A Pro-Jewish State of the Union

At Tuesday night’s address to the American people, writes Abe Greenwald, the president made multiple pronouncements of particular relevance to the Jewish people—all of them for the good:

President Trump used his State of the Union address in part to celebrate the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, call out Iran on its genocidal hatred of Jews, confront anti-Semitism generally, and tie his conception of American greatness to the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. . . .

For Trump, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was, as he put it, a matter of “principled realism.” Based on that realism, his administration “proudly opened the American embassy in Jerusalem.” Nothing here about both sides having to bend or about Israel now having to “do its part for peace.” The president of the United States simply noted that he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because it is. And that’s the most powerful thing he could have said on the matter.

The president [also] called Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror” and emphasized that “it is a radical regime.” He went on: “We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants ‘death to America’ and threatens genocide against the Jewish people.” No garbage about make-believe moderate mullahs, no specious conflation of the Iranian people and the regime, no wishful fantasies about Iran’s tyrannical theocracy showing heartening signs, and, finally, no equivocating about the nature of its obsessive anti-Semitism. In all, a welcome return to moral sanity.

Trump talked about a great many other things [as well], but it’s remarkable the extent to which his speech acknowledged, celebrated, and urged on America’s doing right by the Jews. It would be welcome enough if he emphasized such things in an address to an exclusively Jewish audience, but this was a State of the Union speech, and so his words were meant to shape our very understanding of America.

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More about: American politics, Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Politics & Current Affairs

European Aid to the Middle East Is Shaped by a Political Agenda

Feb. 18 2019

The EU’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Unit dispenses millions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance to dozens of countries every year. Although it claims to operate on principles of strict neutrality, independent of any political motivation and giving priority to the neediest cases, a look at its activities in the Middle East suggests an entirely different approach, as Hillel Frisch writes:

[T]he Middle East is the overwhelming beneficiary of EU humanitarian aid—nearly 1 billion of just over 1.4 billion euros. . . . The bulk of the funds goes toward meeting the costs of assistance to Syrian refugees, followed by smaller sums to Iraq, Yemen, “Palestine,” and North Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, receives less than one-third of that amount. The problem with such allocations is that the overwhelming majority of people living in dire poverty reside in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Bangladesh. . . . The Palestinians, who are richer on average than those living in the poorest states of the world, . . . receive over six euros per capita, while the populations of the poorest states receive less than one-eighth of that amount. . . .

Even less defensible is the EU’s claim to political neutrality. Its favoritism toward the Palestinians on this score is visible as soon as one enters terms into the general search function on the European Commission’s website. Enter “Palestine” and you get 20,737 results. Enter “Ethiopia” and you get almost the same figure, despite massive differences in population size (Ethiopia’s 100 million versus fewer than 5 million Palestinians), geographic expanse (Ethiopia is 50 times the size of “Palestine”), and degree of sheer suffering. The Syrian crisis, which is said to have led to the loss of a half-million lives, merits not many more site results than “Palestine.”

One of the foci of the website’s reports [on the Palestinians] is the plight of 35,000 Bedouin whom the EU assists, often in clear violation of the law, in Area C—the part of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control. The hundreds of thousands of Bedouin in Sinai, however, the plight of whom is readily acknowledged even by Egyptian officials, gets no mention, even though Egypt is a recipient of EU aid. . . .

Clearly, the EU’s approach to aid allocation has nothing to do with impartiality, true social-welfare needs, or humanitarian considerations. [Instead], it favors allocations to Syrian refugees above Yemeni refugees because of the higher probability that Syrian refugees will find their way to Europe. . . . The recipients of European largesse who are next in line [to Syrians], in relative terms, are the Palestinians. [This particular policy] can be attributed primarily to the EU’s hostility toward Israel, its rightful historical claims, and its security needs.

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More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinians