entangle America in protracted diplomacy while awaiting what the regime expects will be midterm Republican losses in Congress and the return of a more flexible Democratic president to power in 2021. This is what [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei probably meant when he stressed that negotiations have to wait until America is softened up.

Diplomacy would surely blunt the impact of U.S. pressure. The mullahs believe they can undermine the escalation of [U.S.] sanctions by being diplomatically flirtatious and know well that America seldom disrupts negotiations with military action. Indeed, as a prelude to the talks, Iran may even resume its nuclear activities to frighten the Europeans and gain leverage by putting even more pressure on Washington to adjust its red lines.

Should negotiations begin, the Trump team should take sensible precautions to avoid the predicament of the Obama negotiators. The administration will need to maintain its maximum-pressure campaign and its negotiating demands. . . . Any negotiations with the Islamic Republic should be time-limited, and Washington must be prepared to leave the table when it confronts the usual pattern of regime bombast and mendacity.

Donald Trump should insist on direct talks with the supreme leader, as he did with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un: Rouhani is a lame duck without any real influence. The administration also should demand that Europeans join its sanctions policy targeting Iran’s ballistic-missile program, support for terrorism, and human-rights abuses as a price for their participation in the talks.

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More about: Ali Khamenei, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy