Is Korea Filled with Anti-Semites, or Philo-Semites?

A recent survey conducted by the ADL ranked Korea the third most anti-Semitic country in Asia (after Malaysia and Armenia). The country has a tiny Jewish community, mostly consisting of American expatriates, that until recently was centered around a U.S. military base. Korea’s Jews claim that they have encountered minimal anti-Semitism and instead cite widespread admiration for, and interest in, Jews and Judaism. With this admiration come numerous stereotypes about Jewish success, which may explain the results of the ADL survey. These attitudes have produced some strange results, writes Dave Hazzan:

In fact, an interest in Judaism has made the Talmud a best-seller in Korea. [Korea’s only rabbi, Osher] Litzman runs regular Talmud and Torah classes for Koreans, most of whom have no interest in converting. . . . [T]here are Koreans who have been regulars at Friday-night services for 30 years and know the liturgy better than many American Jews do. A 2011 story from the [London] Jewish Chronicle, “Why South Koreans Are in Love with Judaism,” estimates there are more Talmuds in Korean homes than in Israeli ones. The story quotes a Korean mother who said, “The stereotype of Jews here is that they are ultra-intelligent people. Jews have come out of nowhere to become business chiefs, media bosses, Nobel Prize-winners—we want our children to do the same. If that means studying Talmud, Torah, whatever, so be it.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, East Asian Jewry, Philo-Semitism, South Korea


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy