Jewish Organizations Shouldn’t Be Defending Anti-Semites

Jan. 25 2023

On December 12, a group of progressive Jewish groups issued an open letter opposing now-Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s pledge to remove Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee due to, in the letter’s words, “false accusations that she is anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.” The signatories include radical organizations like Americans for Peace Now, but also the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby J Street, the Zionist youth group Habonim-Dror, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism—the last being the activist wing of America’s largest Jewish denomination. Benjamin Kerstein responds:

The . . . assertion that the accusations against Omar are “false” is a lie. With the best will in the world, Omar’s claims that American Jews buy control of Congress via their “Benjamins” and that support for Israel constitutes loyalty to a foreign country cannot be viewed as anything other than explicitly anti-Semitic.

Omar has never repudiated or apologized for these statements. She clearly believes that she is merely speaking truth to power—which in this context can only be viewed as “Jewish” power. This is how all anti-Semites—of whatever political stripe—view themselves, and to claim that Omar has been falsely accused is, in effect, to endorse such attitudes as legitimate and defensible. The profession of Omar’s innocence, in other words, is anti-Semitic in and of itself.

[Omar’s career] is the first step towards the legitimization and institutionalization of systemic anti-Semitism in the American political establishment. The battle against her is therefore an existential struggle for American Jews. The Reform leadership has now made it clear that not only will it refrain from this struggle, it will actively impede it. It has become, in other words, part of the problem.

The Reform leadership has a right to fight for progressive values. It has a right to criticize Israeli policies should it so desire. It does not have the right to enable those who would.

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Read more at JNS

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Ilhan Omar, Reform Judaism, U.S. Politics

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy