Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The Netanyahu Government continues to struggle with how or whether to comply with the High Court order demanding that the Jewish outpost settlement of Amona be abandoned by the Israeli settlers by December 25. Needing to continue to kowtow to his right wing coalition partners, Netanyahu appears to be waffling as to how to avoid complying the order without actually defying it. The problem now appears to have an added wrinkle. There are reports that some of the settlers from Amona—which has been ruled to be illegally built on Palestinian owned property—have approached the adjacent settlement of Ofra—which has been ruled to be legal—as to whether they could move to Ofra and thus avoid the looming confrontation.
It appears that the U.S., the West as well as Russia are not responding to Israel’s recent airstrikes into Syria. The Israeli move near the Damascus airport was launched to interdict the apparent Syrian efforts to supply Hezbollah with WMD’s. The Israel attack was viewed as necessary to avoid an even higher escalation of border tensions with Hezbollah. There remains a high likelihood that the weapons were being transported in by Iran or by a joint Syrian-Iranian tie-in.
Hannukah in D.C.
The final Hannukah Party in the Obama White House will be followed this year by an early Hannukah dinner co-sponsored by the Azerbaijani Embassy and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations to be held at the new, D.C. Trump International Hotel. The Presidents Conference sought to justify its decision to hold the event in the Trump Hotel based on the flimsy excuses such as its proximity to the White House and availability of kosher food facilities; yet there are numerous equally fine hotels in the same area and kosher catering can be handled in any of them. Given the numerous controversies which have already emerged as Trump moves ahead with his Cabinet appointments, it seems like a totally inappropriate move by the leaders of the Jewish community already to be jumping through hoops to gain favor with the President-elect. This is especially true as debates and personal struggles continue over whether and/or how Trump should or must divest himself from his myriad of business holdings.
Hate Crimes Up
In less than a month since Election Day, the NYPD reported a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic incidents. Of the 43 incidents reported, the police have identified 24 as being anti-Semitic. In addition to Jews, the Muslim community and the LGBTQ community have also been heavily targeted. The police report that there has been an overall increase in hate crimes this year over 2015. Much of this must be understood as stemming from the racism and bigotry stirred up during the campaign as well as the stridently hostile attitudes being espoused by the alt-right; which sees itself now significantly emboldened by Trump’s victory and the Trump appointment of Steven Bannon to a key position incoming Administration.