The Soft Spine of American Jewish Leaders

Feb. 12 2019

For many decades, mainstream American Jewish organizations were unified in their support for Israel and in encouraging bipartisan friendliness in the political realm toward Jews and the Jewish state. But, writes Isi Leibler, over the course of the last decade many of these leaders have moved away from this stance. One result was seen on Sunday, when the Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar broadcast her anti-Semitism on Twitter, this time commenting on the nefarious powers of Jewish lobbyists:

[Once], Jewish leaders never hesitated to speak out against government policies considered inimical to the interests of Israel or the Jewish people. When Barack Obama was elected president, this mood changed. He began to treat Israel as a rogue state, groveled to the Iranians, described Israeli defenders and Arab terrorists as moral equivalents, and finally declined to veto [one of the most egregious resolutions] ever passed against Israel by the UN Security Council. The response by the majority of the American Jewish establishment, who were previously never reticent about raising their voices, was a deafening silence. . . .

Prior to Donald Trump’s election, Jewish organizations were meticulous in seeking to maintain a bipartisan stance. But once he was elected, hysteria swept through the Jewish community. Many progressive rabbis and lay leaders . . . decided it was their duty as Jews to oppose him, even on issues that had no direct bearing on Jewish interests. Speaking as Jews, some went so far as to accuse President Trump of being a racist, an anti-Semite, and even a Nazi sympathizer. . . .

The most striking example of this Jewish anti-Trump agitation is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), whose mandate is to fight anti-Semitism and bigotry. . . . Dispensing with a long tradition of bipartisanship, it openly lobbied against the Senate confirmation of Mike Pompeo for secretary of state. It concentrated on radical-right anti-Semitism and soft-pedaled the greater threat from the left, refused to endorse anti-boycott legislation on the grounds that it limited freedom of expression, and generally failed to react with any vigor against Muslim and extremist anti-Israel elements who abuse—sometimes violently—Jewish students and suppress pro-Israel activity on college campuses. . . .

But what must have shocked and sent shivers down the spines of Jews even remotely supportive of Israel was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s appointment of [Ilhan Omar] to the prestigious and powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, which oversees foreign aid and such national-security issues as terrorism and the proliferation of nonconventional weapons. Belatedly, some Jewish organizations are now protesting. Had they spoken up earlier, this radicalization might have been stemmed and the appointment of an outright anti-Semite to this sensitive position pre-empted.

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Read more at Word from Jerusalem

More about: ADL, American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Barack Obama, Ilhan Omar, Israel & Zionism

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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Read more at BESA Center

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