Some gloomy reflections on the presidential conscience. Jan 13, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 17 • By EDWARD ALEXANDER
In his ponderously titled book Contributions to the Correction of the Public’s Judgement Concerning the French Revolution (1793), the German philosopher and political leader Johann Gottlieb Fichte took time out from his defense of the Reign of Terror to compose what has been called by Daniel Johnson “the most notorious footnote in history.” It warned his German countrymen of the Jewish menace in their midst. The Jews, he told them, constituted “a state within a state. . . . I see no way of granting [the Jews] civil rights, unless it be by chopping off all their heads one night and replacing them with new ones in which there would be not a single Jewish idea. And I see no way to protect ourselves from the Jews, unless by conquering their promised land for them and sending them all there.”
This classic text of secular European anti-Semitism, which told the Jews, “You have no right to live among us as Jews” (though, perhaps, not yet “you have no right to live”), was recently echoed (just how intentionally we may soon find out) by Turkey’s embattled prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Under attack and investigation for massive corruption, and facing millions of angry street demonstrators, Erdogan has accused his prosecutors of being the agents of a global conspiracy to undermine him and to create in Turkey “a state within the state.” He and his minister of economics also blamed the international “interest-rate lobby” for the assault on the Turkish government.
Erdogan has not (yet) gone beyond these familiar euphemisms of European paranoia regarding the Jewish conspiracy, although his deputy, Besir Atalay, explicitly blamed “the Jewish Diaspora” for the assault on their regime. Erdogan is not a highly educated man, but in Europe one need not be an intellectual to appreciate the resonance of Fichte’s depiction of the continent’s Jewish minority, even in its pitifully reduced post-Holocaust condition, as “a state within a state.”
In fact, everything we know of Erdogan indicates that he is one of those Europeans who believe that the Holocaust gave anti-Semitism a bad name, and that it deserves yet another chance. In the first three months of 2009, over a year before the attempt by the Turkish “flotilla” to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza exploded relations between the two countries, and four years before Erdogan declared that Israel had engineered the suppression of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Turkey was the scene of the fiercest anti-Israel and anti-Semitic agitation in all of Europe.
The competition for this dubious distinction was intense: The Religion of Perpetual Outrage had been expressing its anger over Israeli actions in Gaza by staging violent pro-Hamas demonstrations throughout the old (and increasingly post-Christian) continent. Muslim Brotherhood members and their followers had taken to the streets of European cities screaming, “Death to Israel! Death to the Jews!” Muslim mobs had intimidated policemen in London and Malmö, and smashed up the Place de l’Opéra in Paris. But nowhere was the agitation of the mob more aggressive than in Turkey, where it extended from streets to schools, newspapers, and TV stations. The very good reason for this was that it had been encouraged by Erdogan, who declared that “Israelis know very well how to kill” and—of course—that “Jews control the media.”
It was about a week after these demonstrations that Barack Obama took his first presidential grand tour of Europe—and showed the icy indifference to Jewish fears that has marked his entire presidency. Not a single word about this riotous unpleasantness made its way into Obama’s speeches to Turkish parliamentarians and university students. Rather, they were full of his usual calls for “respect” for Islam plus assurances that America is not and “never will be” at war with Europe’s rapidly growing religious minority.
Nor was this all. It was subsequently revealed that Erdogan is Obama’s favorite foreign leader, and indeed a friend with whom he had created “bonds of trust.” The Washington Post reported that he had spent more time on the phone with Erdogan than with any other “ally leader.” He had, to be sure, spent a great deal of time on the phone with Benjamin Netanyahu also, but much of it consisted of hectoring the latter to apologize to Erdogan for the deaths of nine of the flotilla’s Hamas marauders. Erdogan, on the other hand, is considered by our president to be a friend whom he trusts and in whose presence he feels secure and comfortable.
A bicentennial sense of his life and work.Nov 25, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 11 • By PAUL A. CANTOR
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner (1813-1883), arguably the greatest of all opera composers. (Mozart and Verdi fans: Please note the “arguably.”) Accordingly, the Wagner industry, active enough in off years, has kicked into high gear. The major recording companies have issued large boxes of commemorative CD collections, with varying degrees of completeness.
There’s a message here, but what is it?
Jul 8, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 41 • By JOHN PODHORETZ
So I saw World War Z, the new Brad Pitt movie about a worldwide zombie outbreak, and here’s the surprising thing: I can’t decide whether it’s the most anti-Semitic movie ever made, or the most Zionist movie ever made.
12:00 AM, Jan 7, 2013 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
During the hearings on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense, it’s clear that the views of gay rights organizations will be heard. There the issue seems to be whether Hagel’s apology for previous remarks and beliefs was sincere, or motivated solely by self-interest. He had years to apologize publicly, but did so only when opposition from gay rights groups threatened his nomination.
5:54 PM, Dec 19, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Adam Kredo reports on an opportunity Chuck Hagel passed on to condemn ant-Semitism:
6:41 PM, Dec 13, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
In response to reports that Barack Obama is likely to choose Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense, a top Republican Senate aide emails, "Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite."
10:23 AM, Nov 23, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
The World Jewish Congress is expressing concern about an anti-Semitic and racist outburst at a recent soccer game. The concern relates to a Europa League game between Italian team S.S. Lazio and the English the Tottenham Hotspur. The match took place Thursday night in Rome.
4:32 PM, Sep 24, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Speaking in New York today, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel will be "eliminated." Ahmadinejad made the remarks to reporters. He's in New York in for the United Nations General Assembly.
6:20 PM, Aug 8, 2012 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
Scandinavia is boring. People living there apparently have little to do. And as European history teaches, when there is nothing much to do you may as well amuse yourself by attacking the Jews.
5:00 PM, Mar 21, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
French officials have identified the gunman responsible for the deaths of seven people, including three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, as a French-Algerian named Mohammad Merah. As with other terrorist attacks, there was early confusion in the press reporting about the identity and motives of the killer. Some suggested he was a neo-Nazi or another brand of right-wing extremist, which was certainly possible.
Government anti-Semitism, Chávez style.12:05 PM, Feb 28, 2012 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
Much like Fidel Castro, his ideological soulmate, Hugo Chávez is fond of denouncing his critics as “fascists” and “Nazis,” regardless of whether those critics are U.S.
8:05 AM, Jan 26, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
With the Center for American Progress’s Think Progress blog under scrutiny for publishing what some would consider borderline anti-Semitic content, it would seem likely that bloggers over there might be careful about the content. (Even Think Progress’s editor Faiz Shakir admitted that some of the language used by employees of the liberal institution is anti-Semitic, according to an email obtained by the Jerusalem Post.) At least, one would think, the higher ups are presumably now being more careful, considering they backed away from the controversial content last week, as the Washington Post reported at the time.