Those Who Try to Explain Away Martin Luther King’s Support for Israel Ignore Its Spiritual Dimension

This Martin Luther King Day saw the now de-rigueur exercise of using the civil-rights leader’s legacy to condemn the Jewish state despite the inconvenient fact that King admired Israel and despite the absence of evidence that he expressed sympathy for the “Palestinian cause.” In a previous article for Mosaic, Martin Kramer refuted those who argue that King’s opinions about Israel were “contradictory, naïve, or ignorant.” Kramer now takes on another, equally unsubstantiated, version of this argument: that King would have expressed his hostility for Israel but was afraid that doing so would cost him “financial support.”

[The] notion of a quid pro quo takes no account of the spiritual dimension of King’s ties to Zionist Jews. The two who were closest to him were refugee rabbis from Hitler’s Europe, who regarded the creation of Israel as redemption. And just as the Holocaust drove their passion for civil rights, it steeled their devotion to Israel.

The first was Joachim Prinz (1902-1988), a social activist, pulpit rabbi, and Zionist organizer, who personally knew nearly all of Israel’s leaders. Prinz allied himself with King in 1958 and at the 1963 March on Washington spoke in the slot before King’s historic address. . . . The second was Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), philosopher and theologian at the Jewish Theological Seminary and an heir to one of the great ḥasidic dynasties. King described Heschel as “a truly great prophet.”

For King, these men were not “supporters,” they were fellow visionaries, with whom he shared prophetic values. They spoke, too, as personal victims of racism, and gave voice to the millions who had perished in the Holocaust. The idea that their eloquent commitment to Israel didn’t affect King underestimates both him and them.

What would King think of Israel today? It’s an idle question. But he thought well of Israel then, and its flaws in his day weren’t far fewer, nor were its virtues much more numerous, than they are in ours. Whether he deserves to be called “a tremendous Zionist,” as Edward Said [derogatorily] claimed, is a matter of perspective and definition. But the attempt to make him into an advocate for Palestine is an offense to history.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Abraham Joshua Heschel, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Martin Luther King

 

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