What the Proposed Senate Resolution on Anti-Semitism Gets Right

March 27 2019

Rather than issuing a resolution censuring Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her noxious comments about American support for Israel, or even one denouncing anti-Semitism in general, the House of Representatives instead passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism as but one in a long laundry list of other bigotries—to the frustration of some representatives of both parties. To remedy the situation, Ted Cruz has introduced a far less equivocal resolution of his own in the Senate. Liel Leibovitz explains what the new resolution gets right:

[T]he resolution . . . shows an understanding, rare for the generally vapid genre of official declarations read from the Senate floor, of the lived experience of actual American Jews. It acknowledges that anti-Semitism isn’t some opaque and abstract construct best understood by theorizing about hegemony, intersectionality, or other concepts beloved by the grievance-peddlers in college classrooms, but an all too real prejudice that continues to afflict real Jews in unique and nonreplicable ways.

This is not only an ontological distinction, but a political one as well. If you view the world exclusively through the lens of big, broad categories—race, sexual orientation, religious belief—you are likely to prefer the sort of legislation that sees people as not much more than extras in an epic drama of clashing identities.

That’s why reparations, for example, long opposed by the majority of Americans—including about half of all African-Americans—and considered a nonstarter by nearly all mainstream politicians, has become a cause célèbre for several of the Democrats running for president in 2020. Benefiting not those who had suffered but their distant descendants, the policy proposal is the perfect embodiment of how progressives think about politics: a contest between warring groups that can be decided only by sweeping and symbolic gestures.

Cruz’s resolution, on the other hand, shows a dramatically different way of thinking. Rather than treating Jews as a metaphor—an amorphous group whose suffering can be distilled into some politically valuable and intoxicating elixir—it is careful to enumerate the ways in which individuals have suffered.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Congress, Politics & Current Affairs, Ted Cruz


What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy