German Intellectuals Rush to Defend a Cameroonian Anti-Semite

Earlier this year, a German music and culture festival invited the prominent Cameroon-born, South African philosopher Achille Mbembe to deliver the keynote address. A liberal German parliamentarian criticized the choice, citing Mbembe’s disturbing record of anti-Israel bigotry and anti-Semitism. Manfred Gerstenfeld elaborates:

Mbembe has written that Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians is worse than South Africa’s treatment of the black population under apartheid. Mbembe is also an academic supporter of the [movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state] (BDS), which demonizes Israel. . . . Mbembe was one of about 300 signatories on a 2010 petition calling for the University of Johannesburg to cut all ties with Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.

[In] a travelogue Mbembe published in 1992 under the title “Israel, the Jews and Us,” [he] presented the Holocaust as an event in the history of colonialism and Israel as a massive betrayal of the Jewish experience of persecution. Mbembe claimed that Israel was “taking the place of the murderers” and called the God of the Jews a God of vengeance. In 2015, Mbembe wrote that Israel’s goal is the incremental obliteration of the Palestinians.

Although the festival, scheduled for late this summer, was canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus, the controversy continued in Germany, as over 300 artists and academics from 30 countries signed a public defending Mbembe and denying the charges. Gerstenfeld writes:

The letter’s very first paragraph contained two lies. The first was that Mbembe has never made anti-Semitic statements, an easily disproven claim. The second was that the accusations against Mbembe came from the extreme right. In fact, the exposure of Mbembe’s anti-Semitism originated mostly in mainstream sources. The letter ended with the brazen demand that the German anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, be fired, [for the crime of having] told the truth about Mbembe’s anti-Semitism.

Moreover, many signatories, when asked, confessed to being unfamiliar with Mbembe’s works. The fact of a mob—even a mob of professors—imitating American “cancel culture” called for the head of Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner for criticizing an anti-Semite is bad enough. But perhaps worse still is the possibility that Mbembe’s popularity in Germany stems from his eagerness to minimize the Holocaust by comparing it with apartheid, or to the imagined crimes of the Jewish state.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Anti-Semitism, apartheid, BDS, Germany, Holocaust

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy