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

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.”

Read more at Ynet

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


How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy