What the Biden Administration’s Campaign against Anti-Semitism Lacks

Last week, the White House—to its credit—released a 60-page strategy for combatting anti-Semitism, a step unlike anything undertaken by previous administrations. But the document studiously avoids adopting the standard guidelines for identifying anti-Semitism endorsed by the Antidefamation League, the World Jewish Congress, and other mainstream Jewish organizations. The editors of the New York Sun comment:

The administration feints at moral clarity, acknowledging that the “most prominent” definition of anti-Semitism is the one adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. (IHRA), which the United States has “embraced.” The government of Germany, for crying out loud, has endorsed it. For America, though, it is a grudging first among equals. It’s given hardly a ringing, or any, endorsement. That’s a dodge. The issue, of course, is Israel.

The IHRA labels as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” by “claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor” and “applying double standards” to the Jewish state by “requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” It recognizes that anti-Semitism is an inherent feature, not a bug, of anti-Zionism. The Jewish state and the state of the Jews are intertwined.

But the White House document goes on to state that it “welcomes and appreciates” the rival definition of anti-Semitism known as the Nexus Document, which takes pains to defend hatred of Israel.

[I]f Nexus is true on its face then the IHRA definition can’t be true—and vice versa. So by letting Nexus through the door, President Biden negates the first endorsement and makes kosher a range of the attacks on Israel from the left. . . . With friends of the Nexus approach numbering the [Hamas-linked] Council on American-Islamic Relations—they are acknowledged by the administration in an accompanying “fact sheet” that lists those who contributed to its efforts—who needs enemies?

One sage with whom we spoke, Ruth Wisse, makes the point that it’s not all that complicated. She calls the administration’s strategy an “attempt to misdirect anti-Semitism so that you are justified in not dealing with it” and an example of “fighting yesterday’s war” at a time when anti-Zionism is the “great unifier” among those hostile to Jews. “Iran intends to destroy the state of Israel,” she observes. “What are we talking about?”

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Anti-Semitism, IHRA, Israel on campus, Joseph Biden, Ruth Wisse

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