“Harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous.” Yehudi Menuhin
This observation offers up a juxtaposition of two ideas that seemingly exist in opposition yet are elegantly reconciled. The term harmony derives from the Greek ἁρμονία harmonia, meaning “joint, agreement, concord.” The concept stems from the harmony of nature. Squirrels, birds, flowers, trees—all are lyrically integrated, interconnected, creating something larger than themselves: something glorious. The incongruity, then, can be a veil that obscures deeper connections, the compatibilities in nature. But not only in nature.
In every culture throughout history, mosaics have been the cornerstone of the period’s art. One theory suggests that mosaics represent the harmony of nature, even if unintentionally. These mosaics resonate within us aesthetically: we are able to perceive that harmony.
Contemporary artists play with mosaics, using vivid colors and seemingly incongruent shapes. Their work reflects the true beauty of cultural diversity—its ability to transform both ourselves and the world into something larger, something glorious, something that becomes clear to us only when we step back to see the majestic mosaic of life.
Jews are from Judea: Stop Whitewashing Jewish Identity
For well over a year, a debate has raged over the treatment of Jews in drafts for a California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC). The California legislature has required the drafting and ensuing instruction of this curriculum across the largest high school system in America. The first two drafts were rightly sent back to the drawing board because they were riddled with anti-Semitic content, often to the point of open expression of Jew-hatred. While the third iteration and the final approved version of this “model” curriculum excised most of the more flagrant anti-Semitic segments, there is still significant reason to believe that its interpretation and implementation by various school boards and districts will reflect the notion that–among all ethnic minorities in the United States–Jewish Americans are unique beneficiaries of “white privilege.”
The flawed rationale for this application of “privilege” to one of the most per capita discriminated against, persecuted, and smallest ethnic minorities in history can be attributed, in large part, to the application of the concept of “intersectionality.” Intersectionality is defined as the study of the overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. Since the creators of intersectionality are primarily academics on the political left, this effectively has placed Jews outside of the “intersection.” The drafters of the ESMC curriculum (one of whom recently characterized the ADL as a “white supremacist organization”) effectively continue the efforts by many on the far-left to whitewash Ashkenazi Jewry and also to try to erase Mizrahi Jews and Jews of Color from the collective Jewish experience and peoplehood. And they do this all while concurrently championing efforts to destroy the nation-state of the Jewish people (for example, through the BDS movement) under the guise of either being a uniquely American or universalist pursuit of human rights.
This intersectional movement, wherein perceived whiteness epitomizes unearned privilege, also mischaracterizes Ashkenazic Jewry (the historical whipping boy of Europe), and thereby positions these Jews as somehow being the ultimate bearers of privilege and consequently, somehow, one of the ultimate oppressors.
Highlighted in the ESMC model curriculum as a champion of this inverted version of racial liberation is Linda Sarsour: the outspoken anti-Israel Arab American and purveyor of Jew-hatred. It is both ironic and revealing that this admittedly white-presenting person is held up as the paragon of protest against white-supremacism. Yet, when black men and women filled the streets in protest of the murder of George Floyd, the libel that Jews are uniquely responsible for the racial injustices that cleave American society animated the (anti-Semitic) rhetoric and violence amongst many flag holders of the far-left. This sought to effectively exclude most Jews from the multiethnic alliance of men and women across America to join in solidarity with African-Americans.
The Jewish community, however, is a distinct ethnoreligious group with diverse membership (like other Middle Eastern/North African-MENA communities), which is regularly targeted by extremists for both their religious and perceived racial differences. There is an undeniable double standard with a movement that contends Linda Sarsour is representative of an oppressed person of color, while at the same time collectively identifying Jews, or at least Ashkenazic Jews, as “white” and even more incredibly, as bastions of whiteness. This position is not only regressive; it ignores thousands of years of Jewish history, denies the experiences of the Jewish people as a nation, and it aids the campaign of those who ultimately seek the delegitimization of Hebrew or Judean self-determination. Setting aside for the moment that “race” itself is an ideological construct, this regressive characterization of Ashkenazic Jews ignores that every Middle Eastern and North African ethnicity (Arab, Amazigh, Copt, Jewish, Assyrian, etc.), as well as most Latino communities, is composed of members who, based on appearance alone, could “pass” for any number of races in the American racial identity chart.
Historically, it was a practice for many Arab and Jewish-Americans, when arriving in the U.S. to actively pursue, whenever possible, identification with “whiteness” as a method of integration. This was despite the fact that they both faced legal and physical barriers for being perceived as a non-white or racial “others.” Armenian-Americans themselves used the U.S. government’s granting Ashkenazic Jews residency and citizenship as a means of acquiring citizenship too (as until 1952 whiteness was a factor or criteria for naturalization decisions). The presiding judge in the 1909 case of In Re Halladjian ruled that, “[i]f the aboriginal people of Asia are excluded it is hard to find a loophole for the admission of Hebrews.” This judge’s candid statement that Jews represent an Asiatic presence in American society demonstrates how widespread and uncontroversial this belief was in America at the turn of the 20th Century. It would defy credulity for one to believe that this view played no role in the anti-Semitic policies discriminating against Jewish homeownership and against Jewish access to higher education; polices that persisted in the U.S. until the 1970s. Discriminatory policies targeting Jews in the U.S. also often greeted newly arriving refugees from the most recent white supremacy inspired slaughter in Europe: the Holocaust; and one can only imagine the lasting impression that seeing a hotel advertisement stating “No Hebrews or tubercular guests received” had on a Jewish refugee from the latest Cossack attempt to slaughter Jews in Russia.
The existence of Jews of Color (JOC), or Jews (Ashkenazic, Sephardic, or otherwise) whose physical appearance and/or heritage is combined with that of other ethnic groups not stereotypically associated with American Jews is also regularly utilized to collectively whitewash (or Europeanize) the Ashkenazic component of American-Jewish identity. Ignoring the ubiquitous presence of Middle Eastern-presenting Ashkenazic Jews (as demonstrated by how an Ashkenazic Jew, Sacha Baron Cohen, recently received a Golden Globe nomination for his role as Eli Cohen, the Mizrahi Jewish spy who infiltrated the Syrian defense establishment at the highest levels for almost 5 years) as well as European-presenting Mizrahi Jews, the unique struggles and experiences of African, Latino, Asian, and Mizrahi Jews are weaponized to deny the Middle Eastern heritage and identity of Ashkenazim in America, and thereby globally undermine Jewish peoplehood. While Jews of Color may be uniquely positioned in the fight against colorism and racism, and for equality in America, as well as against Jew-hatred, this must be done with the same level of sensitivity to the complexities of the Ashkenazic identity and experience as is demanded from others with regards to Jewish identity and experience.
The issue of Jewish “whiteness” (Ashkenormativity) as well as race in America must be tackled with the intention to strengthen the American-Jewish community as an inseparable part of the Jewish people and history. Any attempt to whitewash Jewishness as merely a religion or a cute culture (or to characterize Ashkenazic Jews as being “Europeans with a Jewish religion”) rather than as the vessel of an enduring ancient civilization with an unbroken chain of language, culture, and spirituality is an attempt to uproot the “people of Israel” (Am Yisrael) from their ancestral inheritance and their rights as a nation. As it says in the name, “Am Yisrael,” the Jews are a people, not happenstance coreligionists.
So who are American Jews?
Jewish identity is complex in the context of contemporary identity politics only because many remain adamant on defining Jewishness within the prism of America’s relatively short history. Jews, however, are an ancient people. Jews comprise the only nation in history to have experienced multiple exiles, genocides, and enslavements, yet maintained for millennia a Diaspora of communities that preserved most of their culture, language, and religion. It is this assortment of symbols, idiosyncrasies, customs, words, stories, and beliefs that have come to be described as Judaism. Although religion can certainly appropriately describe and explain the origin of much of these customs and beliefs, the Jewish experience and peoplehood is based on far more than religion or faith.
Ashkenazic culture, embodied by the Yiddish language, expresses a direct link to the first Jews to be taken to Southern Europe as slaves. Yiddish (developed as a means of internal communication) employed later Jewish Aramaic terms over the ancient Hebrew vocabulary it replaced (after the Babylonian exile). Its use of Latin and Greek vocabulary, in addition to Hebrew, for objects of cultural import as well as key features of expression and idiom in a mostly Germanic language, all demonstrate that the Ashkenazic Jews inherited the unbroken chain of Hebrew civilization brought to Europe (and North Africa) in chains. In fact, the impact of this ancient Levantine culture was so felt in Ashkenazic life that as late as the 13th century there existed commentary describing a contemporary shift from the Levantine pronunciation of Hebrew to what became the Ashkenazic standard.
Jewish identity is based on over 3,300 years of history. It is not defined by the American experience. It was during the Jewish people’s first millennia when the common features of Jewish peoplehood, which all Jews share with all other Jews, were developed (regardless of where their ancestors spent time in the Diaspora). This peoplehood developed in the Jewish people’s indigenous homeland in the land of Israel, in Judea. This is where the Jewish people’s national language (Hebrew) and tribal faith (Judaism) developed. This is where the principle aspects of the Jewish people’s tribal culture, which all revolve – as they do for all indigenous tribal people – around celebrating holidays, sacred events, and sites that are uniquely situated in, and only in, the land of Israel, developed.
After the Jewish people developed their unique tribal faith and peoplehood in the land of Israel, their millennia long “scattering among the nations,” the Diaspora, began – as a result of the forces of Roman imperialism in the year 70 CE. A large part of the Jewish population was then either massacred, enslaved or exiled. In Judea, approximately 25% of the Jewish population was exterminated and 10% enslaved. Many Jews were also taken to Rome and to other parts of the Roman empire in Europe as slaves, and many others fled from the Roman massacres and enslavement to Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq), and others fled to lands all around the Mediterranean (in what is today southeastern Spain, southern France, southern Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey). Over the decades and centuries that followed, Jews began to head north (to what is today northern France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia) and to northern Africa (what is today Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco). By around 300 AD, approximately three million Jews were living in most parts of the Roman Empire, except in what is today Britain. A million lived west of Greece with the majority settling throughout Asia Minor and east to the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. By then, a sizable number of Jews were living throughout what centuries later would become Germany.
A common feature of the next 1600 years, when Jews were always stateless (and therefore, as a community, defenseless) was migration. Because Jews were regularly attacked, banished, and/or forced to submit to discriminatory and oppressive laws, the “wandering Jew,” became a necessary feature of the Jewish Diaspora. And from at least the early 8th century in Baghdad, when Jews werefirst ordered to wear a yellow badge of shame by Umayyad Caliph Umar II(expressly to separate and distinguish Jews in Baghdad from the Arab Muslim majority), to the infamous Venetian ghetto in the 16th Century, through the era of the Nazi-created ghettos in Poland, being “otherized” and subject to cyclical, and often intense persecution, was the ominous cloud that regularly hovered over the Jewish Diaspora.
In Europe, Jewish and Roma (a non-European ethnic group of South Asian origins) ethnic “otherness” ultimately became a universal object of white-supremacist xenophobia and prejudice; and as peoples in Diaspora, both groups invariably were influenced (by force and by choice) from their surroundings. This influence is common to all Diaspora communities. Similarly to the way in which Ashkenazic Jews are targeted today by many self-described progressives because many of them are able to “pass” for their host population, European racial anti-Semitism, developed a specific racialized hatred for Jews in Europe on an inverse basis. What began in the Spanish Inquisition, with its description of Jewish forced-converts to Catholicism having “impure blood,” reached its zenith in Nazi ideology. Regardless of their appearance, Ashkenazic Jews were defined as mongrel Israelites and therefore the greatest threat to the so-called white race. In other words, because Jews in Europe (Ashkenazic or Sephardic) were composed of individuals who could present as “white,” “Asiatic,” or “black” according to their stereotypes, they were collectively branded as a shape-shifting black contamination.
[“The Jew is a bastard” Nazi chart depicting the mixed Asiatic and African ancestry of Ashkenazic Jewry. Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]
White-supremacists have always used and perverted diversity of appearance within Ashkenazic Jewry specifically as a means to collectively associate Jews with blackness and the supposed race-mixing that white-supremacists hate, as well as to expose Jews to the social wrath it may incur. Ironically, many on the opposite end of the political spectrum today pervert this same diversity of appearance as a means to associate Ashkenazic Jewry with whiteness and expose them to the social wrath it may incur in far-left circles. Both of these approaches are steeped in anti-Semitic paternalism and conspiracy-theorizing. They seek to rob Jews of personal agency to self-determine, while simultaneously associating all Jewish efforts for self-determination (either as returned Levantines, sovereign in their Middle Eastern homeland, or in the U.S. as Middle Eastern Americans) with allegations of being duplicitous, and with conspiracies to dominate and control others.
Through most of the 20th Century, all Jews, regardless of appearance were often restricted from where they could buy houses or where they could go to school based on being “members of the Hebrew race.” That does not change the fact that African and Caribbean American Jews were also forced to endure discrimination on account of belonging to both the “Hebrew” and “Negro” races. This dichotomy of experience navigating American racism between Jews and Black Americans collectively, and within the Jewish community itself, is a fact of Jewish communal existence. It presents Jews with an interesting question. Should Jews double down, become entrenched in traumas, and allow the shadow of whiteness and blackness further divide the Jewish people?
No. Racial justice must address every community according to the complexities of its experiences. As Jews, with a literal mandate from the Torah to pursue justice, and given the history of discrimination and persecution in the U.S., there is an obligation to take into account those experiences and certainly to acknowledge, address, and redress the plainly different experiences of oppression and racism that African-Americans, Caribbean Americans, Native Americans, and other communities experienced in North America. Jews can do this, and should do this, while affording themselves the same sensitivities we must provide to others. Jews should also demand the same treatment from others, in particular those who strive to care about racial justice–to approach the Jewish people according to the complexities of their experiences, not only in America, but for millennia in Arab-controlled and European-controlled lands, where being a Jew almost always marked the person as second-class citizen and often marked them for death.
A Unified Identity Matters. And it’s Judean.
The path forward should be clear. Rather than allowing either the Tiki-torch carriers on the far-right or those on the far-left who use and abuse anti-racism as guise for their own anti-Semitism, to define the Jewish experience of some or all members of the Jewish community, it is the Jewish responsibility to reclaim this discourse as those who will reap the consequences of its outcome. Jews should de-colonize and re-indigenize both their rhetoric and minds. They should understand that identity matters; and that how they identify themselves matters.
Jews must take pride in identity. That pride, however, requires an understanding that irrespective of whether they are African, Ashkenazic, Mizrahi, Sephardic, etc. as Jews, their history has been inexorably linked to each other. These links come from a common heritage, culture, and faith across literally thousands of years of perseverance under persecution by the various empires of the world. This is all part of their collective history and collective bond. Jews need to reject the idea that because of their diversity–itself a product of their Diaspora–there are “white” (meaning, European) Jews in America.
The reality is that there isn’t a non-European originating ethnic minority in America that doesn’t have members who can present or pass as white. The reality is also that in a highly racialized America there were numerous ethnic minorities who could and did benefit from being more closely associated with “whiteness.” That is why there were nearly a dozen cases in the first half of the 20th Century where Arabs in America sued to be considered “white.” But none of that means that Jews should accept the idea of being defined by others, or of being the only MENA ethnic minority that is characterized in 21st-century America as “white.”
The bottom line is that the idea of a “white race” is a fiction created by the same category of people who took advantage of this idea to oppress and persecute Jews for centuries. This alone is reason for Jews in America to reject this characterization of their identity. How some European racists decided a few hundred years ago to label people should have no bearing on Jewish identity–an identity that pre-dates any European pseudo-science (falsely dividing people based on the color of their skin) by approximately three millennia.
Natan Sharansky once said: “[t]here is no power in the world that can stand against us [Jews] when we feel a part of our history, part of our people and part of this historic struggle.” And the late, great Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (ZT”L) once said of Pesach (Passover) that it is “the festival of Jewish identity. It is the night on which we tell our children who they are.” If Jews stand united in the fact that their identity is based on 3,300 years of history, as well as on the shared story of deliverance from Egyptian bondage and the formation of an understanding of their national identity at Mount Sinai, then Jews will, as Sharansky implores, also understand the importance of not being defined in any way, shape, or form by the same identities as those who historically oppressed Jews for millennia, be they European or Arab.
As for many other ethnic groups, the history of America for Jews has been a mixed bag. America meant an escape from egregious persecution in 18th-20th century Europe and later from Iran and many Arab dictatorships. Particularly in the 19th Century, however, it was a refuge that included its own litany of limitations and violent threats that continue to spill Jewish blood to this day. Like other non-African-American and non-Native-American ethnic minorities in the U.S., Jews are not unfamiliar with being positioned as a buffer community, of receiving certain relative privileges in return for scapegoating when things go awry.
For the U.S. to live up to its founding principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Jews and all other people of good conscience should come together to strengthen and uplift the most disadvantaged communities in this nation. However, this must be done without capitulating to Jew-hatred and anti-Semitic tropes; regardless of whether that anti-Semitism is based on white-supremacy, black supremacy (of the Nation of Islam variety) or any other form of, or justification for, Jew-hatred (e.g., anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism). Jews in America must be allowed a seat at the table of racial justice without having to negate or degrade their authentic Jewish-selves, and that includes their identity as a Middle Eastern (specifically Levantine Hebrew) tribal people from Judea, and as a diverse ethnic group with members also belonging to the African, Latin, Native, and Asian American communities.
The next time purportedly progressive thinkers create a curriculum with the stated purpose of fostering a better understanding of ethnicity, race, or bigotry, or how these things influence the lives of ethnic minorities in the U.S., they need to recognize that Jews collectively trace their origins to the Middle East and that the Jewish relationship to whiteness and white supremacy is comparable to that of other Middle Eastern Americans. No Jews, be they Ashkenazim, Sephardim or Mizrahim, should be uniquely–among all ethnic minorities in America–stigmatized as privileged “white people” or Europeans. After all, those aware of progressive politics in the 21st century know that in the context of American history and politics, “white” is synonymous with “European,” which is synonymous with over 500 years of European colonialism and oppression. And anyone familiar with Jewish history knows precisely the price Jews paid in Europe, for not being “white.”
Malcolm X famously said about the African-American experience in America, “We did not land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.” Jews, be they Ashkenazim or Sephardim, did not just land in Europe, Europe landed on the Jews. Over and over and over again. From the time Jews were brought to Rome in chains, through millennia of blood libels, the Spanish Inquisition, countless pogroms, and the Holocaust (where six million, mostly Ashkenazic Jews, were slaughtered in less than 5 years), Europe and Europeans, made it crystal clear to the Jewish people that they were never European; never “white.” And certainly never the beneficiaries of 500 years of colonialism and conquest. To treat Jews as such is anti-Semitic because it erases Jewish collective experience and history. It erases the Jewish people’s very identity. No truly progressive person should engage in or tolerate such erasure. And no proud Jew should stand for it. Not for a second.
Micha Danzig served in the Israeli Army and is a former police officer with the NYPD. He is currently an attorney and is active with numerous Jewish and pro-Israel organizations. He is the local Advisory Board Chairperson for Stand With Us San Diego and is a National Board Member for Herut North America. Jeremy Danzig is an activist for Jewish and indigenous rights. He is a leader in the Youth Cabinet of the Herut Movement in the World Zionist Organization and the former Outreach Coordinator for StandWithUs San Diego. He served as a squad commander in a counterterrorism unit of the Israeli Border Police. He has a B.A. in Political Science, Homeland Security, and Public Diplomacy from IDC Herzliya.
When Israel is attacked and defends itself using military force, like it recently did in Gaza, progressive Zionists twist themselves into knots to explain to their fellow progressives why Israel has the right to self-defense. They explain how Israel must protect its citizens, just like any other nation. They explain that while they too believe that underdeveloped, indigenous, oppressed societies and its peoples are justified in violent protest against occupying forces and imperialist nations, Hamas’ tactic of attacking or hiding behind innocent civilians cannot be justified. These progressive Zionists get perplexed and frustrated and angry. Why is the concept of supporting Israel, which is so obvious to them, so obscure to their comrades? Progressive Zionists are drawn to the Left out of their devotion to the concepts of “fairness” and “social justice” but support Israel out of the practicality of knowing that it is the Jewish people’s only hope in a world that, for millennia, has sought to destroy them. But progressivism and Zionism are, in fact, contradictory beliefs that cannot actually coexist if they are considered rationally.
Judaism teaches self-reliance. Judaism teaches respect of an all-powerful protector. Progressivism teaches the belief that each individual is the center of their universe, and to see oneself as the victim of an all-powerful oppressor.
Judaism teaches one to obey a formal set of laws. Progressivism teaches that the ends justify the means and that laws were made to be broken.
Judaism teaches that it is better to educate a man to fish than to give him a fish. Progressivism teaches that if you don’t have a fish, then someone must have taken the one intended for you. Progressivism teaches that people without fish must harass those with fish to obtain one.
Judaism teaches that God created all people in his divine image, all people are equal, and all are deserving of love, respect, and opportunity. Progressivism teaches that people deserve more or less depending on their identity, whether that is race, sex, gender identity, religion, or any other characterization that can be attributed to victimhood.
Jews came to America to succeed and did so due to the opportunities presented by the principles, values, and laws of America. Progressives believe that the success of Jews proves their innate “white privilege,” ignoring millennia of oppression including anti-Semitism here in America.
Progressive members of the Democratic Party increasingly express their hatred of Israel. These people also increasingly express their hatred for Jews. Progressives hate those who have succeeded due to their own hard work, whether that success is financial, cultural, or political. This is the core of socialism.
Socialism never helped Jews, whether it was the oppressive socialism of the Soviet Union or the benign socialism of Israel that was eventually abandoned. In the communist/socialist Soviet Union, Jews were imprisoned for practicing their religion and ostracized for wanting to emigrate to Israel. In the early days of the modern state of Israel, Jews created a near-perfect socialist society that led to unbearable inflation, economic and industrial stagnation, and a mass exodus of citizens until it was replaced by a capitalist system envied by the world, even by its Arab neighbors.
Now progressive Jews complain because they stood up for LQBTQ+ rights, they stood up for black lives and the BLM movement, they stood up for Latinos and Asian Americans and for indigenous people and for BIPOC, they supported the Democratic Socialists, and yet those same groups refuse to stand up for Israel, the Jewish homeland, the one Jewish state, the world refuge from anti-Semitism of murderous intent.
The progressive Zionists I know see the conflict between progressivism and Zionism as a paradox. They plead with their comrades to see the importance of Israel to the Jewish people. They protest that they, too, abhor Benjamin Netanyahu and are happy to see him out. They explain about the Holocaust as if their friends might be unaware of the largest organized genocide in human history. They don’t understand the Left’s unique dismissal of this one persecuted minority, the Jew.
It shouldn’t be so incomprehensible to them. The Left’s ideology is to divide people, but Jews want to be a strong people within a society, not apart from it. Especially liberal Jews who are desperate to assimilate. The Left wants to encourage victimization, but Jews refuse to be victims. The Left wants to punish success. But Judaism encourages success. The Left hates those who have achieved success, but Jews have been incredibly successful since the mass emigrations to the United States in the 20th century.
Progressivism’s values are opposed to Jewish values, but progressive Zionists are blind to this fact except when it affects them directly.
Progressive Zionists would do well to read the novel Davita’s Harp by Chaim Potok. It tells the story of a group of leftist Jews in the 1930s who knew that communism would bring equality to the masses. It was only when their beloved prophet Josef Stalin made a pact with Adolph Hitler that they disbanded their group. They didn’t recognize the foolishness of their beliefs. They didn’t renounce their beliefs. They just stopped thinking about them. They put their passion and efforts into other causes because it was too hard to recognize that their deeply held beliefs could be not just wrong but seriously harmful.
I don’t expect that many progressive Zionists will recognize the destructiveness of their ideology, but I hope that a few, like the misguided socialist characters in Potok’s novel, will focus their energies and actions elsewhere.
“Palestinianism” — the complete erasure of Judean identity—has now centered itself in the woke regime. Examples run from teachers’ unions boycotting the one Jewish state to the firing of a black Jewish diversity officer because she dared to condemn anti-Semitism. Want to watch the U.S. and Israeli flags burn simultaneously? Skip a trip to Tehran and head straight to the Chicago Dyke March.
One could spend years analyzing how this happened so quickly—weren’t we just talking about “anti-racism” a second ago—but does it really matter? What began with a Soviet-funded Egyptian named Yasser Arafat in the late 1950s and was “academically” formalized by the anti-Western Columbia University professor Edward Said in the 1970s has finally reached its pinnacle. Anti-Zionist activists pretending to be professors and journalists were just waiting for the right set of people to glom onto. Unthinking leftists were a perfect fit.
With the silence of many real liberals (today’s Good Germans), the fact that a raging millennial would seamlessly go from calling for reparations to shouting about “Palestine”—without having a clue about either one—is not terribly shocking.
The only question now is how bad will it get before it gets worse. It’s quite apparent which U.S. party has willingly been used to create incitement against American Jews and which one has begun to fight this. The difference couldn’t be more stark. As well, we have learned that we need to watch for a normalization of anti-Semitism in our systemically woke educational venues.
But the recent attacks on Jews in New York City and Los Angeles during the latest Hamas assault—and the non-response from every group that demands Continual Victimization Status—did lead to questions. How could other communities understand that this is part of a millennia of injustice if so many Jews didn’t understand it? And if so many Jews didn’t want to understand it?
From a Biblical perspective, one could see this as God’s final showdown. Enough with the Hellenistic Reform Movement. Enough with the ‘As a Jew’ masks that allow Jews with platforms to defame Israel—or as Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy call them: the un-Jews. Enough with the false idol of assimilation.
Could this be a divine push to shed 3,000 years of colonization and finally reclaim Judean identity?
Whether a sign or not, it is certainly long overdue. I understand why the first and second generations after the Holocaust were focused on creating, as my Dad would put it, “the good life” for their children. As a result, I was told that our family was “from Russia.” That’s it, end of story.
But of course Russia was just the middle of the story for many Jews, as Spain, Iraq, or Germany were for others. As I only began to learn later in life, Judaism is not just a religion. Jews are a people, an ethnicity, a nation: Judea, otherwise known as Israel. As Micha Mitch Danzig and Yirmiyahu Danzig well detail, Judeans were thrown out of our homeland multiple times and then persecuted in every country we ended up in. Even in the United States.
Soviet Jews learned the hard way that Judaism was more than a religion. While they were robbed of their temples and freedom to worship, their Soviet-issued passports read “Jew” under Nationality.
But despite violent foreign occupations, Judeans maintained a continuous presence in the land of Israel. Nearly a dozen studies published in the past decade show that all Jews are more biologically related to one another than they are to their local populations—and that we share a common Middle Eastern ancestry.
I do not tell my son, 11, that he came from Russia. I tell him that our people hail from Judea, the land of the Maccabees, and that we are Judean. I tell him that Judeans, in part because of the persecution, come in every hue, but our own olive skin should be treasured: it represents a constant reminder of who we are and where we came from.
I teach him that no matter what anyone says about us or about Israel, we should be proud—so proud to be part of a people who, no matter what the world does to us, continues to create light.
One day at his school during the recent Gaza conflict, both students and teachers were misrepresenting the facts in a current events discussion. He raised his hand, stood up, corrected the record, and sat down. Knowing how vociferously he can argue about bedtime, I wasn’t surprised to hear that no one even tried to refute him.
Zionism hoped to re-create the tough Maccabean Judean, and in Israel it succeeded. But it’s now time for Diasporan Jews to follow suit—to turn the dangerous inanity of leftism into a positive. So much of our identity has been imposed upon us: fully embracing our true identity is empowering, both personally and as a people.
What we don’t need is to create new symbols. We have the Star of David, the flag of Israel, Hatikvah. Here’s the start of a decolonization plan:
First, learn. Learn your personal history; learn our people’s history. Ask your synagogue to develop materials on our history. It’s well past time for synagogues to teach our children the truth.
Begin to call yourself Judean. Write that into the Ethnicity box on forms.
Wear something visibly Judean. With pride. Despite everything going on in NYC, I wear my great-grandmother’s Star of David every day. No one can take away from me what that star represents.
Learn conversational Hebrew. Make sure your synagogue is teaching it to your kids.
Acknowledge our persecution, but never play the victim. We have the chance to show other persecuted minorities precisely what that means.Maccabean identity requires bravery: silence is simply not an option. But be strategic, not reactive. Arguments on Twitter are useless. Create videos, songs, art about our past. A song like Westside Gravy’s “Diaspora” is so powerful in its fearless embrace of the truth.
Understand that the Torah is the most “social justice” document you will ever need. B’tzelem Elokim—we are all created in God’s image—is central to Judaism. Rather than trying to erase Judaism, leftists should start learning from it.
Embracing Judean ethnicity doesn’t mean we lose our individuality. We are a tribe of true diversity, not a cult. We’re going to differ politically and religiously, but what we must never do is harm the heart and soul of Judaism: Israel.
Feel at peace, with yourself, with the universe. As Rabbi Rachel Cowan wrote: “I am blessed to be a voyager on an ancient pathway.”
We are now redirecting that pathway. It’s a big job. But we were blessed with the opportunity to do it. And with 5,000 years of surviving and thriving behind us, we can.
Harmony is not merely auditory. It can take many forms: harmony within your soul, harmony of nature, and even the harmony of a relationship.
“The Corner Stone” by Bob Marley (1974) was inspired by his only attempt to meet his father, which was refused. That could have devastated Marley, but he looked deep within himself and found inspiration in Psalm 118. “The Corner Stone” was the result.
Marley believed he was that Cornerstone. We all are. We will all be rejected, dejected, and cast aside at some point. These moments of vulnerability often sway even the most faithful among us. But when you realize your worth is bestowed upon you by God and put your faith into practice through commitment or song, that creates harmony of the soul.
Leonard Cohen’s “Come Healing” (2012) accentuates the desire for balance and harmony of the mind, body, and spirit through penitence. Jewish commentaries also declare one must ask for forgiveness before praying to God. The first step is to “come” forward, to move closer to God. First you must ask; only then will the healing and harmony begin.
Marley and Cohen’s songs describe concepts through which spiritual harmony can be achieved. Both concepts begin with an action, which leads to harmonious results. Marley, through overcoming a personal struggle and bonding with his self and his faith; Cohen, through penitence and a strengthening of his relationship with God. Both men expressed their process through song, knowing that prayers will be accepted and answered—the most profound harmony of all.
I Have a Dream
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King delivered this Iconic speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, 1963, as part of the March on Washington. Largely as a result, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law in 1964.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.
One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.
When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.
There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.
And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, when will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.
We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: for whites only. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.
Equity, Equality, & MLK: Interview with Glenn Loury
Glenn C. Loury is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of Economics at Brown University. He has been an outspoken neo-liberal intellectual for decades, defending free speech and academic freedom.
Lisa Schiffren: Let’s jump right in. How are race and cancel culture related?
Glenn Loury: They’re joined at the hip, in my opinion, but it’s not only race. Cancel culture is also the MeToo movement. Cancel culture is if you like the Founding Fathers or Mount Rushmore, you’re in trouble. If you thought Columbus Day should have been Columbus Day instead of Indigenous People’s Day, you’re in trouble. Cancel culture is about a lot of things, but it is substantially about race.
We have events [Ed. the death of George Floyd] that become the focus of movements. And now they’ve become the stage on which people perform rituals of expiation. The president of Princeton University talked about how racist his institution is. Now, in 2021. It’s madness. All the affirmative action, all of the black studies, all of the recognition of the legitimacy of the claim of African Americans against slavery and Jim Crow. We’ve been doing this for a half century and still presidents of Ivy League institutions have to “fess up” to systemic racism. And everybody knows it’s a fraud.
LS: Everybody knows that?
Prof. Loury: The professor of physics, the professor of organic chemistry, the person who actually knows something about the French Revolution, because he or she reads French and studied the texts from the 18th and early 19th century. The computer scientist…. No, of course, everybody doesn’t know it’s a fraud. But I’m saying it is a fraud and it doesn’t go down very deeply in the real root of the academy. It would be the tail wagging the dog to have these institutions defined and organized around the petulance and sophomoric tantrum-throwing of all of these kids. It’s the tail wagging the dog.
I think there’s substance in the university. I think that the great traditions of learning that we’ve inherited, they’re Western traditions, not exclusively, but substantially so, are real things. They’re the achievements of human civilization. I think they will weather the storm, although I don’t exactly see the end of the storm.
LS: What about all those departments of race, or sexual studies, or identity?
Prof. Loury: These departments are here to stay. I’m sorry to report that. I think it was a mistake, but they’re here to stay. Let me try to defend the position that it was a mistake. The year is 1969, ‘70, ‘71, black power, and the kids are taking over the administration building, and they demand black studies.
So, you create black studies departments. Now, it’s not like there’s nothing to study, there’s a legitimate set of questions. But we all knew, and we always have known that the history department was where history was done, the political science department was where the study of government took place, the economics department stood on the shoulders of generations of reflection about economics. The university has traditions and the canon. The study of Afro-related affairs should have been vetted through the normal channels. Identity in politics should not drive that process. Sadly, what we did in the late 1960s and early 1970s was to lock in an institutional framework in the universities, such that identity in politics ended up driving that process. That was a mistake.
The Discipline of the Disciplines
LS: And Critical Race Theory?
Prof. Loury: That’s a slightly different subject. I’m not sure I understand it, but I will speculate. It’s not inconsistent with what I was saying because the discipline of the academic disciplines is what I was trying to drive toward when discussing black studies. You have to submit yourself to the discipline of the disciplines, and you also have to submit yourself to the discipline of your peers in terms of evaluation. The gates get narrower as you ascend the pyramid of human excellence. And when we start talking about MIT and Caltech, we’re talking about the top tier. The narrower the gate, the more each one of us who seeks to pass through knows and is aware of the fact that we’re being judged.
And not everybody is going to be found fit. That’s the nature of the thing – it’s elite. Why is the “identitarian” attraction so powerful? For many, it’s a way of evading the existential angst of confronting one’s own failure in the face of severe competition as you enter into elite venues when nobody knows if they are really on sure footing.
The point of a university education is to expose students to the whole vista of what is available to know about life. Students don’t know what they’re going to be after they’ve encountered that vista. So rather than doubling down on what they bring to us at 18 years old, to form their identities, we should be encouraging them to shed that and to open themselves to all these possibilities. And we’re not doing that. Affirmative action exacerbates this.
LS: Last summer the Black Lives Matter explosion along with the claims of structural racism and white privilege, went from zero to Kamala Harris for president. What happened?
Prof. Loury: God, I’m befuddled by what happened in the summer of 2020, but I’m also chastened by it because this is a deep thing about our country. I mean, there are small points. Where’s Tom Wolf when we need him? George Floyd was buried in a gold casket. There was a caisson. It was a state funeral. George Floyd – I don’t mean to disparage him, but this wasn’t Emmett Till, lynched.
So, what’s going on? This is theater. “America needs to get its knee off the neck of black people.” Come on, this is preposterous. It’s an absurdity. The Black Lives Matter movement, those riots. America will be a long time recovering from the summer of 2020 in terms of race relations.
I was deeply disquieted by what happened in the summer. This will bear bitter fruit, in my opinion.
Mainstream institutions let us down. This is why I objected when the president of my university wrote one of these silly letters mouthing the Black Lives Matter platitudes. I thought, “My God, we’re a university, and we’ve surrendered our reason and our capacity to reflect about subtle moral issues to this… We’ve now joined that movement?” It’s insulting to the intelligence and since these are precious institutions… I speak about universities, but I could be speaking about newsrooms mouthing that riots were “mostly peaceful protests.”
LS: Where did the mobs come from?
Prof. Loury: Opportunity presented itself. I remember the book by Edward C. Banfield, The Unheavenly City. He had a chapter called, “Rioting for Fun and Profit.” He pointed out it’s an opportunity if you’re 18 years old, sitting around talking to your friends and have nothing else to do. I don’t know whether there was something more systematic, I certainly can’t rule it out. It gets into conspiracy theory territory, but I don’t think you could rule it out. But I think real damage was done on the race question.
There will be a backlash. They think they’re winning, the racial radicals, the “critical race theory” people. They’re not winning. It’s a big country. There are 330 million people. There is a lot that’s going on. It’s fast moving. We’re a nation of immigrants. The Asians and Latinos, everything is changing.
The Black Middle Class
LS: There’s a very large black middle class, and we don’t hear about them. How are they doing? They seemed to be doing better under Trump, economically. The black middle class cannot possibly support looting and rioting?
Prof. Loury: Oh, don’t be so sure. That would be a little bit like saying an American Jew couldn’t possibly support the Iran nuclear deal. It seems like it shouldn’t be so, but believe me, it can happen. African Americans are the richest and most powerful people of African descent on the planet. Thirty or 40 million people – billionaires, industry-defining moguls, entertainers, and athletes who set global styles. There are artists and writers. Doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs. A lot of people who are setting up businesses and so on. The United States has an extremely prosperous, extremely accomplished, large population of people of African descent.
There are problems and there are issues, and some of what affects the lower classes of the Black community creeps across the line. But on the whole, I think, there’s much to celebrate. When Gunnar Myrdal, the Swedish economist came to the U.S. in the middle of the 20th century to write about the American Negro, the typical occupation for a black man was a laborer in manufacturing or on the farm. Most black women who were working were domestic servants of one sort or another. It was a completely different world.
Now there is a tremendous demand for the services of the educated African American middle class. This is the social revolution that gave us Barack and Michelle Obama. And it’s a part of the remarkable story. When you think about it in broader terms, African Americans emerged from slavery just 150 years ago. And this population has become integrated fully, not socially integrated in terms of intermarriage, but still… And of course, there are the issues that everyone talks about in terms of disparities, but come on, we’re citizens of this Republic, we are a part of the warp and woof of America at its center. And in fact, perhaps overrepresented to some degree at its center because gatekeepers and cultural barons want to compensate for the history of exclusion.
So, the African American middle class is profoundly significant in indicating what’s possible to accomplish here in America, notwithstanding the disparities and the gaps. But the politics of it – as far as I can tell, they’re 80 percent behind the woke narratives.
Equity, Equality, + MLK
LS: When we were younger, it looked like our society was heading toward that Martin Luther King ideal of colorblindness: individual character and action, not race. And then that all seemed to go south.
Prof. Loury: The weight, the center of gravity, has shifted away from the colorblind ideal – which is a great mistake, it is a historic wrong turn. But the turn has been made. I don’t know how we go back.
What happened was that “equal opportunity” was not enough. The challenge of getting people equipped to actually compete and perform wasn’t met. Equal opportunity was not enough to bring a parity of performance about, quickly enough. And so, the latest version of this is, they play with language. We need George Orwell to protect us from these people. They don’t want to talk about equality anymore, they want to talk about equity. And you know what they’re talking about? They’re talking about covering up the fact that outcomes will not be proportionate because performance is not equal. But we’re not going to judge based on performance, we’re going to judge based on outcomes, and we’re going to jigger such that we get a parity of outcome notwithstanding the fact that we don’t have parity of performance.
The reality of the development question was too daunting. If you go color blind, you have to live with the consequences, like a law firm with a class of new partners that didn’t have any blacks in it. You’d have to live with schools like Stuyvesant [Ed. competitive high school in Manhattan] which, when they admitted a thousand kids, had 15 black kids in it. People don’t want to live with that. They prefer a security blanket of mandated “equity.” And again, I say they’re wrong.
They think they’ve got a trump card in identity, but it is as if they say, “I can’t compete. I’m not going to be able to cut it on the basis of performance. I demand because of slavery. I demand because of Jim Crow, redlining, micro-aggressions, cultural appropriation. I demand.” This is what goes on in a big newspaper, talking about what’s going to be on the editorial page. People are throwing tantrums and they’re throwing fits. This is a department in a university insisting that they don’t have enough people on the faculty who are this, or that – not based on the books that they’ve written or work they’ve done. They think they’ve got a trump card, but at the end of the day everybody knows it’s a shell game and people are being tolerated, patronized, placated, condescended to.
The Family + a New Black Movement
LS: When you talk about the development that didn’t occur, I presume you’re talking about the family.
Prof. Loury: I am talking in part about the family because that’s where human development is anchored, and about out of wedlock births and single parent families and multiple paternity. I’m not a sociologist, but there’s just a lot of child abuse, there’s a lot of domestic violence, there’s woundedness and brokenness and it affects kids. Schools can’t do everything. This is a part of it. It’s not the only thing, but it’s a part of it. And transfers of money will not solve all of these problems. Not that I’m necessarily against trying to help people who are poor, but it’s not a panacea. And policy is limited to the extent that you respect privacy and autonomy, and there are places you don’t want the state to enter, to try and govern people’s lives.
We could talk about what you can do about helping people be better parents – about supplementing the experience of early childhood with one kind of intervention or another, about various environmental, nutritional stopgaps. I don’t have a policy agenda, but yes, I would put my finger on child-rearing, on parenting, on the family, on the stability of the environment in early life. And I think the issues for the African American family are significant.
LS: Is it fixable?
Prof. Loury: It may not be. These are very large forces at work. It’s not necessarily something that can be fixed by us, meaning the entire national community. It may require a movement of us, within the black community, a mobilization that would have to be cultural and would have to be driven by an inspirational articulation of a sense of black identity. This cuts against colorblindness, so it starts to get complicated. Call it “cultural reform,” which entails changing bedrock patterns, expectations, habits, and customs within a community, such as “How do you behave inside the context of marriage?” or “Do you enter into it?” Changing that single childbearing practice and interactions between men and women.
These are very intimate things. And to mobilize on that perhaps might draw on positive black identity. I’d say, “Our ancestors didn’t bring us this far in order for us to let them down by…” This kind of talk. And that’s very sectarian. It’s very thick with groupness. And so, on the one hand, from the civic point of view, I want the nation to be a nation of laws in which people are getting the equal protection irrespective of their identity. But if I have a cultural impediment and I want to do something about it, I need to mobilize people and to draw them into the church basement. I want to write the sermon.
I want a movement for this, so that I think about my identity differently. I want a movement where people start saying how they want to live, and then start imposing those expectations on their peers. “You are not in good standing within our community if…” And this would have to have its effects in Hollywood, in popular culture; it would have to have its effect in the academy.
Myron Magnet first made this argument in The Dream and the Nightmare. He wrote something like, “America caught a cold in the ‘60s with sex, drugs, and rock and roll, throwing over everything. And the poor, the blacks at the bottom, they got pneumonia.” Because once you threw away all these guardrails and people didn’t have any resources, it was going to be a nightmare – and it has been a nightmare. That’s certainly a part of the problem, I think, that the larger culture has become so libertine. Black identity, all you have to do is look at hip hop, which is often musical genius, but it’s also not a part of the restoring the black family program that I was giving voice to a moment ago.
LS: What comes next? Give me something optimistic, or is there nothing?
Prof. Loury: The last thing I put up in my newsletter was that I’m in complete despair. And I feel like I’m just tilting at windmills and it makes me think, “This is not what you want to do if you’ve only got a limited amount of time. Try to find some pragmatic way.”
So, I am thinking concretely about prison reform. And I am teaching a class, with 20 very eager Brown undergraduates, who are furious at how stifling things are. We are reading Plato and John Stuart Mill, and we are all trying to think about the big questions.
Lisa Schiffren is political editor of White Rose Magazine.
In Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King used the analogy of Hitler’s persecution of the Jewish people to explain his willingness to disobey unjust laws. In his analogy, he also revealed his empathy for the Jewish people and his assurance that he would have tended to their plight.
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.
It was not only the Holocaust but the historic persecution of the Jewish people around the world that dictated the need for a sovereign Jewish State. Dr. King knew this as well as anyone. His statement, “we must stand with all of our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity,” spoke to an active role in Israel’s safety. From where did this brothers-in-arms mentality come? I submit it was a quintessential blending of Christian Zionism and social activism. Just as Dr. King applauded Rabbi Heschel for “refusing to remain silent behind the safe security of stained glass windows,” so was he unwilling to remain silent while Israel and the Jewish people were being physically attacked, politically isolated, and morally vilified.
So significant and effective was Dr. King’s support of Israel, that Israel’s enemies took note and lamented it. In 1993, Edward Said, Palestinian American Professor and anti-Israel activist, stated:
With the emergence of the civil rights movement in the middle ’60s – and particularly in ’66-’67 – I was very soon turned off by Martin Luther King, who revealed himself to be a tremendous Zionist, and who always used to speak very warmly in support of Israel, particularly in ’67, after the war.
In my research, I came across an article written by history professor and author Gil Troy. In the piece, Professor Troy mentioned Bayard Rustin and an organization called BASIC (Black Americans to Support Israel Committee). Bayard Rustin was a civil rights warrior and a close friend and colleague of Dr. King. Mr. Rustin was also Dr. King’s coach in non-violent protests inspired by Gandhi. Continuing Dr. King’s pro-Israel, pro-peace legacy after his death, his associates, Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph, formed BASIC to galvanize Black American solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people.
Until reading Gil Troy’s article, I had never heard of BASIC. The discovery was a very emotional experience for me. I was personally relieved to learn that amid the exploitation of the Black struggle for justice and the international condemnation of Israel, many Black Americans defended their heritage and stood by their Jewish brothers. They refused to forget the shared legacy of oppression and the need to band together when attacked. Though I was heartened to learn of post-Dr. King efforts like BASIC, I was also disappointed that this information was not common knowledge, especially with the global rise of antisemitism disguised as justice.
Dr. King was a doctor of biblical theology and pastor of a Baptist church. He honed his great oratory skill within the Black Church framework, he loved gospel music and his favorite singer was the incomparable Mahalia Jackson. Born and raised in the southern, Black Baptist ethic, Dr. King understood the spiritual significance of Israel, the Jewish people, and biblical Zionism. Yet, we have no record of him making a public case for biblical Zionism or arguing the validity of the State of Israel based on biblical history.
One can only surmise his reasons. Perhaps Dr. King was too wise to argue spiritual matters with those who did not share a Christian worldview. Perhaps he saw no need to preach Israel’s biblical rights to the Land when a non-religious case could be made just as effectively. Perhaps an Israel solidarity built on a Christian biblical and spiritual tradition of the Black Church had morphed into an intellectually articulated case for the Jewish State. Whatever his reasons for not quoting the Bible in his defense of Israel’s right to exist, his model is once again prophetically instructive, for there are two entirely different, yet related arguments that the Church must make for Israel—the biblical and the moral.
Israel has the right to live in peace with its Arab neighbors. Likewise, the Arab Palestinian people have the right to live free of oppression and dictatorial rule. Legitimate criticism of any government is the sign of a healthy democracy—if it is a democracy. Israel is a democracy. Gaza and the Palestinian Authority (also known as the West Bank) are ruled by leaders responsible for consistent human rights violations. Honor killings,torture, suicide bomber training for children, and religious persecution all exist in the Palestinian territories. On May 8, 2014, the Los Angeles Times published a piece entitled, Human rights complaints rise in Palestinian Territories.
Complaints of torture and other mistreatment rose by 50% last year in areas governed by the Palestinian Authority, according to a report by the Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights.
The report notes, “a remarkable increase in the number of complaints received on alleged cases of torture and violations involving the right to physical safety in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
It says that 497 allegations of torture and ill treatment were received by the commission in 2013, compared with 294 cases in 2012. Most of the cases, 347, were in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian watchdog group established by the president of the Palestinian Authority 20 years ago said it had also registered a “noticeable increase” in arbitrary detentions in the West Bank and Gaza. It attributed the rise “to the political variables and the continuation of the internal political division” between the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza since 2007.
Like the current leaders of the Palestinian people, former PLO head, Yasser Arafat, ruled with an iron fist. He spoke about human rights but was no humanitarian. Dr. King spoke out in favor of the well-being of Jews and Arabs as well as Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Applying his example, the Black Church should be concerned with peace for all people in the Middle East. This would include strongly condemning the human rights abuses perpetrated on the Arab Palestinian people by their leaders.
The moral case for the state of Israel, therefore, includes a genuine concern for the plight of the Arab Palestinians. Israel is the only viable democracy in the Middle East. While Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza do not enjoy political, economic, or religious freedom, their condition would be even worse without Israel to help care for the oppressed. Israel has a governmental and judicial system that includes Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews, women, and other diverse members of society. Israel is a multiethnic, inclusive country, with a government that serves and protects its people from its many enemies.
Israeli compassion means that medical and emergency services are available to both Israelis and Palestinians. The wife of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was treated at Assuta Medical Center in Ramat Hachayal, near Tel Aviv. In 2013, Hamas Party leader Ismail Haniyeh took his granddaughter to Israeli doctors at Schneider Medical Center in Petah Tikva.
Shortly after the hospital visit for his granddaughter, Haniyeh was filmed at a rally calling for Israel’s destruction. Afterward, Haniyeh also took his mother-in-law to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem for cancer treatment. These events occurred within seven months of each other.
Israel’s compassion and care, even for its enemies, is the type of compassion worthy of Dr. King’s faith and advocacy. For years, Israel has provided medical assistance to its enemy to the north, Syria. Engulfed in a bloody civil war since 2011, over half a million people have died— both fighters and civilians. Israel has tended to the wounded without question or discrimination. Many of the Syrians that Israeli doctors have aided would not hesitate to kill them if given the opportunity.
When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas and Fatah began fighting and killing each other to establish who would rule. The war was brutal and featured soldiers shooting their enemy in the knee caps and leaving them alive as a form of humiliation. Hamas won the fight and now rules Gaza. Fatah soldiers fled into the West Bank, and the wounded were treated in a state-of-the-art Israeli facility. They received prostheses that cost $45,000 per limb and rehabbed with Israeli physical therapists. “A person is a person. A soldier is a soldier. It doesn’t matter where he comes from,” said Dr. Tzaki Siev Ner, head of Orthopedic Rehabilitation at Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv.
Israel is the nation that Dr. King described as an “oasis of brotherhood and democracy.” A light in the midst of darkness. Hope in a sea of despair.
Many scriptures attest to God’s eternal covenant with the Jewish people and their right to the land of Israel. There is not one scripture that transferred the title of the land of Israel to the Palestinians or any other people. However, many scriptures teach us to care for the broken and defend the weak.
Isaiah 1.17 Learn to do good, seek justice, strengthen the robbed, perform justice for the orphan, plead the case of the widow. יז לִמְ֥ד֥וּ הֵיֵ֛טֵ֛ב דִּרְ֥שׁ֥וּ מִשְָׁ֖צָּ֖ט אַשְּׁ֣ר֣וּ חָ֑מ֑בֿץ שִׁפְ֣ט֣וּ יָ֔ת֔בֿם ִ֖רִ֖יבוּ אַלְמָָֽנָֽה: (The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary, Isaiah 1.17)
Zechariah 7.10 Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the stranger, or the poor man. Neither shall any of you think evil against his brother in your heart. י וְאַלְמָָ֧נָ֧ה וְיָ֛ת֛בֿם ֵ֥גֵּ֥ר וְעִָ֖נִ֖י אַֽל־וַֹֽעֲֹ֑שֹׁ֑קוּ וְרָעַ֙ת֙ ִ֣אִ֣ישׁ אִָ֔חִ֔יו אַל־וַֹחְשְׁ֖ב֖וּ בִּלְבַבְֶֽכֶֽם: (The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary, Zechariah 7.10)
The Black Church tradition is defined by concern for the broken, relief for the oppressed. Dr. King embodied these principles. Because of Israel’s outstanding humanitarian work around the world, support of the Jewish State means helping those in need—including the Palestinians. Unfairly criticizing Israel does nothing to defend Palestinian human rights. On the contrary, it only hinders the Palestinians’ best hope for real democracy and lasting peace.
As a Christian Zionist and one truly concerned for humanity, Dr. King stood with Israel and sought to relieve the suffering of the Arabs. Support of the Jewish State is not a lack of concern for the Arab Palestinians. It acknowledges that the best hope for peace in the region is a strong, prosperous, secure state of Israel.
Be good, O Lord, to the good and to the upright in their hearts.
And those who turn their crooked ways-may the Lord lead them away with the workers of iniquity, [and may there be] peace on Israel.
(The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary, Psalm 125.4-5)
Dr. King’s close friend and attorney, Dr. Clarence Jones, stated on February 28, 2014:
Anybody can stand with you in the warm summer sunlight of an August summer. But only a winter soldier stands with you at midnight in the alpine chill of winter.
From the standpoint of someone who has represented the great legacy of this extraordinary man, Martin Luther King Jr . . . I say to my African American brothers and sisters . . . the time is now for every African American person, every person of stature in the African American community, to come forward and stand with Israel in the alpine chill of winter, to show that we are wintertime soldiers.
It is said that the Jewish people never forget a friend, and Israel remembers Dr. King’s steadfastness to this day. The only street in the entire Middle East named after the civil rights legend is in one of the best areas of Jerusalem, near the Prime Minister’s residence and Liberty Bell Park.
Coretta Scott King acknowledged Israel’s efforts to commemorate her late husband.
On April 3, 1968, just before he was killed, Martin delivered his last public address. In it he spoke of the visit he and I made to Israel.
Moreover, he spoke to us about his vision of the Promised Land, a land of justice and equality, brotherhood and peace. Martin dedicated his life to the goals of peace and unity among all peoples, and perhaps nowhere in the world is there a greater appreciation of the desirability and necessity of peace than in Israel.
Mrs. King remained a faithful supporter of Israel and advocated for peace in the region until her passing in 2006. In 2007, the Israelis planted a forest in her honor in the Galilee region of Northern Israel. My first trip to the Holy Land was part of the African American Pastors Tour with Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in 2012. Our tour leader, Dr. Michael Stevens, took us to the Coretta Scott King Forest.
An accurate account of history is the most effective defense against the bondage of disinformation and false narratives. As Jesus said, “the truth will make you free.” Black American leaders were historically targeted with anti-Zionist messaging by Israel’s enemies. It is still happening today. One goal of this deception is to drive a wedge between Blacks and Jews and between Africa and Israel. In so doing, Israel’s enemies seek to paint Israel as an oppressive, imperialist regime determined to rule the world. In reality, Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people who were without one for nearly 2,000 years. This is the essence of Zionism—reclaiming the Jewish homeland, and it has inspired Black leaders for decades.
Civil rights legends like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bayard Rustin stood in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people. They also advocated for the just treatment of the Arab Palestinian people, which included speaking truth to Palestinian leadership—not irresponsibly blaming Israel. This is the type of Zionism that has always been the mark of knowledgeable leaders in the Black community. This is the legacy of Black support for the nation of Israel, for the Jewish people, and for a strong Africa-Israel alliance. This is the truth that must be taught to young Black and African men and women. This is restoration.
Excerpted from Zionism and the Black Church: Why Standing with Israel will be a Defining Issue for Christians of Color in the 21st Century (Umndenipress, 2021). Dumisani Washington is founder and board president of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel.
“Unlike traditional approaches to civil rights, which favor incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory calls into question the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and the neutral principles of constitutional law.” Critical Race Theory: An Introduction
Critical Race Theorists describe Critical Race Theory as a movement (which is strange for a theory of society) designed to reinvent the relationships between race, racism, and power in society. To do this, they begin with the assumption that race is socially constructed and racism is systemic. That race is “socially constructed” means that Critical Race Theorists view racial categories as social and political fictions that have been imposed by white people on people of color, especially blacks. That racism is “systemic” means that, for Critical Race Theorists, the “system” upon which all of society operates on every level unjustly produces “racist” outcomes that favor whites (and minority races that adhere to “whiteness”) at the expense of people of color, especially Latinos and, even more especially, blacks. Because racism is a property of the system—which includes everything from policy to behavioral norms to manners of speech to what we consider true—racism is said to persist even if no individual or institution acts in a racist way or holds any racist beliefs. It is the way society operates that is racist, as can be determined by the fact that there are statistical differences in average outcomes by racial category.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) proceeds upon a number of dubious assumptions and by means of a variety of questionable methods, including:
Racism isordinary: CRT holds that “racism is the ordinary state of affairs in society,” thus the question in CRT is not “did racism take place?” but “how did racism manifest in this situation?” Thus, racism is relevant to all interactions, and it is everyone’s duty to investigate, expose, and “disrupt” this racism once identified. CRT holds that only Critical Race Theorists have the correct ability to detect and address this society-permeating racism.
Immanence of racism: As a corollary to the above, racism is believed to be immanent in society, which means hidden just below the surface and everywhere, always. Therefore, all acts of racism are not to be understood as isolated incidents by individuals or institutions but as specific manifestations of a pervasive system that defines society. (This is why justice is not achieved by finding a police officer guilty; the system must be remade instead.)
Interest convergence: CRT holds that dominant racial groups (whites) will not help more oppressed racial groups (blacks, in particular) unless it is also in their own self-interest to do so. Therefore, racism does not go away but is just reproduced in new ways, usually ways that hide it more successfully and require more work to identify in the future (through CRT). Therefore, racism doesn’t get better and, in a sense, gets worse over time because it gets harder to identify and call out.
Motivated ignorance: Dominant racial groups (whites) are positioned as benefiting from the system of racism CRT assumes pervades everything and therefore have little to no motivation to challenge or change it. Instead, they have motivation to intentionally ignore racism (“willful ignorance”), to maintain it (and their “white comfort” in it), and to rationalize it as justified (say, by claiming success is the result of merit). Refusal to “interrogate” one’s own “white complicity” in the racist system is often treated as a character flaw (e.g., “white fragility”) and a feature of white privilege. This trait, together with the above, gives racism a permanence, according to CRT.
Structural determinism: CRT holds that the systems of oppression in society determine one’s outcomes in life. Therefore, people of color (especially blacks) are positioned by the allegedly white supremacist system to be kept down, and it is the deterministic power of those power structures (rather than individual traits like character or merit) that determine success or failure in life.
Authentic racial experiences (engaging positionality): CRT holds that systemic racism creates identifiable racial experiences for members of all racial groups. Further, CRT deems itself the only social theory in existence that properly understands how one’s racial social position with respect to these power dynamics can be rightly understood. Therefore, members of each racial category are said to have an authentic racial experience (as determined by CRT) that describes their lived experience within an allegedly white supremacist and systemically racist system that is, especially, “anti-Black.” When these perspectives are put forth by a member of the relevant racial category, they cannot be questioned. When a contradictory perspective is put forth by a member of the relevant racial category, that person is said to have some form of false consciousness, such as “internalized racism” or a cynical desire to “act white” for personal gain.
Unique voice of color: Corollary to the above, CRT holds that critically conscious (Woke / Critical Race Theorist) members of minority racial groups possess a unique voice of color that speaks to the lived experience of systemic oppression by race, as CRT defines it. This is another tool for asserting that Critical Race Theorists cannot be doubted in their declarations of their experience “as a” member of a particular race.
Identity politics: CRT is unabashedly involved in identity politics in the sense of creating special interest groups and political coalitions out of racial identity groups (through demands for “solidarity”). This tends to take the form of a small number of CRT activists speaking for certain racial “communities,” using the points above as justification.
Impact over intent: CRT holds that if a (“critically conscious”) member of a minoritized racial group has experienced racism in some word or deed, then that’s the correct explanation for what happened, and it cannot be questioned. This empowers hypersensitivity and a victimhood-seeking frame. Others are believed to have “false consciousness,” such as “internalized racism,” and are not considered authoritative voices about these issues.
Anti-liberalism: As can be read in the quote at the top, CRT holds that the philosophy of liberalism is, in fact, a racist system because it creates conditions under which existing inequities (inequalities in outcomes) increase while misleading people to believe that things are more fair than they are.
Narrative and counter-storytelling: CRT favors the telling of stories, especially stories that challenge prevailing wisdom or reject established knowledge (usually resting in lived experience and/or statistical exceptions and outliers) as a means of challenging and rejecting facts in favor of politically useful statements and beliefs. Narrative is considered superior to careful, rigorous methodologies, which are believed to have been established from within the “white racial frame,” for example, and that therefore uphold white supremacy, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Revisionist history: Critical Race Theorists believe it is their obligation to rewrite history to tell it from the perspective of CRT (even if factually inaccurate—because of the reliance on narratives and counter-stories). Fact-based or official history are deemed to have been written from within the “white racial frame,” which is believed to uphold systemic racism and white supremacy, demanding “Critical” rewrites on their terms. This is the role of the 1619 Project.
Intersectionality: All forms of oppression by all forms of identity are linked into one broad, pervasive “Matrix of Domination,” thus necessitating solidarity across all forms of oppression. Where it comes to race, this intersectional model takes a black/white dichotomy as something of a given (while also problematizing it and blaming whites for it), suggesting that whiteness is intrinsically “anti-blackness.” It then views most racial issues through this simplistic lens, assessing other racial and ethnic groups and individuals within them according to whether they show solidarity toward Blackness or position themselves more “adjacent” to whiteness.
For example, Asian-Americans of most ethnic backgrounds are, given their high rate of attainment and success in American society, often labeled as “white-adjacent,” while Latinos are judged vigorously according to how much whiteness they uphold (often based at least partially upon the fairness or brownness of their skin). Most troublingly, Jews tend to be classified as white rather than as ethnically Jewish. This goes so far as to reproduce the basic pattern of anti-Semitism by claiming that Jews (as whites) are the beneficiaries and even cultural trendsetters of “whiteness,” thus as having tremendous societal privilege that they often refuse to recognize by identifying instead as Jewish.
James Lindsay is the author of six books, including most recently How to Have Impossible Conversations and Cynical Theories. He is also the founder and president of New Discourses, from which this piece is excerpted.
During a well-known scene in the 1989 film Field of Dreams, Amy Madigan’s character takes righteous umbrage at a proposal by her daughter’s school library to ban the books of a certain author. She references the spirit of her 1960s youth; she declares herself to be willing to stand up against the opponents of liberalism who seek to ban books such as L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.
The former was banned by public libraries in Chicago and Detroit in the 1920s and 1950s, respectively, as well as being the target of a more contemporary attempt in Tennessee in 1986. The latter has been the subject of multiple banning attempts both before and after the film, including most recently a 2010 court case in Culpeper County, Virginia. The 1960s spirit she references in that scene was the influence of the Free Speech Movement, which originated at the University of California in Berkeley in 1964, and coalesced around certain leaders of the emerging New Left of that time. Their politics focused on concepts such as free speech and academic freedom, two key classical liberal values that, sadly, are nearly impossible to imagine any current leftist movement galvanizing around. Today’s left demands complete and total conformity to their preconceived, unchallengeable notions and brooks no dissent to their package of ideas and values. You either buy in 100 percent on every agenda item, or you are cast out as a virtual heretic.
Books are ideas put into words and onto pages that are then bound up in nice and neat packages for distribution. Today, it can be difficult to distinguish the stodgy old illiberal “them,” who banned books, from leftists who are unfortunately, and often erroneously, referred to as “liberals.” Seeking to ban books is no different than seeking to similarly expel from society ideas and ways of thinking themselves, whether wrapped in covers or not. A prominent example of a book where these two sides of censorship frequently collide can be found with To Kill a Mockingbird, where calls are made to ban the book both for its historically accurate language and content (which admittedly can shock some by today’s standards), as well as for the ultimate lesson it taught. This was a truly anti-racist book (published in 1960, no less) in the literal sense of that similarly abused phrase, yet it is also one that can draw equally outraged opposition from groups who would otherwise be diametrically opposed to each other politically.
The book, like all groundbreaking literature, was intended to shake people out of their comfort zones and make them reevaluate their ways of thought. Classical liberals respect and encourage this individualistic process, allowing people to come to their own conclusions, while leftists prefer to preach and demand deference without precisely explaining why people should think the way that they’re told.
The current craze of “cancel culture” is certainly not anything new or innovative. Socrates was executed for expressing inconvenient ideas. Numerous religious scholars throughout history were banished or worse for their theories, opinions, and ponderings. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated for eliminating the evil institution of slavery in the United States, while a little over a century later Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered for his success at working toward ending the disgusting practices of discrimination and segregation against African Americans that followed.
Right now, the stakes are obviously (with some exceptions) not the same as the more prominent examples that have been mentioned above, but “canceling” follows the same practice of intolerance, which if we tolerate it, leads down a very slippery and dangerous slope. We began to see a clear turn toward illiberalism and against the liberal values of free speech and free thought on the left with Salman Rushdie’s experience. In 1988, the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses ultimately led Iran’s then-leader, Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, to a call for Rushdie’s murder. Just a bit more than 25 years later, two terrorists shot up the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, murdering 12 and injuring 11 others, all because of a cartoon that the magazine had published.
After that tragedy, a clear distinction became evident between classical liberals who oppose censorship and leftists posing as liberals who consider It acceptable to murder cartoonists and secretaries as long as one can provide an ideologically appropriate justification. Just five years later we now have illiberal leftists celebrating the firing of literary agents such as Colleen Oefelein simply for having an account on the social media site Parler, which is “known” to be conservative (hello, shades of Bizarro McCarthyism).
Free speech is the absolute key to classical liberalism and all the values we hold dear. It is the underlying value without which no one is truly free. This is liberalism 101.
The United States, now near the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the greatest and longest-running experiment in classical liberalism in world history, based upon such documents as the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and texts such as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, finds itself in a troubling situation where radicals currently seek to undermine the foundations of society. Tragically, these radical individuals are not regarded now as mere mischievous malcontents spoiled by generational privilege, but rather are often considered to be serious people representing a serious movement by the current American government, as well as by institutions such as the media, universities, and even major corporations.
It is now vital for those who value the opportunities provided to succeed in the United States, and who hope to pass along this place to their children and grandchildren and further generations down the line, to stand strong against this current challenge. The same applies to those in other democracies and republics throughout the world which were based upon classical liberal values that are also being similarly challenged by illiberal, destructive forces that today are masquerading as the opposite.
Jason D. Paluch is a Contributing Writer for White Rose Magazine.
With the California Senate and Governor Gavin Newsom almost certain to approve California Assembly Bill 101, California will soon become the official center for the promotion of racism within the United States. No longer known as the Golden State, home to the dreamers of Hollywood, the tech geniuses of Silicon Valley, the rough-and-tumble Cowboys of the prairies, or the hard-working farmers of the Central Valley, or even the tanned surfers and beachcombers of the coast or the Hippies of Haight Ashbury. From now on, California’s legacy will be a caste of social classes determined by your skin color, ethnic origin, and sexual activities, with each group fighting to be recognized as the most “marginalized” or victimized or disempowered in order to gain status over the others.
After nearly two years of controversy and debate, California finally approved in March its “model curriculum” for ethnic studies to be taught at public and charter schools throughout the state. Following more than 80,000 public comments, the document went through a compromise, with various groups arguing that they were, in fact, more oppressed, more marginalized, more victimized, less powerful than others. Ironically, the “least powerful” identity groups wield the most power in California, and their agendas won.
The original proposal was slightly worse than the current version, if there can actually be a way to rank two horrific doctrines, but Jewish groups in particular pressed to have changes such as including a history of anti-Semitism and toning down the anti-Israel rhetoric. But this effort was like watering down Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book or the Ku Klux Klan’s Kloran or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or Hitler’s Mein Kampf. You can’t lessen the impact of something that is, at its core, evil.
Although the curriculum is not mandatory, several major school districts are actually adopting the original plan rather than the revised one, advised by the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute, which not surprisingly sounds like an organization created by the Soviet Politburo or the North Korean Central Committee. But regardless of which plan a school district adopts, that only means that the details of the lessons may differ. In every case, schools will be teaching California children that white people are inherently bad. That black people are victims. That illegal immigrants need our acceptance. That capitalism is bad. That hard work is “white.” That Jews and Asians and Indians are actually “white” because of their success in America and are to be despised. That the American constitutional republic was created to support slavery and must be dismantled.
These evil ideologies are being integrated into all of our children’s subjects, even math and science. This is the Cultural Revolution; make no mistake. The proponents of CRT will not only cancel those with whom they disagree, they will kill if necessary, as some state openly, and as Antifa and BLM attempt in Democrat-controlled “progressive” cities. The adherents to CRT truly believe that those who are not on their side are evil. Just like Nazis believed it. Just like Soviet Communists believed it. Just like the Chinese Red Guard who used the same exact rhetoric to purge remnants of capitalism and traditional elements from Chinese society by murdering industrialists, the wealthy, the highly educated, professionals, and anyone else who represented those supposedly responsible for the evils of society. The irony is that like all of these groups, it is the CRT proponents who are dividing society into classes while destroying our culture and our values. Ask anyone from the former Soviet Union and they will tell you this new woke culture with its roots in California and support within the Democrat-controlled government is exactly the same as the Communist Party they grew up with. And escaped. Ask anyone from mainland China who grew up during the Cultural Revolution. Or better yet, read a personal account in the book Really Enough by my friend Margaret Zhao for a personal perspective of how what’s happening now happened in China, and in only three decades led to the murder of millions of people and nearly destroyed one of the oldest civilizations on the planet.
Of all the left-wing developments of the past decade or two, and especially in the last year, none has been as troubling as this one. None has been a more significant sign that evil has spread throughout our communities in America and now pervades the systems of power: politics, business, entertainment, and our educational system. Parents have the ability to stop this. They need to take their children out of public schools, whatever the cost, to stop this systematic brainwashing. Voters need to elect politicians who will defund the teachers’ unions, not the police. Consumers must stop spending money on products from companies that promote critical race theory. We must stop idolizing and supporting athletes and entertainers who promote these evil ideologies. We must elect leaders who will ban the teaching of this anti-American ideology in public schools, government offices, and especially in our military.
The time for action is now. This ideological virus, much worse than COVID, has invaded our cultural body and is destroying it from within. It has infiltrated our government, our entertainment, our industries, our colleges, and now our elementary schools. It is entirely opposed to American values. We must stop it now. At all costs. If it is not already too late.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the “Big Lie”—you know, Donald Trump’s rant that his re-election was “stolen” and that he actually won by a “landslide.” He was wrong, but the election did reveal some truths, a legacy we must begin to take more seriously.
Specifically, the dark side of hyperbole. Words used immoderately. Loaded language designed to explode rather than explain. At some point, they become a numbing refrain.
Words are anything but harmless. There are always consequences to choosing them. The stakes can be high—even lethal. A figure of speech is easily weaponized.
For instance, a peaceful march can be one word away from morphing into violence. Many of the January 6th rioters repeated that the election had been “stolen.” A fateful word provoked an unspeakable act of breaking and entering the Capitol.
Everywhere one looks there are words better left unsaid. Elected officials recite talking points even though they have no idea what they are talking about. Children come home from college and mimic their professors with statements that prove how high SAT scores are no inoculant against stupidity.
If the election taught us anything, it’s that words matter. There is grave danger in sweeping labels applied to very deep-seated domestic or global problems.
Meanwhile, “Big Lies” proliferate around us.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the proponents of Critical Race Theory hijacked the books our children read and the ideas that fill their heads. Words like “racist” and “white supremacy” are fast becoming the bread and butter of our educational system—indeed, in some cases, the only items on the menu. The innocence of childhood is now forever subject to racial composition.
In the broader culture, the charge of “racism” is all too common to defend against. No white person is allowed a passing grade in Woke 101. “White privilege” is an indelible sign of depravity. Many low-income, marginalized white people don’t feel privileged in the least, but their skin disqualifies them from raising an objection.
White bread is no longer just a metaphor for Caucasian blandness. It suggests something more sinister than gluten.
“Cancellation” is being employed by employers who have no causal reason to fire anyone. Twitter apparently has carte blanche over human resource departments. All employees who are white are presumed to have served in the Confederacy.
Whether innocuous or accusatory, language is now supercharged. And often misapplied. An entire vocabulary can be adopted to spread confusion, especially among the uninformed, which constitutes nearly everyone.
The purveyors of Big Lies know exactly what they are doing. They are disguising a lie as an idea, peddling a slander, fabricating a prejudice through repetition. They correctly surmise that no one will know the difference. Who is going to take the time to check? The duplicitous always depend on libels. It’s the match that inflames mobs.
Big lies can overwhelm a small country. Israel is an excellent example of a gaslight gone global. The language often used to describe the Jewish state bears virtually no relationship to the truth. But they are widely believed.
The country is very much in the news given yet another deja vu war against terrorists hell-bent on its destruction. A war in Gaza is in its second week—the fourth war against Hamas since 2005. As is true with all warfare, there are human casualties. But the battles Israel is forced to fight are unique among nations. They are known as asymmetrical, Fourth Generation warfare. And they demand agonizing moral choices.
Israel does not meet an opposing army wearing uniforms in an open battlefield. Hamas terrorists are indistinguishable from ordinary Gazans, intentionally so. Hamas specializes in giving Israel a target densely populated with civilians, knowing that the IDF won’t miss. They launch thousands of rockets from schools and hospitals, indiscriminately fired at Israeli civilians. Civilian casualties are Hamas’ war strategy. Why else would they establish command centers in apartments with children on their laps?
Using children as human shields doesn’t quite describe it. The children don’t actually shield anything. They are the main event in an endgame of death. Arouse the sympathy of nations; cause revulsion among the press. Gazans set new lows in unfit parenting, but they have a keen sense of what the world will find unbearable.
So rockets explode prematurely over Tel Aviv all thanks to an Iron Dome that works better than the hand of God. Buildings storing Hamas operatives and weapons, along with underground terror tunnels, collapse from Israeli airstrikes. The casualty count is “disproportionate,” but how could it not be? One side is preternaturally homicidal, declaring victory with each loss of life. They erect tunnels to warehouse weapons rather than shelter their citizens. That’s because their citizens are weapons. “Ceasefires” don’t serve their interests, because they disrupt a war strategy that profits from rubble.
Hamas rockets, 3,000 launched toward Israel so far in this campaign, mostly miss their mark or are intercepted by Iron Dome. But their intended destination is clear. These are not warning shots. Hamas wants its rockets to strike Jews—men, women and children—no matter where they live. For Israel, civilian Palestinian death is accidental; for Hamas, it’s existential.
Must Israel allow Hamas’ rockets to land? Should they instruct Israelis not to hide in bomb shelters in order to make this a fair fight? No moral principle, or rule of engagement, supports such lunacy. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what Israel can’t do in retaliation for the tens of thousands of rockets fired at them since 2006. When it comes to dispensing advice on what they can do . . . silence.
Hamas’ methods renders one speechless, so Israel must fight on.
In the United States Congress, two Muslim elected officials, Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have referred to Israeli airstrikes in this recent battle as “acts of terrorism” by an “apartheid regime” that is guilty of “ethnic cleansing.” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seconded the “apartheid state” charge. Several years ago she referred to Israel’s defense against Gazans trying to breach its border fence as a “massacre.”
Where to begin? That’s a lot of libel to rebut.
Most people can’t find Israel on a map even if you spot them a hemisphere and a longitude. Yet for decades anti-Zionists (See: Jew-Haters) described Israel as both a “settler-colonial enterprise” and “regional superpower.” Surely a nation with such imperial might should have a landmass more in common with Canada than New Jersey.
But it doesn’t. There are 22 colossal but failed Arab states and one phenomenally successful but tiny Jewish one. Attaching “settler” or “colonial” to the Jewish state somehow ignores the history of the Jewish people. According to the Old Testament, Jews and their patriarchs lived on the land of what is today Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Jerusalem is mentioned 677 times in the Bible.
Guess how many times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran, where the Dome of the Rock is located, where last week’s skirmishes with Israeli police occurred outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, presumably the third holiest site in Islam. Seriously, take a guess.
The answer: not once.
If Jerusalem is so important to Islam, how did it manage to get left out of its holy book? And if Jews are so alien to Jerusalem, so much so that UNESCO disgracefully ruled in 2016 that they have no historic connection to the Temple Mount, why is the Old Testament a testament to Jewish life in Judea?
How about the “Occupation”? Now there’s an often stated word that blurs core facts and guarantees that Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians will be widely misunderstood.
First, as for Gaza, not a single Jew or Israeli lives there. Not one. Israel withdrew in 2005, uprooting its own citizens despite deep ties to that ancestral land.
How does one occupy an area by living somewhere else?
Gaza is a coastal enclave with magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea. Nothing, aside from their own nihilism, prevented Gazans from building their own Monaco or Macau. Vacationers could have been spending these post-pandemic days, and dollars, in hotels all along the strip.
Instead of declaring statehood, however, which today would be in its 16th year, Hamas had a better idea: Turn Gaza into one big launching pad. This forced Israel, in the north, and Egypt, in the south, to impose a naval blockade. The reasons are obvious. Hamas’ main imports have always been artillery, rocketry and concrete with which to erect terror tunnels. Even Egypt realizes that Hamas can’t be trusted to build anything other than bombs.
As for the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority, pursuant to the Oslo Accords, controls much of it. But Palestinians loyal to Fatah, also have not kicked the habit of terrorizing Israelis with stabbings, car rammings, and other acts that do not reflect a people ready for statehood.
Palestinians still refuse to recognize Israel’s very existence. Their charters are blueprints for Jewish death. Textbooks teach children to hate Jews. An unofficial national anthem, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” is more in line with a genocidal fight song. The area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is Israel. Where are Jews supposed to live if Palestinians are banking on a state that is much larger than the West Bank?
Given all those impediments to co-existence, why shouldn’t Israelis doubt that a future Palestinian state would make for a nice neighbor?
Finally, under any fair reading of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel can’t occupy land to which it has a historical, ancestral connection, and that never once was there a sovereign state called Palestine—with a Palestinian citzenry. The West Bank has never not been unoccupied, as far back as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottoman Turks, British, Jordanians, and now Israel—the only country in that long list that actually has a legitimate claim of title to the land. Ironically, Palestinians are the one people to never have occupied the land that is to become their state. They might have lived there, but it was never theirs.
Because the word “occupation” has been so widely adopted, a concession from the Oslo Accords that Israel should have never conceded, most people believe that Israel is occupying a sovereign country once called Palestine and populated by Arabs who were known as Palestinians. That’s why “stolen land” is so casually repeated and added to Israel’s many crimes.
But the land is not really occupied. It’s simply disputed territory between two peoples that have claims to the land—historic, ancestral, and a very complicated set of colliding truths.
Since 1947 when the United Nations carved a Jewish and Arab homeland out of what is now greater Israel, the Palestinians have rejected five offers of statehood. President Bill Clinton’s memoir acknowledges his stupefaction that the Palestinians spurned his last effort of bringing a final peace to the region, which included 97 percent of what the Palestinians had, purportedly, negotiated for. Did they come back to the table with a counteroffer? No. Instead, they reverted to old tricks of the terrorism trade and responded with the Second Intifada, which included suicide bombings in Israeli pizza shops and Passover Seders.
Does this sound like Israel is stubbornly standing in the way of Palestinian national aspirations? More likely is the conclusion that the Palestinians don’t really want statehood. (The Gulf states that normalized relations with Israel in last summer’s Abraham Accords have no doubt come to that realization.)
What seemingly does interest Palestinians is any outcome where Israel is without statehood and the Jews of the region disappear. In addition to a number of rejected peace and statehood offerings, there is also a more damning truth: the timing of when organized Palestinian terror came into existence. The PLO was created in 1964—three years before Jews lived in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
What does that tell you? It’s not about settlements, territories, Jerusalem, or even the Right of Return. It’s simply about Jewish existence.
Building a Palestinian nation holds far less appeal than blowing up the Jewish one. This is what progressive, liberal Democrats, many of them Jews suffering from a condition I call moral narcissism, seemingly can’t or simply won’t accept. They will call for a “two-state solution” no matter how many times Palestinians show disinterest in being one of those states.
Many Israelis now wonder whether it was a good idea to withdraw from Gaza altogether. It certainly brought no peace and ceded to Hamas a base of operations. And withdrawal earned Israel no global goodwill, either. They are denounced as an occupying power even though their dealings with Gaza are limited to the border.
Meanwhile, Palestinians sit in refugee camps operated by the United Nations instead of being absorbed as permanent citizens of other Arab states. In fact, the Palestinians are the only people allowed refugee status in perpetuity. In all other cases, the UN insists that displaced persons find a new placement within one generation.
The reason is plainly obvious. Anti-Semites holding out hope that time will run out on the Israelis. Meanwhile, Palestinians sitting in misery are a convenient eyesore.
Speaking of “displaced refugees,” that, too, has a meaning obscured from what most people are led to believe. Yes, Israel’s War of Independence scattered 750,000 Arabs from their homes. In some cases, Israelis forcibly evicted them, but mostly Palestinians received assurances that the combined Arab armies would vanquish the Jewish state.
That didn’t work out so well for Palestinians. But after Israel was created and so quickly embarrassed five Arab armies that had expected the Jewish state to be a very short-lived experiment, roughly one million Jews were exiled from Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Yemen, Iran, and Jordan, where their families had lived for generations. They immediately became Israelis. Is the world equally interested in granting Jewish refugees from Arab states a Right of Return?
This is where the Big Lie about “colonial” and “racist” is laughable. More than half the population of Israel are dark-skinned Middle Easterners. Add to this Semitic mix Arab Israelis, who represent 20 percent of the country, and who enjoy civil rights and opportunities equal to Jewish Israelis. Further evidence of a multiethnic nation is a former Miss Israel from Ethiopia. “White supremacy?” “Apartheid” with Arabs sitting on the Israeli Supreme Court? Really?
No one should be weeping for terrorists, especially this bunch. Hamas remained an ally of Al-Qaeda after 9/11. Israel erected a 9/11 Memorial in Jerusalem, the first one outside of New York to list the names of the nearly 3,000 who lost their lives to the terrorism on that day.
The special pleading of progressives to condemn Israel is especially galling since none of these people would last five minutes in a Muslim society—liberated women, out-of-the closet homosexuals, artists, journalists, and, of course, Christians.
Beheaded. Lashed. Torched and tossed from rooftops. Jailed.
Perhaps the biggest lie of all is the charge of “ethnic cleansing”—which is so instantly associated with evil. But genocides are measured by mass murder and a drastic loss of a population. Ask the Armenians, Cambodians, Bosnians, Rwandans, Congolese, Sudanese, and, of course, Jews, and they’ll tell you that “cleansing” is a euphemistic way to describe the subtraction of a people. The Palestinian population, however, since the “Occupation,” has more than doubled.
It is true that Gazan casualties are increasing each day. Given Israel’s air defense batteries and civil defense strategies, one can easily lose sight of a different reality for the Jews of the Middle East. Thankfully, some people are not shy in expressing their true desires. They serve as reminders of what Israel has no choice but to do.
On Monday, in capital cities all across Europe, Islamists wrapped in Palestinian flags marched on major boulevards and chanted “Death to Jews.” The story went completely unreported by all mainstream news services. Maybe it’s because “Death to Jews” is not a big lie, but a truthful admission.
Our adversaries are hearing a loud and consistent message coming out of the Biden administration. This message is being interpreted across the globe as a greenlight – a permissive environment – to “get all you can!”
It may be too early to judge the foreign policy successes of an administration after only the first 100 days, but it is unfortunately easy to glimpse failures on the horizon, where our enemies see American weakness and ambiguity. Our adversaries are hearing a loud and consistent message coming out of the Biden administration. This message is being interpreted across the globe as a greenlight—a permissive environment—to “get all you can!” From Riyadh to Jerusalem, from Moscow to Beijing, from Baghdad to Tehran, these capitals are getting a glimpse of what the next four years will bring: advantage for our enemies and chaos for our “friends.”
Nowhere is this messaging louder than in the whispers from the Biden team in Vienna as it attempts reentry into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, (JCPOA) also known as the Iran Deal. The Biden administration has all the leverage it will never have again with Tehran, and it is ceding that leverage to Tehran, Russia, and China in order to check the box on an early, hollow, and dangerous foreign policy win. Hollow in that the JCPOA is already expiring, and dangerous in that it paves the path to a nuclear bomb, while rewarding the regime in Tehran with sanctions relief. All the while Tehran accelerates its ballistic missile testing, spreads terrorism, and exploits the expiration of sunsets on uranium enrichment and advanced centrifuges.
There are no direct talks between the U.S. and Iran in these negotiations; we are leaving that to the Russians and the Chinese. The two countries that stand to gain the most from the lifting of U.S. sanctions are our “Great Power” competitors—Russia and China. Both nations are set to acquire more of Iran’s resources and infrastructure in exchange for offensive and defensive weapons, which would further fracture the region, and which would allow Iran to defend their illicit nuclear program.
As Russia and China push the U.S. to greater concessions in talks with Iran, the ease in which this is being done signals to both countries that it will be profitable to use leverage of their own in early tests of U.S. resolve regarding Ukraine and Taiwan.
U.S. weakness is also prompting countries to take their own actions, such as the Israeli attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, which set its enrichment capabilities back nine months. Israel is opposed to the U.S. reentry into the JCPOA without addressing ballistic missiles, Iran’s regional behavior, and the extension or removal of sunset clauses on Iran’s nuclear program.
Look how easy Tehran is pushing around the U.S. They think, if Tehran can do it, imagine what we’ll get away with.
Provocations for Concessions
Why not provoke the U.S. for concessions? Look how easy Tehran is pushing around the U.S. They think, if Tehran can do it, imagine what we’ll get away with.
Ironically, as the U.S. tilts out of the Middle East to focus on Great Power competition with Russia and China, the Russians and the Chinese are moving in. CENTCOM Commander General Kenneth McKenzie observes, “we’re beginning to see a resurgence…of great power competition in the Central Command AOR [area of responsibility] as China and Russia begin to find weaknesses and begin to move into it.”
Others are hearing the “get all you can” message as well. The Taliban are moving on areas where the U.S. is pulling out, leaving the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to deal with a threat they haven’t been willing or able to beat since their inception. Afghans in and out of the government and its security forces have been threatened repeatedly with this prescient statement, “the Americans will leave one day, we will always be here and we will remember your actions.”
The militias in Iraq, beholden to Tehran, have launched 30 separate attacks against U.S. compounds and convoys since President Biden took office.
ISIS and Al-Qaeda are set to exploit the coming security vacuum in Afghanistan as they did following the Iranian pressured pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011. Tehran insisted on that concession to secure initial JCPOA talks with the Obama administration.
The militias in Iraq, beholden to Tehran, have launched 30 separate attacks against U.S. compounds and convoys since President Biden took office. Iran began testing the administration by proxy from the onset. Again, Tehran is demanding a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as a sign the Biden team is serious about making concessions to secure reentry into an expiring nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Another signal to Tehran is already embarrassing the administration. The Biden team reversed a Trump decision to designate the Iran-backed Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and since this reversal, the terrorist group has significantly increased the number of attacks on Saudi Arabia. When one lifts a designation against an active terrorist group, don’t be surprised when it continues to conduct terrorist attacks. “We continue to be alarmed by the frequency of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia. Escalating attacks like these are not the actions of a group that is serious about peace,” stated White House press secretary Jen Psaki, lamely.
In mid-April, both Russia and China simultaneously moved to test President Biden through escalation and show-of-force military postures against Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively. Russia is massing on the Ukraine border and warning the Biden White House of a Russian “red line” if it interferes. Despite reports that Putin has withdrawn the force, only a few thousand of the one-hundred-thousand man force have moved back to staging areas. All equipment remains along the border with the majority of the force. Current troop levels mirror the force used to annex Crimea in 2014. In a Senate Intelligence Committee meeting this week, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency stated the Russian buildup, “has reached the point that it could provide the basis for a limited military incursion… It is something not only the United States but our allies have to take very seriously.” Biden hopes to meet with Putin during a June trip to Europe ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels to diffuse the situation–Putin will want something in return.
China is stepping up its harassing military activity against Taiwan and warning the U.S. to not interfere. The intelligence community states in its annual U.S. Threat Assessment that, “China is attempting to exploit doubts about U.S. commitment to the region, undermine Taiwan’s democracy, and extend Beijing’s influence.” China is warning that the U.S. is “playing with fire” when it comes to taking positions on China’s provocations with Taiwan. “There is zero room for compromise and not an inch to give… We urge the U.S. side to grasp the situation, earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, refrain from playing with fire, immediately stop official contact with Taiwan in any form.” The Biden administration then fired back with, “Washington’s official policy is ‘Strategic Ambiguity.’” That is certainly the most accurate description of Biden’s foreign policy, and the reason our adversaries believe “Strategic Ambiguity” is codeword for a permissive environment.
Thinking Like the Enemy.
“Strategic Ambiguity” sounds a lot like Obama’s “Strategic Patience.” Obama’s “Strategic Patience” policy stated that, “America leads from a position of strength. But this does not mean we can or should attempt to dictate the trajectory of all unfolding events around the world. As powerful as we are and will remain, our resources and influence are not infinite.” We remember what ISIS, Putin, Iran, and Syria’s Assad did with Obama’s permissive policy of Strategic Patience: they grabbed all that they could because the name itself signaled clearly that the U.S. would do nothing to upset the fragile Iran Deal.
The team that caved to Tehran and brought you the fatally flawed JCPOA under the Obama-Biden administration are again caving to Tehran, Moscow, and Beijing in Vienna. The Obama-Biden team of 2015 has been promoted to take on more ruthless and capable adversaries in Russia and China, and those countries cannot hide their covetous smiles. While the U.S. military focuses on climate change, Covid-19 vaccinations, and routing extremists – well, Trump supporters — from its own ranks, our adversaries will be moving to grab all they can. It’s Greenlight Chaos. The next four years will see the rise of the next iteration of ISIS, an emboldened Tehran ever closer to a nuclear weapon, Russian and Chinese moves to secure sovereign territory from U.S. allies; the loss of Afghanistan to the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS; likely renewed attacks in the U.S. by ISIS and al-Qaeda; and an as yet unseen military intervention based on a threat we are not paying attention to right now.
U.S. allies feel abandoned and will take measures to safeguard their national security interests.
All the signs are there. The Cassandras inside and outside the intelligence community are being ignored by cautious transitional leaders who are being led to ignore indicators of what our enemies are doing out in the open and with a smile.
American allies believe they will have to fend for themselves, and as a result Israel will not look to the U.S. for approval of its actions to counter Iranian threats – and they won’t be alone in their independent actions. U.S. allies feel abandoned and will take measures to safeguard their national security interests.
The U.S. has all the leverage and should use it to end the strategic patience game our adversaries use to wait out an American administration. We have election interference because our adversaries believe there are election outcomes that favor them. One hundred days in, the Biden administration is proving them right.
Our adversaries are applying pressure they wouldn’t dare do under the previous administration and Washington should be embarrassed. The last couple of days prove this out. Iran has heard the message loud and clear and is acting on it. Tehran is ratcheting up the pressure on the Biden administration to cave on all demands by targeting U.S. allies and interests. The regime is targeting the U.S. mission in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan; and U.S. allies Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Biden administration is being tested on all fronts and is failing with a lack of remorse that is both dangerous and submissive.
The regime’s nod to its terror proxy groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to launch crude rocket and missiles at civilian targets in Israel is another provocation meant to push the Biden team to cave in Vienna – to capitulate and lift sanctions on the regime. Iran wants to demonstrate what it can do with impunity with the Obama-Biden-Obama team – yes, that is what I meant to say – in place. The regime is not worried about being countered now, though they were very worried before January 20th.
The Biden administration is being tested on all fronts and is failing with a lack of remorse that is both dangerous and submissive. It is not hard to see the strings behind the provocations, simply look at which adversaries benefited under the permissive environment of the Obama administration and which ones are benefitting now in Obama’s third term – they are one and the same. After a four- year hiatus, our enemies are primed to get all they can.
Michael Pregent is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is a senior Middle East analyst, a former adjunct lecturer for the College of International Security Affairs, and a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.
When a youthful but electric Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, there was much talk about what it would mean to America to elect its first black president. The very prospect of it was exhilarating. It tapped into our truest democratic ideals, a major national milestone and giant leap in rectifying our racist past. Both black and white Americans shared the symbolism of the moment.
Obama’s political opponent, John McCain, was an old white male, a war hero who had been brutalized as a prisoner in Vietnam, and a longtime serving United States Senator. Immensely qualified and deserving, but he never stood a chance.
Color blindness has disappeared, replaced by full floodlight x-ray vision—deep into the soul of the nation.
What Obama represented was too intoxicating and exotic to ignore. Even the rest of the world wanted to vote for him. Before there would ever be an Italian, Jewish, Asian, Puerto Rican, Indian, or Greek president, America would first elect a black man. How appropriate; how morally vindicating. Not even a woman would reach the White House first, since Obama handedly dispatched Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. It was a historic and touchingly romantic moment in American history. Obama won Iowa, with a 95 percent white population. More white people voted for Obama in 2008 than they did for John Kerry in 2004.
Obama’s victory carried with it the implicit possibility that a vote for Obama could lift the disgrace of racism that has strangled this nation since its inception. An Obama presidency would signify that white Americans once and forever will regard their darker-skinned fellow citizens as equals. The message to African Americans would be that feelings of inferiority and damaged dignity now and forever shall come to an end. And, hopefully, in time, all lingering resentment toward white Americans would dissipate in this newly “post-racial society.”
True colorblindness. Race-free judgments. Pigmentation a vague sidenote, scarcely visible in all interactions between blacks and whites.
Obama’s campaign slogan was, “Yes, we can.” He made it easy, spending little time discussing race. It wasn’t a campaign issue, and the press did everything it could to deliberately leave race out of this presidential race. Anyone who wanted to racialize this presidential contest would be breaking the new ground rules, trespassing on the free lane that had opened up for Obama, and Obama alone.
Who would want to be remembered for pulling such a hope-dashing stunt?
For his part, Obama never once presented himself as a younger version of Jesse Jackson, a black activist clinging to the coattails of the civil rights era of the 1960s. That was the old guard of Congressman John Lewis, adorned with the moral authority earned at Montgomery and Selma, and with the actual scars to prove it. Obama wasn’t appealing to the old-time movement religion of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., or, for that matter, Malcolm X. And he wasn’t a militant like Black Panthers Huey Newton, Stokely Carmichael, and Bobby Seale.
Obama embodied a new-look to old-school liberalism—classy, cool, bookish, cultured, procedural, deliberate, Ivy League educated, and, well, black. He was the kind of smooth intellectual who could easily befriend John Locke, or better yet, Abraham Lincoln—two sons of Illinois, one a rail-splitter, and the other a racial barrier breaker. Obama was married to an African-American woman with similar credentials and charisma.
The State Department had just been presided over by back-to-back African-American Secretaries of State—Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. There were black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, black Supreme Court Justices, black women partners in Wall Street law firms, black university presidents, astronauts, surgeons, and billionaires. Much of mainstream media featured black anchors and editors at their news desks. And at the grassroots level, more than 80 percent of Americans morally approved of interracial marriage.
Does this scream South Africa to you? Is Jim Crow the first thing that comes to mind?
Critical Race Theory (“CRT”) and the New York Times’ 1619 Project have dominated discussions about race for the past several years. With schools in lockdown, chaos everywhere, and untimely police shootings, the adherents of this new racial agenda took advantage of COVID-19 and proclaimed a competing public health crisis. This one involved a nation at war with the use of language—which words can and cannot be said—while introducing new words like “woke” and “intersectional.” It would require a complete reimagining of school curriculum—what students must now know about themselves, books they can no longer read, academic standards that no longer applied to them. And the nation was also being asked to reassess its morality and reexamine its patriotism.
Mostly, there was one singular, unequivocal refrain: The United States, at its origins long before it even became a series of colonies and then a new nation, is an irredeemably racist enterprise. The ghosts of slave ships, slave auctions, and plantations haunted the entire land. Racial hatred lurked everywhere. Oppression was a white man’s Pavlovian affliction. White Americans all benefitted from the power differentials between the races, the oppressor class imposing its will over people of color. African Americans can never succeed in this land—not because they don’t want to, but because a systemic deck was stacked against them that dwarfed Mount Rushmore.
What about that lineup of high-achieving African-American advancement I mentioned above? What about Obama’s two terms as president? How could that have happened in a nation that practiced and celebrated such widespread systemic racism? It is a question that hangs in the air amid swirling winds of accusation. An inconvenient question deliberately unanswered. Asking it betrays racism. White Americans should simply listen, learn, and, most of all, bring equity to all those they have harmed.
So “systemic racism” has become a national talking point despite most people not knowing what it means. Institutionalized, systemized racism is taken for granted. Anti-racism policies must be implemented—everywhere. An entire apparatus of educational, legal, public, and corporate policies, with the avowed purpose to bring about racial equity, have materialized almost overnight.
Changes to American culture have been swift. Hollywood, publishing, and television have adopted the ethos of diversity and inclusiveness. The making of art must avoid cultural appropriation, or worse, misappropriation. An image and a voice may not belong to your imagination.
Americans are paying more attention to skin color than perhaps ever before. Color blindness has disappeared, replaced by full floodlight x-ray vision—deep into the soul of the nation. There are new warning signs, premises that go unchallenged. Whiteness is now self-incriminating. It is a pigment very much out of fashion. Worse still, it carries with it guilt and complicity—with no presumption of innocence. Collective guilt, based on skin color alone. Indictable offenses brought by people of color, without color of law.
What changed? Everyone accepts, or used to accept, that there are those who hold unfavorable views of black people. Some are even profoundly prejudiced. As a Jewish-American, I know that anti-Semitism is the world’s oldest enduring prejudice. I wish I could convince the haters of blacks and Jews to feel otherwise.
But such animus among human beings is not systemic. Anti-humanistic, yes; but systemic? The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution along with the passage of pivotal civil rights legislation throughout the 1960s, dealing with public accommodations, employment, desegregation of schools, voting, fair housing, welfare, and Affirmative Action to advance educational opportunities for black students—all are examples of the system doing the very opposite of racism. They are designed and enacted to address, and redress, racial disparities.
Yes, surely there have been “systemic failures” in the delivery of these governmental initiatives. Governments are imperfect. There’s red tape and dysfunctional cogs in every bureaucracy. But the remedial intent of all this legislation demonstrably contradicts the charge of systemic racism itself. Did these governmental programs completely redress America’s racist past? Do they amount to restitution? Could more have been done, and could the programs themselves have been executed better? Are economic disparities between white and black American families still present?
Outcomes are not the same as intention.
More importantly: is the “system” configured to perpetuate black failure? Many urban cities with large concentrations of African-American residents have black mayors and police chiefs. That means that many African Americans, at the local level, have black leaders who are the custodians of the “system” that is built to prevent their progress.
Perhaps what is meant by “system” is just the ill-motives and race-hatred of all white people. It is what’s lodged in the soul of white Americans—a much deeper depravity than the mere pulling of levers. President Biden pretty much acknowledged that recently, defining “systemic racism [as] a stain on our nation’s soul.” Machines can be repaired. But there is no redemption for white skin.
In a woke world, there is no forgiveness, and contrition rains down hard.
Americans are being told to always check their white privilege at the door. Bow their heads. Contemplate the sin of their skin. And yet, nothing can be done to rid themselves of this chronic condition. Perhaps that is as it should be. Some, but surely not most Jews believe that Germany can never remove the stigmatic black mark of the Holocaust. The enormity and legacy of the loss condemns Germans for eternity. Many Germans, however, resent how much the crimes of their grandparents are imputed to them. Why should the guilt and responsibility be inherited? After all, doesn’t the nation deserve some measure of forgiveness? America, in fact, could learn something from Germany. The United States can’t quite claim the same levels of introspection, moral scrutiny, and restitution when it comes to its African- and Native Indian-American victims.
Critical Race Theorists are not predisposed to granting pardons—not even to descendants. They see plantations on Park Avenue. Rodeo Drive is tantamount to a slave market—the oppressor’s power on full display in the obscene price tag of a Rolex. In a woke world, there is no forgiveness, and contrition rains down hard. Some members of the white race are as fanatical as the leaders of the Black Lives Matter (“BLM”) movement itself.
Andrew Guttman yanked his daughter out of Brearley, an all-girls school in Manhattan, one of the citadels of “higher education” where CRT has inserted itself into the curriculum. Guttman wrote a letter to all Brearley parents, accusing the school of brainwashing their daughters. It doesn’t appear as though he has succeeded in starting a revolt.
So much for “white privilege.” Being able to financially afford the annual $54,000 in tuition—and the scholarships that subsidize the costs for underprivileged students—buys these parents everlasting damnation. And their children are debased, being held to account for the Middle Passage.
Everything is now racialized. Playing the race card is a game of 52-Pickup where every card is the race card. Simon & Schuster succumbed to the pressure of its own employees when it cancelled the publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s new book. It is now facing renewed pushback to cancel a two-book deal from former Vice President Mike Pence—for the same reason: employees insisting that Pence is responsible for white supremacy.
So much for the diversity of ideas.
Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, and Delta Airlines took political stands against Georgia’s new election laws. It was a calculated risk. Surely many customers will feel alienated. But it was, apparently, more important to ingratiate themselves to the captains of the anti-racism industry.
Coke wanted to demonstrate that it was woke.
A post-racial society is now a fantasy. Remember the Nazis and their Master Race? Now race has become our master. We have become prisoners to our racial past, with whiteness as the new scarlet skin.
Democratic, liberal values, perhaps, is the “system” that is being rejected as racist.
Fairness is the essence of liberalism. To liberals, this means never allowing someone’s race to be the cause of inequality, or the denial of opportunity, or access to resources. Equality of opportunity is what Thomas Jefferson meant by the “pursuit of happiness”—no assurance of happiness, only a level playing field. But this is not what “racial equity” means today. The leaders of BLM and CRT have a vision of enforced equality of outcome. They place no trust in opportunity; white playing fields are rocky and uneven to people of color. What they want is to make things equitable, to correct for historical imbalances.
That’s a very different vision of America. But then again, they don’t believe in the promises of America. They mistrust liberalism and its false, oppressive values: meritocracy, intellectual rigor, free speech, individual liberty, equal opportunity, the rule of law, freedom of contract, hard work, and intact families. There is also little faith in multiethnic democracy with its power grab in favor of white people. Democratic, liberal values, perhaps, is the “system” that is being rejected as racist.
The presidency of Barack Obama proved nothing. It didn’t eradicate poverty, income disparity, or the disproportionate incarceration of black males. It did not eliminate racial profiling, or address lower standardized test scores, or stabilize single-parent families.
The pandemic, the killing of George Floyd, and the unexpected ease with which CRT graduated from college and coalesced with the ground troops of BLM, created a perfect storm of progressive racial activism. It also benefitted from President Donald Trump’s MAGA message, a presidency committed to dividing the nation between red and blue, patriots and traitors, white and black. In this new anti-racist crusade, America was never great in the first place.
What was also different in the loud voices of the progressive left was their access to funding. They had discovered a secret weapon: white guilt. The suffering and victimization of African Americans attracted corporate sponsorships and the political donor class. The taking of a knee, improbably, became big business. Colin Kapernick kneeled himself out of a job, but the gesture ended up funding a revolution.
Feelings of white guilt are understandable, given this nation’s abysmal racial history. George Floyd’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” galvanized peaceful and violent protests, resurrecting the ghosts of this nation’s original sin. But how far can guilt go? Financial support is one thing; lawlessness quite another. Social activism and racial justice revealed a violent streak—purportedly in honor of George Floyd, and to reform law enforcement. Once the BLM movement caught some momentum, any violence emanating from it was downplayed. The same excuse-making did not apply to the Capitol rioters on January 6th, who overall caused far less destruction and constituted only a single event. Hundreds of them are sitting in jail and most will remain there.
Well, you could start with Mahatma Gandhi and then work your way to the teachings and methods of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Many Americans believed it was racist to identify violence associated with BLM. It was similar to the response one receives at the mere mention of “black on black” crime. Could police misconduct become a license to loot? Was vandalism now a protected right under the First Amendment? Mayors told their police chiefs to stand down in enforcing laws against rioters. New York City’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, helped paint a BLM mural on Fifth Avenue.
The linking of arms has been replaced by the fierce raising of fists.
This is all very different from the example set by Martin Luther King, Jr. Peaceful nonviolent resistance is a phrase scarcely heard. The linking of arms has been replaced by the fierce raising of fists. And a different legal standard is being applied to lawbreakers, which coincides with a rethinking of police practices at the point of arrest.
Police shootings of black males is the heartbeat of BLM. Without them, upheavals about race would have remained on campus. A nation that legalized slavery and Jim Crow for most of its history will invariably awaken the dead whenever an African American loses his or her life to an abuse of power.
But is law enforcement actually targeting African Americans—is that ground zero for systemic racism? It sounds preposterous, especially since police officers are wearing body cameras, and bystanders are trained to video any encounter when police approach a suspect. How brazen are cops nowadays?
What isn’t being said amid all the talk about defunding militarized, trigger-happy law enforcement is that, generally speaking, these videos depict crime scenes, not church picnics. African Americans disproportionately live in high-crime neighborhoods, which just might explain why, of the 1,000 Americans shot by the police in a given year, a higher percentage are African-American males.
That doesn’t mean the police should have carte blanche authority to fire upon anyone, especially African Americans. But it does mean that context matters, and the context of many of these shootings involve African Americans resisting arrest.
One of the reasons why Derek Chauvin was so decisively found guilty on all three charges brought against him in the death of George Floyd is because while Floyd was agitated and mentally in distress, he wasn’t resisting arrest. He was handcuffed for the final nine and a half minutes of his life. Americans, historically, have been sympathetic to police who patrol high-crime neighborhoods. In courtrooms, juries have traditionally granted the police more leeway in not second-guessing split-second decision making.
Chauvin rightfully received no benefit of the doubt.
The circumstances of the recent police shooting of the teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio, in any other year but this one, with searing racial tensions, the politics of race overshadowing the coronavirus, and demoralized police officers taking early retirement, would have been regarded as the tragic loss of a teenage girl who, if not for the intervention of the police, would have taken the life of another teenage girl.
But this isn’t any other year. While many were sheltering at home, others, more progressively inclined, rebranded the debate over race in America, weaponized language, and mobilized a powerful new political movement that is fundamentally antithetical to what America once represented.
Indeed, it is a toxic amalgam of illiberal, anti-white, anti-capitalist, anti-American zealotry. It has permeated our schools, media, museums, corporate suites, and seats of power. Its influence is unchecked and disproportionate. Yet, it would be wrong to assume that a majority of Americans agree with any of it. Everyone is simply too fearful to voice dissent. The consequences are all too well known. Accusations of racism. The leaders of this intersectional madness—and their Internet trolling minions—are warlike in defense of their anti-racist cult.
They cancel. They intimidate. They shout down. They make demands. They form digital mobs. They threaten corporate America, and their human resources departments, with mass walkouts and declining shareholder value.
We are living in a race-first universe, and the soft bigotry of low expectations has become softer still.
No one seems to be willing to risk calling their bluff. And it appears they are having their way with President Biden, who, so far, isn’t governing like a moderate. Count the number of times he has invoked the term “systemic racism.” He’s now a racial justice warrior of the first order.
Wokeness has awakened America to a new racial reality. We have become obsessed with skin color; the prerogatives and taboos of pigmentation are everywhere. Dr. King’s wish to be judged by the “content of one’s character” is now wholly obscured. We are living in a race-first universe, and the soft bigotry of low expectations has become softer still.
Maybe so, but only if you have never been placed in such a defenseless, fearful position. The actress Alyssa Milano, a staunch defund-the-police activist, failed to rise to the challenge. She placed an emergency call to the police when she noticed an intruder with a gun on her property. The Los Angeles Police Department rushed over and arrested a teenager shooting squirrels with an air-gun.
The Virginia Department of Education just announced that it is ending all accelerated math courses for high-achieving students below 11th grade. All students will be at the same math level for their grade—without exception. Purportedly, this is a way to achieve racial equity. It’s also an excellent way to ensure that bridges built in the future will collapse, drug discoveries will come to a halt, startups will stop-down, and China, unburdened by such regressive educational models, will own this century. Violence is excused. Complex math is deemed too complicated. STEM snaps like a twig.
When inclusivity becomes more important than Euclidean geometry—we have a serious problem.
This is all a very different understanding of equity. It’s apparently more than just fairness. It is wholly remedial and regressive. Anti-racism has become a proxy for anti-American. We are being taught to hate our own country. No wartime American adversary has ever conceived of such a potent weapon.
With each passing day, our liberal democracy appears less liberal. A different America, altogether—browbeaten, ashamed, and unforgiving. And, perhaps, worst of all—tragically in denial of all the immense progress African Americans have achieved once their rightful American liberties were restored.
Israel + Hamas: The Facts
White Rose Staff
April 13: The holy month of Ramadan begins. Many thousands of Muslims pray every day at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
April 13: Palestinian youth launch a “challenge” on TikTok to post videos of themselves randomly assaulting Jews in Jerusalem. Several of these videos are shared widely on social media.
April 14: In response to the violence, Israeli police put up barriers to prevent large crowds from gathering near the Damascus gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. The barriers lead to protests and clashes with the police. The barriers are removed on April 25th.
April 19: Extremist Jews in Jerusalem launch random revenge assaults against Palestinians; police arrest six Jewish suspects.
April 22: A far-right anti-Arab Jewish group called Lehava (“Flame” in Hebrew) marches in Jerusalem, chanting racist slogans. Palestinian counter-protesters clash with police, who used stun grenades and “skunk water” on both groups of protesters. Dozens are injured in the violence.
April 23-25: Hamas begins firing rockets at Israel and incites Palestinians to “continue mobilizing in the Old City.”
April 29: More clashes erupt at the Damascus Gate when Palestinians throw rocks, bottles, and fireworks at police.
April 30: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas postpones Palestinian elections. He blames Israel, but is widely believed to be motivated by concern that the terrorist group Hamas will defeat him and his allies at the polls. Analysts believe the following escalation toward violent conflict is mainly an effort by the terrorist group to gain political power and weaken their rival Abbas. They hope to do this by positioning themselves as the primary “defenders of Jerusalem.”
May 2: Yehuda Guetta, a 19-year-old Jewish student and resident of Jerusalem, is shot by a Palestinian terrorist at Tapuah Junction and later dies of his wounds. Two other Jewish students were shot and wounded in the attack as well.
May 3-7: Clashes break out in Sheikh Jarrah, ahead of an Israeli High Court hearing regarding a deeply controversial property dispute between Jews and Palestinians in the neighborhood.
May 4: Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh reports that terrorist groups in Gaza “call on Palestinians to arrive at al-Aqsa Mosque and ‘ignite an intifada against settlers.’” Hamas initiates a social media campaign inciting Palestinians to violence.
May 4: Prime Minister Netanyahu officially fails to form a government after Israel’s fourth national election in two years, leaving an unstable transitional government. Reports suggest that a coalition of parties across the political spectrum, including the conservative Arab Muslim Ra’am faction, is forming to replace Netanyahu’s government. This would represent unprecedented cooperation between Jewish and Arab parties in Israel.
May 7: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei tweets a series of inflammatory statements supporting terrorism against Israel. Hamas leader Fathi Hammad urges Palestinians in Jerusalem to “cut off the heads of the Jews with knives.”
Tens of thousands of Palestinians attend evening prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. After prayers end, protests and clashes with police break out, with parts of the crowd waving Hamas flags.
May 8: After prayers on Laylat al-Qadr, the holiest night of Ramadan, protests and clashes break out again with parts of the crowd chanting “Bomb, bomb Tel Aviv!”
May 9: During continued riots on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, Palestinians fire flares, which set fire to a tree near the Al Aqsa Mosque. Jewish Israelis, celebrating Jerusalem Day in the Western Wall Plaza beneath Al Aqsa, are photographed with the burning tree in the background. The photo spreads far and wide on social media with the false narrative that they are celebrating the burning of Al Aqsa.
Following a request by the Israeli government, Israel’s Supreme Court suspends its hearing on Sheikh Jarrah property dispute in hopes of reducing tensions and violence.
Hamas launches incendiary balloons from Gaza that set fire to hundreds of acres of Israeli agricultural land.
May 10: More riots break out near the Al Aqsa mosque. Israel’s police enter the area after thousands of Palestinians gathered in the compound overnight, having collected numerous rocks and other makeshift weapons at the holy site. Three hundred Palestinians and 21 police officers are injured.
Palestinian extremists attack a Jewish driver outside the Old City of Jerusalem and nearly lynch him. He is saved by a police officer firing his weapon into the air to disperse the mob.
Hamas issues an ultimatum demanding that by 6 pm local time Israel must withdraw from the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and Sheikh Jarrah and must release all Palestinians arrested in the week’s rioting.
May 10-Present: Massive assault by Hamas against Israel civilians.
Israel ignores Hamas’ ultimatum and immediately after 6 pm, the terrorist group fires a barrage of rockets at civilians in Jerusalem and southern Israel.
Hamas and its allies have launched more than 2,300 rockets aimed at murdering Israeli civilians since the fighting began. Israel has responded with hundreds of strikes aimed at stopping terrorists in Gaza from killing its people.
This violence has been a horrific tragedy for Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Several Israelis have been murdered and hundreds injured by terrorism from Gaza, including both Jewish and Arab citizens. More than 100 people have been killed in Gaza, with initial reports indicating most were members of terrorist groups. However, Palestinian civilians have been killed and wounded as well.
The main reason Palestinians in Gaza have died is because Hamas and its allies militarized their neighborhoods. Terrorist groups are committing a double war crime: firing at Israeli civilian communities from within Palestinian civilian communities. Some Palestinians have also been killed by Hamas rockets that fell short and landed in Gaza.
The only reason Hamas has not been able to murder massive numbers of Israelis is that Israel does everything it can to protect civilians. It has built bomb shelters in most Israeli homes and its Iron Dome defense system has shot down countless incoming rockets.
The IDF code of ethics requires Israeli soldiers to do everything they can to protect innocent life. The IDF does not intentionally target civilians as a matter of policy and goes beyond what the law requires by warning civilians before striking military targets. Nevertheless, it has proven impossible to stop terrorists in Gaza from attacking innocent Israelis without harming innocent Palestinians in the process. This is because Hamas and its allies intentionally put civilians directly in harm’s way.
Hamas also encouraged an unprecedented wave of mob violence by Arab extremists in Israel, and Jewish extremists retaliated with mob violence of their own. Jewish and Arab leaders across the Israeli political spectrum strongly condemned this, and members of both communities have held rallies calling for peace. Some see Hamas’ involvement as an effort to stop the growing cooperation between Jewish and Arab political leaders in Israel.
As of May 16th, 2021, the conflict is ongoing with Hamas continuing to fire rockets at Israeli civilians, and Israel striking the terrorist group and its allies in Gaza.
Iran is behind the latest escalation of violence against Israel. The increased accuracy and the sheer number of rockets fired into Israel reveal Iran’s hand. All actions the Islamic Republic and its proxies are taking are in direct violation of existing United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) put in place to curb Iran’s lethal capabilities. Once again, Iran is cheating out in the open with impunity, and once again Iran is attacking a U.S. ally while the international community condemns Israel’s response.
Iran gave the nod and Iran’s proxies seized on a dispute as the ignitor for violence to attack a U.S. ally—an ally the Biden White House is distancing itself from in its actions and in its courtship of the Islamic Republic.
The Biden administration allowed Tehran to use proxy attacks against the U.S. mission in Iraq and against Saudi Arabia as leverage in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks, and Iran saw weakness from Washington. Iran viewed Washington’s carve out of its missile capabilities and regional behavior from nuclear talks in Vienna as a green light to use Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to attack Israel under the pretense of a Palestinian issue.
Iran Deal supporters will argue that the JCPOA was not meant to address regional behavior or ballistic missiles, and yet Iran is using malignant regional behavior and missiles as leverage to get the U.S. to completely cave in Vienna.
Iran sees weakness in Vienna, and it will continue to fracture the region until it sees its actions have consequences. To date, there are no consequences for the regime in Tehran. Iran is not being pressured to make any concessions on sunsets, ballistic missiles, and regional behavior ahead of a U.S. reentry to the JCPOA.
Iran increased the lethality and accuracy of its rocket arsenal under the protections of the JCPOA. The technology acquired to make Iran’s missiles and rockets more precise took place within the JCPOA and under the supposed constraints of existing UNSCRs put in place to stop the regime from advancing its lethal offensive capabilities and aid to proxies.
What didn’t exist in 2007 exists now. Iran’s land-bridge is operational, advanced, and in use in the attacks against Israel. Its missile and rocket components and the weapons themselves are making their way to Iran’s proxies across Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and into the hands of Hamas and the PIJ. Iran’s Iraqi militias stand ready to move across this land bridge and join the fight against Israel. Iran now has the sustained capability to move weapons and fighters to further destabilize the Levant and threaten Israel.
The players and their goals
Hamas and PIJ military positions are purposely placed in civilian locations to ensure increased collateral damage. They need civilian casualties and are sacrificing Palestinians for their own cause. The goal of Hamas is to control the media narrative and limit its own casualties while maximizing Palestinian casualties. Collateral damage is the bait for moral outrage from those who believe they can condemn Israel’s actions without mentioning the designated terror groups responsible for the attacks and the civilian deaths on both sides.
The goal of Iran is to rachet up pressure everywhere to get the Biden White House to cave on everything in Vienna. Let’s remember, Iran will fight to the last Arab.
The goal of the Palestinian Authority (PA) is to perpetuate the illusion that they matter.
Lebanese Hezbollah is watching what Israel is doing to Hamas with bated breath. Hezbollah is not ready for this fight because it believes Iran is not ready for this fight. Hassan Nasrallah knows Iran is using the crisis to enhance its negotiating position in Vienna. That could all change if the Biden administration lifts sanctions and gives Iran access to the U.S. dollar. Iran would then be able to increase the flow of much needed currency to Iran’s premiere proxy in the region.
Hezbollah has the most advanced precision guided missiles of all of Iran’s proxies. Iran’s strategy is to overwhelm and exhaust Israel’s Iron Dome capabilities through Hamas and PIJ rocket attacks and then have Hezbollah use precision-guided rockets to hit key military and infrastructure sites in Israel. So far, Hezbollah is sitting this one out. The U.S. can keep Hezbollah on the bench by not empowering Iran.
The only way for the U.S. to win here is to support Israel by holding Iran responsible for the escalation, walking away from Iran talks in Vienna, and imposing more sanctions on Iran, Russia, China, and on any other country doing business with Iran. The U.S. has crippling economic leverage with this regime. The regime is on life support and now is not the time to give it an economic lifeline. Lifting that pressure at this point in time will fuel and empower Iran and its proxies to get all they can, starting now. On the other hand, walking away will demonstrate to Tehran that there are consequences for its actions.
Michael Pregent is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is a senior Middle East analyst, a former adjunct lecturer for the College of International Security Affairs, and a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.