The Democratic Party’s “Structural Anti-Semites”

Today there is much talk on the political left about “structural racism,” a kind of discrimination or bigotry which is never overt and rarely intentional, but somehow built into the system. The idea sometimes illuminates real ills, and at other times simply obscures and distorts. But a similar concept could prove useful in describing the way certain progressives speak about Israel, argues Jonah Goldberg:

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was appalled by President Biden’s statement that Israel has a right to self-defense. I don’t think Ocasio-Cortez is an anti-Semite, but I do think she’s perpetuating structural anti-Semitism. When she says it’s simplistic to say that Israel has a right to defend itself, she’s clearly right in a sense. It is simple: Israel has a right to defend itself.

But what she and countless others are arguing is that Israel has no right to act like a normal country. You don’t have to hate Jews to believe that the only Jewish country in the world is also the only country in the world that can’t behave like a normal country and defend its citizens. But the policy that flows from that argument is, in important ways, anti-Semitic—even if it isn’t intended as such.

That, by the way, is what Israel wants to be—a normal country. But it’s stuck in an abnormal predicament. . . . [W]hen people point to the fact that Israel is militarily more powerful than its neighbors, they make it sound like this is somehow unfair. On several occasions, Israel’s neighbors have declared war on Israel with the intention of destroying it. Those countries could afford to lose those wars—and they did—but Israel couldn’t, because to lose once is to lose for all time. If you know everybody in your neighborhood wants to kill you, you’re not the bad guy for being better armed than your neighbors.

And if you always start with assumption that the Israelis are wrong, or if you always end with that conclusion regardless of the facts, you may not be anti-Semitic, but you’re on the side of structural anti-Semitism.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Anti-Semitism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Progressivism

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

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