Deborah Lipstadt’s Stalled Confirmation and the Dangers of Politicizing the Fight against Anti-Semitism

In 2004, Congress created the position within the State Department of the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, a position that the Biden administration has elevated to the ambassadorial level. As a result, the Senate must now confirm the present nominee—the highly regarded Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt—but Republicans are holding up the process. Jonathan Tobin examines the situation, which, he notes, is

frustrating for [Lipstadt] and the organized Jewish community—where she has broad support—and which wants the post filled. It’s also unproductive since the Republicans, who are uniformly supportive of Israel, back the mission of the anti-Semitism envoy. But as much as . . . the Republicans ought to relent and let her be confirmed, it’s no good pretending that politics can be separated from the business of fighting anti-Semitism in the current environment.

Lipstadt deserves credit for her willingness to acknowledge—as some on the Jewish left and the Democratic party sometimes have trouble understanding—that Jew-hatred is present on both the left and the right. As such, she is probably as good a choice as can be imagined from a Biden administration that has unfortunately proved that it is in thrall to its leftist activist wing.

Lipstadt may deserve the post, but no one should be under any illusion that the decision didn’t have a lot to do with her willingness to play the partisan in 2020 by endorsing a shameful ad from the Jewish Democratic Council of America that likened the Trump administration to the rise of Nazi Germany.

The lesson that we take away from this episode can’t be just a partisan attack on Republicans for acting the way parties behave when they are out of power and wishing to make the White House pay for confirmations. As much as the post of anti-Semitism envoy should be filled right away, the problem is not so much how partisanship has made the Senate a dysfunctional institution, though that is certainly true. Rather, it’s the way too many people who ought to have known better were willing to sanction inappropriate Holocaust analogies or otherwise to link the battle against anti-Semitism to political sparring.

Read more at JNS

More about: Anti-Semitism, Congress, Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. Politics

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood