The Problem with Asking Anti-Semites to Say Sorry

Feb. 13 2019

On Sunday night, the Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar again exposed her anti-Semitism on Twitter, and again expressed her regrets for doing so—this time after condemnations from her congressional colleagues on both sides of the aisle. In her ensuing statement, she apologized “unequivocally” and then went on to equivocate. Abe Greenwald comments:

Asking for an apology is an immoral response to anti-Semitism because it’s designed to allow the anti-Semite to move past his or her offense. In the public sphere, these apologies become a licensing fee paid by people like Omar every time they want to sound off about the evil Jews. She “apologizes,” people praise her willingness to learn and grow, and the headlines shift from her offense to the hysterics who won’t let her be. The only ones who benefit are the bigots and their allies. In the case of Omar, those allies are either her fellow Democrats trying to do damage control or anti-Semites who are thrilled to see one of their own successfully playing the game.

Then there are those who aren’t her allies but still encourage and seem heartened by these apologies. These are good people, some of them Jews and conservatives, who want to believe that the real problem is Omar’s lack of knowledge, and that it can be addressed through greater “dialogue.” They see in her semi-apologies evidence of an upright and amenable character. This is a nice thought but, as Martin Luther King wrote, “shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” These decent people make claims about Omar’s willingness to grow and change despite all evidence to the contrary.

The truth is that Omar is almost forty years old and she’s being handled like a child. Her anti-Semitism is in keeping with her worldview. . . . The only proper response to anti-Semites in public life is to expose them and get them out of power. Every requested apology strengthens their position. That’s what it’s supposed to do.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Ilhan Omar, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Politics

 

The Impossibility of Unilateral Withdrawal from the West Bank

Feb. 19 2019

Since throwing his hat into the ring for the Israeli premiership, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz has been reticent about his policy plans. Nonetheless, he has made clear his openness to unilateral disengagement from the West Bank along the lines of the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, stating the necessity of finding “a way in which we’re not controlling other people.” Gershon Hacohen argues that any such plan would be ill-advised:

The political and strategic precepts underlying the Oslo “peace” process, which Gantz echoes, vanished long ago. The PLO has unequivocally revealed its true colors: its total lack of interest in peace, unyielding rejection of the idea of Jewish statehood, and incessant propensity for violence and terrorism. . . . Tehran is rapidly emerging as regional hegemon, with its tentacles spreading from Yemen and Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea and its dogged quest for nuclear weapons continuing apace under the international radar. Even the terror groups Hizballah and Hamas pose a far greater threat to Israel’s national security than they did a decade ago. Under these circumstances, Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank’s Area C, [the only part still under direct Israeli control], would constitute nothing short of an existential threat.

Nor does Israel need to find a way to stop “controlling other people,” as Gantz put it, for the simple reason that its control of the Palestinians ended some two decades ago. In May 1994 the IDF withdrew from all Palestinian population centers in the Gaza Strip. In January 1996 it vacated the West Bank’s populated areas (the Oslo Accords’ Areas A and B), comprising over 90 percent of the West Bank’s Palestinian residents, and handed control of that population to the Palestinian Authority (PA). . . .

This in turn means that the real dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as within Israel itself, no longer revolves around the end of “occupation” but around the future of eastern Jerusalem and Area C. And since Area C (which is home to only 100,000 Palestinians) includes all the Jewish West Bank localities, IDF bases, transportation arteries, vital topographic sites, and habitable empty spaces between the Jordan Valley and the Jerusalem metropolis, its continued retention by Israel is a vital national interest. Why? Because its surrender to a potentially hostile Palestinian state would make the defense of the Israeli hinterland virtually impossible—and because these highly strategic and sparsely populated lands are of immense economic, infrastructural, communal, ecological, and cultural importance, not to mention their historical significance as the bedrock of the Jewish ancestral homeland

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More about: Benny Gantz, Israel & Zionism, Two-State Solution, West Bank