How Israeli and American Jews See Past Each Other When It Comes to Anti-Semitism

Sept. 18 2017

Last week, a bit of controversy erupted over an anti-Semitic cartoon posted by Benjamin Netanyahu’s adult son on Twitter; apparently, he had misread it as mocking George Soros’s person rather than using the financier as a stand-in for an international Jewish conspiracy. Jewish reactions to the incident, as Shmuel Rosner writes, bring into sharp contrast the divergent perceptions of anti-Semitism in Israel and the United States:

Because of Israel’s circumstances and assumptions, Israeli Jews haven’t developed the same sensitivity and ear for anti-Semitism that Jews elsewhere have. . . . The younger Netanyahu hasn’t yet explained himself, but I have no doubt that he’s not an anti-Semite. . . .

Since the only anti-Semitism Israelis understand is one of violence, blood, and brutal intimidation, it is hard for many of them to appreciate [many American Jews’] panic over, [for instance], a few hundred marchers [in Charlottesville] and the ineloquent condemnation of [them by] the president. Since the only remedy for anti-Semitism they know is a Jewish state (and its Jewish army), it is hard for many of them to appreciate fears about anti-Semitism that are not followed by immigration to Israel.

But most of all, what should Israel do? Just consider some of the options. Assist American Jews in some material way? They seem to be doing fine. In fact, they seem to feel confident enough to fight their own fight. Any attempt by Israel to intervene in this crisis would suggest that the Jews of America are not as integrated as they claim to be.

Join the chorus of condemnation? Israel doesn’t need to prove that it dislikes neo-Nazis. But as a country, it has other interests. First and foremost is its need for good relations with the American administration—the same administration that many American Jews blame for the crisis. Moreover, Israel has an aversion to leftist radicals like the ones who clashed with the white supremacists in Charlottesville because many of these radicals are associated with groups highly critical of Israel’s policies, who often support boycott of Israel—a stance that most Israelis believe is as anti-Semitic as the anti-Semitism of the right. . . .

The only thing that Israel can really offer in response to anti-Semitism is something tried and true: its existence.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Israel and the Diaspora, neo-Nazis

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror