When Yasir Arafat Almost Came to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

In 1998, the lay chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Council—which supervises the Washington, DC Holocaust Museum—invited Yasir Arafat to pay the museum an official visit. Walter Reich, then the museum’s director, objected strenuously to the invitation. In an interview with Rafael Medoff, he describes what happened:

I [said] that it was a bad idea—that the museum must be protected from the political or diplomatic use to which it was vulnerable as a federal institution. Many Americans, especially in the Jewish community, distrusted Arafat’s intentions, as did Israelis. Such a visit would be orchestrated by the State Department and the White House to convince the American public, as well as Israelis, that Arafat could be trusted because he wanted to feel the pain of the Jews.

The museum, I said, mustn’t allow itself to become a prop for a politically motivated photo-op. Besides, I added, what if he were to emerge from the museum saying to the press, as he’d often said before, that the Israelis were doing to the Palestinians exactly what the Nazis had done to the Jews? . . .

The night before [Arafat] was supposed to visit, the Monica Lewinsky story broke. The reporters and photographers went to the White House to cover that historic news. There would be no photo-op at the Holocaust Museum. Arafat’s delegation called the museum to say that he wouldn’t be coming. So much for Arafat’s desire to be educated about the Holocaust. Many years later, Aaron David Miller of the State Department, who was also a council member and . . . had [initially] suggested the visit, . . . wrote an article in which he conceded that his idea of inviting Arafat was “one of the dumbest ideas in the annals of U.S foreign policy.”

Today, the museum’s quick retraction of its recent study arguing that U.S. intervention in Syria wouldn’t have helped [defeat Bashar Assad] may have been a result, partly, of the fact that it had been burned by the attempt to use it for political purposes during the Arafat affair. Critics of the Syria study argued that its goal was to justify President Obama’s decision not to intervene in the Syria crisis; they noted that Obama had appointed members of his national-security team to the museum’s council and that a former member of Obama’s National Security Council was the director of the unit that commissioned the study.

Read more at Jewish Press

More about: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Holocaust, Holocaust Museums, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Yasir Arafat

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University