President Biden’s State Department Nominee Warns against Efforts to Delegitimize Israel

Feb. 10 2022

The historian and Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt, President Biden’s nominee for the post of anti-Semitism envoy, appeared this week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her confirmation hearing. A number of Republicans raised concerns regarding Lipstadt’s political views, particularly in relation to comments she made following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In response, as Ben Cohen notes, Lipstadt pledged to conduct herself in a non-partisan manner, and insisted that she is an “equal-opportunity foe” of anti-Semitism.

Part of the hearing canvassed Lipstadt’s view of the recent Amnesty International report that accused Israel of practicing the same form of racial segregation that prevailed in South Africa for most of the 20th century.

“Branding Israel an apartheid state is more than historically inaccurate,” she said. “I believe it’s part of a larger effort to delegitimize the Jewish state. Such language, I see it spilling over onto campuses where it poisons the atmosphere, particularly for Jewish students.”

Lipstadt went on to note that this does not mean she will shun any criticism of Israel:

“Criticism of Israeli policy is not anti-Semitism,” she said. “If you want to hear criticism of Israeli policies, I suggest you sit yourself down in a cafe in Tel Aviv or in Jerusalem, whatever part of the country, depending on who is in the government. It’s the national sport in Israel, second only maybe to soccer or maybe more than that.”

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Anti-Semitism, Deborah Lipstadt, Senate


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount