To our Arab citizens

Dear Arab citizens of Israel (or “Israeli Arabs” or “Palestinian citizens of Israel,” if you must):

Zionism is a problem for you.

I understand that. Zionism implies that all or part (I admit to being one of those who believe that “all” is correct) of the land between the river and the sea belongs to the Jewish people, while you believe that it is yours. We believe that we are the aboriginal tribes of the land of Israel; you say that you are.

This isn’t about that question. This isn’t about archaeology or history. I’ve written about those things countless times. I don’t think I could convince you that my point of view is correct, even though I’m certain that all the evidence shows that it is.

Rather, this is about today’s reality and how to live in it.

The reality is that Israel is a nation-state, the nation-state of the Jewish people. This is the most important statement made by our Declaration of Independence. Israel also does its best to be democratic (given the fact that half the world wants it destroyed), granting civil, political, and religious rights to all of its citizens. But there are other rights, which are called “national rights,” which include both symbolic and practical matters. There are symbols like the flag, the national anthem and the holidays, and there are practical principles like the Law of Return for Jews, not Arabs, the ingathering of the exiles, and the commitment to maintaining a Jewish majority.

The State of Israel is also committed to ensuring the rights of minorities. But those rights must not compromise the national rights of the Jewish people. This is why the Knesset saw fit to pass the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. There is sometimes a tension between these different kinds of rights, and the state must walk a fine line to ensure a balance. It may not be easy, but keeping it is precisely the vision of Zionism.

Not every country is a nation-state of a particular people. The USA belongs to all American citizens. No single ethnic group can claim national rights in it. Unlike dozens of Muslim nations, no religion is privileged in it either. Although a majority of Americans are Christian, there are no special rights for Christians. There is no Christian cross in the American flag.

Today, ethnic nation-states are somewhat out of favor, especially in Western Europe and North America. Many people living in those places have a hard time understanding or accepting the idea that a people’s self-determination can include choosing to establish an ethnic nation-state – particularly if that people happens to be the Jewish people. Perhaps this is because the Jewish people, for thousands of years, were not allowed self-determination. They were required to live in somebody else’s nation-state, and these states generally did not even try to provide human, civil, political, or religious rights to all of their citizens (if indeed Jews were even counted as citizens).

There is one and only one Jewish state in the world, compared to 22 Arab states. Even if you accept the contention that there is a historic Palestinian people – and not just a group of Arabs of various origins that recently coalesced in opposition to the establishment of Israel – there is a state that was created from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and the partition of the Palestine Mandate that arguably is rightfully theirs, and that is Jordan.

Israel was established in a costly and terrible war. The war never truly ended, with outbursts of great violence interspersed with periods of “peace” characterized by small wars and terrorism against us. The stated goals of our various enemies have varied, from Nasser to Arafat to the Iranian mullahs and even including our self-designated moral superiors in the EU, but the intent has always been the same: to end Jewish self-determination. And our reaction, because Zionism tells us that self-determination is worth fighting for, has been and will continue to be to fight for it.

So here is what I want to tell you, Arab citizens of Israel:

For many of you, living in a Jewish state is uncomfortable. I understand. We Jews lived in other people’s nation-states for 2000 years, and it was often far more uncomfortable for us than it is for you in today’s Israel.

You have at least these alternatives:

  1. You can continue to live in the Jewish state with full political and civil rights – and if you feel that you don’t have those rights to the degree that you ought to, you can demand them. But don’t ask for national rights, because you won’t get them.
  2. You can move to a country like the USA or Canada, which are states of all their citizens, and become citizens yourselves.
  3. You can try to establish a Palestinian nation-state in Jordan, in which a majority of the population identifies as Palestinian, and which currently has a non-representative government.

I would prefer to cooperate than to fight. But our self-determination in the nation-state of the Jewish people is not negotiable.

Sincerely,

Abu Yehuda

Posted in Israeli Arabs, Zionism | 2 Comments

It’s my party…

As everyone knows, Israel has way too many political parties. In the last election, ten parties made it past the 3.25% cutoff into the Knesset. In all, twenty-five parties contended for the 120 seats in our parliament, and some of those were alliances of multiple parties pooling their votes to keep from falling below the cutoff (the Joint List, for example, is composed of four primarily Arab parties).

There is a party called Ale Yarok (Green Leaf) which calls for legalization of marijuana and managed to get more than 47,000 votes from members who were not too stoned to find the polls. There is a party called Hapiratim (The Pirates), which belongs to an international movement favoring extremely democratic and open government, and which garnered 895 votes, or 0.02% of the electorate. Arghh! The party with the least amount of votes was the Manhigut Hevratit (Social Leadership) party, which consists of a convicted felon named Yosef Ba-Gad. Apparently he has enough friends and relatives to obtain 223 votes.

In fact, Israel does not need anywhere near this number of parties. I would like to propose a simpler arrangement of only six parties. Here they are, with their platforms:

  1. The Really Religious Party: God is on our side, so give us money, don’t draft us, and keep your immodest women away from us and their pictures off our bus shelters.
  2. The Very Right-Wing Party: Send the Arabs to Jordan and annex the historic homeland of the Jewish people.
  3. The Bibi Party: He knows best. Just be quiet and do what he tells you.
  4. The Cheap Apartments Party: Apartments are too expensive. In fact, everything is too expensive. Make everything cheaper. We are not interested in security and stuff.
  5. The Very Left-Wing Party: End The Occupation. This will bring Peace. The state will use the money it saves on the IDF and Shabak to provide cheap apartments and a free subscription to Ha’aretz for one and all.
  6. The Arab Party: End Zionism. Put us in charge, admit that everything is your fault and apologize for the Nakba and maybe we’ll let you live, which you actually don’t deserve, you dogs.

Right now many of you are saying that it’s impossible to live without Ashkenazic and Sephardic Haredi parties, and indeed without Hassidic and Mitnagdic Ashkenazi Haredi parties. And others are saying that there is a big difference between religious and secular right-wing Zionism, or that we can’t forget the historic difference between Etzel and Lechi, or Mapai and Mapam, Ichud and Meuchad, Betar and B’nai Akiva.

Get a grip.

I am still angry about the Altalena, but I’m willing to be in the same party as anyone who understands the importance of a Jewish state for the Jewish people, who is capable of understanding that the Arabs are not just Jews that go to shul on Fridays, and that someone who wants to kill you or your people is an enemy. My heroes are Jabotinsky and Begin, but I could work with Rabin, despite his big mistake (I’m sure if he were here today, he’d admit that he shouldn’t have allowed himself to be pushed into Oslo).

Right now, in the run-up to the election to be held on April 9, we are watching a depressing spectacle of various public personalities maneuvering here and there in the political spectrum, making and breaking alliances, and positioning themselves to feast on what they think will soon be the political corpse of Binyamin Netanyahu. We have the unpopular Avi Gabbai publically kicking the equally unpopular Tzipi Livni out of his “Zionist Union” movement, which went from 24 Knesset seats in the 2015 election, to 8 or 9 projected seats if the election were today. We have Benny Gantz, whose qualifications are that he was IDF Chief of Staff and is very tall, and who refuses to say anything about his position on any important issue, with 14 projected seats (Netanyahu said, and I agree, that “anyone who won’t say whether he is Left or Right is Left”).

One interesting development is the defection of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked from the religious Zionist Beit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party to create a right-wing party that would truly be a home for both religious and secular people, called Haymin Hehadash (The New Right). I think the name is a little cheesy, but ideologically it’s a good fit for me and many others who found the Zionism of Jewish Home appealing, but were uncomfortable with the degree of social conservatism of some of its members. I’m sure also that Bennett and Shaked understand that an explicitly religious party would never have a chance to lead the government.

Today there is already a party that purports to be right-wing and welcoming to both secular and religious Jews, and that is Netanyahu’s Likud. So probably The New Right will draw its votes from the old Jewish Home and from the Likud, and will cooperate in a coalition with them as well. As long as Netanyahu is more popular than Bennett/Shaked, and the Right maintains its present edge over the Center plus the Left, the governing coalition after the next election will end up looking more or less as it does today.

However, if Netanyahu steps down for any reason, the Likud is likely to lose much of its appeal to security-minded voters (and most Israelis fall into this category). The balance of power on the right might then move to the New Right, and one could imagine a government led by Bennett or Shaked. Bibi certainly doesn’t intend to quit now, but we’ll see what impact the possible criminal indictments (which, in my opinion, are simply political warfare by legal means) will have. And Bennett and Shaked are young, 46 and 42 respectively, while Netanyahu is 69. Their day will come no matter what.

The as-yet undefined party of Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, and other centrists will try to present themselves as hawkish on security to prevent this. The danger is that they might succeed, and we could end up with a Center-Left coalition. Naturally, Bibi is making sure to remind us of this at every opportunity. And I agree with him that letting the Left within 100 km of power would be a disaster. Look what the two Ehuds, Barak and Olmert, almost did when each was Prime Minister.

It’s not possible to reduce the number of parties to six today. Founding political parties seems to be a national pastime here, and the inflated egos of politicians, each one of whom believes that only he or  she is qualified to lead a party or the nation, prevents the system from becoming more rational.

Today I am leaning toward voting for The New Right, despite the silly name – unless Bibi convinces me that this will empower the Left. So far, I don’t see it.

Or unless my brother-in-law starts his own party. Then I’d have to vote for him.

Posted in Israeli Politics | 3 Comments

Israeli politics just got more complicated

Two Israeli politicians, Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, announced yesterday that they will leave the party they have led for the past six years and form a new party, called Hayamin Hehadash (The New Right).

Recent polls say Shaked, who is Justice Minister in the present Likud-led coalition, is by far the most popular minister (Hebrew link) in the government, while Bennett, the Education Minister, comes in second.

Shaked and Bennett were formerly members of PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, but joined with what was then called the National Religious Party to create the Beit Hayehudi (Jewish Home). The idea was to build a party that would appeal to both secular and religious Israelis on the right side of the spectrum: those who favor Jewish settlement in the territories, oppose a Palestinian state, and are hawkish on security issues.

They didn’t succeed. Although in 2013 Jewish Home got a respectable 12 seats in the Knesset, it dropped to only 8 in 2015. Bennett and Shaked did not succeed in broadening their base in the secular community, and it became clear that they would never have a chance to lead a government as representatives of a purely “religious” party. And as a small minority in Netanyahu’s government, they felt that they had little or no influence on its decisions.

Israeli coalition politics are more complicated than they may look, because a party has to get 3.25% of the vote in order to get into the Knesset at all (if they receive less, the votes may be distributed according to preexisting agreements, or they may simply be lost). There are always parties on the extreme right and left, as well as special-interest parties, which do not pass the threshold.

Ayelet Shaked has distinguished herself as Justice Minister, by working to reduce the extreme left-wing bias of the legal establishment, especially the Supreme Court. Israel does not have a constitution. It does have a series of Basic Laws, one of which deals with the judiciary system. However, the Basic Laws are broad, and interpreted according to legal precedent, often established by the Supreme Court; and I and many others believe the Court has taken for itself far more power than is healthy in a democracy. Naftali Bennett has been very critical of PM Netanyahu on security matters, calling for stronger measures against the rocket and arson attacks from Gaza. He also criticized the government’s failure to deal with the threat from Hamas’ cross-border tunnels prior to the 2014 war.

They will certainly draw votes from those who previously voted for Jewish Home, but their main source of support will have to be from Likud voters. There are some who simply dislike Netanyahu for various reasons but see no reasonable alternative. Some lean right, and would vote for a party to the right of the Likud, but have not wanted to vote for an explicitly religious party. Personally I like the idea of a party that is firmly right-wing on security matters and which can walk the sometimes fine line between respect for Jewish tradition and religious coercion.

Until now Netanyahu’s poll numbers have been solid, but he faces a concerted media and legal campaign against him. He is accused of corruption on four separate matters (which, in my opinion, are either picayune or politics as usual). The police and state prosecutor have recommended that he be indicted on three of them, and the decision is in the hands of Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit. Every time Netanyahu or his wife is interrogated by the police, the subject matter of the interrogation is leaked to the media, which gleefully reports it. There are demonstrations in front of the home of the Attorney General, calling on him to indict Netanyahu, and a demonstrator even followed Mandelblit to a synagogue where he was saying Kaddish for his mother.

The PM says that even if he is indicted, he will not resign, and that the law does not require him to. On the other hand, there is no doubt that if it happens, his opponents will challenge his right to keep his job in court. It is impossible to predict exactly what will happen, but the idea that somehow Netanyahu could be knocked out, leaving an opening for the Left to come in, is frightening for the majority of Israelis – who believe that the Left is not only incompetent but positively dangerous.

Some who are critical of the decision of Bennett and Shaked to start a new party raise the specter of 1992. In 1992, a very close election ended up with a coalition of the Left in power, after several small right-wing parties did not make the cut to enter the Knesset (at that time, the cutoff was 1.5% of the vote). Both the technical issue of the cutoff and the political problems caused by dissention on the Right led to Rabin’s left-wing coalition and the Oslo accords – a disaster from which the nation has yet to recover.

Netanyahu effectively used the fear of another 1992 to convince voters in the last election (2015) to vote for the Likud rather than Jewish Home, despite the fact that Bennett promised to support Netanyahu in coalition negotiations, and despite surplus vote sharing arrangements that keep votes for marginal parties from being lost. Regardless, a unified Right is more likely to succeed than a fragmented one, and I know several people who voted for Netanyahu while preferring Bennett in their hearts.

Where Bennett and Shaked’s new party could change the equation is if it can draw voters from the center – from parties like Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu, or the new centrist parties started by Orly Levy-Abekasis or former chiefs of staff Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon.

The constellation of parties is still fluid, and I’m sure the pollsters are feverishly trying out all of the combinations. My dream is a strong coalition, firmly on the right on matters of security, but without the Haredi (“ultra-Orthodox”) parties. Although it is true that around 12% of Israelis identify as Haredim and certainly deserve a voice in governance, in my opinion the Haredi parties have proven to be excessively narrowly focused on immediate benefits for their constituents, and too ready to sacrifice the good of the nation for those interests. The recent struggle over national service for Haredim is an example.

But at this point nothing is certain, except that on April 9, I and my fellow citizens will go to the polling place (it’s an official holiday), show our national ID card, and place a pre-printed paper ballot in a box. Humans will count the ballots. There won’t be any chads, hanging or otherwise. And in 2015, about 76.1% of voting-age Israelis voted in national elections.

It could be better, but compared to the US, where turnout was only 55.7% in the hard-fought 2016 contest, that’s not bad at all.

Posted in Israeli Politics | 3 Comments

Our Iranian War

Tuesday night Israel hit several locations in Syria, assumed to be weapons depots which possibly contained a shipment of Fajr-5 rockets from Iran. But it’s also being reported that “senior Hezbollah personnel” were hit, shortly after boarding a plane for Tehran, where they were planning to attend a funeral for an Iranian ayatollah. There is even a rumor – probably not true – that Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s “Quds Force,” was present and was killed in the attack. If only!

Soleimani is a legendary figure in Iran, and the Quds Force is responsible for extraterritorial activities of the IRGC, including aiding terrorist groups like Hezbollah and various Iraqi militias, as well as carrying out terrorist operations all over the world. The Quds Force has been accused of providing the explosively formed penetrators used in IEDs with deadly effectiveness against US troops in Iraq. As a strategist and commander, he is highly competent and dangerous, and should be a prime target in an Israel-Iran war.

The beginning stages of the war are already underway. The Iranian regime’s strategy seems to be to first improve its strategic position as much as possible without triggering open hostilities: it has built up Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal – and continues to try to improve it by retrofitting accurate guidance systems. It is preparing to manufacture guidance systems and/or rockets on Lebanese soil. It dug attack tunnels under the Lebanese border with Israel, which the IDF is exploding or filling with concrete as I write. It is working to improve its supply systems to Hezbollah via its newly secured land bridge through Iraq and Syria (the small American force that Trump has promised to withdraw served as a partial deterrent to the use of this route, which is one reason Israel sees the withdrawal as a problem). The regime supports Hamas and other terrorist groups in the territories. And it is continuing to prepare for the day that it can openly deploy nuclear weapons. Ultimately, its goal is to see Israel destroyed by its proxies, underneath its own nuclear umbrella.

Israel’s approach so far has been to try to interdict the shipment of advanced weapons, destroy attack tunnels, and to keep up pressure on Iranian attempts to establish herself militarily in Syria. Israel is aggressively collecting intelligence on the location of Iran’s and Hezbollah’s assets in Lebanon and Syria, so that in the event of war she could quickly destroy rocket launchers and other targets. Probably there are also targets in Iran herself, such as nuclear facilities.

I hope so. Iran would like to see the next war fought on Israel’s territory. It would like to see the casualties on its side being Lebanese, Palestinian, and Iraqi, not Iranian. It would like to see Israel wounded, but itself come out unscathed. It is up to Israel to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Israel’s greatest weakness is her lack of strategic depth. There is nowhere to fall back to, and an invasion from Lebanon or Syria would quickly reach populated areas. Israel is no Russia, which on several occasions has been able to count her enormous size and bitter winters as her greatest allies.

This is one reason why “2-state solutions” are unacceptable, even if the Palestinian Arabs were trustworthy (which they are not). I have a relief map on my wall that I point to when anyone talks about the various 2-state ideas. It shows how the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley (more precisely, the hills on our side of it) are natural barriers to invasion, and provide a strategic advantage to whoever controls them. It also shows the importance of the hills in Judea and Samaria, which overlook the most heavily populated parts of Israel.

The Golan Heights are particularly important. Had Israel not been in possession of them at the start of the Yom Kippur War, Syrian tanks would have rolled through Israeli cities and towns, with murderous results. More recently we would have had to deal with raids by ISIS and similar groups.

There is currently talk of a Munich-like Syrian peace deal in which part of the arrangement would include the return of the Golan to Assad’s Syria! In order to prevent this, Israel and some American politicians would like to see the US recognize Israel’s permanent ownership of the Golan. In the final analysis, only Israel’s steadfastness and willingness to fight can protect her, but it would certainly help to have the diplomatic backing of the US.

When the war finally does heat up, Israel must bring it to Iran’s homeland. But Iran is a big and populous country, and Israel does not have the ground forces to invade it. We are certainly capable of launching a full-scale nuclear assault, but this would contradict our strategic doctrine, which calls for the use of nuclear weapons only in retaliation for an attack against Israel with nuclear or other WMD, or as a last resort when the country is in danger of being overrun. There would be moral concerns about killing 28 million Iranians. One can also guess the likely response of the international community.

However there is another option, which is an attack aimed to destroy infrastructure, such as electrical grids, industrial plants, government offices, financial centers, oil fields, pipelines, refineries, transportation and communications facilities, and so on. Bombing of key targets could be combined with cyberattacks and an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. If done carefully, such a campaign would directly kill few people, but could create chaos and effectively destroy the Iranian economy to the extent that it would take decades to recover. I believe that Iraq is still suffering the effects of infrastructure bombing carried out in the first days of the US-Iraq war in 2003.

Israel is quite capable of carrying out such an attack, and this capability could serve as an effective deterrent, one which is much more likely to be employed than a massive nuclear attack. Iran directly controls Hezbollah, and the regime must be made to understand that an attack by its proxy against our homeland would result in an immediate response against its own.

In the meantime, I hope we are carefully tracking the movements of Qassem Soleimani. He has plenty of American, Israeli, and other blood on his hands. It would be a shame (for the regime) if anything happened to him.

Posted in Iran, Terrorism, War | 3 Comments

Question Time

Here are some answers to real questions that I’ve been asked. No, I am not an authority on anything, but my views are at least as considered (and probably more so) than those of celebrities and politicians that are often interviewed in the media.

Yes, this will be on the test.

The Palestinians

Q: What is the “Palestinian problem?”
A: The Palestinian Arabs will not accept Jewish sovereignty anywhere between the river and the sea. That’s a problem.

Q: Why will solutions that involve Israel evacuating Jews from some of the land and establishing a Palestinian state always fail?
A: See the answer to the first question.

Q: Why won’t they accept any Jewish state in the land of Israel?
A: For pious Muslims, it is against their religion. For all Palestinian Arabs, it is because they firmly believe that all the land belongs to them and it was stolen by the Jews. Therefore, it would dishonor them to give it up.

Q: Why are they so violent?
A: Because the Quran commands it, and because they believe that violence is necessary to regain their honor.

Q: Can we convince the Palestinians that compromise would be to their advantage?
A: No. We can only convince them that violence will result in painful reprisals and push them farther away from their goals.

Q: Who pointed this out long before the founding of the Jewish state?
A: Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

Q: But don’t they care about economic welfare, peace, a good life for their children, and so on?
A: Sure. But it doesn’t override their religion and their concern for honor (this is a fact of great importance that Westerners rarely understand).

Q: Wouldn’t there be less terrorism if the economic conditions of the Palestinians were improved?
A: No, because terrorism is driven by religion and honor-shame dynamics.

Q: But certainly there are moderate Palestinians!
A: There are, but the nature of Palestinian political consciousness is that the popularity of a leader is directly proportional to his extremism.

Q: What about Arab citizens of Israel?
A: In a practical sense most of them accept the existence of the Jewish state and benefit from it. But ideologically most are opposed to it. Look who they elect to the Knesset.

Q: Why do most “peace” plans involve Jews moving, but never Arabs?
A: Because history shows that Jews can be forced to move far more easily than Arabs. And because most of the world, including many Israelis, have been convinced by anti-Jewish propaganda that we don’t belong here.

Q: Will Trump’s “peace” plan be any different?
A: No. See the answer to the first question.

Q: Why does Israel’s government never push back hard enough against terrorism?
A: Because there is an unelected elite that dominates the legal establishment and doesn’t allow it to.

Q: Why do they do that?
A: Because they want to look good to “enlightened” circles in Europe and America, because they themselves are insecure about Israel’s right to exist, or both.

Iran

Q: Why is Iran so hostile to Israel?
A: Iran’s leaders want to establish a Shiite caliphate in the Middle East and they want to become a world power. They see America as their most important opponent and Israel as an American outpost. They are also motivated by Islamic ideology, which tells them that Jewish sovereignty over “Muslim land” is an abomination.

Q: What will stop Iran’s expansionism?
A: Either the Iranian people will overthrow the repressive regime or Iran will be defeated militarily. There’s no other option.

Q: Will there be war between Israel and Iran?
A: Unless something unforeseen happens – like a counter-revolution in Iran or an attack by the US – it is inevitable. Iran is constantly making strategic moves against Israel, such as Hezbollah’s rocket buildup, introducing Iraqi Shiite militias into Syria, digging attack tunnels under the Lebanese border, building precision missile factories in Lebanon, and – last but not least – the clandestine nuclear program. Israel is trying to blunt these initiatives as much as possible, but at some point it will be impossible to avoid a confrontation.

Q: When will war break out?
A: It’s hard to say. PM Netanyahu has been doing his utmost to combat the threat without opening full-scale hostilities. But as I wrote last week, there could be changes to the leadership in the UK and the US that would make it much harder for Israel to prevail, which could bring about a preemptive war sooner rather than later.

American Jews

Q: What’s the matter with liberal American Jews?
A: American liberals in general simply do not hear the truth about Israel. The information available to them is strained through a very biased filter of liberal media like NPR, the NY Times, and similar print and broadcast media, which are all committed to a 2-state paradigm that was created in the early 1990s with the Oslo accords. The Israeli public moved beyond this as a result of the Second Intifada and the consequences of the withdrawal from Gaza, but the American media never changed its slant.

Q: Why is this?
A: In the past, the US State Department, the oil companies, and others followed the Saudi line established in 1973 that called for the reversal of the results of the wars of 1967/73. The media dutifully followed along.

Q: And more recently?
A: During the fight over the Iran deal, the Obama Administration associated PM Netanyahu with its Republican opposition. Support for Israel became a partisan issue. The administration (which was close to the Israeli Left) and its friendly media strongly pushed the idea that Netanyahu is a right-wing extremist, that Israel is becoming undemocratic and theocratic, and similar themes. The leadership of the Reform movement, with which many liberal Jews are aligned, also took this line. Liberal Jews have no trusted source of information about Israel that presents any other point of view than that of the Israeli Left.

Jew-hatred

Q: Please compare antisemitism and anti-Zionism.
A: Antisemitism is irrational, unjustifiable, hatred of Jews. It involves fantasizing conspiracies, blaming Jews for everything bad that happens in the world, and believing any accusation made against Jews, no matter how fantastic, without proof. It associates Jews with evil forces in the world, be they the Devil, Bolshevism, or capitalism. Anti-Zionism is all that stuff, except its target is the Jewish state. Scratch one and you will usually find the other.

Q: Is antisemitism getting worse throughout the world?
A: Definitely. There are more violent incidents in both Europe and America. There are also many more relatively non-violent expressions of antisemitic and anti-Zionist ideas.

Q: Who’s responsible?
A: The old-fashioned extreme Right, the more modern “intersectional” Left, and Muslims. The violence in Europe seems to be primarily from Muslims, while in America the extreme Right has perpetrated most of the violent incidents. On American campuses, the Left and Muslims have been responsible for increasingly strident anti-Zionist expression.

Q: Will it get worse in America?
A: Politics in America have become polarized to a degree that is unprecedented in my lifetime. A sharp reaction to Trump’s presidency could bring the left wing of the Democratic Party to power, which is characterized by strongly anti-Zionist views. At the same time, the internet and social media have empowered the extreme Right, who now see themselves free to express ideas that were formerly taboo.

Q: What are the most relevant lessons from the Holocaust for today’s situation?
A: First, it is quite possible that they really do want to kill us. And second, we only have ourselves to rely on.

Q: What is the best response to antisemitism?
A: A powerful Jewish state. Not only is it a refuge for Jews facing persecution elsewhere, it can serve as an example of Jewish strength and self-defense.

Summing up

Q: What is the single most unappreciated gift Hashem has given to the Jewish people in two millennia?
A: Sovereignty in our own land.

Q: In addition to being thankful to Hashem, what is the appropriate response to this gift?
A: To treasure and protect it. To never let it slip away.

Posted in 'Peace' Process, American Jews, Europe, Iran, Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Israeli Arabs, Jew Hatred, War | 4 Comments