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.”

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

Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat