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When Fighting Antisemitism, You Can’t Pick and Choose

Posters in Paris broadcasting the plight of Israeli hostages in Gaza covered over with pro-Palestinian messages. Photo: Reuters/Magali Cohen

JNS.orgIt was one of those incidents that you never expect will happen to you, but when it does, it changes your life irrevocably.

On June 8, 2023, a Thursday, a 67-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman whose name was reported as “Sarah” was driving to her home in Créteil, a suburb in the southeastern outskirts of Paris. As she drove, a group of traffic cops who were sitting at a nearby gas station noticed that she was speeding. They duly pulled her over.

Clearly flustered and nervous as she sat talking to the police officers, who informed her that she was driving dangerously, Sarah accidentally released the brake on her car, backing into a police motorcycle that was parked behind her. Thinking that she was trying to flee the scene, the cops promptly arrested her and brought her to the police station in Créteil.

Absolutely terrified by this point, Sarah said in a later media interview that she lost consciousness. When she came around, she discovered that she was lying prostrate on the police station floor, handcuffed to a bench. When she realized that her wig, which she had worn since she married at the age of 18, according to the custom of Orthodox Jewish women, had been removed, she panicked.

An amateur video of the incident was shared with the French news website Mediapart, which posted it last week. It shows Sarah’s ordeal to its full, harrowing extent. “I’m a Jew!” Sarah declares with an ear-splitting scream. “I want my wig! My wig! My wig!” she continues, writhing helplessly on the floor as a policeman stands imperiously over her, sandwiching her legs between his feet.

The video also shows a disturbing level of contempt from the police officers. One of them describes Sarah as a feuj, an insulting French slang term for “Jew.” When a male officer finally returns with her wig, an exasperated female officer is then heard telling Sarah: Allez, putain (“Come on, bitch”).

From the police station, Sarah was taken to the emergency room of a local hospital, where her husband came to collect her. A doctor who examined her noted that she had suffered both bruising and psychological trauma. Nevertheless, on March 4, Sarah will go on trial, charged with “endangering the lives of others” due to her allegedly careless driving.

Sarah has herself now gone on the offensive, telling investigators from the General Inspectorate of the police that the removal of her wig represented the “ultimate humiliation” for an observant Jewish woman. She has also filed a complaint against the police, charging them with “sexist, antisemitic” violence towards her. “Créteil police know the city, they know that there is a sizable Jewish community, so they cannot claim to be unaware of what a wig means,” her lawyer, Arie Alimi, told the media.

Sarah’s case is significant for two reasons—one of them uncomplicated, the other far more complicated.

The uncomplicated reason is simply that the behavior of the French police was clearly antisemitic. The video suggests that they rather enjoyed having a vulnerable Jewish woman at their mercy, whom they essentially dehumanized. In a democracy, the police are accountable for their actions, and in this case, one can legitimately ask whether the officers who attended to Sarah at the police station should continue to serve on the force, particularly as they are in regular contact with other members of the Jewish community in Créteil.

The other reason is complicated because it involves overtly political considerations.

It is striking that Sarah’s case has been taken up by important swathes of the French left—a left that is normally at loggerheads with the Jewish community because of its consistent demonization of Israel. Counter-accusations of antisemitism are both frequent and hotly denied, especially in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in Israel, which has triggered a vicious wave of antisemitism in France and other countries, frequently deploying progressive, anti-colonial messaging to camouflage what is—and what has always been—a deeply reactionary and backward form of prejudice.

Yet Sarah’s case has been reported on sympathetically and in detail in many organs of the French left, including LHumanité—the daily paper of the French Communist Party, which once had the unenviable reputation of being the most slavishly pro-Moscow of all the European Communist parties affiliated with the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

Sarah has also won the support of parliamentarians from the far-left group La France Insoumise (or LFI, translated as “France Rising”), which occupies 75 of the 577 seats in the French National Assembly. In a social-media post, Mathilde Panot, who heads LFI’s parliamentary grouping, denounced “the sexist and antisemitic” treatment meted out to Sarah by police officers who had behaved with “dishonor,” and who should now be the subjects of a “rapid investigation and sanctions.”

While Sarah’s case against the police deserves the full backing of her fellow Jews, it behooves us to look critically at her other sources of support. When Panot and three of her LFI comrades turned up at last week’s memorial ceremony in Paris for the 42 French citizens who were among the more than 1,200 people murdered by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, pro-Israel demonstrators on the sidelines barracked them, shouting, “LFI, Hamas thanks you.” Panot’s explanation for her attendance was her desire to call attention to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, whom LFI falsely believes, in common with much of the left globally, are undergoing a “genocide.”

On a human level, it’s hard to understand how someone could be moved (and understandably so) by the cries of a frail, elderly Jewish woman in police custody, yet dismiss the horrors of Oct. 7—the slaughter, the mutilation, the rape of untold young woman at a music festival—as so much “Zionist propaganda.” As long as that remains the case, politicians on the left who intervene only in those incidents of antisemitism are unconnected to Israel will never win the trust of the Jewish community.

Simply put, if you are going to fight antisemitism, you cannot pick and choose which incidents you focus upon on the basis of your ideological convictions. And since the far-left is not, for the foreseeable future, going to accept the contention that its attacks on Zionism and Israel’s legitimacy are forms of antisemitism, one has to probe the political price of acknowledging their support in cases like those of Sarah.

Because if Sarah had been a resident of the West Bank instead of Créteil, and if she had been pulled over by Palestinian Authority officers and then detained, facing treatment even worse than her humiliation by French police officers, LFI and those who share its worldview would have, at best, remained silent. Such hypocrisy would never pass muster on the left when it comes to racism against members of the black community, Muslims or any other minority. But Jews, as we have painfully learned yet again over the last four months, are different.

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Preparing for the Next ICJ Debacle

The UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ). Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.orgIn the theater of the absurd commonly known as the International Court of Justice, judges are again preparing to ignore history and facts. Having weaponized the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide against the Jewish state, the judges are now preparing to hear oral arguments on the next oxymoron: The “legal consequences” of the “Israeli occupation” of “Palestinian territory.”

The glaring problem with this is that there is no such entity as the “Palestinian territories.” The term is an invented one used to define areas allocated by the international community to the Jewish state, which were then illegally invaded by Egypt and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Any discussion anchored on this false terminology should immediately be ignored and scorned.

In December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly, prompted by the Palestinian Authority, adopted a resolution to request from the ICJ an advisory opinion on the following question:

“Considering the rules and principles of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, relevant resolutions of the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the Human Rights Council, and the advisory opinion of the Court of July 9, 2004:

“a) What are the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement, and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures?

“b) How do the policies and practices of Israel referred to in paragraph 18 (a) above affect the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal consequences that arise for all States and the United Nations from this status?”

Following the request, the ICJ set a July 25, 2023 deadline for initial written statements to be submitted, with responses to be submitted by Oct. 25, 2023 and oral arguments to be made starting Feb. 19, 2024.

The underlying assumption of this debacle is that Israel is in some way “occupying” “Palestinian territory.” But is that really the case?

In reality, never in history has an independent country called “Palestine” ever existed.

In reality, the area the UNGA claims and has asked the ICJ to consider as “Palestinian territory” was controlled for 400 years by the Ottoman Empire.

In reality, after World War I, the international community repeatedly allocated the entire area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, from Lebanon to the Red Sea, for the sole purpose of reconstituting the Jewish homeland.

In reality, the 1923 division of the geographical area called “Palestine” into two separate areas, one to be called the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the other remaining Jewish Palestine, was the real “two-state solution.”

In reality, in 1947, the United Nations offered the Arabs an opportunity to create another Arab country to the west of the Jordan River alongside Israel, but the Arabs refused. Instead, five Arab armies attacked the nascent Jewish state with the stated and express goal of throwing the Jews into the sea.

From 1948 to 1967, Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria, which it renamed “The West Bank.” During that time, no U.N. resolution of the General Assembly or the Security Council demanded that Egypt and Jordan retreat and desist from occupying those areas. No such request was made of Jordan since Jordan saw Palestine as an integral part of Jordan.

In reality, even U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, from November 1967, does not mention, even once, the notion of occupied “Palestinian” territory.

In fact, the idea that a State of Palestine ever existed and that Israel is occupying “Palestinian territory” seems to prove the billboard advertisement that “Palestine” is the only country in the world that did not exist before it was “occupied.”

Sadly, as the judges demonstrated with their shameful decision on the false claim of South Africa against Israel when it comes to the Jewish state, history, facts and the truth are just not relevant.

Originally published by The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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The Other White Supremacists

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger arrives for a memorial service for late Social Democratic senior politician Egon Bahr at St. Mary’s Church in Berlin, Germany, Sept. 17, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

JNS.orgOn Jan. 25, Temple Emanu-El in New York City held a memorial service for Henry Kissinger. This was unacceptable to leftist millennials. Hundreds gathered across the street to cheer on the diplomat’s death, holding signs that read “F*** Kissinger” and “Death to U.S. Imperialism.”

But that wasn’t enough for a group of white millennials. Six surrounded an elderly couple as they were leaving the service, shouting: “You’ll burn in hell forever!” “You f***in’ piece of s***!” “We will burn your homes too!” The leader of the pack, a tall redhead, mocked the couple and threw water in their faces.

The synagogue on the Upper East Side was the first Reform congregation in New York City and is now one of the largest shuls in the United States. It is also fairly close to where I live. But that’s not what made the scene so disturbing. As my teenage son said when I showed him a video of the assault: “Who does that to an elderly couple?”

Who indeed? Anti-Israel protests have brought to the fore a contingent that would please both Hitler and Stalin: They’re white, neo-Marxist, ignorant and despise Jews. They are the new white supremacists, who in both their ignorance and abhorrence of Jews might share some laughs with the old white supremacists.

New Yorkers are all too familiar with this group. As “teachers,” they screamed at our sons for being male and tried to indoctrinate them with every aspect of leftist orthodoxy. At “protests,” they savage both the American and Israeli flags with glee. Their European and Australian counterparts have taken to chanting “Gas the Jews” while offering up a sieg heil.

While there was no shortage of violence and incivility in the Antifa protests of recent years, this contingent of leftists consider Jews a far bigger menace than neo-Nazis. Indeed, the new white supremacists came to their antisemitism the old-fashioned way: scapegoating us. Their great-grandfathers were no doubt part of the gangs who beat up our great-grandfathers on the Lower East Side. Those who went to college were taught that Jews, less than 2% of the world’s population and the most persecuted minority in history, are hyper-privileged oppressors and neo-colonizers.

Indeed, the explosion of antisemitism in academia would never have been able to gain ground without the aid of white professors and administrators. They glommed on to neo-Marxism and Islamism as vehicles for their hatred, but neither ideology created that hatred.

This hatred became the answer to their own intersectional dilemmas: If “whites” are the root of all evil, how can they absolve their own white guilt? By spitting, literally or figuratively, on Jews. Never mind that we are an ethnicity that hails directly from the Middle East, multi-hued only because of the rapes and forced conversions we endured after being exiled from our homeland.

Leftists’ self-anointed supremacism was another way out. Why listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.? Essentializing race and calling for re-segregation allows the anointed ones to maintain control while fending off questions about their own oppressor status. Why make the schools in Harlem better? That would give blacks agency. Leftists’ bigotry of low expectations—that is, blatant racism—is necessary to both their own hyper-privilege and longed-for path to power.

And then their trump card: The “cause” of Arabs who identify as “Palestinian.” Not only could the new white supremacists fabricate the most vile and ahistorical lies about the world’s only Jewish state, but all Jews—leftist or not—could now be harassed and abused for the sin of being Jewish.

Jewish students have been forced to stand in the corners of classrooms, walk across stages with their heads down and verbally self-mutilate. Leftist professors could barely contain their glee. They finally had us where they and their brethren wanted us: lined up for the guillotine.

Except their final solution missed a key element: These were not the poor, persecuted Jews that their great-grandfathers beat up. These Jews are Zionists—Maccabees. These Jews are proud; they fight back. Not by using lies and violence. But by using precisely what white leftists fear the most: our brains.

Bill Ackman, who took the fight to Harvard University’s antisemites, represents the new Maccabean Jew. He’s currently giving leftists nightmares. As for the white millennials attacking elderly Jewish couples in New York City, I’ll just quote my Israeli neighbor who told me, “The one benefit of social media: We know who they are.”

Originally published by Jewish Journal.

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There Is No Resuscitating the Oslo Delusion

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on, as U.S. President Joe Biden (not pictured) speaks about the conflict in Israel, after Hamas launched its biggest attack in decades, while making a statement about the crisis, at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 7, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo

JNS.orgU.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken again visited a handful of Middle Eastern countries this week, including Israel, in an attempt to help calm regional unrest and work for the release of about 105 hostages still being held captive since the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7. While in Jerusalem, in hand was an offer to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu from Hamas for a ceasefire.

According to an Axios report, what Hamas offered would have come in three stages: In the first 45 days, in return for 1,500 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails, including those who have been convicted of murder, the Israel Defense Forces would have to leave Gaza, completely. In exchange, the Palestinians would release Israeli women, the elderly and all those under 18. The second phase would release Israeli males of fighting age. The final phase would involve giving Israel the remains of the dead. (It is a sobering reality, but 31 of the remaining hostages were declared deceased earlier this week by Israeli authorities.)

The Oslo Accords were also a phased plan whereby trust was supposed to have been developed with each new stage. Initially, the negotiations were drafted behind closed doors by Yossi Beilin, who held a number of governmental positions in the Labor Party; Ahmed Qurei, a Palestinian politician and negotiator; and Terge Larsen, a Norwegian sociologist. On Sept. 13, 1993, PLO chief Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin (with U.S. President Bill Clinton acting as facilitator) signed the Declaration of Principles and shook hands on the White House lawn. Likewise, Palestinian statehood was to have been earned, not automatically bequeathed on a silver platter.

There had been a slight pause in hostilities, and by May 10, 1994, Arafat spoke at a mosque in Johannesburg calling for a “jihad to liberate all of Jerusalem.” “Peace-loving” spin doctors from the left dubbed Arafat’s declaration of death an “internal struggle.”

So much for “pauses” to guarantee trust. We know that a 135-day pause only amounts to a victory for Hamas, which will only use this time to regroup and try to retake control of the areas in the Gaza Strip.

Let’s remember the sadistic reality that was Oct. 7—the mass murder of approximately 1,200 Israelis, plus rape, torture, mutilation of bodies, the butchering and burning of babies in front of their parents, and approximately 240 men, women and children who were dragged off to Gaza, kept in cages and tunnels to this day.

For some peculiar reason, there seems to be no agency for the attacking party: Hamas operatives, joined by Palestinian residents from Gaza, who engaged in the most sadistic sort of actions against the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

Everyone, of course, is praying for the release of all of the hostages. Looking at their omnipresent photos and those of their families is like wrenching out one chamber of our collective hearts, as Jews.

However, before the United States cajoles Israel into anything, it is important to ask: Did anyone cajole the United States into a ceasefire with the Nazis? And can anyone deny that the horrific events of Oct. 7 were Nazi-like?

There is a quite familiar dance that those of us who have been observers of the Middle East for decades have been watching: Israel tries to reach out to its neighbors in peace; its overtures are rejected; Israel is violently attacked; Israel (and Israel alone) is asked to bow its knees and make “painful compromises” for peace.

According to a Jan. 31 report by Barak Ravid, the U.S. State Department has been reviewing policy options for a Palestinian state. The options include bilaterally accepting a Palestinian state; not using its veto power in the United Nations to block admitting Palestine as a full voting member state; and encouraging other nations to recognize Palestine.

Why is this dastardly behavior on the part of Hamas being rewarded by the two-state delusion, once again?

Think back to attempt solutions to the Israeli-Arab conflict: 2002 and the Road Map for Peace; to 1993 and the signing of the Oslo Accords; to 1967 and the Khartoum Conference; to 1947 and the U.N. Partition Plan; to 1937 and the Peel Commission. The Washington foreign-policy establishment always returns to the same old failed paradigm. All of this seems to represent a supreme failure of the imagination.

According to the highly-respected Palestinian Center for Survey and Research, in a recent poll, fully 82% of the Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), are in support of the atrocities of Oct. 7.

How could Israel be expected to live in long-term peace and security with such neighbors? What guarantee is there that the reward of a Palestinian state to Israel’s enemies would result in a peace that would endure for generations, let alone years?

And speaking of that recent poll of Palestinians, support for 88-year-old Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority has dropped significantly. When asked who would rule Gaza after the war, only 7% said the P.A. with Abbas in control.

Yet the State Department is talking about a “revived P.A.” Why? Because their covenant, which has never been revoked, talks about a “phased plan” to attack Israel from any area that is evacuated. As opposed to Hamas, which would do it all on the very first day.

It is the P.A., not Hamas, that has established the curriculum of vile antisemitism and the goal of replacing all of Israel with Palestine. It is the P.A. that uses UNRWA schools in the Middle East to incite Arab youth against Jews, with hatred spewed in textbooks. These are the teachings that helped launch the events of Oct. 7.

I recently returned from Israel, and beneath the moral resolve to survive is an almost palpable existential despair. Israelis are willing to fight and die for the right of their people to live within defensible borders. Most no longer believe that two states are the answer—and that Palestinians will suddenly and magically be willing to live in peace and security side by side with Israel.

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