The Dangers of Universalizing Anti-Semitism

In the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre, the presidential adviser Kelyanne Conway spoke in an interview about “anti-religiosity,” while Columbia University sent a statement to its students that lamented “violence in our nation’s houses of worship” without using the word “Jews” or “anti-Semitism.” Such reactions to the murder of Jews, writes Yair Rosenberg, are all too common on both ends of the political spectrum and ought to be resisted:

The instinct to universalize anti-Semitic acts has many motives—some quite understandable, others more [sinister]. Well-meaning non-Jews often seek to draw universal lessons against intolerance from acts of anti-Semitic violence. Others want to make [these] incidents accessible and relevant for a broader, non-Jewish audience in an attempt to evoke empathy for the victims, and do so by trying to equate the persecution of Jews with forms of oppression faced by non-Jews.

Often, however, there are darker impulses at work. On the far right, attempts to deny that Jews were the primary target of the Holocaust are typically part of an effort to evade responsibility for the Holocaust itself. Thus, in 2014, over the livid protests of Jews there and around the world, Hungary erected a Holocaust monument that cast all Hungarians as “the victims of the German occupation,” even though Hungary’s leaders and population assisted the Nazis in deporting the country’s nearly 500,000 Jews. . . . In this way, the Holocaust is recast as an ecumenical crime, with Jews as its incidental victims.

On the far left, meanwhile, dropping Jews from discussions of anti-Semitism frequently results from an inability or unwillingness to recognize the reality and seriousness of the anti-Jewish threat. . . . After Pittsburgh, one local [British] Labor-party organization even deliberately removed a commitment to combat anti-Semitism from its condolence statement. In this progressive conception, Jews are dismissed as a group of privileged whites whose oppression need not be prioritized or “centered,” if it even exists anymore. When anti-Semites declare that “all Jews must die,” such people declare that we must change the subject.

Whether the motives are pure or impure, the result is the same: after deadly anti-Semitism strikes, Jews are expunged as inconvenient accessories to their own execution.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Hungary, Labor Party (UK), Politics & Current Affairs

Why Israel Pretends That Hamas Fired Rockets by Accident

March 21 2019

Israeli military and political officials have repeated Hamas’s dubious claim that the launching of two rockets at Tel Aviv last week was inadvertent. To Smadar Perry, accepting Hamas’s story rather than engaging in further retaliation is but a convenient, and perhaps necessary, way of aiding Egyptian efforts to broker a deal with the terrorist group. But even if these efforts succeed, the results will be mixed:

The [Israeli] security cabinet has met in Tel Aviv and decided that they would continue indirect negotiations with Gaza. A message was sent to Egypt, whose delegation is going back to Gaza to pass on the Israeli demands for calm. The Egyptians also have to deal with the demands from Hamas, which include, among other things, an increase in aid from $15 million to $30 million per month and an increase in the supply of electricity.

The requests are reasonable, but they do leave a sour taste in the mouth. Israel must ensure that this financial aid does not end up in the pockets of Hamas and its associates. [Israel] also knows that if it says “no” to everything, the Iranians will step in, with the help of their Gazan friends in Islamic Jihad. They are just waiting for the opportunity.

Hamas also must deal with the fallout from a series of massive handouts from Qatar. For when the citizens of the Gaza Strip saw that the money was going to the Hamas leadership, who were also enjoying a fine supply of electricity to their own houses, they took to the streets in protest—and this time it was not Israel that was the focus of their anger. . .

[But] here is the irony. With Egyptian help, Israel can reach understandings for calm with Gaza, despite the lack of a direct channel. . . . In the West Bank, where the purportedly friendlier Fatah is in charge, it is more complicated, at least until the eighty-three-year-old Mahmoud Abbas is replaced.

As evidence for that last statement, consider the murder of two Israelis in the West Bank on Sunday, and the Palestinians who threw explosives at Israeli soldiers at Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem yesterday.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, West Bank