The Incoming President Should Take a Stand against Anti-Semitism Wrapped in the Banner of Human Rights

Nov. 19 2020

Reportedly, the State Department is considering a process of designating organizations as anti-Semitic if they engage in extreme anti-Israel rhetoric, using as a standard the parameters laid out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which have been endorsed by various organizations and governments in Europe and elsewhere. Ben Cohen examines the consequences of such a policy:

Quite how far an organization would have to go to earn an anti-Semitism designation is not specified, but it’s probably safe to assume that the kinds of statements and actions undertaken by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam during the 2014 [the Israel-Hamas war]—false accusations of Israeli war crimes, counting Hamas terrorists as “civilian” war deaths, analogizing Gaza’s predicament with the Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Warsaw—would be sufficient.

In practical terms, [however], to announce such a policy during the twilight of the Trump administration is perhaps condemning it to an undeserved fate. Undeserved, because the basic idea underlying the policy is a sound one—that trafficking in anti-Semitic canards should not be permitted to hide behind noble labels such as [human rights].

Can this principle be incorporated into a Democratic administration’s policy on countering anti-Semitism? At some point, it will need such a policy, if only because combating hatred and discrimination against Jews is part of the State Department’s mission, and it is one moreover that has bipartisan support.

In that same bipartisan spirit, the incoming administration should resist the temptation to sweep away everything undertaken by its predecessor. An official designation can be a vital tool in holding to account civic, academic, and humanitarian organizations that receive public funds in the event they spread anti-Semitic canards.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Amnesty International, Anti-Semitism, Human Rights Watch, State Department

 

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform