How Art Museums Distort Jewish Culture, and Downplay Anti-Semitism

In recent years, art museums have grown increasing concerned with a variety of questions that might be characterized as “woke.” Are the works of artists of different races and ethnicities displayed in galleries? Are black as well as white subjects represented in paintings? Museums have taken such steps in response as making sure to mention the role of the Netherlands in the trans-Atlantic slave trade in an exhibit on 17th-century Dutch paintings. Yet, observes Menachem Wecker, none of these sensitivities seem to apply to Jews. Thus works by Philip Guston are censored or guarded by trigger warnings, while no mention is made of the fact that Guston was Jewish, or that he might have been responding to anti-Semitism with his work.

Wecker produces numerous examples of museums downplaying anti-Semitic portrayals of Jews in artworks, while often failing to identify such artists as Chaim Soutine as Jews—even when Jewish themes figure prominently in their art. Nor do Catholics fare much better, with anti-Catholic pieces like the now-notorious 1987 Piss Christ receiving ample contextualization intended to downplay controversy, whereas “when there’s no controversy, museums insert controversy.” (Video, 59 minutes.)

Read more at Catholic Theological Union

More about: Anti-Semitism, Art history, Catholicism, Jewish art, Museums

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy