Laura Rozen reported yesterday that the Obama administration was set to announce the appointment of a special envoy to monitor and combat global anti-Semitism. Per Rozen, rumor has it that the administration has settled on Hannah Rosenthal -- a Chicago lawyer who has precisely the kind of views that you'd expect of an Obama administration anti-Semitism czar.
Ed Lasky does a little Googling and discovers that Rosenthal has been criticized by ADL chief Abe Foxman, who was compelled to write an open letter to Rosenthal after she attacked the speakers an Israel Solidarity Rally for their "narrow, ultra-conservative views of what it means to be pro-Israel..." Those ultra-conservative views were apparently espoused by Dick Gephardt, Harry Reid, and Natan Sharansky among others who spoke that day. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but it strikes me that an anti-Semitism chief probably shouldn't have said something in the recent past that warranted a rebuke from the ADL.
Rosenthal is also on the advisory council of J Street and J Street PAC (she's not just pro-Israel, she's "pro-Israel, pro-peace") -- so Obama turned to an organization that opposes sanctions on the Holocaust denying regime in Iran and refuses to condemn the Goldstone report for his anti-Semitism czar.
Rozen links to a few statements from Rosenthal's past and declares that "She has a track record of involvement in countering anti-Semitism in the international context." One of the reports that Rozen links to includes this quote from Rosenthal:
Then there was the dramatic rise in attacks on European Jews and their institutions as Israeli-Palestinian violence intensified. This followed a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe after the Palestinian intifada erupted in September 2000...
"I'll tell you point-blank: I have two grown daughters, and I didn't think that my kids were going to have to deal with some of the same anti-Semitism that I did as the daughter of Holocaust survivors," Rosenthal said. "It's a scary time, with people losing the ability to differentiate between a Jew, any Jew, and what's going on in Israel."
Parse that quote and it's pretty clear what Rosenthal is saying -- the Israelis have it coming, but the rest of the world needs to distinguish between the good progressive Jews who are not living on Palestinian land and the Israeli Jews who are committing daily atrocities in the name of colonialism and occupation. Indeed, the story goes on,
Some European pundits on the left and right brushed off charges of latent anti-Semitism. They seemed to excuse the violence by blaming it on Diaspora Jews' presumed support for Israeli actions against the Palestinians.
To some observers, however, that smacked of an age-old canard: that Jews themselves are the cause of anti-Semitism.
Some European pundits? That's exactly what Rosenthal did in the preceding paragraph. It is Rosenthal that tries to disabuse readers of the notion that Jews outside of Israel support the policies of the Jews living in Israel -- because if they did support those policies, well then they would be the cause of the anti-Semitism they encounter.
There is nothing that this administration could do vis-Ã -vis Israel and the Jewish community that would surprise me at this point, but appoint an anti-Semitism czar who has been criticized by the ADL, who has been a vocal critic of even left-wing Israeli governments, who sits on the advisory council of a group that is pro-Goldstone and anti-sanctions? Not that it matters all that much -- this could be the most irrelevant post in the entire federal government -- but that only makes the choice even more bizarre. Does this administration still feel it needs to prove its anti-Israel bona fides? Obama bowed to the Saudi King and gave Bibi the cold shoulder, he gave a speech in Cairo but refuses to address the Israeli public, he makes public demands on the Israelis and offers nary a peep of criticism for the Arabs. We get it, they're "even-handed." But this appointment -- like the Freedom Medal for Mary Robinson -- is just gratuitous.