With a troubling escalation in anti-Semitic violence worldwide, and much of the world aligned firmly against Israel, President Bush’s recent signing of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act would appear to be a courageous and vital move. But that depends upon whom you ask.
The Arab media, predictably, has labeled the Act an anti-Muslim screed engineered by the U.S. Jewish lobby. Europe, where anti-Semitism continues to rise—thanks in large part to the continent’s growing Muslim population—has remained mostly mum on the subject thus far (The European Union’s repeated votes against Israel in the UN, however, speak volumes).
In the U.S., the reaction to the bill’s passage has generally been positive, except for one unsurprising source. The State Department—which is required under the Act to establish an office whose purpose is to track and combat anti-Semitism around the globe— opposed the measure from the outset, relenting only after Bush approved it.
“The issue of anti-Semitism is something that has been important to us,” explained State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. “We have been active and it's adequately covered by our efforts and by all the other reports that we do.”
Left unsaid by Boucher was that an American anti-Semitism bill would no doubt inflame the likes of Bashar al-Assad, Yasser Arafat and Iran’s mullahs, all of whom yearn to push Israel into the sea; and, sadly, all of with whom State seems desperate to maintain some sort of “constructive” dialogue.
Indeed, given their proclivity for cozying up to Jew-hating despots, the Arabists at Foggy Bottom likely view an office devoted to fighting anti-Semitism as a diplomatic disaster.
After all, “separate reports on different religions or ethnicities” are “not warranted,” according to Boucher, since State already issues reports on global human rights and religious freedom. How, then, Boucher would explain the existing State Department office dedicated to Tibetan rights is anyone’s guess.
While Boucher and his ilk were busy gnashing their teeth over the issue, an event held earlier this month at Duke University underscored the growing mainstream acceptance of anti-Semitism—particularly among the Left— and the need for aggressive measures to combat it.
The fourth annual Palestinian Solidarity Conference, held October 15-17 at Duke, was organized by the Palestinian Solidarity Movement (PSM), a collection of radical groups that refuses to condemn suicide bombings and advocates an end to all U.S. aid to Israel.
Divesting from American companies that do business with Israel and facilitating the Palestinian “right of return,” which would flood Israel with millions of Palestinian refugees, effectively ending the Jewish state, were just a few of the measures proposed at the event.
Duke’s administration, which spent thousands of dollars to provide security for the conference, attempted to pass off its decision to bring a cadre of renowned Israel-bashers to campus as an exercise in academic freedom. One doubts, however, that Duke would extend similar courtesy to, for instance, a far-right group that supports the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel.
Duke’s embrace of Jew-baiters actually reached its zenith the day after the PSM conference ended, as the school’s Daily Chronicle newspaper published a column that recalled the incendiary scribblings of Der Sturmer.
In the piece, titled simply, “The Jews,” Duke senior Philip Kurian decried America’s “powerful Jewish establishment,” spoke mockingly of a supposed “Holocaust Industry,” and stated that “what Jewish suffering—along with exorbitant Jewish privilege in the United States—amounts to is a stilted, one-dimensional conversation where Jews feel the overwhelming sense of entitlement not to be criticized or offended.”
Duke President Richard Brodhead, in response, said that he was “deeply troubled” by Kurian’s column, yet neglected to criticize the Chronicle for running it (as he surely would have done had an inflammatory article been published about, say, “The Blacks” or “The Arabs”).
Just as Leftist-dominated American college campuses have become bastions of anti-Israeli sentiment, so, too, have some liberal mainline churches.
This week, representatives of the Presbyterian Church, USA traveled to Lebanon to meet with leaders of the terrorist group, Hezbollah, and also visited Jordan and Syria. In July, the church’s General Assembly voted 431-62 to divest from companies that do business with Israel. The Anglican Church in the U.S. is reportedly ready to follow suit.
These developments raise an important question: if America doesn’t take a stand against global anti-Semitism, who will? Certainly not the UN, which has passed over 400 resolutions against Israel since 1964. Ditto for the European Union, which voted almost unanimously in July to disband Israel’s security fence and which continues to coddle Palestinian terrorist groups.
And what about the Middle East, where Egypt’s state-run media has been gleefully circulating rumors that Israel was behind the recent Taba bombings, which killed several Israeli citizens?
The answer is obvious: although monitoring anti-Semitism is a job the State Department neither likes nor wants, it’s one America must undertake—now more than ever.
Erick Stakelbeck is senior writer at the Investigative Project, a Washington, D.C.-based counter-terrorism research institute.