The Thin Line between Philo-Semitism and Anti-Semitism in 20th-Century Japan

Feb. 19 2019

Sealed off from the rest of the world until the 19th century, Japan was one of the last countries in which Jews settled, and since then has never had more than a tiny Jewish population. As a result, anti-Semitism did not come to the island nation until relatively recently. Yaniv Pohoryles, in his review of a new Hebrew-language book on the subject, explains:

[I]t was ironically only after Jewish investment helped Japan beat Russia in their 1904-5 war that European anti-Semitic literature began to enter the country. [But] the Japanese reached entirely different conclusions from European anti-Semitic theorists. While the Germans believed that the solution to the anti-Semitic claim that “the Jews rule the world” is expulsion and annihilation, the Japanese concluded that they must learn from the Jews, connect with them, and implement the good things they do. In other words, their anti-Semitism became philo-Semitism.

“In order to understand the Japanese approach to the Jews, a few years ago we were visited by a senior Japanese delegation,” Ben-Ami Shiloni, [the book’s author], says. “After the meal, the leader of the group stood up, thanked the hosts, and said that he and the other members of the delegation knew very little about Jews and Israel before the trip. In preparation, they searched for a book on the subject and after reading it they felt that they now understand Israel’s success and the special position Jews hold.

“He then drew the book from his pocket and gave it to us as a gift—it was the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This shows that classic anti-Semitic literature is seen by the Japanese as a model for success and imitation. In essence, they draw counterintuitive conclusions regarding the Jews and how to relate to them.”

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Read more at Ynet

More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Japan

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism