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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.

Read more at New Statesman

More about: Anti-Semitism, Holocaust, Howard Jacobson, Jeremy Corbyn, Politics & Current Affairs

Mahmoud Abbas Comes to the UN to Walk away from the Negotiating Table

Feb. 22 2018

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the United Nations Security Council during one of its regular discussions of the “Palestine question.” He used the opportunity to elaborate on the Palestinians’ “5,000-year history” in the land of Israel, after which he moved on to demand—among other things—that the U.S. reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The editors of the Weekly Standard comment:

It’s convenient for Abbas to suggest a condition to which he knows the United States won’t accede. It allows him to do what he does best—walk away from the table. Which is what he did on Tuesday, literally. After his speech, Abbas and his coterie of bureaucrats walked out of the council chamber, snubbing the next two speakers, the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon and the U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, . . . [in order to have his] photograph taken with the Belgian foreign minister.

Abbas has neither the power nor the will to make peace. It’s the perennial problem afflicting Palestinian leadership. If he compromises on the alleged “right of return”—the chimerical idea that Palestinians can re-occupy the lands from which they [or their ancestors] fled, in effect obliterating the Israeli state—he will be deposed by political adversaries. Thus his contradictory strategy: to prolong his pageantry in international forums such as the UN, and to fashion himself a “moderate” even as he finances and incites terror. He seems to believe time is on his side. But it’s not. He’s eighty-two. While he continues his performative intransigence, he further immiserates the people he claims to represent.

In a sense, it was entirely appropriate that Abbas walked out. In that sullen act, he [exemplified] his own approach to peacemaking: when difficulties arise, vacate the premises and seek out photographers.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Nikki Haley, Politics & Current Affairs, United Nations