Columbia, Alexander Hamilton, and the Roots of American Philo-Semitism

This spring, at the height of the anti-Israel campus protests, a mob stormed Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall, named for Alexander Hamilton, perhaps the school’s most famous alumnus. Meir Soloveichik notes the symbolism (no doubt unknown to the vandals) of this attack on a building whose namesake was one of America’s great philo-Semites. Hamilton, while working as a lawyer, once found himself representing a man who brought several Jews to testify in his defense. To impugn their testimony, the opposing counsel, Gouverneur Morris, argued that, as Jews, they could not be trusted.

Thus did Morris adopt a strategy that was abhorrent but not insensible: to act on the assumption that anti-Semitism was very potent and that the “heart of man” was vulnerable to it.

What is remarkable about Hamilton’s response is that it not only denounced Morris’s bigotry; it also made a case for American philo-Semitism. Hamilton utilized language that was less legal than theological, asking the tribunal about Morris: “Has he forgotten, what this race once were, when, under the immediate government of God himself, they were selected as the witnesses of his miracles, and charged with the spirit of prophecy?” It was, in other words, the Jews who served as the medium of the very Scripture that had inspired American republican government, and who observed that “pure and holy, happy and Heaven-approved faith.”

But as impressive as Hamilton’s rhetoric was, the result was equally important: the court embraced Hamilton’s position by a vote of 28–6, signifying that the anti-Semitism that truly had marked the hearts of so many men would be so remarkably absent in the hearts of so many Americans then and in the years to follow.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Alexander Hamilton, American Jewish History, Israel on campus, Philo-Semitism

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security