September 11, Anti-Americanism, and Anti-Semitism

Nineteen years ago today, America came under attack from an enemy most of its citizens had never heard of. To Israelis, and to Americans who followed events in Israel closely, it seemed that the United States had joined a reality that the Jewish state knew all too well—especially since the second intifada was then at its bloody height. Two years later, Yossi Klein Halevi observed that the jihadist war on the two countries had, paradoxically, brought out much hostility toward both Israel and the U.S. among Europeans. He reflected in this essay, first published in 2004, on the common roots of anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism—and the latter’s corollary, anti-Semitism:

A recurring motif of European anti-Americanism, already evident in the 19th century, is the notion of a uniquely American hypocrisy. Once America spoke in the name of freedom yet permitted slavery; now America speaks in the name of democracy yet ignores human rights. . . . According to this view, hypocritical America pretends to be a victim, yet is in fact a victimizer. Similar notions of Israel as a victimizer masquerading as a victim are routine in European discourse on the Middle East. In the demonizers’ political passion play, America and Israel assume the role of Pharisees, hypocrites who promise freedom and democracy but deliver the golden calf.

Last winter, I was in Rome just after the massive demonstration against American intervention in Iraq, which drew upwards of three million people. The atmosphere in the city was frightening in its political uniformity. Peace flags hung from seemingly every balcony. Nowhere did I see a sign, a sticker, expressing an alternative position. Instead, there was this graffiti: “Sharon-Bush-Blair: the real axis of evil.”

In citing Ariel Sharon and George Bush, rather than Yasir Arafat and Saddam Hussein, as symbols of evil—and note that Sharon appears first in this anti-trinity—Europeans are not merely opposing the foreign policies of America and Israel but demonizing them. The lack of relationship to objective reality in this political critique can be seen in the demonizers’ timing. Demonization of America intensified after it was attacked on its mainland for the first time since the War of 1812. Demonization of Israel intensified after it became the first country in history voluntarily to offer shared sovereignty over its capital.

Read more at Azure

More about: 9/11, anti-Americanism, Anti-Semitism

 

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy