“Diplomacy in Action,” or Anti-Semitic Tripe?

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“Israeli law also restricted the ability of Israeli Jews to reach places of worship in areas under Palestinian control.” This was perhaps the biggest howler of the U.S. State Department’s annual exercise in Israel-bashing, under the guise of a “Religious Freedom Report.” For the record, this is identical to the language used last year. [Correction — the quote above is from 2009, whereas this year the word “law” was replaced with “policies,” and “limited” took the place of “restricted.” Does it make a difference? I don’t think so.]

Set aside for the moment Israel’s mandate to protect its citizens from harm, and the fact that unrestricted visits to “areas under Palestinian control” have resulted in Israelis being ripped literally limb from limb by the peaceful denizens of the Palestinian Authority. The other major reason why Israel does not permit Israeli Jews to “reach places of worship in areas under Palestinian control” is because were it to do otherwise, Israel would be blamed for the “provocation” of permitting Israeli Jews to pray at Jewish holy sites. Does or does not the international community blame the peaceful visit by Ariel Sharon, at the time a member of the Knesset with the same voting power as Ahmad Tibi, for the “provocation” of visiting the Temple Mount that “triggered” the intifada for which the PA had prepared for months? Did or did not UNESCO call upon Israel just last month to rescind its undeniable statement of fact that Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are in fact part of our national heritage?

To blame Israel for limiting the ability of Israeli Jews to reach these sites is both grotesque hypocrisy as well as blaming the victim. It is anti-Semitic tripe, and the fact that it emerges from the U.S. State Department on an annual basis merely gives further grounds to question whether the State Department can be a positive force for advancing peace in the Middle East.

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5 Responses

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    The report is essentially accurate. Calling it anti-Semitic is way over the top. Read the reports on Iran and Saudi Arabia for comparison.

  2. rtw says:

    Judging from the context of the paragraph, I would disagree with you that there’s evidence of anti-Semitism here. The paragraph starts out, “The Israeli government generally respected the right to freedom of religion within the Occupied Territories during the reporting period. However…” It’s making a qualified statement. I disagree with it too, but anti-Semitic? That’s a big charge.

  3. Stefan says:

    Damned if we do; damned if we don’t.

  4. dr. bill says:

    State department bias against Israel is a long standing problem. However to conflate it with UNESCO’s anti-semitic report is hardly appropriate. A casual reader of your comments might certainly come away with an incorrect impression of an arm of what is generally called a malchut shel chessed.

    Israel does have a legally mandated, state religion, as do, to varying degrees, other western democracies. In large measure with a distinct reform/conservative bias, the state department report covers what it views as heavy handed bias in favor of the charedi adgenda. The US state department cannot be expected to disregard the views of a vast majority of US jews, who also oppose aspects of the “religious politics” in Israel. That may be annoying/unfair/biased/ahistorical/etc. but hardly anti-semitic. I for one, find the rhetoric from both J Street and the right as less than useful.

    Bob Miller, the Rav ztl’s comment on John Foster Dulles in Kol Dodi Dofek is well worth reading. He really had something interesting to say about the basis of Dulles’s bias. I suspect compared to the 50’s, the state department has actually changed (slightly) for the better. Today, unlike then, some do perceive the basis for strategic allignment, albeit not friendship. Much of the rhetoric comes from State’s view of how to achieve some strategic advantage for the US in the current situation. and as some argue, long-term friendship between countries needs tangible, strategic alignment.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    When I was a kid, my parents would get upset at John Foster Dulles’ latest actions against Israel. Some things never change.