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Why Looney Anti-Semites Remain Respectable

This week, the New York Times ran an op-ed by Lawrence Wilkerson—who served as Colin Powell’s chief of staff during his term as secretary of state—alleging that the Trump administration and its supporters are attempting to seduce America into war with Iran, much as the George W. Bush administration had done with Iraq. In the original version of the article, which appeared online on February 5, it named the Jewish billionaires Paul Singer and Sheldon Adelson as the secret forces behind these efforts. Liel Leibovitz argues that, although these references have since been edited out, Wilkerson has no place in a supposedly respectable publication:

Wilkerson is no stranger to conspiratorial thinking: in a May 2013 interview with Current TV, [the now-defunct channel then owned by Al-Jazeera], he suggested that the genocide in Syria “could’ve been an Israeli false-flag operation,” with Bashar al-Assad being a puppet of the Zionist government in Jerusalem. This mad rant was covered widely, including by the Times, when Wilkerson became a leading adviser to Bernie Sanders. The retired colonel also frequently fulminates about Israel being an apartheid state, has claimed in a 2016 interview that it will eventually have to be “eliminated” by either the Arabs or the international community, and has called Republican senators who took a hawkish position on Iran “traitors” who were somehow under the Jewish state’s sway.

To be plain, the problem with Lawrence Wilkerson has nothing to do with his “controversial” views on Syria, or the particular wording of any of his repugnant public statements about Israel. It is that he is an unhinged conspiracy theorist, of the kind that one most often finds muttering to himself in public libraries about Masons, Illuminati, and, of course, the Jews. There are . . . hundreds of videos of Wilkerson following weird trains of logic and causality that make one wonder about his hold on reality. . . .

Why the paper of record would give such a man a spot on its vaunted op-ed page is anybody’s guess, though it’s hard to believe that kooks of other stripes would’ve been welcomed so warmly. . . . Why, then, Wilkerson? . . . The answer is simple and scary: it’s because many on the well-groomed left, even if not subscribing to the classical definitions of anti-Semitism, inherently believe things about Israelis and Jews that are, at their very essence, absolutely and absurdly insane. This includes everything from the conviction that a small cabal of Jewish men are forever using their unending wealth and their mystical sway over Congress to lead generations of innocent American soldiers into needless wars to the belief that Israel’s imperial appetites constantly lead it to meddle in the affairs of its neighbors in murderous and malicious ways.

Thankfully, most people on the left today are sensible enough to understand these ideas are patently lunatic and deeply hateful. Sadly, they can’t seem to shake them off. This is where “experts” like Wilkerson come in handy, flashing their credentials, however flimsy, to say what “everyone already believes.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Iran, New York Times, Politics & Current Affairs

 

Why a Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Is Unlikely

Feb. 16 2018

High-ranking figures in the IDF, along with some Israeli and foreign officials, have been warning that economic troubles combined with severely deficient public works could lead to an outbreak of starvation or epidemic in the Gaza Strip; their warnings have been taken up and amplified in sensationalist stories in Western media. Hillel Frisch is skeptical:

The most important factor behind real humanitarian crises—mass hunger and contagious disease—is first and foremost the breakdown of law and order, and violence between warring militias and gangs. This is what occurred in Darfur, Somalia, and the Central African Republic. In such situations, the first to leave are the relief agencies. Then local medical staffs evacuate, along with local government officials and anyone professional who can make it out of the bedlam. The destitute are left to fend for themselves. Hospitals, dispensaries, schools, and local government offices are soon abandoned or become scenes of grisly shootouts and reprisals.

Nothing could be farther from such a reality than Gaza. Hamas, which is the main source of [misleading reports] of an imminent humanitarian crisis, rules Gaza with an iron fist. Few developed democracies in the world can boast the low homicide rates prevailing in the Strip. Nor have there been reports of any closings of hospitals, municipal governments, schools, universities, colleges, or dispensaries. . . .

Nor have there been news items announcing the departure of any foreign relief agencies or the closure of any human-rights organizations in the area. Nor is there any evidence that the World Health Organization (WHO), which rigorously monitors the world to prevent the outbreak of contagious disease, is seriously looking at Gaza. And that is for good reason. The WHO knows, as do hundreds of medical personnel in Israeli hospitals who liaise with their colleagues in Gaza, that the hospital system in Gaza is of a high caliber, certainly by the standards of the developing world. . . .

Hamas, [of course], wants more trucks entering Gaza to increase tax revenues to pay for its 30,000-strong militia and public security force, and to increase the prospects of smuggling arms for the benefit of its missile stockpiles and tunnel-building efforts. How Israel should react is equally obvious. You want more humanitarian aid? . . . Free the two mentally disabled Israelis who found their way into Gaza and are imprisoned by Hamas.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian economy