AIJAC supporters learn about populism

August 21, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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James Kirchick, author of the influential book “The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues and the Coming Dark Age” and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, has addressed an Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) supporters function.

James Kirchick

Kirchick, a leading commentator on US strategy, European and US politics and international gay rights, focused the rise of far-left and far-right populism throughout the Western world, US Middle East strategy under President Donald Trump and the rise of anti-Israel sentiment in the Democratic Party in the US.

“In the Middle East, we’ve seen a real reversal of the Obama administration’s policies,” he explained, “which were to distance the United States from its traditional allies in the region, by which I mean Israel and the Sunni Arab States. The main instrument of this was the Iran Nuclear Deal, which was more than just a deal to delay an Iranian bomb – it was really part of a grander political realignment to see the United States basically draw back from the region and try to balance Iran against Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and our Gulf allies.”

The maximum pressure strategy “has borne some fruit,” argues Kirchick, with the Iranian economy being squeezed as never before, ideally leading to a deal that not only cuts off Iran’s nuclear program for good but contains their regional and global terrorism and other malign activities. “Let’s not forget how this regime instantiated itself: it was by hijacking the American embassy,” he said, describing how Iran hasn’t ceased its dangerous activities, including supporting terrorist groups, recent attacks on shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and taking foreigners hostage, for the past 40 years.

In the United States, Kirchick warned of Israel possibly becoming a partisan issue, with the rise of anti-Israel politicians in the Democratic party, which “traditionally has been very pro-Israel, which traditionally has been the home of American Jews, just like the Labor Party in Britain” that has been taken over by the anti-Israel and antisemitic Jeremy Corbyn and other far-left activists. While the leadership of the Democratic Party “is still rock-solid for Israel…We do have a handful now of Democratic Congresspeople who are vocally anti-Israel, pro-BDS,” he said.

According to Kirchick, President Trump is also attempting to use the anti-Israel statements and positions of Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to tar the entire party, something Kirchickworries is deepening the partisan divide around what was once overwhelmingly bipartisan support for Israel.

AIJAC executive director Dr. Colin Rubenstein introduced James and the subject matter, saying that we were witnesses dramatic upheavals in US politics and the World at large and that James hada unique insight into these complex issues. Jeremy Jones, AIJAC’s Director of International & Community Affairs, closed the function and thanked James for his important contribution to the political conversation in Australia.

The event was held at the offices of Shaw & Partners in Sydney.

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