Anti-Semitism Has No Place at the Pentagon

November 25, 2020 | Melissa Braunstein
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During the recent staff shake-up at the Defense Department, the new acting secretary Christopher Miller appointed Douglas Macgregor, a retired Army officer, as his senior adviser. Melissa Braunstein comments:

Macgregor has made fairly extensive comments about “the Israel lobby,” which he claims has bought off high-level American officials, including the former national security adviser John Bolton and the secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

Like Representative Ilhan Omar, Macgregor criticized the “enormous influence” Israel supporters have on Congress and attacked the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Macgregor, who was once in line to be ambassador to Germany, lost out after [news] outlets reported on his saying that Germany’s efforts to grapple with its role in the Holocaust [reflected] a “sick mentality,” among other jaw-dropping comments.

But just as most elected Democrats—with a few notable exceptions—were loath to condemn Omar’s comments, most elected Republicans have not yet voiced displeasure over Macgregor’s appointment. And there are consequences to such spinelessness, notes Braunstein:

Public officials’ unwillingness to take deterrent action increases the likelihood that overt anti-Semitism would recur in government. It’s happening outside government too, by the way, and the FBI’s recently-released 2019 hate-crime statistics bear that out: Jews were targeted in 63 percent of religiously-oriented hate crimes last year, a 14-percent jump over 2018, even though Jews represent less than 2 percent of the population. This would certainly be a good time for Republican officials to pipe up about Macgregor. However, they remain notably quiet.

The proper conduct of foreign policy requires that government officials understand the world as it is, not as they believe it to be. That requires studying and acknowledging facts rather than allowing one’s vision to be clouded by conspiracy theories [about Jewish influence]. As such, Omar shouldn’t be on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Macgregor shouldn’t be advising the acting secretary of defense. Anti-Semitism harms Jews, to be sure, but it also disfigures the judgment of those it infects.

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