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

Jan. 12 2022

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


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount