The Defenders of the Jews Who Fall into the Anti-Zionist Trap

Feb. 24 2023

Both this year and last, Howard Jacobson accepted invitations to be involved in productions on the subject of anti-Semitism: the Anglo-Jewish journalist Jonathan Freedland’s play Jews. In Their Own Words and the comedian David Baddiel’s documentary Jews Don’t Count. Looking at both works, Jacobson observes that they go wrong in similar ways:

Intellectually, one cannot claim to grasp the nettle of Jew-hating—especially among the progressive left, which is Baddiel’s target—if the psychology of its most potent contemporary expression, even more potent than [soccer] fans calling Spurs supporters “Yids,” doesn’t interest you. In the stage play and the television documentary, Freedland and Baddiel allowed themselves to be distracted by the question of whether or not an English Jew bears responsibility for Israel’s heinous misdeeds.

There’s a right and a wrong way of answering that. “We are not our brother’s keeper” is the wrong way. “He is not even our brother” is worse still. Insist your innocence of someone else’s heinous misdeeds and all you do is concede the heinousness. To deny affinity with Israel is to deny affinity with Jewish history. The marauding, child-murdering colonialists of anti-Zionist propaganda . . . are the same hated Jews of 2,000 years ago: separatists, thieves, and bloodsuckers, long before there was an Israeli soldier patrolling the West Bank.

One cannot accuse Jonathan Freedland of indifference to Israel. For years now, his Guardian column has extolled the country’s achievements while scrupulously criticizing “the occupation.” But is his scrupulousness—as, for example, in the matter of just what words Jews. In Their Own Words speak—too one-sided?

For all their differences—Freedland the formidably acute and considered thinker, Baddiel the no less formidable polemicist—their views on Israel converge in the old discomfort. Israel just won’t give them the Jew they want.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan