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

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

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy