Updates from Israel and the Jewish World
Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman
Netanyahu: We are preparing for a broad, surprising campaign in Gaza
Israel is prepared for “a large scale military operation in Gaza” if calm cannot be maintained, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, during a visit to Ashkelon.
“I prefer to maintain the tranquility, although we do not have the illusion that it is possible to reach a political agreement with this group [Hamas] that wants to wipe the State of Israel off the face of the earth,” Netanyahu said. “We are preparing for the offensive side, and the campaign is not only going to be broad, but also surprising.”
Netanyahu added that he “will not hesitate to do what is necessary, and electoral considerations do not guide me.”
He spoke after IDF troops along the Gaza border fence shot and killed Hamas commander Mahmoud Ahmad Sabri al-Adham on Thursday morning, in what the military said was a misunderstanding.
According to Palestinian reports, al-Adham, 28, had tried to prevent two youths from approaching the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip.
“Israel intentionally fired at one of our members while he was carrying out his duties,” said Hamas. “We are carrying out an investigation into this crime,” which it said would not go “unpunished,” and that Israel would “bear the consequences of this criminal act.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi
Several hours after the incident, the IDF said that troops fired at al-Adham after mistakenly identifying him as armed.
“An initial investigation revealed that an activist from Hamas’s control force arrived at the fence area following two Palestinians who were nearby,” said a statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. “In retrospect, it appears that the IDF force that arrived at the incident identified the Hamas activist as an armed terrorist and fired at him by mistake.” The IDF added that the shooting will be further investigated.
The incident comes as an Egyptian intelligence delegation is set to enter the Hamas-run coastal enclave to discuss an agreement for continued calm between the two sides. While there has been relative calm in southern Israel over the past few weeks, Hamas and other groups in the Strip have threatened to increase violence if Israel does not abide by the terms of an informal truce understanding.
Frustrated southern residents gathered on Thursday morning in Kibbutz Sa’ad at a special meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by Likud MK Avi Dichter. During the raucous meeting in which residents demanded action and more governmental support, a number of residents and politicians held shouting matches as tempered flared.
“We need to embark on another military operation in the style of [the 2014 military campaign] Operation Protective Edge, in order to restore deference,” said Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi. Referring to the low-level residual border violence, Davidi said that the on-again, off-again military operations were simply fueling anger in the South.
Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council head Ofir Libstein said he felt that a change had occurred in the last year, as both the deterrence and the resilience of the residents had decreased. It is harder than before to come back after a round of violence, he said.
Alon Alsheich of Kibbut Nir Am said that people in the South just want to live normal lives, fall in love, and start families and business. “We are not here to be your buffer zone and to absorb these [incendiary] balloons,” he said, adding that the southern communities have been so forgotten by the government and the politicians that even during the election period no one was paying attention.
Moreover, Alsheich said, southern residents are not blocking roads, “but look in the mirror and see if you didn’t leave your Zionism in area codes 02 and 03.”
Likud MK Yoav Kisch said he felt as if the “redline” had already been crossed, and that what is happening is a “war of attrition” that seems to have no end.
Nir Meir, secretary-general of the Kibbutz Movement, said that 17 of the 21 communities along the Gaza border were kibbutzim that have disappeared from the map because no one counts them, even though they have endured rockets and incendiary balloons. “No one has visited them for years,” he said.
In Ashkelon, Netanyahu promised southern residents that he would “make sure this city and the communities in the South will continue to develop and prosper, and that there will be a feeling and a reality of security.”
For the past year, thousands of Gazans have been protesting along the security fence on a weekly basis, taking part in the “March of Return” demonstrations that call for an end to the 12-year Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. During the violent protests, Gazans have been burning tires, and hurling stones, grenades and other explosive devices toward IDF troops.
Gazans have also launched countless aerial incendiary devices into southern Israel such as balloons or kites with burning embers or rags soaked in car oil. Explosive balloons and condoms have also been launched toward Israel, landing on major highways, trees, and even in playgrounds or private yards in Sderot and other smaller Gaza vicinity communities.
According to figures released by the IDF on Wednesday, a total of 1,400 dunams have been burnt in southern Israel during the first six months of 2019, a significant decrease from the 34,000 dunams burnt in 2018. (Jerusalem Post) Tovah Lazaroff, Anna Ahronheim
Israeli army admits error in killing Hamas member at Gaza border
The Israeli military acknowledged that it killed a Hamas member at the border with Gaza by mistake on Thursday.
Israeli soldiers killed Mahmoud al-Adham, 28, a member of the Hamas security forces, while shooting at a group of Palestinian men approaching the border fence that morning. The Israeli Defense Forces admitted later that al-Adham was trying to prevent Palestinian youths from breaking through the fence rather than joining them.
“We will not allow this shooting to go without a response, and Israel will pay for its actions,” Hamas threatened in a statement, Ynet reported.
The admission of the error is unusual and is likely an effort to prevent more violence.
The Israeli military confirmed to Haaretz that its soldiers fired on armed Palestinians who were at the border in northern Gaza in order to drive them away, but at first said it was not aware of anyone hit or killed. Gaza’s Health Ministry confirmed al-Adham’s death.
The border incident comes during a time of relative calm on the border following a couple weeks in which over 100 fires were sparked by incendiary balloons launched by protesters from Gaza into Israel. (JTA) Marcy Oster
Netanyahu: Israel will ‘çrush’ Lebanon if Hezbollah attacks
Israel will inflict a “crushing” military blow on Hezbollah and Lebanon if Hezbollah dares to strike Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu’s comments came after Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, gave an interview on Friday on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV to mark the 13th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War. Nasrallah said that “Any war will be bigger than the 2006 war for Israel, and it will put it on the brink of extinction.”
Netanyahu called Nasrallah’s comments “boastful words,” and asserted that if Hezbollah “dared to do something foolish and attack Israel, we would impose a crushing military blow on it and on Lebanon.”
Unlike Nasrallah, who bragged of “game-changing offensive weapons” and surprises by ground, sea and air, Netanyahu said “I do not intend to elaborate on our plans.”
“Suffice it to say that for years Nasrallah dug terror tunnels, which we destroyed within days,” he said.
Since December, the IDF has been uncovering and destroying a network of terror tunnels from Lebanon into Israel, which were constructed for Hezbollah terrorists attempting to penetrate Israel.
Netanyahu’s comments on Sunday came just five days after his response to an Iranian official who threatened last week that Israel would be destroyed within 30 minutes if the US attacked the Islamic Republic.
“Iran has threatened recently to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu said in a video clip he posted, standing in front of an F-35 Adir plane at the Nevatim Air Force base. “It is worthwhile for them to remember that these planes can reach everywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and Syria.” (Jerusalem Post) Heb Keinon
2 rockets fired from Gaza toward southern Israel; no injuries reported
The Israel Defense Forces said Friday evening that two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel. No injuries were reported.
Rocket sirens were initially heard in Nir Yitzhak and Sufa — two communities close to the border with the Gaza Strip — and a rocket fall reported. The sirens sounded at approximately 10:00 p.m., sending residents rushing to bomb shelters.
Almost two hours later, the IDF said a second rocket was fired from the coastal enclave. The second projectile fell in an open area and did not trigger warning sirens.
Southern Israeli communities are regularly targeted by rockets fired by Gaza terrorist groups. The last major flare-up between Israel and armed Gaza in groups was in May, when hundreds of rockets were fired at towns and cities at the border communities.
Earlier on Friday, the IDF deployed further batteries of the Iron Dome missile defense system in the south of the country as Hamas threatened to avenge the death of one of its members who was shot dead a day earlier by troops in what the army characterized as “a misunderstanding.”
Some 6,000 Palestinians gathered on the Gaza border for protests Friday afternoon, where some rioters hurled rocks as well as explosive devices at soldiers, Hebrew-language media reported.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said 55 people were injured, 33 of them by live fire, according to Channel 13.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian delegation entered the enclave on Friday afternoon in a bid to calm tensions.
Mediators from Cairo have long worked to negotiate between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules Gaza, in a bid to prevent major outbreaks of violence.
On Thursday, in an unusual move, the military acknowledged that Hamas field commander Mahmoud Ahmad Sabri al-Adham, 28, had been erroneously identified by soldiers as an armed terrorist, but was apparently an operative trying to stop Palestinian youths from breaching the security fence.
The army’s statement appeared to be an effort to calm tensions with Hamas and prevent another round of violence on the border.
Hamas’s military wing said in a statement that it would not let the death go “unpunished” and Israel “would bear the consequences of this criminal act.”
Al-Adham’s death threatened to spark another round of large-scale violence between Israel and terror groups in Gaza. Throughout the past year and a half, the two sides have fought several bouts — with terror groups firing mortar shells, rockets and missiles at Israeli cities and towns, and the IDF retaliating with airstrikes — often sparked by smaller incidents along the border.
Thursday’s border incident came amid a relatively calm period along the normally restive frontier, following a reported ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
In recent days, leaders of the terror group have threatened to bring back the high level of violence along the border — riots, arson attacks and clashes — if Israel does not continue to abide by the terms of the ceasefire agreement.
On Tuesday, Hamas launched a highly unusual training exercise that simulated the capture of IDF special forces operating in the territory. (the Times of Israel) Staff
Life goes on in Israel but in Europe old hatreds persist and grow
by Ron Weiser ZFA
The amazing thing about coming to Israel, perhaps especially in summer, is that for all of the fears that people outside of Israel have for her, apparently Israelis themselves are not troubled nearly as much as her supporters overseas are.
In Australia we worry for Israel about Iran.
We worry about Israel not having a government.
We worry about many things.
Talking to Israelis in the streets, these issues seemingly are almost as it were, being taken care of – yihye b’seder! – she’ll be right mate!
The beaches, the hotels, the restaurants – once again, are all full.
Even taxi drivers can afford to be snobbish about what fares they will take.
In super hot and humid Tel Aviv, I was trying to catch a taxi to go an admittedly relatively small distance for a meeting and did not want to arrive looking like I had been for a swim in my clothes. Two different taxi drivers refused to take me and both were ‘kind enough’ to tell me just how easily I could walk there in 15 minutes. I did and it did.
Apparently, the cabbies do not need the money enough and I looked like I needed the exercise.
Politically, if anyone did want to discuss the next elections, most people cannot believe that Netanyahu will lose, but at the same time, cannot see how he would form a government. Same same.
There are so many variables in the potential number of parties, mergers, threshold issues and old/new entrants such as Ehud Barak for one, to make predictions impossible.
The basic calculations come down to just how big the so called ‘left’ and ‘right’ blocks will be and what the various party numbers mean for the sizes of these two respective groupings.
And one does not necessarily have to be so ‘left or right’ to join either of these blocks in any case.
Taking into account that the ‘right’ block is generally considered to be larger, with no-one really knowing which block to include Lieberman in now, and at the same time the so called ‘left’ block needing the Arab parties to form a coalition, there currently seems to be two likely scenarios. The operational word being ‘currently’.
Either the ‘right’ block will get enough votes for Netanyahu to form a coalition or Likud will drop Netanyahu if necessary, to form a national unity government with Blue and White et al.
Of course, it is still a long way to the elections.
Having been to Auschwitz previously and privately, this was however our first time also visiting the general area my parents were born in and came to Australia from, after enduring the Shoah.
We travelled from Budapest to Munich via Bratislava, Vienna, Krems, Linz, Cesky Krumlov and Passau.
In each place we took a guided tour, visited synagogues where they existed (functioning and not) and sampled the very few kosher restaurants in operation.
It did not matter where we went, there were features in common.
Any functioning synagogue had a strong security presence – generally at least an Israeli guard and metal detectors. On shabbat we had to produce ID. Yes, somewhat similar to what you can see even in Australia, but it certainly looked and felt far more intense.
Many of my friends and people whose opinion I respect, have been trying to convince me that Germany et al have learnt their lessons, have erected many memorials and museums and are working to ensure that the past cannot be repeated.
They may even be right in small part, but I came away with no such feeling.
Yes, Holocaust denial is against the law across some 16 European countries – and when it occurs, action is indeed taken.
But I was left with a deep impression of something that I think is worse – Holocaust silence or omission – not a denial, but a wiping out of that period altogether from Europe’s memory.
And a revisionist view of the role of much of the populations of Germany and the surrounding countries.
In the current representations put to us: the people had limited roles in anything that was bad; the life of the Jew was more or less good before the NAZIs came along and who appeared as if by magic; and the true victims were everybody.
That is, in their narrative, the victims were all of the people of Europe – which in a way they were once they suffered the consequences of their actions. But the guides’ emphasis was always strongly on the consequences – the Allied invasions and subsequent damages – and not on the home grown causes.
With eight different guides (in buses full of people), in eight different cities there were some oft repeated themes – and remember that these are officially trained guides, who go through approved courses. They’re not just making it up as they go along:
– Initially, no mention of the Shoah at all. There was WW1 and then a big jump to how horrible communism was and the suffering that occurred for decades under Soviet rule. When asked by myself about the Shoah, the response each time was very similar – it was “a horrible period”, and guides stressed, it was “especially important to note that not only the Jews suffered” and in fact whatever country we were in, they all claimed to be victims of the NAZIs themselves.
It appeared from the commentary that there were only a handful of NAZIs anywhere in Europe at all. Hitler and perhaps a very small number of people around him and he was so strong that he was able to force Germany and all of the surrounding countries to do his bidding.
According to the guides, the emphasis was always firstly and mainly on the continual suffering of the general populations of Europe under Nazism, then the Allied bombings and invasion and then the Soviets.
– In Bavaria when I asked the Passau guide if there was a Jewish community there or a synagogue I could visit, he told me with some relief that no Jews were killed in Passau during WW2. Initially I thought that the residents there must indeed be very special. But, he went on to say, the Jews of Passau had been wiped out in the Middle Ages and there had not been a Jewish community there since. What a relief for the good citizens of Passau.
– Centuries of anti-Semitism and a Europe soaked in Jewish blood – not denied, but simply minimised or ‘overlooked’.
– When pushed, guides said that life for Jews in their respective towns and countries was by and large quite good with a typical response being that “prior to the NAZIs invading us, there was almost no anti-Semitism at all.” In particular, the Hungarian guide was insistent on this point.
I guess she had forgotten about the 1920 Numerus Clausus, Hungary having been the first country in Europe to enact these restrictions on Jews. Or the Arrow Cross. Or….
– Memorials where they existed in these places at all, were almost exclusively to “the victims of National Socialism”, particularly in Munich, where by the way, when touring the Olympic Stadium, not a single mention was made of the massacre of the Israeli athletes there in 1972.
Munich of course being the place the NAZIs opened their first party headquarters in 1920. Munich where even the kosher restaurant is inside a secured complex. Munich, where in our 2 or 3 days there we saw just 2 kippot in the street including even directly outside the secured Jewish buildings.
In some ways, even many ways, it felt like being back in my childhood home albeit in Australia, but with strong European influences. Being in these parts of Europe caused me some nostalgia and conflicted love/hate type feelings.
But the future for Jews in Europe seems very bleak to me
And if Hungary indeed has Europe’s third largest Jewish population, well that does not inspire confidence in the future at all
On reflection, it seemed to me that compared to Europe, Israelis are correct. Although their neighbourhood is bad, Israelis have the ability and will to defend themselves.
There was a world of difference between the security we felt as Jews and for Jews whilst in Israel, compared to the European countries we visited.
Like Ilhan Omar, I grew up in Somalia blaming the Jews for everything. I was able to unlearn my hatred, but can she?
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali The Australian/The Wall Street Journal
I once opened a speech by confessing to a crowd of Jews that I used to hate them. It was 2006 and I was a young native of Somalia who had been elected to the Dutch parliament. The American Jewish Committee was giving me its Moral Courage Award. I felt honoured and humbled but a little dishonest if I didn’t own up to my anti-Semitic past. So I told them how I’d learned to blame the Jews for everything.
Fast-forward to 2019. A US congresswoman has been infuriating the Jewish community and discomfiting the Democratic leadership with her expressions of anti-Semitism. Like me, Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia and exposed at an early age to Muslim anti-Semitism.
Some of the members of my 2006 AJC audience have asked me to explain and respond to Omar’s comments, including her equivocal apologies. Their main question is whether it is possible for Omar to unlearn her evident hatred of Jews — and, if so, how to help.
In my experience it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to unlearn hate without coming to terms with how you learned to hate. Most Americans are familiar with the classic Western flavours of anti-Semitism: the Christian, European, white supremacist and communist types. But little attention has been paid to the special case of Muslim anti-Semitism. That is a pity because today it is anti-Semitism’s most zealous, most potent and most underestimated form.
I never heard the term anti-Semitism until I moved to the Netherlands in my 20s. But I had first-hand familiarity with its Muslim variety. As a child in Somalia, I was a passive consumer of anti-Semitism. Things would break, conflicts would arise, shortages would occur — and adults would blame it all on the Jews.
Sworn to despise
When I was a little girl, my mum often lost her temper with my brother, with the grocer or with a neighbour. She would scream or curse under her breath “Yahud!” followed by a description of the hostility, ignominy or despicable behaviour of the subject of her wrath. It wasn’t just my mother; grown-ups around me exclaimed “Yahud!” the way Westerners use the F-word. I was made to understand that Jews — Yahud — were all bad. No one took any trouble to build a rational framework around the idea — hardly necessary since there were no Jews around. But it set the necessary foundation for the next phase of my development.
At 15 I became an Islamist by joining the Muslim Brotherhood. I began attending religious and civil society events where I received an education in the depth and breadth of Jewish villainy. This was done in two ways.
The first was theological. We were taught that the Jews betrayed our prophet Mohammed. Through Koranic verses (such as 7:166, 2:65 and 5:60), we learned that Allah had eternally condemned them, that they were not human but descendants of pigs and monkeys, that we should aspire to kill them wherever we found them. We were taught to pray: “Dear God, please destroy the Jews, the Zionists, the state of Israel. Amen.”
We were taught that the Jews occupied the Holy Land of Palestine. We were shown pictures of mutilated bodies, dead children, wailing widows and weeping orphans. Standing over them in military uniform were Israeli soldiers with large guns. We were told their killing of Palestinians was wanton, unprovoked and an expression of their hatred for Muslims.
The theological and the political stories were woven together, as in the Hamas charter: “The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: ‘The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, “O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill me”.’ … There is no solution for the Palestine question except through Jihad.”
That combination of narratives is the essence of Muslim anti-Semitism. Mohammed Morsi, the long-time Muslim Brotherhood leader who died on June 17 but was president of Egypt for a year beginning in 2012, urged in 2010: “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews”, two categories that tend to merge along with allegations of world domination.
European anti-Semitism is also a mixture. Medieval Christian antipathy towards “Christ killers” blended with radical critiques of capitalism in the 19th century and racial pseudoscience in the 20th. But before the Depression, anti-Semitic parties were not mass parties. Nor have they been since World War II. Muslim anti-Semitism has a broader base, and its propagators have had the time and resources to spread it widely.
‘Freeing’ the Holy Land
To see how, begin at the top. Most men (and the odd woman) in power in Muslim-majority countries are autocrats. Even where there are elections, corrupt rulers play an intricate game to stay in power. Their signature move is the promise to “free” the Holy Land — that is, to eliminate the Jewish state.
The rulers of Iran are explicit about this goal. Other Muslim leaders may pay lip service to the peace process and the two-state solution, but government anti-Semitism is frequently on display at the UN, where Israel is repeatedly compared to apartheid South Africa, accused of genocide and demonised as racist.
The media also plays its part. There is very little freedom of expression in Muslim-majority countries, and state-owned media churns out anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda daily — as do even media groups that style themselves as critical of Muslim autocracies, such as Al Jazeera and Al-Manar.
Then there are the mosques, madrassas and other religious institutions. Schools in general, especially college campuses, have been an Islamist stronghold for generations in Muslim-majority countries. That matters because graduates go on to leadership positions in the professions, media, government and other institutions.
Refugee camps are another zone of indoctrination. They’re full of vulnerable people, and Islamists prey on them. They come offering food, tents and first aid, followed by education. They establish madrassas in the camps, then indoctrinate the kids with a message that consists in large part of hatred for Jews and rejection of Israel.
Perhaps — I do not know — this is what happened to Omar in the four years she spent in a refugee camp in Kenya as a child. Or perhaps she became acquainted with Islamist anti-Semitism in Minnesota, where her family settled when she was 12. In any case, her preoccupation with the Jews and Israel would otherwise be hard to explain.
Spreading anti-Semitism through all these channels is no trivial matter — and this brings us to the question of resources. “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar tweeted in February, implying that US politicians support Israel only because of Jewish financial contributions. The irony is that the resources available to propagate Islamist ideologies, with their attendant anti-Semitism, vastly exceed what pro-Israel groups spend in the US. Since the early 1970s the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has spent vast sums to spread Wahhabi Islam abroad. Much of this funding is opaque but estimates of the cumulative sum run as high as $US100 billion ($142bn).
Thousands of schools in Pakistan, funded with Saudi money, “teach a version of Islam that leads (to) anti-Western militancy”, according to Connecticut senator Chris Murphy — and, one might add, to an anti-Semitic militancy.
In recent years the Saudi leadership has tried to turn away from supporting this type of religious radicalism. But increasingly Qatar seems to be taking over the Saudi role. In the US alone, the Qatar Foundation has given a total of $US30.6 million across the past eight years to public schools, ostensibly for teaching Arabic and promoting cultural exchange.
For years, Qatar has hosted influential radical clerics such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi and provided them with a global microphone, and the country’s school textbooks have been criticised for anti-Semitism. They present Jews as treacherous and crafty but also weak, wretched and cowardly; Islam is described as inherently superior. “The Grade 11 text discusses at length the issue of how non-Muslims should be treated,” the Middle East Media Research Institute reports. “It warns students not to form relationships with unbelievers, and emphasises the principle of loyalty to Muslims and disavowal of unbelievers.”
The allegation that Jewish or Zionist money controls US congress is nonsensical. The Centre for Responsive Politics estimates that the Israeli government has spent $US34m on lobbying in Washington since 2017. The Saudis and Qataris spent a combined $US51m during the same period. If we include foreign non-governmental organisations, the pro-Israel lobbying figure rises to $US63m — less than the $US68m spent lobbying for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Last year domestic US pro-Israeli lobbying — including but not limited to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC — totalled $US5.1m.
No comparable figures are available for domestic pro-Islamist lobbying efforts. But as journalist Armin Rosen observes, AIPAC’s 2018 total, at $3.5m, was less than the American Association of Airport Executives or the Association of American Railroads spent on lobbying. AIPAC’s influence has more to do with the power of its arguments than the size of its wallet.
Now consider the demographics. Jews were a minority in Europe in the 1930s, but a substantial one, especially in central and eastern Europe.
Today Jews are at a much greater disadvantage. For each Jew worldwide, there are 100 Muslims. In many European countries — including France, Germany, The Netherlands and Britain — the Muslim population far exceeds the Jewish population, and the gap is widening. American Jews still outnumber Muslims but won’t by 2050.
The problem of Muslim anti-Semitism is much bigger than Omar. Condemning her, expelling her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, or defeating her next year won’t make the problem go away.
Islamists have understood well how to couple Muslim anti-Semitism with the American left’s vague notion of “social justice”. They have succeeded in couching their agenda in the progressive framework of the oppressed versus the oppressor. Identity politics and victimhood culture also provide Islamists with the vocabulary to deflect their critics with accusations of “Islamophobia”, “white privilege” and “insensitivity”. A perfect illustration was the way Omar and her allies were able to turn a house resolution condemning her anti-Semitism into a garbled “intersectional” rant in which Muslims emerged as the most vulnerable minority in the league table of victimhood.
As for me, I eventually unlearned my hatred of Jews, Zionists and Israel. As an asylum-seeker turned student turned politician in The Netherlands, I was exposed to a complex set of circumstances that led me to question my own prejudices. Perhaps I didn’t stay in the Islamist fold long enough for the indoctrination to stick. Perhaps my falling out with my parents and extended family after I left home led me to a wider reappraisal of my youthful beliefs. Perhaps it was my loss of religious faith. In any event, I am living proof that one can be born a Somali, raised as an anti-Semite, indoctrinated as an anti-Zionist — and still overcome all this to appreciate the unique culture of Judaism and the extraordinary achievement of the state of Israel. If I can make that leap, so perhaps can Omar.
Yet that is not really the issue at stake. For she and I are only two individuals. The real question is what, if anything, can be done to check the advance of the mass movement that is Muslim anti-Semitism. Absent a worldwide Muslim reformation, followed by an Islamic enlightenment, I am not sure I know.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.