Where It Matters Most, the National Anti-Semitism Strategy Drops the Ball

On May 25, the White House issued a 60-page document outlining its approach to combating anti-Semitism. Avi Weiss and Eitan Fischberger have no criticism of what it includes—especially such measures as helping to provide added security to Jewish institutions—but only for what it leaves out:

There is zero mention in [the document] of the words “Zionist,” “Zionism,” or any variation of the word. Not one. When people convey messages of “Zionism is racism” or “Zionism is terrorism,” they are speaking to millions of Jews living in Israel and millions more worldwide, across all denominations, who passionately express their dream of Zion in their daily prayers, in the Jewish wedding service, and in expressions of condolence in houses of mourning. These messages malign Jews as racists or terrorists and can easily inspire reprisal acts of anti-Semitism.

And while the strategy lays out dangers that students on campus face because of their perceived or real support of Israel—and insists that security for these students be guaranteed—it does not offer a plan to respond educationally to this phenomenon. Time and again it emphasizes the need for education about the Holocaust and the role Jews play in American society, but it fails even to suggest a program or curriculum that would teach the meaning of Zionism going back to biblical times, or how the state of Israel is profoundly tied to the Jewish people.

It’s no secret, too, that the majority of anti-Semitic acts in America are taking place in ḥaredi/ḥasidic communities, such as Monsey, Crown Heights, and Borough Park, all in New York. With their visibly Jewish garbs, these innocent people can—and have been—easily singled out for constant attack. This is raw anti-Semitism, attacking Jews because they are Jews. One would imagine, then, that the strategy would devote much attention to this challenge.

Not so. Only in two small paragraphs, one in Appendix A at the conclusion of the 60-page strategy, is this matter mentioned, sounding therefore like a postscript, the classic too little, too late.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Haredim, Joseph Biden


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