“This is bonkers. Israel’s government says don’t overreact to neo-Nazis in the US because it could hurt relations with Trump. Totally insane.”

So said Dr. Brian Klaas, a Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics on Twitter. Klaas has frequently tweeted his criticisms of U.S. President Donald Trump, but has only occasionally commented on Israel, though he clearly has a background in the subject.

Klaas was moved to tweet this comment by the words of Israeli Minister of Communications, Ayoub Kara. Kara told the Jerusalem Post that “We need to condemn antisemitism and any trace of Nazism, and I will do what I can as a minister to stop its spread. But Trump is the best U.S. leader Israel has ever had. His relations with the prime minister of Israel are wonderful, and after enduring the terrible years of Obama, Trump is the unquestioned leader of the free world, and we must not accept anyone harming him.” Read more at LobeLog

Advertisements

UPDATE 8/16: Labor chief Avi Gabbay took a while, but today did issue a very strong statement condemning the events in Charlottesville, clearly blaming the white supremacists and implicitly complaining about Trump’s response. Statement in Hebrew here, translation by Mikhael Manikin here  

Author’s Note: This article was published just hours before Benjamin Netanyahu made his reprehensibly late and weak statement on Charlottesville. To this piece, which I hope you will read in full at LobeLog, I will add that Netanyahu’s pro forma statement was, in its way not just an imitation of Trump, but actually far worse. What we have seen here is an Israeli Prime Minister, one who has, over the years, been only too eager to cynically use anti-Semitism to defend holding millions of Palestinians without the most basic human and civil rights that most of us simply take for granted; to marginalize, demonize and physically imperil political opponents, activists and those who work for peace and human rights; and even to protect his own personal position, take his cues from a US President who supports, and seems very much to agree with, white nationalists and neo-Nazis. 
Netanyahu has truly shown the world what the “new anti-Semitism” is. It is not, as he and others would have it, a phenomenon of the “pro-Palestinian left.” It is certainly not connected in any way with supporters of a two-state solution. No, it is the phenomenon that Netanyahu has led in creating and cultivates today with his allies and friends in a white nationalist White House. It is the phenomenon, in the grand tradition of classical anti-Semitism, of differentiating between the good Jews and the bad Jews. What makes it new is that it is being done by Israeli leaders.

For Netanyahu, as with his friends in the Trump Administration, the Zionist Organization of America, Christians United for Israel and, yes, much (though not all) of AIPAC, among many other channels, the good Jews are the nationalists. For them, any ally is a good ally, no matter how anti-Semitic or racist, as long as they support Israel in all it does, particularly its occupation and denial of Palestinian rights. The good Jews are the Stephen Millers, the David Friedmans, the Jared Kushners, the Morton Kleins. The bad Jews are pretty much all the rest of us, including many Zionists who support two states, believe Palestinians deserve human rights, or just think that a small group of misogynistic, anachronistic orthodox rabbis do not have the right to dictate Judaism to all of us. 

It couldn’t be more clear. Netanyahu, already well established as a racist (we have not forgotten the last election, just to name a relatively recent and very blatant example), has sided with white nationalists, Jewish nationalists, even European nationalists (see the article for more on this) against the vast majority of the Jewish people, including against most Israeli Jews. Never forget it. And think it through clearly as you consider your politics regarding Palestine, Israel, and the Jewish people.

Israel’s Silence on Charlottesville

The awful events in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend presented politicians with an opportunity to score an easy political point, simply by condemning the white supremacists who sparked the violence. Many politicians took advantage of that opportunity. That included right wing politicians such as Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), as well as the Vice President, Mike Pence. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the most prominent of international voices deploring the display of racism and bigotry.

US President Donald Trump, by contrast, condemned violence “on many sides,” and for two days pointedly refused to criticize the racist thugs who brought their march of hate to Charlottesville, one of whose number is a blatant murderer. For this, Trump was sharply criticized by Democrats and Republicans, until finally, today, he was forced to condemn the right wing violence and name some of the hate groups—even though they support him.

But there is silence coming from another corner, one that is far more surprising. That deafening silence is coming from the Israeli government, and most notably from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has a long history of condemning anti-Semitism, both real and imagined. He has played a huge role in creating the narrative that virtually all support for Palestinian rights and criticism of Israel’s human rights record is rooted in anti-Semitism. Until recently, he rarely missed an opportunity to raise the specter of anti-Semitism.

Now, when confronted with Nazis chanting anti-Semitic slogans and marching through the streets of the United States while the President responded with dog whistles that clearly pleased his white supremacist supporters, Netanyahu says nothing. Read more at LobeLog

 


It seems the long reign of Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to its end. Nothing is certain yet, and there will doubtless be more scenes in this tragedy before the curtain falls. But the prospects of Netanyahu continuing as Israel’s prime minister are growing dim.

More than a few are understandably celebrating the light at the end of the tunnel of Netanyahu’s tenure. And, unlike some, I would contend that Israelis have reason for optimism. But for those of us outside of Israel who support the rights of Palestinians as well as Israelis and wish for all of those in the troubled region to enjoy equal rights, the fall of Netanyahu comes too late to make much difference.

In fact, it might set us back in some ways. Read more at LobeLog


Note: With the circus that is the Trump Administration, the threat that is being posed to the Iran Nuclear Deal is not getting the smallest fraction of the coverage it merits. Many people who have known me since before the invasion of Iraq will tell you that I am no alarmist when comes to whether there will be an attack on Iran. I believe my record shows that I have been a calming voice about hysteria when there was a lot of chest-thumping but clear and significant obstacles to an attack on Iran, but also very clear about it when pro-war forces were making real headway in pushing their policy ideas. 

On that basis, I think it is absolutely crucial that this issue be raised a much higher profile now. Voices of even a shred of reason on this issue are few in this administration and even those are still overtly hostile and reckless (albeit less so than some others) toward Iran. There was virtually no challenge to including Iran in the recent bill issuing sanctions against Russia and North Korea (which is also a locus of real concern about Trump’s warlike policies). Most concerning, Senate Democrats were completely united in voting for the bill without a comment at all about whether Iran should be included (only Independent Bernie Sanders and Republican Rand Paul voted against the sanctions bill, and only Sanders made it explicit that he would have supported it if not for the inclusion of Iran). 

Trump’s Iran policy is a serious threat to the entire Middle East, to the people of Iran and the Persian Gulf, and to US and Israeli security. A military confrontation with Iran is likely to be far costlier in terms of life and limb as well as economically than the invasion of Iraq was. But because of the hideous behavior of the US President in so many ways, the headlines about this story are relegated away from the proverbial front page. That needs to change immediately. My article, introduced below and posted in full at LobeLog, explains some of the potential consequences.


Donald Trump rarely tries to hide his intentions. When he intends to do something reckless that will seriously compromise not just US security but that of the entire world, he is not shy about sharing.

The prime example of this is Trump’s determination to destroy the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal struck between the P5+1 and Iran to limit Iran’s nuclear program. He made it clear during the 2016 presidential campaign that he wanted to do away with the Iran deal, and he’s been clear that this is still his intention. But until now, his own advisors have been able to restrain him, and Trump has twice been forced to acknowledge that Iran has been complying with the deal.

Last week, however, Trump sent a clear message: the president of the United States is insisting that his staff find a way for him to de-certify the deal, even though Iran is not in material breach of the agreement and no one, even in the United States, has been able to make the case that it is. As Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian-American Council (NIACput it, “The tangible danger of Trump’s malice on the Iran deal—as well as the danger of the advice of the ‘adults in the room’—became further clarified this week as tidbits of the reality TV star’s plans began to leak.” Read more at LobeLog


One of the most troubling aspects of Donald Trump’s administration, among so many troubling aspects, is that the president, his staff, and his advisors so often seem to break rules that they are unaware even exist. Whether it’s Donald Trump, Jr. digging for dirt on Hillary Clinton with Russian interlocutors or his father apparently making libelous accusations against James Comey over Twitter, people trying to find rational planning behind the deeds of Trump and his team must simply recognize that it comes down to just the arrogance and ignorance of this administration.

Although the two incidents mentioned made big headlines, another one took place on Monday, which largely escaped notice but could be considered just as egregious. During her press briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was explaining how “the president successfully achieved his objectives on behalf of the American people at the G20” last week.

One of those achievements, Sanders said was that “In his discussions with more than a dozen foreign leaders, he underscored the need for nations to join together to strip terrorists of their funding, territory and ideological support—and to stop doing business with nations that sponsor terrorism, especially Iran.” Read more at LobeLog


Israel and the United States have once again turned their fire on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). At issue this time is the decision by UNESCO’s

Entrance to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron

World Heritage Committee to recognize the Old City of Hebron as a Palestinian site and to add it as a World Heritage in Danger site.

According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the UNESCO resolution is “delusional” because it allegedly denies the Jewish connection to Hebron. Indeed, denying such a connection to a city that contains the Tomb of the Patriarchs would be highly offensive to Jews all over the world. The only problem is, UNESCO did no such thing. Read more at LobeLog


The effects of Donald Trump’s trip last month to the Middle East continue to multiply. The focus, quite correctly has been on the breach between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. But the effects of the Saudis’ wooing of Trump are felt throughout the region.

Flattering the president of the United States is a sensible thing for most world leaders to do, but this president, basking in all-encompassing flattery, becomes immediately susceptible to the views of his supplicants. Trump came away from his Middle East trip having bought whole cloth into the Saudi narrative of regional politics, and his criticism of Qatar clearly spurred on what has transpired since. But it was not only the Saudi royal family that captured Trump’s attention. Read more at LobeLog

%d bloggers like this: