Tag Archive for: antisemitism

Why Progressives Can’t Simply Condemn Anti-Semitism

Democrats demand the suppression of speech they disagree with, but they cannot seem to unify against crass antisemitism. 

When Hamas attacked Israel in a genocidal pogrom targeting men, women, and children, it was not the start of a war with the traditional goals of strategic victory or conquest, but a war to annihilate the Jewish People.

Let’s tell it like it is: The Arab/Israeli conflict has never been about self-determination for Palestinian-Arabs, who have no historical footprint or ancient pedigree in the land, but about the destruction of Israel and extermination of the Jews, whose ancestral connection to their homeland is, unlike Palestinian Arab claims, incontrovertible.

The root of the conflict – the true basis that nobody wants to acknowledge – is the doctrinal hatred of Jews.

Though there was an unprecedented show of support for Israel after the initial attack in which Hamas terrorists slaughtered families, raped women and girls, burned people alive and murdered children, it didn’t take long for the UN Secretary-General to contextualize Hamas’s savagery by saying it “didn’t happen in a vacuum.” Or for progressives in the US and elsewhere to accuse Israel of concocting accounts of atrocities, or to admit they occurred but justify them as natural consequences of an “occupation” that does not exist.

Soon after came calls from the global community for Israel to temper her response or agree to a ceasefire, followed by specious allegations of Israeli war crimes. True to form, the mainstream media showed its bias by publishing Hamas propaganda as news without seeking verification from Israeli sources or employing the kind of rigorous fact checking that set the standard when I was a young journalist starting out in the 1980s. The abdication of objectivity was clear when most news outlets falsely reported that Israeli rockets had blown up a Gaza hospital killing hundreds, when in fact the missile was fired by Islamic Jihad. The stories were later retracted, but not before such reporting had inflamed tensions and instigated worldwide condemnations of Israel.

And now, a month into the war and in the midst of Israel’s intense campaign to destroy Hamas, progressives have become the terror organization’s most prominent boosters by stepping up their pathological demonization of the Jewish state. Violent anti-Israel demonstrations are sweeping liberal college campuses and cities across North America and Europe, where rioters can be seen chanting Nazi-like slogans, assaulting Jews, and openly calling for genocide.

Despite reports that extremist elements of the Jewish left are sympathizing with the demonstrators, moderate liberals are finally starting to acknowledge the anti-Jewish hatred permeating the progressive movements and identity communities they have traditionally championed. This realization was slow in coming because liberals always considered other progressives their natural allies and thus rarely acknowledged left-wing or minority Jew-hatred, no matter how blatant. Their immediate reflex, rather, was to blame white supremacists or right-wing extremists for all acts of antisemitism – even when committed by leftists or members of minorities (like the Jersey City massacre perpetrated by two antisemitic Black Hebrews in 2019).

Despite their tendency to ignore or excuse left-wing bigotry, many liberals were roused from their moral torpor by Hamas’s atrocities and spurious allegations of Israeli war crimes in Gaza. Whereas in the past they might have responded by lecturing Israel about the incorrectly understood “disproportional” use of force or blaming “the occupation” for provoking terrorism, many are now conceding that: (a) there is no occupation; (b) Israel has the sovereign right to defend herself; (c) only Hamas is committing war crimes – including rape, murder and torture of Jewish civilians and using noncombatants as human shields, and (d) Palestinian-Arabs generally reject the two-state paradigm.

Though this newfound awareness is encouraging, it does not reflect a sea change within the wider progressive establishment, which thus far has failed to take a clear moral stand against leftist, Islamic, or minority antisemitism. The internet is full to bursting with images of demonstrators praising Hitler, calling for death to Israel, and chanting “Jews back to the ovens,” but there has been no unified, plenary condemnation of antisemitism from progressive or Democratic Party leadership.

The problem is that protests in which Jews are threatened, harassed, and assaulted are being perpetrated by many of the same identity groups that are courted by Democrats and comprise the core constituency of their party’s progressive wing.

Nothing epitomizes this more than the “Squad,” a group of Congressional Democrats including Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and other radicals, who have expressed anti-Israel or antisemitic rhetoric, have refused to condemn Hamas terror, and who nonetheless have avoided unequivocal reprimand by their party (the majority of which voted against a recent House Republican resolution censuring Tlaib).

Though White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre finally denounced offensive comments from the Squad (without mentioning any members by name), Joe Biden has remained silent, perhaps for fear of alienating the Squad’s radical base. And despite the press secretary’s somewhat generic denunciation, she waffled when asked about increasing antisemitism in the US, choosing instead to rail against Islamophobia – which pales in statistical significance to hatred and violence against Jews.

Such equivocation begs the question; are there any voices of principled decency on the progressive left?

Political conservatives had their moment thirty years ago and rose to the occasion, when the late William F. Buckley confronted accusations of antisemitism against certain contributing writers to the National Review (the political journal he published and edited) in a feature-length essay entitled, “In Search of Anti-Semitism.” Whereas defenders of those authors tried to distinguish criticism of Israel from hatred of Jews, Buckley identified antisemitic themes where he found them on both the right and left. He thereafter republished the essay in a book that incorporated other writers’ responses to his thesis. It was not the most definitive work on antisemitism to be sure, but it was a high-watermark of conservative moral self-evaluation.

The problem today is that there has been no similar ideological soul searching on the left. What we have seen instead is denial, blame shifting, false equivalence likening Islamic terrorism to Israeli self-defense, and pervasive disparagement of Jews and Israel. We’ve also seen how ignorant (or revisionist) progressives are when it comes to Jewish history and modern Israel’s ancient underpinnings.

It seems the left cannot bring itself to unconditionally condemn all those who demonize Israel, deny Jewish history, legitimize terrorism, or justify atrocities against Jews. Buckley clearly was not overreacting when he undertook to expose antisemitism and illustrate its ubiquity in society and banalization by intellectual elites. And the impact of his book on conservative America was culturally seismic, as reflected by a Republican Party that for decades now has generally shown stronger support for Israel and a greater commitment to eradicating antisemitism than the Democrats.

In contrast to Congressional Republicans, the Democrats cannot even all agree on the need to condemn party caucus members who side with terrorists or engage in anti-Israel or antisemitic hate-speech. Barack Obama got it very wrong when he implicated the role of “the occupation” leading up to the war, although “occupation” is a dissimulative term meaning the entire Jewish State and Gaza was not occupied. He also drew incongruous moral comparisons between Israel and Hamas by stating “nobody’s hands are clean” in the conflict. No surprise there. He simply stopped hiding his antisemitism.

Democrats are quick to demand the suppression of speech they disagree with, particularly when it questions climate change, condemns genital mutilation of children, or decries the excesses of identity politics. But they cannot seem to unify against the crass antisemitism that infects their constituency and the progressive wing of their party. Though individual Democrats are finally coming around, they have failed to take unequivocal, collective action against Jew-hatred, whether directed at Israel or individual Jews, who are routinely harassed and assaulted by mobs in progressive cities and universities across the country.

Progressives often assert that antisemitic hate-speech must be evaluated “in context” and cannot be judged without considering Arab-Muslim grievances; and when their logic fails, they invoke the First Amendment, which admittedly protects even odious speech. Their usual contempt for the Constitution does not seem to prevent them from using it as a shield to avoid intellectual engagement. And though free speech is indeed a fundamental American right, so is the right to criticize the words of others. The First Amendment only prohibits government from stifling expression; it does not preclude citizens individually or collectively from condemning hate-speech or incitement.

Suppressing the right to disagree only chills dissent and the free exchange of ideas.

The real reason many progressives will not condemn antisemitism unconditionally is that doing so would require them to criticize ideologies and identity groups they support; and because Jew-hatred is omnipresent on the left and therefore often deemed morally acceptable.

More disappointingly, no moderate liberal icons have spoken out against antisemitism the way Buckley did so eloquently in 1992. It seems the liberal mainstream is more concerned about alienating radical haters than in doing what is correct and decent in civilized society.

And that should scare everyone.

©2023. Matthew Hausman, J.D. All rights reserved.

‘Proportionality’ in Response to Terror — Anti-Semitism by Another Name

Though goodwill would be welcome from those who recognize the existential threats routinely faced by the Jewish nation, it’s not a prerequisite for the exercise of Israeli strength.

So, Israel was attacked by Hamas on Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, the last day of the high holiday season, in a devastating assault against civilians – and some immediately called for Israel’s response to be “proportionate.”

As Israel defended herself and prepared for a likely incursion into Gaza against terrorists who brutally murdered some 1,400 Israeli civilians and kidnapped perhaps hundreds more, an Irish government minister was among the first to urge Israel to proportionalize her response. And in the US, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a member of the radical, anti-Israel Democratic “Squad,” initially took the opportunity to blame Israeli apartheid (though Israel is most definitely not an apartheid state) instead of condemning Hamas terrorism against civilians, while some of her cohorts issued an equivocal denunciation of the attack and simultaneously demanded an immediate ceasefire to prevent Israel from retaliating.

What utter nonsense. Israel has every right to retaliate, and the only correct response would be the annihilation of Hamas, whose charter calls for jihad against Israel and genocide against the Jews.

Indeed, Article 7 of the Hamas Charter specifically states:

“Hamas is one of the links in the Chain of Jihad in the confrontation with the Zionist invasion. It links up with the setting out of the Martyr Izz a-din al-Qassam and his brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood who fought the Holy War in 1936; it further relates to another link of the Palestinian Jihad and the Jihad and efforts of the Muslim Brothers during the 1948 War, and to the Jihad operations of the Muslim Brothers in 1968 and thereafter.

“But even if the links have become distant from each other, and even if the obstacles erected by those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters, have rendered the pursuance of Jihad impossible; nevertheless, the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: ‘The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree (cited by Bukhari and Muslim).’”

(Hamas Charter, Article Seven.)

Why should Israel be hamstrung by demands for her to limit her response against an enemy whose charter calls for exterminating Jews as brazenly as Hitler’s Mein Kampf? What else besides total destruction constitutes an appropriate answer to terrorists who slaughter innocents in their beds, burn people alive, and decapitate children?

Hamas violated international law by attacking, murdering, and kidnapping civilians, torturing and raping captives, and perpetrating acts of genocide. In contrast, the IDF has always taken careful measures to minimize civilian casualties, including warning Arab civilians of impending actions via mass leaflets, texts, emails, and robocalls. Not to please the world, but because Israel is a decent and civilized country. And although Hamas launched several wars and a continuous stream of terrorism since the ill-conceived disengagement in 2005, Israel continued to provide for Gaza’s infrastructure needs (until now). No other country on earth would have done the same.

Nevertheless, mainstream media outlets were quick to dignify these barbaric terrorists by referring to them as “militants” or “fighters” instead of terrorists, murderers and rapists, and by giving airtime to propagandists posing as regional experts who framed Hamas’s atrocities as understandable reactions to so-called Israeli “occupation.” There is no occupation, but if there were, these atrocities would be understandable? Have we lost all reason?

But truth has no nuance.

Israel’s conduct during wartime differs significantly from that of other nations faced with far less existential threats. There was nary a critical peep during the Afghanistan War, for example, when coalition forces carpet bombed the Taliban in airstrikes that killed, injured, or maimed thousands of noncombatants. Or during World War II, when Great Britain bombed the German city of Dresden into oblivion, inflicting unprecedented civilian casualties. Despite Israel’s history of restraint in confronting unprovoked aggression, and although Hamas started this war with vile attacks against the young, old, and defenseless, Israel will undoubtedly be called upon to keep her actions “proportionate” or cease defending herself altogether to prevent further loss of life; or more accurately, to prevent the loss of non-Jewish life, which always seems more valuable to the international community than Jewish life.

Those who are concerned for Israel must recognize that what motivates both the demand for Israeli proportionality and the media’s compulsion to humanize terrorists is traditional antisemitism. And this is evident when viewed according to the law of contrasts. When Jewish lives are destroyed, the world usually says nothing or blames Jews for bringing it on themselves; but when their aggressors are killed or injured, the international community vilifies Israel and demands that she bare her neck to the sword.

The world only seems to acknowledge the Jews’ humanity when they are dead or subjugated, not when they have control of their own destiny, the power to defend themselves, or the chutzpah to be assertive. The stereotype of Jewish passivity was molded during a long exile when Jews were at the mercy of host societies that abused, ghettoized, and massacred them. The Christian and Muslim worlds simply had no room for Jews who didn’t know their place.

Hamas’s war is not about putting Jews back in ghettos or liberating a country (“Palestine”) that never existed. The myth of “Palestine” is just subterfuge for the goal of destroying the Jewish state and committing genocide. Hamas’s raison d’etre is to kill Jews; and it is enabled by a media establishment that consistently and maliciously portrays Israel in a false light. These terrorists are also abetted by progressive academics, politicians, and ideologues who spew hatred and misinformation about the Jews and their homeland, and by a Biden administration that has worked mightily to delegitimize Netanyahu’s government while financially rewarding Palestinian Arab agencies that subsidize terrorism and an Iranian regime bent on destroying Israel.

As Israelis learned during the Obama years, American reliability can be fickle with a progressive administration in the White House. Moreover, Israel cannot rely on a global community that has difficulty accepting Jews as anything but subservient victims. The world’s initial reaction to the dastardly attack on Israel was to express support, but it won’t last long after Israel begins a ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza or engages Hezbollah in the north. Goodwill towards Israel never lasts; and in fact, the mainstream media is already turning on Israel in tone and accuracy of coverage, as are those governments who now lecture Israel about humanitarian responsibility.

Nevertheless, some people do understand, and Israel will have to accept magnanimity wherever she can find it and ignore those whose support is conditional or nonexistent – especially in the Diaspora.

And this is a lesson I learned long ago.

There were few day-schools when I was young, so most Jewish kids attended public schools to learn secular subjects and Talmud Torahs to learn Hebrew, Tanakh, and Jewish law. Some of us attended supplemental Jewish schools four days or more per week, but public school was daily. In the elementary school we attended, Jewish students comprised an identifiable minority, and we encountered blatant antisemitism from Gentile teachers and students into the 1970s. We also got into fights fairly regularly.

One day, a few of us were called to the principal’s office because of all the fighting. When we were all seated, he closed the door and spoke. “Boys, I know what’s going on,” he said. “I know the other students are picking fights with you, and I also know some of the teachers are letting it happen. They’re antisemites.” Then he said something that still resonates. “I was in the Army, and I know what it’s like to have to defend yourself and your honor. So, I’ll assume when you get into fights that you’re defending yourselves, and that’ll be my assumption unless I discover otherwise. Don’t disappoint me.”

The principal was true to his word. He reprimanded the teachers who allowed us to be targets, and we took care of ourselves when the need arose with our student peers. And the fighting subsided as time went on.

Unlike students in a Diaspora schoolyard, however, Israel doesn’t need anybody’s permission to defend herself or protect her people. Though goodwill would be welcome from those who recognize the existential threats routinely faced by the Jewish nation, it’s not a prerequisite for the exercise of Israeli strength. And when the current wave of pro-Jewish solidarity wanes as it surely will, Israel will have to act in her sole discretion and ignore the inevitable admonitions regarding the proportionality of her response or the demands for agreement to a ceasefire with those intent on genocide.

And thank those few who remain by her side.

©2023. Matthew Hausman, J.D.. All rights reserved.

Confronting Anti-Semitism Takes a Strong Jewish Identity

In order to defend themselves, Jews must know who they are and where they come from.

With the proliferation of antisemitism in politics, academia, and popular culture throughout North America and the West, some sectors of the Jewish community are particularly at risk, though not necessarily from physical harm or violence. Their scars cannot be seen. Any time Jews feel embarrassment or shame in response to false accusations that Israel practices apartheid or abuses human rights or that traditional Judaism is bigoted or intolerant, their ability to counter antisemitism erodes – with some even accepting the classical antisemitic slurs that are routinely hurled against the world’s only Jewish state. Indeed, some are so alienated from their heritage and so politically indoctrinated against Israel that they side with haters who claim Jewish tradition is irrelevant, Jewish history is false, and the Jewish state is racist.

Some even come to identify with their detractors the same way kidnap victims can develop Stockholm-syndrome during lengthy periods of captivity.

We see it among nonobservant Jews who equate Jewishness with political affiliation, secular communal organizations devoted to progressive social justice, and nonorthodox movements that conflate Jewish values with liberal politics and deemphasize the value of traditional observance. We see it in Tel Aviv’s progressive municipality which ths year outlawed placing a mechtiza separation fence at the yearly public Kol Nidrei and Ne’ilah prayers in Dizengoff Square sponsored by the Orthodox Rosh Yehudi organization and attended by thousands of secular Jews.

The common thread binding these elements together is the definition of Jewish identity in cultural or ideological terms disconnected from normative tradition and Torah values and the adoption of progressive values that define two thousand years of traditional gender separation at prayer, for example, as misogynistic..

The modern trend to redefine Jewish identity began with Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) in the nineteenth century and continued through the movements and institutions it spawned. The Haskalah’s efforts to reinterpret Jewish identity differed from prior generations when disaffected Jews often chose apostasy – usually in response to unrelenting persecution. In contrast, the maskilim (“enlightened ones”) did not reject Jewishness, but rather sought to define it in worldly terms, reduce the centrality of ritual and mystical observance, and eliminate the Jew’s otherness.

Many of the original maskilim viewed Jewish identity consistent with the burgeoning nationalist movements of the day, with some seeing it as the Jewish version of pan-German nationalism or the Italian Risorgimento; and consequently, many of the early secular Zionists regarded Jewishness in temporal terms that compartmentalized spirituality and history and eschewed the concept of Hashgacha Pratis (Divine Providence). They regarded Jewish identity through the same evolutionary lens as any other form of national or cultural expression.

The more radical elements of Haskalah sought to homogenize Jewish identity and encouraged acculturation with European society; but not all maskilim went this way. Indeed, many wanted to preserve Jewish uniqueness by encouraging the use of spoken Hebrew as the vernacular and developing a modern Hebrew culture that would supplant observance but inspire Jewish national integrity. They believed this modern Hebrew culture would be informed by the Jews’ spiritual past without being bound to the Halakha (Jewish law) that had kept them intact during their long exile amongst the gentile nations. They also presumed an organic spirituality flowing from the nation’s scriptural tradition but untethered by its historical connection to the law.

Though the maskilim advocated modernization of religion to appease European sensibilities, they were not motivated by self-rejection. Indeed, many sincerely believed they could ameliorate Jew-hatred by appearing less alien, though others saw the assimilationist risk of such thinking and focused instead on Jewish national regeneration. Leon Pinsker, for example, originally advocated cultural assimilation before turning to Jewish nationalism, writing the influential “Auto-Emancipation,” and founding Hovevei Zion.

Nevertheless, efforts to reconceptualize Jewish identity during and after Haskalah weakened the uniformity of standard that had assured Jewish continuity through the generations, and instead promoted heterodox touchstones that for many led to cultural and historical revisionism, faithlessness, and assimilation. And this spirit of heterodoxy was incorporated into the framework of the religious reform movements that were also born in the nineteenth century.

The 1837 Reform rabbinical conference in Wiesbaden, Germany, for example, rejected the centrality of Halakha, ritual observance, and messianic redemption. It also repudiated traditional identity by renouncing Judaism’s ethnonational components, embracing Berlin as its Jerusalem, and proclaiming the synagogue its Temple. Echoing the themes of Wiesbaden, the US Reform movement at its 1869 Philadelphia Conference rejected ritual law and “the restoration of the old Jewish state under a descendant of David…” American reform went further in their 1885 Pittsburgh Platform, wherein they stated: “We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community; and we therefore expect neither a return to [the homeland], nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning a Jewish state.”

Though various reform leaders claimed to espouse the Tanakh’s universal values and prophetic traditions, they ignored the essential Scriptural messages of return to Torah and national regeneration. They instead conflated Torah values with secular ideologies, with many of their adherents flocking to sympatico political movements in Europe and the US, where their clergy often claimed that labor socialism, trade unionism, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” reflected authentic Jewish values.

In the 1960s, radical clergy often allied themselves with the political left, which came to regard Israel with disdain and traditional Judaism as anachronistic and intolerant. And since the 1990s, many liberal Jewish clergy have erroneously equated tikkun olam with political agendas that promote radical social policies, disparage traditional observance, devalue Jewish national claims, and legitimize anti-Israel and even antisemitic leftists.

It appears that the more the nontraditional movements have strayed from classical standards, the more prone they have become to equating Jewish identity with liberal politics and ideologies. Moreover, some communal organizations seem to have supplanted traditional advocacy with partisan apologetics.

And what about those with weak backgrounds who yearn for spirituality rather than politics, but who because of their Jewish illiteracy seek fulfillment from faith traditions that contravene Tanakh? The uneducated are most at risk from theological assault by evangelical missionaries in the US and Israel, who expend hundreds of millions of dollars annually to subvert the Jewish soul with non-Jewish subterfuges like “messianic Judaism.” Those who get sucked into this labyrinth are typically incapable of recognizing the fundamental antisemitic stereotypes that permeate Christian text or the discordant scriptural and doctrinal differences between Judaism and Christianity.

But it’s not only the secular, uneducated, or spiritually confused who have been affected by the reimagining of Jewish identity.

The perceptual changes triggered by Haskalah also affected many within the religious community – not because they were confused about the nature of Jewish identity, but because they associated “enlightenment” negatively with the objective study of history. For many in the Orthodox world, the academic study of Judaism was viewed as a mechanism for secularizing Jewishness while discouraging traditional belief, observance, and messianic yearning.

This negative association aroused mistrust towards Jewish history as an academic pursuit, which was apparent early on with Heinrich Graetz’s publication of “The History of the Jews.” There was also religious opposition to the Wissenschaft des Judentums, a movement dedicated to the study of Jewish culture and literature (though the Wissenschaft also found support among some Orthodox scholars, e.g., Rabbi Israel Hildesheimer).

It is also apparent among those who teach the false history of Islamic tolerance in order to blame political Zionism for causing enmity between Arabs and Jews before and after 1948.

The Orthodox are certainly more likely to maintain traditional standards of identity than secular or progressive Jews. However, minimizing the importance of history, or presenting it to reflect negatively on the perceived enemies of religion, can also have a deleterious impact on the ability to combat Jew-hatred.

Those without a traditional sense of Jewish identity – or who don’t know history – are at a disadvantage when confronting antisemitism. If Jewishness is equated with secular political ideologies, then loyalty to heritage will always be subject to shifting sociopolitical priorities and agendas. This is demonstrated by the liberal establishment’s failure to condemn the rising tide of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel zealotry on the left and among progressive Democrats.

Gentiles cannot be counted on to eradicate antisemitism because at the end of the day, it’s only Jews who suffer the consequences; and in order to defend themselves, Jews must know who they are and where they come from. But if Jewish identity can be stretched to mean anything, it ultimately means nothing at all – especially when conflated with contrary faith traditions or political ideologies that are hostile to Jewish Scripture, values, and national claims.

In the final analysis, Jewish identity divorced from Torah and molded by revisionist assumptions is insufficient for defeating antisemitism.

©2023. Matthew Hausman, J.D. All rights reserved.


Antisemitic Remarks Sink Biden Ambassador Nominee

Elizabeth Frawley Bagley was recently nominated by the Biden Administration to be our next ambassador to Brazil. Then someone – clearly not a member of the Biden State Department – looked into her recorded remarks and was most disturbed to discover that in the past, Bagley in an interview had complained about “Jewish money” and its influence on American political life. She also said that moving the American Embassy to Israel was “stupid.” Word spread; she was questioned about those remarks by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and when the vote on her nomination came up, it was a 11-11 tie, insufficient to permit her nomination to go forward. A report on this contretemps and the warning it sends to others with evidence of antisemitism in their past, is here: “Senate blocks Biden’s Brazil ambassador nominee due to antisemitic remarks,” by Dmitriy Shapiro, JNS, June 29, 2022:

The Biden administration’s pick for ambassador to Brazil was blocked by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after a party line 11-11 vote on Thursday, with Republicans on the committee uniting to oppose her.

Nominated for the position in January, the ascension of longtime diplomat and Democratic donor Elizabeth Frawley Bagley appeared uncontroversial until the Washington Free Beacon reported an interview with Bagley from 1998. In the interview, she said that money was the reason American lawmakers support Israel and the idea of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem was “stupid”. The article galvanized Republican opposition to her nomination.

According to the Free Beacon, Bagley’s statements were from an interview for an oral history project at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, where questions from the interviewer prompted her to speak on the effects Israel advocacy supposedly has on American politics.

There is always the influence of the Jewish lobby because there is major money involved,” Bagley said about the Clinton administration. “But I don’t remember any major issues coming out on that, besides the usual ‘make Jerusalem the capital of Israel,’ which is always an issue in the campaign.”…

Bagley characterized the interview as a free flowing conversation and said that she regretted her “poor choice of words.”

“I’m very sorry about that choice of words and none of them reflect any of my thinking then or now,” she said.

I’m very sorry that we ever had the interview. [It] didn’t really make sense to do. It was an oral history. But it certainly does not reflect my views on Jewish Americans or Cuban Americans or anyone else,” Bagley said. “I absolutely, strongly support the right of Jewish Americans, Cuban Americans, Irish Americans, all Americans to be part of the political process, to be politically active, to raise money, give money to those that they support, as I have done myself.”

Don’t be silly. Of course those remarks reflect your views. Had they not done so, you might yourself have brought them to the attention of the committee, owned up to having said them, and explained that you now deplore them. Instead, you hoped they would stay hidden. You see that you were wrong. And it is only now, when caught out, that Ms. Bagley claimed that those interview answers “do not reflect my [current] views.” I don’t believe her.

Before the vote on Thursday, the Republican Jewish Coalition called on the Biden administration to withdraw Bagley’s nomination or, if it does not, for the senators to reject her nomination.

What is wrong with the Biden Administration? Why couldn’t they have done due diligence, and found out what some reporter for the Washington Free Beacon found out? And once that new information had been revealed, why didn’t they withdraw her nomination before the vote was taken? Was it because Elizabeth Bagley has been a major contributor to the Democratic Party, just like her late husband, Smith Bagley, heir to the R.J. Reynolds tobacco fortune, and the Bidenites weren’t going to abandon such a deep-pocketed donor over some antisemitic remark? And Elizabeth Bagley has rich and powerful friends, in the same Georgetown-and-Nantucket set of limousine liberals, or salon Bolsheviks, the people whom Wikipedia demurely describes as “philanthropists.” Amusing, isn’t it, that here we have Bagley, who owes her diplomatic career, including what would have been her ambassadorship to Brazil, not to merit, but to the amount of money she and her husband contributed to the Democrats, , raising the issue of “money” — that is, “Jewish money” which for some reason is particularly to be deplored — in politics.

There are only two possibilities to explain why the Biden Administration decided to nominate Bagley and to stick with her, even when her disqualifying remarks were made public. The first, that they simply didn’t do their due diligence. They failed to look into Bagley’s past remarks, didn’t care enough to find out what in her past might have been worrisome. She was a deep-pocketed contributor to the Democratic Party, and her husband had been not only a contributor himself but a Democratic fundraiser for decades. The second, that they knew perfectly well about Bagley’s antisemitic remark — “There is always the influence of the Jewish lobby because there is major money involved” — but it didn’t bother them. And even after Democratic Senators, including Robert Menendez and Ben Cardin, both on the Foreign Relations Committee, had grilled her, and deplored her statement, the Biden people still applied pressure on all eleven Democratic Senators, including Cardin and Menendez, so that they swallowed their reservations and voted for her anyway.

Ms. Bagley’s disgraceful, antisemitic comments are absolutely disqualifying; her outrageous slurs include suggesting the ‘Jewish lobby’ influences elected officials with ‘major money’ – an age-old antisemitic stereotype,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks wrote in a news release. “It is sad and troubling that this isn’t the first time the Biden administration has put forward a nominee who is hostile to Israel and the Jewish people.”

Morton Klein, the national president of the Zionist Organization of America, said that his organization was deeply concerned about the nomination of another person apparently hostile to Jews by the Biden administration and praised the committee members for voting against her nomination.

The vote came down to 11 for the Bagley nomination, all of them Democrats, to 11 against, all of them Republicans. In the end, the Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee succumbed to the Administration’s pressure, and decided unanimously not to vote against someone who had been so generous to the Party in the past and, if they voted right this time, even if those votes would not be enough to get her nomination out of the committee, would no doubt continue to be as generous in the future. Bagley’s nomination, and the Democrats’ vote to confirm, were both “all about the Benjamins.”



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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Is Anti-Israelism Included in Antisemitism?

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”  – Edgar Allan Poe

In my controversial novel, The Second Catastrophe:  A Novel About a Book and its Author, the protagonist is a Professor, son of a Holocaust Survivor, who writes a book during the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada, claiming that a Second Holocaust has begun.  He perceives that the genocidal nature of Iranian, Islamist and Arab attitudes to the Jewish Homeland, and the empathy of Western leftists with Arab and Iranian threats, along with the double standards used with respect to the Jewish state, are beyond mere dislike, and are approaching exterminationalism, fortunately stopped to date by Israeli military superiority.

How else can one understand the successes of the so-called Palestinians, where every evil act of terrorism increases support in Europe, America, and particularly in the universities, for the murderers, who in the world of intersectionality, are allowed to be “the oppressed” rather than the “oppressors”.  Every time the Palestinians get to set the “narrative” by controlling the meaning of words like “occupied”, “oppressed”, “apartheid” and succeed in using words like “protest” to describe violent riots, then Israel and its friends lose another battle in this endless war about words where Hasbara seems almost as important as missile defense.

The writings on antisemitism are endless;  the purpose of this contribution is to focus on contemporary attempts to split off anti-Israelism from the term antisemitism, so that genocidal attempts to create a second Holocaust can be viewed as having nothing to do with antisemitism.   These attempts now come mainly from the Left, while so many Jews are locked into an atavistic framework where they say the only threats come from neo-Nazis and white nationalists, where it is obvious to me that the threats today are from leftist groups, together with their intersectional friends in BLM, and politicians in the U.S. like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who bring anti-Israel antisemitism to the younger supporters of the Democratic Party there.

I fear that a bright young 18 year old in the West who has ambitions to be a political and/or cultural leader, will, after a period of looking around the university, become a latter-day Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, a leader of the 1848 French Revolution, who is reputed to have declared, “There go my people.  I must find out where they are going so I can lead them.”   Today, they are eager to become “progressives” which involves anti-Israelism, rather than conservatives, because not many students want to conserve a world which the media has labeled “right wing”, especially when the best jobs are in the now-woke corporations, like High Tech censorial Zuckerberg’s and in education and government.

When the University of Toronto became the first university to host the bizarre “Israel Apartheid Week”, I wrote to then university President Naylor pointing out that whatever one thinks of Israeli responses to Arab terrorism and advocacy of genocide against Jews, the word “Apartheid”, given its essential ingredient in South Africa being complete separation of races, was in no way what is happening in Israel.  There, Arab doctors work alongside Jewish doctors, Jewish and Arab patients receive equal medical care in adjoining beds, universities like Haifa University have one-third Arab students, and  those Arabs who are willing (mostly Druze) serve in the army, the diplomatic corps and as Judges, alongside their Jewish colleagues.  After the last election, Israel now has an Arab party in the governing coalition, whatever one thinks of that..

I wrote to him that a political dispute, whether as the Left says, is a dispute over land, or whether it is, as the Right says, an unwillingness by Islamists to allow a Jewish presence on any land ever controlled by Muslims, is not helped by distortion of facts.

I wrote to President Naylor (whose background was Medicine) that the issue was not one about free speech or diversity of opinion but was in my view one about the intellectual standards to be enforced by the University before allowing its space to be used for such an event.  I asked him: “Would you allow a conference to take place at the University called “All U. of T. Professors are Fascists”?   I suggested that he would not, and the reason is that we require our universities to meet certain standards of truth as to the facts underlying opinions.  Otherwise, distorted facts and distorted opinions  might well conduce, in this case, to the ideology of anti-Semitism. University events about Israel and the Jewish people using double standards, demonization or delegitimization, are anti-Semitic and there is no reason for the University to provide support.

Of course, I was unsuccessful in my argument, and now “Israel Apartheid Week” has spread to many if not most universities in Canada and the United States.  At the same time, anti-Semitism sweeps the west and while Islamist Muslims hunt everywhere for evidence of “Islamophobia”, anti-Semitism in the West remains the most prevalent form of racial hatred.

As the University of Toronto refused to even discuss the issue with me, I became ashamed of my two degrees and returned them for cancellation. My background as a Lawyer, Historian and child of a Holocaust Survivor obviously makes me more sensitive than most people to certain ideologies and certain facts.

IN 2004, the great Soviet Jewish refusenik Natan Sharansky made yet another contribution to world Jewry. In a seminal essay in Jewish Political Studies Review, he outlined an important conceptual approach to antisemitism.   He started his essay thus:

“When I was a dissident in the former Soviet Union, one of my regular activities was monitoring anti-Semitism, and smuggling out evidence and records of such activity to the West. I believed then that the free world, particularly after the Holocaust, would always be a staunch ally in the struggle against anti-Semitism.”

“Unfortunately, I was wrong. Today, as a minister in the Israeli government in charge of monitoring anti-Semitism, I find myself regularly summoning the ambassadors of West European states to protest anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in their countries and the often meek response of their governments…

“Whereas classical anti-Semitism is aimed at the Jewish people or the Jewish religion, ‘new anti-Semitism’ is aimed at the Jewish state. Since this anti-Semitism can hide behind the veneer of legitimate criticism of Israel, it is more difficult to expose. Making the task even harder is that this hatred is advanced in the name of values most of us would consider unimpeachable, such as human rights.

And so Sharansky came up with his “3D test” to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from antisemitism, as follows:

“The first “D” is the test of demonization. When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz – this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel.

“The second “D” is the test of double standards. When criticism of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, is ignored; when Israel’s Magen David Adom, alone among the world’s ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross – this is anti-Semitism.

“The third “D” is the test of delegitimization: when Israel’s fundamental right to exist is denied – alone among all peoples in the world – this too is anti-Semitism.”

Sharansky was particularly concerned about the antisemitism coming out of Muslim nations.

The extent to which his 3D Test is discussed less and less is the extent to which anti-Israel ideologues wish to separate anti-Israelism from its ideological foundation in antisemitism.

The next major initiative defining antisemitism arose from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

Founded by a Swedish politician  IHRA’s membership consists of 35 member countries, “each of whom recognizes that international political coordination is imperative to strengthen the moral commitment of societies and to combat growing Holocaust denial and antisemitism.”

The IHRA seeks to use trusted experts to “share their knowledge on early warning signs of present-day genocide and education on the Holocaust. This knowledge supports policymakers and educational multipliers in their efforts to develop effective curricula, and it informs government officials and NGOs active in global initiatives for genocide prevention.”

So far, so good.   However, how does the IHRA define antisemitism and does it follow Sharansky’s concerns including the 3D test?

The IHRA says it  worked to build “international consensus around a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism. Note that this is “non-legally binding” and it is a “working definition”.

In 2016, it set out its working definition this way:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Where is the recognition that current antisemitism is connected to anti-Israelism?  The IHRA instead of mentioning the 3Ds as an integral part of the definition only gave as an example “the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity”, whatever that means, but it is sure to note that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

It did give 11 examples in total, and 6 of these examples related to Israel:

  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Whether omitting Israel from the definition itself, detracts from the mentioning of 6 examples is a good question.  But it seems to me that the IHRA was starting to feel the heat from so-called “progressive” organizations, including Jewish ones, because it noted in January 2021 that certain groups identified as the Progressive Israel Network were opposed to the codification of the working definition with its examples due to the “potential for misuse”.   The groups were:  Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair World Movement, Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism and T’ruah.”Pledging that they “care deeply” for the State of Israel, they stated:

“the effort to combat antisemitism is being misused and exploited to instead suppress legitimate free speech, criticism of Israeli government actions, and advocacy for Palestinian rights. In particular, the effort to enshrine in domestic law and institutional policy the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, with its accompanying “contemporary examples,” risks wrongly equating what may be legitimate activities with antisemitism.

“This effort has created opportunities for abuse and politicization by the outgoing Trump administration and others, undermining the moral clarity of the effort to dismantle antisemitism.

“We respect the original creation of the IHRA Working Definition as an illustrative tool and as part of a larger and ongoing conversation about the nature of antisemitism. While we maintain no substantive objection to the core definition itself, our concern with its adoption as a legal tool is with the IHRA definition’s “contemporary examples,” which have been included as integral to the definition. We fear its adoption in law or policy at the state, federal and university level and in corporate governance has the potential to undermine core freedoms, and in some cases already has. For this reason, the Progressive Israel Network opposes the codification in US law or policy of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.”

And so, we see that the groups that call themselves “progressives” (but who I call “regressives”) are attempting to cleanse definitions of antisemitism of any reference to anti-Israelism despite Sharansky’s work..  It bothers me that we tolerate such groups claiming that they are Progressives, and that they stand for “progress.”  Treating the Jewish Homeland as the (hated) Jew amongst the nations is indeed antisemitic.   Tolerating the United Nations Human Rights Council with its explicit agenda to uniquely punish the Jewish people is also antisemitism, but the progressives ignore it at the same time as they “virtue signal” that they care deeply about Israel – which is surrounded by Iranian terrorist proxies and bloodthirsty Palestinians urged by the dictator Mahmoud Abbas again just this week to continue their “martyrdom” operations against Jewish civilians.

These “progressives” argue that former Secretary of State Pompeo’s declarations that  “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism” and that “the Global BDS Campaign [is] a manifestation of anti-Semitism” represent a harmful “overreach”. They say that this overreach is primarily aimed at shielding the present Israeli government and its occupation from all criticism.  And they allege that such is made possible by the use of the Working Definition’s “contemporary examples.”

Alas, the Progressive network is so concerned with “overreach” that it fails to understand that in Israel’s neighborhood,  under reach could be fatal.  Jews have for so long been treated hatefully that sometimes, like abused persons, we sometimes blame ourselves inordinately: the Jewish right to live trumps the Jew-haters right to incite the death of another six million Jews in a Second Shoah, this time in our homeland.  The clever students studying political theory, gender studies, and sociology, don’t know what the Torah says to do about Amalek and think that toleration of evil will somehow turn out well.  (See my book, Tolerism:  The Ideology Revealed.)

In a world where they practice “cancel culture” the Progressive network says that they insist that activists and academics that they support must have the right to express a wide range of political opinions without fear of being suppressed or smeared by the government. This includes critiques of the legitimacy of Israel’s founding or the nature of its laws and system of government.    But it is only the anti-Israel positions of the radical left and its intersectional allies that are so supported by the progressives that they want them to be featured in any definition of antisemitism.  It is only the progressives who view Israel’s very founding (and thus its existence”) as a “racist” endeavor.

I must say that I trust Sharansky’s work more than theirs.   The fight against the vile BDS which if not countered and defeated could jeopardize the existence of the State of Israel, now surrounded by Iranian terrorist proxies and threatened with annihilation by the apocalyptic Iranian Mullahs.   These groups would be trusted more if they would be as concerned with Israel hatred in the United Nations and the grave security threats exacerbated by anti-Israelism becoming the norm rather than the exception in Europe.

Most mainstream Jewish organizations belong to  the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in which 51 of its 53 member-groups have adopted the definition for their own use.

But to the progressives the mere mention of Israel in the examples as opposed to the more narrow 39 word text was enough to arouse their anger, showing the deep divide between the mainstream and the anti-Israel, pro BDS progressives.   For example, Morriah Kaplan, strategic director at IfNotNow, which is focused on opposing the Israeli “occupation”, said of the organizations backing the definition, “these are not people I trust to go after antisemitism.”

The progressives tend to be those who we might term Trumpophobes, who could not accept any of Trump’s policies towards Israel or domestically to be valid.  Since these progressives religiously are Reform, Reconstructionist, secular, or Renewal, the fact that Trump has an Orthodox Jewish daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren was not a reason to support Trump but to dislike him.   Perhaps they sense that he is more certain than they are to have Jewish grandchildren.

Historian Deborah Lipstadt has been nominated to fill the vacant U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy for Combating and Monitoring Anti-Semitism.  However her nomination has been held up due to some intemperate highly political comments she made.  She, like so many Democrats, has been unable to put aside her Trumpophobia and keep politics out of the fight against anti-Semitism.   As Jonathan Tobin recently noted in an essay in Jewish News Syndicate: Lipstadt may have deserved 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. She followed that up by co-authoring an op-ed in The Washington Post in which she compared those who raised questions about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election to Holocaust-deniers.   Tobin, although supportive of Lipstadt, acknowledged that she is an example of how “politics and combating anti-Semitism don’t mix”.

The intermarriage rates in America are now so high amongst progressives, there is a serious schism between the Orthodox and the Reform.  (The Conservative or Masorti movement seems to be in a state of terminal decline) which is based on fundamental Halachic differences in addition to the views on Israel and antisemitism.  Another is that progressive Jews and many in the mainstream view the modest number of extremists on the right, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis, as more of a problem than the antisemitism and anti-Israelism of the Left, including the intersectional Blacks and Islamists.   The Left do not see the long term threat to our children and grandchildren posed by anti-Israel students, including Muslim Islamists whose aggressive behaviour is a feature of American universities.  The Jewish Federations of North America sent a memo to the new Biden administration, outlining the organization’s priorities for fighting antisemitism. The document listed ISIS and Al Qaeda as threats to American Jews, but did not name right-wing antisemitism.   The progressives were very upset.   For example, Rabbi Alissa Wise, deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace, which is anti-Zionist and supports the BDS Movement, said that seeing anti-Israel college students as more of a threat that right-wing antisemitism was to her “unconscionable”.

Public opinion polls show that American Jews are so inward looking that 75% said in an American Jewish Committee survey last year that the political right posed a serious antisemitic threat, compared to 32% who said the same about the political left.

“The IHRA definition is the most authoritative and internationally accepted definition of antisemitism,”  said William Daroff, chief executive of the Conference of Presidents, as quoted by Forward .

But critics say that the definition is now being weaponized to shut down “legitimate” criticism of the Israeli occupation (sic) of what they call the West Bank and Israel’s friends call Judea and Samaria.

The progressives cannot tolerate even the mildest support for Israel, which recognizes that the Trump Plan for middle east peace and the Abraham Accords were together the best future for all.  The “Peace to Prosperity” plan called for a demilitarized Palestinian state in all of Gaza, roughly 70% of the West Bank, and portions of Israeli land near those two territories. Roughly 30% of the West Bank would become part of Israel. The plan also called for wide scale economic cooperation across the region and a $50 billion investment to help Palestinians improve their education system, create 1 million new jobs, and establish reliable government institutions.  The full plan can be seen here.

The fight over the definition of antisemitism and how much anti-Israelism is part of that antisemitism, is a sad commentary on the disunity of American Jewry.  The election polls tell us that 70% of Americans in their support of Biden/Harris do not recognize the centrality of Israel,  After the ill-fated Oslo Accords and the terrorism that Israel suffered as a result, Israelis moved politically to the right. An America whose Jews have, at the same time,  moved to the left reflects that a hatred for Trump exceeds their love for Israel.

Hopefully they will start to understand that in Israel, the progressives have, according to Mordechai Nisan’s brilliant book, suffered The Crack-up of the Israeli Left. We can only hope that, like so many totalitarian regimes, based on lies, their movement that aims to hide the antisemitism inherent in anti-Israelism, will also end up in the dustbin of history.

©Howard Rotberg. All rights reserved.

VIDEO: Coronavirus and Anti-Semitism

While the world is dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic, some see it as an opportunity to attack Israel with lies and anti-Semitic slurs.

Watch BDS activists and white supremacists share shockingly similar conspiracy theories about the global crisis, including that Israel and Jews are behind or are exploiting the virus. Meanwhile, Israel is working hand-in-hand with Palestinians to combat the virus!


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EDITORS NOTE: This Canary  Mission video is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.