Naftali Bennett’s Meeting with Joe Biden Began to Repair the Cracks in the U.S.-Israel Alliance

Oct. 12 2021

On August 27, the Israeli prime minister met with the American president in the White House, in what the former hoped was an opportunity to move away from the tensions between Washington and Jerusalem—and specifically between Jerusalem and the Democrats—of the past twelve years. Eran Lerman is sanguine about the meeting, but notes there are serious threats to the Jewish state’s most important alliance.

Israel’s new prime minister, despite being politically identified with the right wing and with Judea and Samaria settlements, has been given an opportunity to shake off his predecessor’s “baggage,” as it is referred to in American political jargon. . . . As far as we know, Bennett did find common ground with Biden. On a personal level, their interaction was amicable. Bennett is not perceived by the president and his staff as tainted by overidentification with Republicans. Although Biden was distracted by the Afghanistan crisis, he spent longer than expected in conversation with Bennett and reportedly found in the prime minister an attentive listener.

[Moreover], it can be argued the prime minister’s visit to Washington at this sensitive time reminded the public, the professional echelon, and U.S. politicians of Israel’s value as a democratic, reliable, and strong ally that does not ask American soldiers to bleed in its defense. In other words, Israel is everything that Afghanistan never was and never could be. Therein lies the importance of the U.S.-Israel “special relationship,” now more than ever.

Nonetheless, Lerman writes, the Jewish state faces a serious challenge from the growing influence of anti-Israel sentiment in the left wing of the Democratic party, which it “needs the help of American Jews” to counter. But getting this help requires:

an intensive and consistent effort to restore significantly Israel’s relationship with American Jewry, which has reached a dangerous threshold of erosion. . . . Improvement in the Washington-Jerusalem relationship has implications for the atmosphere in ties with members of the Jewish community.

Israel’s top political leadership must be harnessed for this effort, alongside relevant ministers and ranking professionals in the [government]. It must also be reflected in policies on sensitive issues in Israel, especially the Western Wall question and attitudes toward non-Orthodox denominations. Only if a strong foundation of support is rebuilt within American Jewry and with both sides of the party divide that is tearing America apart will the Israeli government be able to conduct a pragmatic conversation [with the U.S.] on the complex subject of Iran.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: American Jewry, Israel and the Diaspora, Joe Biden, Naftali Bennett, US-Israel relations

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter