Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Obama, Trump and Anti-Semitism

During the Obama years no one much cared about anti-Semitism. As it happened, most of the anti-Semitism at that time was coming from the left. So Democratic politicians and liberal media outlets tended to downplay it.

For perspective, Jonathan Tobin reminds us:

If there is a “rising tide of anti-Semitism,” as the Obama State Department noted in recent years, sweeping across Europe and now seeking footholds in the United States, it is not driven by the alt-right but by Islamists and leftist anti-Zionists who seek to single out Jews and supporters of Israel for opprobrium and violence. The BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement, which seeks to wage economic war on the state of Israel, has been directly responsible for an increase in anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses. Its support comes from the left and has a connection to the increasingly vocal and influential wing of the Democratic party that is deeply critical of Israel and willing at times to engage in speech that singles out Jews as part of an alleged cabal of Zionists seeking to manipulate American foreign policy against the best interests of the United States.

While the left is in agony over Steve Bannon—formerly the head of the strongly pro-Israel Breitbart News—it ignores the fact that a leading candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee, Keith Ellison, is a stone-cold bigot, a protégé of Louis Farrakhan. You recall that Farrakhan is a close friend and ally of Obama’s mentor Jeremiah Wright.

Tobin continues, adding a few words about respected Democratic Senator, Robert Menendez:

Those concerned about anti-Semitism need to lose their Trump tunnel vision and look at comments in a speech Representative Keith Ellison — the leading candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee — made about Israel and Jews. They should also have been just as outraged about comments made by Senator Robert Menendez during the confirmation hearing of David Friedman, Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel, on the day of the president’s epic presser attack on the press. In questioning Friedman, the New Jersey Democrat — who in the past has been a stalwart friend of Israel and a foe of Iran — raised the specter of dual loyalty for American Jews. That should have alarmed the ADL and others who worry about the way anti-Semitic stereotypes are gaining ground in the public square. But the ADL was more worried about what Trump didn’t say than about what Menendez did say, and it was silent about the outrageous question the senator posed. If even Menendez is speaking in language that shows the growing influence of the anti-Israel Left, that should alert the country to the fact that there are other things to worry about than Trump’s rants.

There is, of course, method to the systematic distortions. The liberal left is hard at work rationalizing the Obama administration’s failures to confront anti-Semitism, its failure to defend Israel, the contempt it showed to the prime minister of Israel. After all, the Obama administration was fighting the good fight against Islamophobia and white privilege, but not against Islamist terrorism. It sympathized with the notably anti-Semitic BDS movement and invited anti-Semite Al Sharpton to the White House dozens of times.

Calling out Donald Trump for not denouncing anti-Semitism is misdirection. It is better to attack Trump than to note the relationship he has quickly developed with the prime minister of Israel. And it is easier to blame Steve Bannon than to point out that Benjamin Netanyahu much prefers Donald Trump to Barack Obama.

Nevertheless, the director of the Anne Frank Center has just denounced the Trump administration for promoting anti-Semitism. One suspects that said Center had nothing to say when the Obama administration, in the words of Alan Dershowitz, stabbed Israel in the back at the United Nations. In most cases we do not know who is responsible for the threats against Jewish cemeteries and culture centers, but in the past such actions have been perpetrated by Muslim organizations. After all, Barack Obama’s close personal friend, Rashid Khalidi, a professor at Columbia University, recently said that the Trump administration was infested with Jews. It's a good reason to obsess about Steve Bannon.

If you think that the primary danger America or the world or even Jews face today is Nazis, you are living in the past and fighting the last war.

In the meantime, Trump’s U. N. Ambassador Nikki Haley dressed down the U. N. Security Council yesterday for its obsession with Israel. The contrast is stark. One recalls, again, that the Obama administration allowed the same august body to denounce Israel.

Here is the text of her remarks, via Legal Insurrection:

The first thing I want to do is talk about what we just saw in there. The Security Council just finished its regular monthly meeting on Middle East issues. It’s the first meeting like that that I’ve attended, and I have to say it was a bit strange. The Security Council is supposed to discuss how to maintain international peace and security. But at our meeting on the Middle East, the discussion was not about Hizballah’s illegal build-up of rockets in Lebanon. It was not about the money and weapons Iran provides to terrorists. It was not about how we defeat ISIS. It was not about how we hold Bashar al-Assad accountable for the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of civilians. No, instead, the meeting focused on criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. I am new around here, but I understand that’s how the Council has operated, month after month, for decades.

I’m here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. I’m here to emphasize the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias. We will never repeat the terrible mistake of Resolution 2334 and allow one-sided Security Council resolutions to condemn Israel. Instead, we will push for action on the real threats we face in the Middle East.

We stand for peace. We support a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is negotiated directly between the two parties, as President Trump reiterated in his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. The outrageously biased resolutions from the Security Council and the General Assembly only make peace harder to attain by discouraging one of the parties from going to the negotiating table.

Incredibly, the UN Department of Political Affairs has an entire division devoted to Palestinian affairs. Imagine that. There is no division devoted to illegal missile launches from North Korea. There is no division devoted to the world’s number one state-sponsor of terror, Iran. The prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues does the peace process no favors. And it bears no relationship to the reality of the world around us.

The double standards are breathtaking. Just a few days ago, the United States sought unsuccessfully to have the Security Council condemn a terrorist attack to Israel, where the terrorist opened fire on people waiting for a bus and then stabbed others. The Security Council would not hesitate to condemn an attack like that in any other country. But not for Israel. The statement was blocked. And that’s downright shameful.

Israel exists in a region where others call for its complete destruction and in a world where anti-Semitism is on the rise. These are threats that we should discuss at the United Nations as we continue working toward a comprehensive agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But outside of the UN, there is some good news. Israel’s place in the world is changing. Israel is building up new diplomatic relationships. More and more countries recognize how much Israel contributes to the world. They are recognizing that Israel is a beacon of stability in a troubled region, and that Israel is at the forefront of innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological discovery.

It is the UN’s anti-Israel bias that is long overdue for change. The United States will not hesitate to speak out against these biases in defense of our friend and ally, Israel.

I will say that I think we saw maybe a slightly different tone in the meeting, but we will have to see how it goes.

Thank you.

Again, the current hue and cry against the Trump administration has a purpose. It wants you to ignore the abysmal Obama record on anti-Semitism and Israel. It's all about letting people continue to believe that the Democratic Party still deserves the allegiance of American Jews.


trigger warning said...

When Trump has Ivanka's family arrested, I'll begin to worry about his "anti-Semitism".

Leo G said...

Stuart, a take on this supposed Jewish defence entity. They are not what they appear to be, and the press had to dig deep to find them. Again, the war on President Trump will be perpetual.

"I don’t support this president, but I’m a Jewish historian who believes in fair play. It’s frustrating to feel I must constantly run to Trump’s defense when members of liberal Jewish organizations make wildly exaggerated charges against him. I’d really like to focus on the ways President Trump’s policies and governing style are inconsistent with the values of my faith tradition, but American Jews will have no credibility to criticize this administration if self-proclaimed Jewish leaders are allowed to invent fake anti-Semitism as a means of undermining a president whose party they despise – and simultaneously getting their names in the papers.

Memo to American journalists: if you wish to speak with a legitimate American Jewish group, the 51-member Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is the gold standard (the Anne Frank Center is not a member). If you want to hear from experts on the Holocaust, try the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. But don’t run after the pretty quote that sparkles the most if its speaker pretty much represents nobody but himself."

Read more:

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

"You recall that Farrakhan is a close friend and ally of Obama’s mentor Jeremiah Wright."

I was not aware of a Farrakhan-Wright connection. Interesting.

The 2008 media cover-up (or intentional efforts to change the conversation) with Wright's ties to Obama was disgraceful. McCain's saying it wasn't an issue was more of McCain being... McCain.

But Ellison's ties to Farrakhan are most curious, and I am sure they, too, will be ignored by the media. Father Pfleger also had ties to Wright and Obama. [Crickets]

Steve Bannon must have extraordinary, Marvel-like powers to be this dangerous.

Sam L. said...

For more on Ellison, visit

Ares Olympus said...

Robert Menendez: Those concerned about anti-Semitism need to lose their Trump tunnel vision and look at comments in a speech Representative Keith Ellison — the leading candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee — made about Israel and Jews.

Was that speech linked somewhere?

Maybe this?
Pointing to a resurfaced 2010 speech, the CEO of the Jewish civil rights group, Jonathan Greenblatt, questioned whether "Ellison faithfully could represent the Democratic Party's traditional support for a strong and secure Israel.”

In that speech, Ellison asked why “United States' foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people."

"A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right?" Ellison said at the time, according to reports cited by the League.

Ellison responded in an open letter to Greenblatt and the ADL.

In the letter, Ellison called himself "a strong supporter of the Jewish state, voting for more than $27 billion in aid to Israel" and adding he's committed to the safety and security of the Jewish State.

"I wish we could have spoken once again before your most recent statement. If given the opportunity, I could have provided a full and proper explanation," Ellison wrote, adding that he is "saddened" by the ADL's statement but looks forward to working with them.

His letter argues that the audio was "was selectively edited and taken out of context by an individual the Southern Poverty Law Center has called an “anti-Muslim extremist.'"

"My memory is that I was responding to a question about how Americans with roots in the Middle East could engage in the political process in a more effective way. My advice was simply to get involved," he said.

"I believe that Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship are, and should be, key considerations in shaping U.S. policy in the Middle East. Americans with roots or interests in the region should be involved in advocacy and discussions of public policy concerning the region. My response was meant to encourage those in attendance to increase their level of involvement and effectiveness."

Anyway, it does seem strange to try to call out Trump's anti-Semitism?! It doesn't make much sense to me, although it was slightly satisfying to have Netanyahu laugh at Trump's innocence.