The World’s Most Powerful Antisemitic Organization – The United States Government
The Biden administration needs to tackle antisemitism by living up to its own definition of antisemitism.
By Lawrence Solomon
After conservative parties won a landslide victory in Israel’s recent election campaign, Israel’s president formally asked Benjamin Netanyahu to assemble a coalition government under his leadership. Getting agreement among the various winning parties as to which government ministries is often contentious in countries such as Israel whose electoral systems employ proportional representation.
But in Israel agreement is uniquely difficult to obtain because the Biden administration asserts for itself the right to effectively veto Netanyahu’s choices for various cabinet posts. This arrogation of decision-making power, which the U.S. would never dream of demanding from the U.K, France, Canada or other democracies, reaches deep into the minutiae of many Israeli policies, both domestic and foreign. This arrogation is also deeply antisemitic.
The most widely accepted definition of antisemitism, which the U.S. first promoted in 2010 and then had formally adopted by the 30 other member states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in Bucharest in 2016, explicitly prohibits singling Israel out for incongruous treatment. “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation,” is one of the hallmarks of antisemitism that the IHRA cites. Yet the U.S. State Department, despite its leadership in promoting this definition, and despite the Biden administration’s touting of its opposition to antisemitism, thinks nothing of bullying Israel into conforming to how it believes the Israeli democracy should behave.
The Biden administration’s attempt to shape Israel’s cabinet involves Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, two leaders of the Religious Zionist Party (RZP), a bloc whose campaign platform proved so popular that it delivered Israel’s first decisive outcome in five elections over the last four years. The will of the people, as expressed through the RZP’s rise, calls for tough- on-crime, tough-on-terrorist policies; a less woke, more traditional educational system and military; and less religious discrimination against Jews.
One of the RZP demands deemed most incendiary involves the right of Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, considered the holiest site for Jews and the third holiest for Muslims. Under the Kerry Understanding, a 2015 compromise negotiated by then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. effectively imposed a double standard on the exercise of religion by allowing Muslims unfettered freedom to visit and pray at the site while allowing Jews permission only to visit the site, and even then on a restricted basis. RZP simply demands that Jews have the same right to pray there as Muslims.
If Netanyahu dares respect the will of the people by giving RZP leaders the senior cabinet positions their parliamentary standing requires, it would harm U.S.-Israel relations, warned Robert Menendez, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Menendez and other U.S. officials, who want Ben-Gvir banned from the government, made no such demand two years ago when a party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood joined Israel’s previous left-leaning coalition government.
U.S. demands of Israel – and of no other democracy – include where new housing can be built. Last year, after the Biden administration objected, the Israeli government backed off a plan to build a housing development for Orthodox Jews on the site of an abandoned airport in Jerusalem. Among other concerns specific to Israel, the U.S. objects to the security criteria Israel employs in deciding who can enter the country and to the rules of engagement used by the Israeli Defence Forces.
The U.S. hasn’t been alone in singling out Israel for treatment it requires of no other country. If the United Nations is to be believed, Israel commits more human rights violations than Iran, North Korea, China, Cuba and the rest of the countries of the world combined. It took the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva 58 years to admit Israel as a member on the grounds that its ambulances displayed the Star of David rather than the Red Cross, although Muslim countries display a Red Crescent or, in the case of Iran, a Red Lion and Sun.
The world’s long obsession with the world’s only Jewish state continues today. As inadvertently caught on a hot mic, “The whole world is worried” about who will be in Israel’s cabinet, revealed Israeli President Isaac Herzog, referring to the views of numerous foreign governments that have been in touch with him.
The obsession with what Jews do in their ancestral home predates the state of Israel, as decried more than a century ago by Zev Jabotinsky, an iconic leader of the Zionist cause. In Instead of Excessive Apology, an essay that objected to the double standard that required Jews to continually justify their existence, he argued “Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us?”
What is new is the IHRA definition that identifies the double standard applied to Israel as a species of antisemitism, and by extension implicates the United States as the world’s most powerful antisemitic organization. If the Biden administration wishes to lead by example and help eradicate antisemitism, as implied by America’s 2016 role in organizing support for the IHRA definition, it can start by cleaning up its own act, and stop its interference in the governance of the only democracy in the Middle East and the only Jewish-majority state in the world.
Lawrence Solomon is an Epoch Times columnist, a former National Post and Globe and Mail columnist, and the executive director of Toronto-based Energy Probe and Consumer Policy Institute. He is the author of 7 books, including "The Deniers," a #1 environmental best-seller in both the United States and Canada. He can be reached at LS@lawrencesolomon.ca.