OpinionAntisemitism

Biden’s antisemitism czar condemns Israel, not antisemites

Lipstadt condemned three countries. One of them was Israel.

Deborah Lipstadt at her nomination hearing before U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 8, 2022. Source: Screenshot.
Deborah Lipstadt at her nomination hearing before U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 8, 2022. Source: Screenshot.
Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli-born journalist who writes for conservative publications.

In the early days of June, Deborah Lipstadt, Biden’s antisemitism czar, flew to the United Arab Emirates and condemned Israel’s government while claiming that she worries that the Netanyahu government’s defense of Jews against Islamic terrorism might worsen antisemitism.

This was exactly the kind of excuse for antisemitism that the new White House strategy on antisemitism that she was touting was supposed to stop. Instead, the antisemitism czar promoting the antisemitism strategy was falling into the same kind of behavior.

Since the release of the Biden administration’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, Lipstadt appears to have condemned three foreign governments: Israel, Hungary and Russia.

Lipstadt blasted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, accusing him of “rhetoric that clearly evokes Nazi racial ideology,” for criticizing Muslim migration into Europe.

Was Lipstadt functioning as the envoy to combat antisemitism or Islamophobia?

She also condemned Russian ruler Vladimir Putin for suggesting that Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky “is not Jewish, that he is a disgrace to the Jewish people.”

Lipstadt condemned three countries. One of them was Israel. During this same period, the Palestinian Authority, which is funding the terrorists who have already killed 24 people in Israel this year, continues to praise the killers, describing them as “heroic martyrs”.

“Why shouldn’t we burn the ground under the Jews’ feet?” a member of the Palestine Islamic Scholars Association had asked. “Our young men in Palestine and abroad crave to drink your blood. By Allah, we are thirsty for your blood.”

Lipstadt apparently didn’t think this sufficiently evoked Nazi ideology to bother condemning it.

The pattern here is fairly obvious to spot. The antisemitism envoy’s condemnations have less to do with Jews than with defending some sort of leftist cause.

Lipstadt also complained that Elon Musk’s attacks on George Soros were antisemitic.

It’s not that Lipstadt is always wrong, it’s that her condemnations tend to be selective politically motivated attacks pre-approved by leftists and in defense of leftist personalities or agendas.

Lipstadt is not really there to fight antisemitism, but to enlist the fight against antisemitism in the larger leftist rolodex of causes. And then maybe occasionally she will be allowed to condemn an episode of leftist antisemitism, like that of Roger Waters, without drawing too much of a backlash.

What has Lipstadt accomplished in the fight against antisemitism?

The ADL announced that the Associated Press had agreed to change the spelling of ‘anti-semitism’ to ‘antisemitism,’ thus solving the problem once and for all.

“When you fight prejudice & hatred, you don’t win many battles. But we won this one. Bravo AP,” Lipstadt tweeted.

Lipstadt is really here to sell the Jewish community on the idea that the Biden administration is dedicated to fighting antisemitism. She has been hard at work conducting briefings for assorted establishment Jewish groups like the JCRC of Boston and the National Council of Jewish Women, which had previously announced that it would keep working with the Women’s March despite its antisemitism.

But the administration has more than one mouth on antisemitism. And it talks out of both of them.

While Lipstadt was selling Jews on the administration’s antisemitism strategy, Douglas Emhoff, Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, joined an army of academics, think tankers, activists, politicians, writers and billionaires flying into Colorado.

This year the Aspen Festival wanted to talk about antisemitism, and Emhoff, the “Second Gentleman,” appeared on a panel titled, “The Resurgence of the ‘Oldest Hatred’: The Effort to Combat Anti-Semitism,” moderated by antisemitism expert Katie Couric.

Emhoff had previously dismissed any discussion about antisemitism and Israel, claiming, “I’m just focused on antisemitism” and that students want to “feel a part of a broader coalition in dealing with hate.” Israel, implicitly, would just get in the way of uniting Jews and leftists against antisemitism.

Lipstadt wasn’t at Aspen. Instead, the other White House representative was Homeland Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, an Obama administration vet.

Also present was Erik Ward of Race Forward. Ward is a black activist who had worked for the Southern Poverty Law Center, and had defended Black Lives Matter against accusations of antisemitism. His previous discussions of antisemitism liberally quoted leftist anti-Israel activists, and utilized the Nexus definition of antisemitism concocted by anti-Israel activists and which had received equal billing in the White House’s antisemitism strategy.

Neither Emhoff nor Sherwood-Randall mentioned Israel. And no one at the White House was willing to even go on the record on where it sees the line between antisemitism and anti-Zionism: the key break between the traditional International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and the Nexus one.

An anonymous White House official refused to go on the record and referred Jewish Insider reporter to the “text” of the strategy.

“It addresses this exactly the way that we want to do so,” the anonymous official claimed. “We are sticking with the approach that we’ve had on this matter, and we’re moving forward with all the agency actions to try to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The circular statements and the refusal to go in-depth are not the marks of a policy the administration wants to promote, but one that it is seeking to hide. The strategy was the result of an uncomfortable compromise between advocates for the Jewish community and the left.

It was this compromise that led to only indirect mentions of an Islamic attack on a synagogue in Texas, or other forms of antisemitism beyond white supremacy. It was also this compromise that led the antisemitism strategy to give the Nexus definition of antisemitism second billing after the IHRA one. And while compromise is part of politics, Lipstadt, the antisemitism czar, and other apologists have repeatedly misled the Jewish community about what’s actually in it.

“The strategy says the United States government embraces the IHRA definition,” Lipstadt claimed. But the strategy also says that it “welcomes and appreciates the Nexus Document” created by anti-Israel activists. And louder than words has been the silence of Emhoff and White House officials on the question of antisemitism and Israel.

While the Biden administration uses Lipstadt to sell the Jewish community on the antisemitism strategy, it sends off Emhoff to talk to liberal elites about antisemitism without mentioning Israel.

Can you have an antisemitism strategy that is half antisemitic?

The inclusion of CAIR, an Islamist antisemitic group, and of the Nexus definition, comprise the antisemitic side of the antisemitism strategy, but the real kicker has been the lack of substance on the side that is supposed to actually be fighting antisemitism.

The anti-Israel left succeeded in getting a seat at the table when defining antisemitism, while the Jewish community has been sold more self-serving delusions from a communal establishment that specializes in pretending to be insiders while accomplishing nothing.

Lipstadt has been content to act as an administration attack dog rather than to follow antisemitism wherever it leads. Worse still, she has misled Jews into thinking that the Biden administration is ready to do the same thing and to fight antisemitism from Islamists and leftists.

It’s not.

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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