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The Grave Threat of Arab-Muslim Anti-Semitism By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, April 24, 2008

Anti-Semitism and the accompanying hate industry are a strategic danger for Israel and the Jewish people: generations of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims are brought up hating the Jews;…indiscriminate Palestinian terrorism against Israel is made palatable, as is Hezbollah’s Shi’ite terrorism and that of Al-Qaeda, when directed against Israel and Jews around the world.


So say the just-released main findings of a major, 180-page study on “Contemporary Arab-Muslim Anti-Semitism” by Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. The study will be widely distributed among Israeli policymakers and should also be read attentively by policymakers in other countries who deal with the “Arab-Israeli conflict”—which means particularly American policymakers.


Among the report’s other key findings are that:


* Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism “is generally directed against Israel as a Jewish-Zionist state as an enemy of the Arab-Muslim world….” In other words, the emphasis is not on Israel’s alleged injustices toward the Palestinians or “occupation,” but on Israel’s very existence. It is widely believed—axiomatically in some quarters—that the “Arab-Israeli conflict” has now been whittled down to the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and resolving the latter will put the whole issue to rest. That, of course, cannot be right when the focus of the hatred is on Israel itself and not on its policies, or shape or size.


* “Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism has a broad field, rather than being marginal. It is not only popular among the lower classes nor is it the exclusive province of intellectuals, opposition groups or radical Islamic movements. Arab-Muslim regimes in the Middle East all use it….” The study notes that this not only includes regimes like Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon but also the two, Egypt and Jordan, that have signed peace treaties with Israel.

* “Anti-Semitism with Muslim roots is growing. Verses from the Qur’an and the Islamic oral tradition are politically interpreted in the spirit of radical Islam to delegitimize Zionism and the State of Israel and to dehumanize the Jewish people.” That is, while there is still much importation of European anti-Semitism—for instance, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is now “being published in new editions in Egypt, Syria, Iran and other countries”—the hatred is now increasingly indigenous and locally rooted, making it even harder to change.

* “Holocaust denial or minimization and accusing Israel of carrying out a holocaust against the Palestinians, and drawing a parallel between Israel and Zionism on the one hand and Nazi Germany on the other, are central themes in contemporary Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism. The motifs used…are often taken from Western neo-Nazi literature, media and rhetoric…. Accusing Israel of carrying out a holocaust against the Palestinian people is fostered by the Palestinian and Arab media (as part of their intensive propaganda campaign against the State of Israel) and is well received and assimilated in the Arab world.”


* Both “the worsening of the confrontations between Israel and the Palestinians or Hezbollah or, on the other side of the scales, progress in the peace process which is opposed by many Arabs and Muslins, all increase anti-Semitic manifestations in the Arab-Muslim world.” Clearly this flies in the face of stock assumptions that the “peace process” is a cure-all for the hostility and that concessions will win Israel reprieve.


* “Conspicuous in recent years has been the Iranian regime’s turning anti-Semitism and the desire to destroy the State of Israel into a strategic weapon…. Anti-Semitism supported by a state which publicly adheres to a policy of genocide and is making efforts to arm itself with non-conventional weapons which will enable it to carry out that policy is unprecedented since Nazi Germany.”


Some important implications of these findings are:


1. The United States should not pressure Israel into enacting a “peace process” with anti-Semites in which all the tangible concessions—including strategic land, religious sites, the integrity of its capital city, and so on—are made by Israel. One either takes anti-Semitism seriously or one doesn’t. The State Department publishes a detailed “Report on Global Anti-Semitism” each year; the ethos of Holocaust commemoration is strong in the U.S. as in some other democratic countries. Seemingly, then, U.S. officials should have enough appreciation of the depth and toxicity of anti-Semitism that they should take it seriously in its contemporary Arab-Muslim form. It makes no sense to treat Holocaust denial as criminal when practiced by a few odious individuals while ignoring the fact that it is endemic to whole societies with which Israel is supposed to be making peace.


The fact that there are weak Israelis (and other Jews) who also pursue the “peace process” is not an excuse always to back the most delusional, capitulationist tendencies in Israel. Israelis are under great pressure from the Arab-Muslim hatred combined with the policy expectations of the United States and other purportedly friendly actors and it is no surprise that some Israelis buckle. The sight of formerly tough-minded, realistic Israelis like Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni talking glowingly about their longing for the Palestinian state abutting Israel is not encouraging but, rather, shameful. U.S. officials, perhaps particularly conservative ones, should be much better disposed than they are toward more courageous Israeli leaders who incorporate the surrounding hatred into their worldview instead of relating to them as scandalous nuisances.


2. The widespread Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism offers a clear, parsimonious explanation for the disastrous failures of Israeli and U.S. “peacemaking” policies over the past two decades. That the hugely touted Oslo process with Arafat resulted in horrific bloodletting, the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon resulted in its conversion into a major forward base for Iranian-backed terror, and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza resulted in a rain of rockets and still further Iranian-backed entrenchment of terror can all be traced to the fact that hatred and rejection of Israel is dominant in the Arab-Muslim world and the forces that spearhead it are the most energetic, disciplined, and popular ones. There is, again, no excuse not to extrapolate from these miserable failures and realize that further Israeli concessions in the West Bank will reap the same bitter harvest, especially when the Palestinian society there is particularly rife with the hatred.


3. That Arab aggression against Israel was extreme even before the period of intensified, Islamist-inspired anti-Semitism further underlines the stark nature of the situation today. The 1948, 1967, and 1973 wars—Arab onslaughts on Israel aimed at eradicating it—occurred in an earlier period before Islamism was ascendant and secular nationalism was thought to be the driving force in the Arab world.


That does not mean the picture today is monolithic and diplomacy has no role to play in the Arab-Israeli sphere. The Mubarak regime in Egypt, while steadily working to undermine Israel in other ways, has refrained from the all-out war option for thirty years. The Abdullah regime in Jordan keeps it border with Israel quiet and avoids hostilities. Some Arab regimes put belligerence toward Israel on the back burner or even lose interest in it; some are capable of tacit cooperation with Israel against common foes.


The point, though, is that given the prevalence and virulence of the anti-Israeli hatred, opportunities for pacification and even cooperation are best pursued behind the scenes and without fanfare. It has been the heavily public “Israeli-Palestinian peace process” since the early 1990s that not only has had the bloodiest consequences but also has done the most to invigorate the hatred in the Middle East and beyond.


4. As in the Iraqi, Lebanese, and Israeli-Palestinian spheres, so in the sphere of the general anti-Israeli hatred the central malevolent force is Iran. Although the hatred transcends Iran and would continue to exist if the regime was neutralized, Iran’s welding together of genocidal propaganda, ambitions, and weapons means it should be the focus of anyone seriously concerned to address the problem beyond photo-ops or fake displays of harmony.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

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