Opinion

Israel’s return to Africa can help combat antisemitism

While the Jewish establishment dithers and The New York Times complains, Israeli and African leaders are achieving historic breakthroughs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno in Jerusalem on Feb. 1, 2023. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno in Jerusalem on Feb. 1, 2023. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.
Irit Tratt
Irit Tratt
Irit Tratt is a pro-Israel advocate residing in New York.

Earlier this month, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen paid a diplomatic visit to Khartoum, where he met with the leader of Sudan’s transitional government, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. They finalized the terms of a normalization agreement between the two countries, which will be signed later this year following Sudan’s official transfer of power to civilian authority.

On the same day as Cohen’s visit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood alongside the President of Chad, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, as they inaugurated Chad’s embassy in Israel. This move builds upon the relationship cultivated between Netanyahu and the current president’s late father Idriss Deby, who in 2019 restored diplomatic ties with Israel at a ceremony in Chad’s capital city of N’djamena.

Both events symbolize Israel’s burgeoning partnership with Africa, which is vital to rolling back Iran’s influence in the Middle East and can have positive effects on issues like intelligence, water scarcity and food insecurity.

Israel’s relations with African countries can help fight what the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) labels “Apartheid Antisemitism.” Because of the rise of identity politics and critical race theory, Jews and by extension Israel are caught in an intersectional crossfire, labeled as “white colonizers” and “oppressors.”

This form of antisemitism is spreading across American academic, cultural and political institutions. It is espoused by antisemites in Congress and on campus, where attacks on Jewish identity by anti-Israel activists and academics are ubiquitous. The intensity of this new strain of antisemitism was confirmed last month when a report found that 68% of antisemitic speech online in 2022 focused on hatred of Israel.

Israel’s rapprochement with Africa is evidence that can marginalize this new antisemitism. By underscoring partnerships between African countries and Israel, those committed to fighting antisemitism can mitigate the apartheid libel permeating contemporary culture.

Sudan is an important part of this. Since it became a secular state in 2020, Sudan has sought to disengage from its past associations with Islamic fundamentalism. In 2020, the Trump administration removed Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. In return, Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel.

This had a major impact on the Iranian plan to expand its imperial power to Africa. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has openly stated, “In the new administration, all capacities for cooperation with African countries will be seriously activated.”

Since steps towards normalization began, Israel has helped contain Islamist terrorist activity in Sudan, with Sudan’s top general saying last year that Israeli intelligence helped dismantle a terrorist cell operating in the African nation.

Chad, which borders Sudan, is vulnerable to infiltration by terrorist groups such as ISIS, mainly due to terror activities in its neighbor Nigeria. Studies reveal that Nigeria is one of the most targeted countries by ISIS and “accounts for 41 percent of claimed attacks around the globe.”

President Itno’s decision to establish an embassy in Israel shows that his country will look to Israeli innovation and intelligence rather than collaborating with Iranian aggression. This will help guide Chad’s fractious leadership towards stability.

The JCPA notes that the agricultural sector employs over 80% of Sudan’s labor force. Israel and Sudan have similar climates, so Israeli agricultural and water desalination technology can help ensure Sudanese have access to adequate food and clean water. Next month, the JCPA will host the first Africa-Israel conference on human, water and food security. Several African countries will participate in the seminar, some of which have yet to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

Sadly, the historic achievements of Sudan, Chad and Israel went nearly unreported by Western media outlets and mainstream Jewish groups. On the day Chad inaugurated its embassy, The New York Times ran a scathing story on the Israeli government’s decision to demolish the family home of terrorist Alqam Khayri, who murdered seven people in Jerusalem’s Neve Ya’acov neighborhood on Jan. 27.

This was par for the course. The Times has spent decades strengthening the “apartheid antisemitism” movement. This began with the publication of James Baldwin’s 1967 essay, “Negroes are Antisemitic Because They’re Anti-White.” Baldwin’s characterization of Jews as the “white man” underlies today’s progressive hostility to Israel.

The Times has also tried to undermine Israel’s normalization with Sudan by ignoring its strategic and societal benefits. Instead, it reports on Sudan’s alleged reluctance to enter an accord with the Jewish state.

In addition, many U.S. Jewish groups commemorated Black History Month without even bothering to mention the groundbreaking agreements between Israel, Chad and Sudan. For all its platitudes about social action and racial justice, the failure to recognize the bourgeoning ties between Israel and Africa shows that the Jewish establishment is less concerned with repairing a strained black-Jewish partnership than with maintaining its distance from Israel’s current government. Its inability to see beyond its progressive ideology renders it impotent in the fight against “apartheid antisemitism.”

The evolving complexity of antisemitism requires new approaches to fighting it. To date, these methods are not being developed by U.S. Jewish organizations or written about in the pages of progressive newspapers. But Israeli and African leaders are fighting antisemitism by fostering political and cultural breakthroughs, one country at a time.

Irit Tratt is a writer and pro-Israel advocate who resides in New York.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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