American Anti-Semitism, Israeli Paralysis

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It seems that a day doesn’t go by without another report of yet another outrageous attack by leftists against Jews in America.

This week, a food truck in Philadelphia was barred from participating in an ethnic street food festival in Philadelphia because it sells Israeli street food and is owned by an Israeli Jew.

The lesbian parade in Chicago published an advertisement of the event that showed a woman standing on a car burning the American and Israeli flags.

According to community data, during last month’s mini-war, Operation Guardian of the Walls, American Jews suffered 193 violent attacks. Another 17,000 verbal online assaults were tallied by the Anti-Defamation League. The violent attacks didn’t end when Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire.

Normally, the government of Israel would have something useful to say or do about these devastating developments. But tragically, all signs indicate that the new Lapid-Bennett government is constitutionally incapable of contending with the problem of Jew hatred in America.

On the surface, the opposite should be the case. Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds practical control over all aspects of the government due to his leadership of the leftist bloc which constitutes 75 percent of the coalition. And Lapid should be a natural partner for US Jewry. Like most American Jews, Lapid has long identified with the Democrats and liberal streams of Judaism. On his first day in office, Lapid said that rebuilding Israel’s ties with the Democrats and American Jews were his top goals. With those priorities, Lapid ostensibly ought to be well positioned for the fight.

But there are two immovable obstacles that will prevent him from achieving anything useful. The first obstacle is the Democrat Party, and the second is Lapid’s coalition.

The way to understand the problem with the Democrat Party is to look at the organization that was founded two years ago to stem the rise of the Red-Green alliance of progressives within the party. That organization, the Democratic Majority for Israel was founded by Lapid’s pollster and political guru Mark Melman. Melman founded the DMFI in response to the election of the so-called “squad” of hard leftists to Congress in 2018 and in the face of the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders position as the frontrunner in the Democrat presidential primaries ahead of the 2020 elections. The DMFI’s first political effort was an ad campaign against Sanders during the Iowa presidential caucuses.

Given his intimate ties to Melman, unsurprisingly, Lapid’s first meeting with American Jews as Foreign Minister was a was a video conference with the DMFI on Monday. And on the face of things, given his goals, Lapid’s choice was reasonable.

The problem is that the DMFI is incapable of delivering the goods.

Melman claims rightly that the majority of Democrats still support Israel. Unfortunately, the minority of Israel haters – and barely disguised Jew haters – are the dominant force in the party. And the majority that opposes them are unwilling to confront them in any significant way. Melman and the DMFI for their part, while willing to fight a little, are also unwilling to take the gloves off in their efforts to rein in the anti-Israel, (and increasingly anti-Jewish) forces in their party.

This bleak state of affairs was driven home earlier this month when Cong. Ilhan Omar compared Israel and the US to Hamas and the Taliban. Despite the outcry her outrageous statement provoked, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to condemn or censure Omar. Instead, Pelosi praised Omar for issuing a clarification – not an apology – for her remarks.

The storm of protest against Omar’s obscene remarks included a letter of condemnation signed by twelve Jewish Democrat lawmakers. Rather than side with their Jewish colleagues, Omar’s supporters and fellow Israel haters led by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez attacked the Jewish lawmakers and their supporters as racists for criticizing Omar, a “Muslim woman of color.”

And big boss Pelosi sided with Omar and her comrades in the Red-Green alliance against the Jews.

As Politico summarized the responses to the latest Omar outrage, “Democrats are showing they’re increasingly comfortable backing her up, particularly as she hammers the Israeli government in ways that buck long-held bipartisan traditions in Washington. That friendlier posture toward Omar indicates that her party’s shift on America’s role in the Middle East was more than just a short-term fixture of the recent 11-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.”

In other words, Melman is right that the problem is the rise of the Red-Green alliance in the Democrat Party. But he doesn’t have the power – or frankly the means – to defeat them. Lapid is right that it is important for Israel to have good ties to the Democrats and the American Jews. But Israel doesn’t have the ability to change political reality.

Lapid’s strategy for securing and strengthening Israel-US ties cannot work because it is predicated on an untrue assumption – that the problems with the Democrats owe to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s identification with the Republicans. Netanyahu was castigated as a “Republican” because the Democrats wanted a justification for their unwillingness to stand up to the likes of Omar and Ocasio Cortez – and Barack Obama before them.

Now that Netanyahu is out of office and Lapid the “Democrat” is in charge, the Democrats are still unwilling to stand up to them. And so, as Politico noted, their power continues to grow.

Netanyahu found that the best way to secure and expand US support for Israel was to work with people who are actually capable of achieving the goal. The man who has done the most in this area is Pastor John Hagee. Hagee founded and leads Christians United For Israel, the largest, and most politically powerful pro-Israel organization in the US But in the same speech where Lapid made rebuilding ties with Democrats and the liberal Jewish establishment in the US his top goals in office, he also made outreach to the Evangelicals a second-tier priority. In his words, “The fact that we are supported by Evangelical groups and others in the US is important and a heartwarming. But world Jewry are more than our allies. They are our family.”

And this brings us to the second obstacle that will block the Lapid-Bennett government from acting effectively against the growing anti-Semitism in the US emanating from the Red-Green alliance. While 12 Jewish Democrat lawmakers were willing to sign a letter condemning Omar, other Jewish Democrat lawmakers supported Omar against their Jewish colleagues. Just as former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had Jewish groups that were dedicated to acting as fig leaves to cover his anti-Semitism, so progressive Jewish groups and leaders serve as fig leaves for Omar, Sanders and their comrades. Some, like Bending the Arc and IfNotNow do so by joining them in their delegitimization of Israel’s right to exist. Others, like Anti-Defamation League leader Jonathan Greenblatt, do so by refusing to call them out by name for their anti-Semitism and by going to great lengths to underreport and hide the breadth and depth and danger of leftist anti-Semitism and its direct relation to the demonization of Israel.

The Lapid-Bennett government has a bare majority in the Knesset of just 61 seats. If any of its coalition members jump ship, the government falls. As a consequence, the anti-Zionist, Islamist Ra’am Party exercises effective veto power over all government activities. Likewise, the post-Zionist Meretz Party that does not support maintaining Israel’s Jewish identity can undermine any effort that Lapid seeks to undertake to fight leftist anti-Semitism in the US.

Tuesday, Meretz MK Mossi Raz co-sponsored a conference at the Knesset with Joint Arab List MK Aida Toma Sliman. The conference ran under the headline, “Between Occupation and Apartheid.”

Among the harsh condemnations that members of Knesset from various parties issued against the conference, one lawmaker noted that holding a conference of this sort at the Knesset gives aid and comfort to the anti-Semitic BDS operatives in the US who work to silence Jewish American Israel supporters on college campuses and throughout the public life.

The allegation that Israel is an apartheid state is a deliberate anti-Semitic blood libel. Its purpose is to deny the moral justification for Jewish self-determination by castigating the very concept of Jewish nationhood as a form of racist oppression and Jews as racist oppressors. It was invented by the Soviets and made its first appearance at a UN conference in 1965. The high-water mark for the allegation in its first iteration came in 1975 with the passage of UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 which defined Zionism as a form of racism. Then US ambassador, former Democrat senator Daniel Moynihan gave an extraordinary speech attacking the resolution and so set the stage for its bipartisan rejection and eventual abrogation 15 years later through the efforts of the Bush administration. Israel’s UN ambassador Chaim Herzog famously tore up the resolution in a dramatic speech that entered the pantheon of great moments in Israeli diplomatic history.

For nine years, the concept of Zionism as racism wasted away in the dustbin of history. It was exhumed by members of the Red-Green alliance in 2000. Since then, it made a slow but steady comeback and today it is far more powerful than it was in 1975.

During last month’s war, Democrat lawmakers took to the podium in the House gallery and one by one castigated Israel as an Apartheid state. And no Jewish lawmakers dared to condemn any of the slanderers by name. Pelosi certainly didn’t.

And this week, a member of the Lapid-Bennett coalition co-sponsored a conference at the Knesset that supported the anti-Semitic slander. Lapid, (and of course, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett) is completely powerless before this affront to the country and the Jewish people. As is the case with Ra’am, if either takes action against Raz their government will fall.

Many Jewish Americans report living in a state of shell shock. For the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, their organizational and intellectual leaders fed them a steady diet of Trump hate. They were told that all of the anti-Semitism emanated from Trump’s supporters and that Trump – the greatest friend Israel ever had in the White House, and the grandfather of Jewish grandchildren was a Jew hater.

Even though the vast majority of anti-Semitic activity on campuses emanated from the left and a large portion of anti-Semitic violence was carried out by black and Arab Americans, the Jewish leaders told American Jews that the danger emanated from the political right and would dissipate once the Democrats were back in power.

And here, Trump is gone, the “good guys” are back in power and the good guys are backing anti-Semites in Congress and doing nothing against the anti-Semites on the streets attacking Jews because the anti-Semites are Democrats.

And now, rather than stand with these Jews, under the Lapid-Bennett Democrat-friendly government, Israel is just as incapable of helping as Melman is. Then again, at least Melman doesn’t need to J-Street or Jewish Voice for Peace to support him. Lapid and Bennett cannot rule without Mossi Raz.

Originally published in Israel Hayom.

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