Sunday, June 29, 2008
Contemporary Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism, its Significance and Implications
The Main Findings of the Study
1. The study examines contemporary anti-Semitism in the Arab-Muslim world, its roots, its characteristics and the strategic dangers inherent in it for the Jewish people in general and the State of Israel in particular. Classic Christian European anti-Semitism made its way into the Arab world at the end of the 19 th century and was amplified by the Arab-Zionist conflict. Its spread accelerated during the 1930s after the Nazi rise to power in Germany , and particularly after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. It includes elements of classic European anti-Semitism combined with Islamic motifs, and has become more prominent in the past three decades, following the escalation of radical Islam.2. Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism has a number of conspicuous descriptive traits:
i) It is generally directed against Israel as a Jewish-Zionist state as an enemy of the Arab-Muslim world , and against the Jewish people, perceived as supporting Israel . Often no clear distinction is made between vicious criticism of the State of Israel and the Zionist movement on the one hand, and fierce incitement against both as representing the Jewish people on the other.
ii) 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 .
iii) The dimensions and manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Arab-Muslim world are influenced by events taking place in the Middle East . Thus, 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.
iv) 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 German on the other, are central themes in contemporary Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism . The motifs used in anti-Semitic propaganda are often taken from Western neo-Nazi literature, media and rhetoric and there are clearly reciprocal relations between Holocaust denial in the West and denying it or trying to minimize it in the Arab-Muslim world . 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.
v) Anti-Semitism and hatred for Israel provide the justification for violence and terrorist attacks against Israelis and Jews. The radical Islamic Palestinian terrorist organizations (especially Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad), Hezbollah in Lebanon, Al-Qaeda and the global jihad around the world regard the Jewish people in general and Israel in particular as their eternal enemy and whom they must fight to the death. For individuals and organizations who accept that ideology, Israelis and Jews are legitimate targets for indiscriminate violence and terrorist attacks.
vi) There is a link between anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism and anti-Western sentiment in general . Al-Qaeda, the global jihad and various radical Islamic groups claim that the struggle between Islam on the one hand and Judaism and Christianity on the other is an integral part of the ancient, multidimensional struggle between Islam and the “infidel” West. The Iranian regime which rose to power following the Islamic revolution in 1979 regards the confrontation with Israel and the Jewish people as part of its campaign against the United States and the West. Hezbollah and some of the radical Islamic Palestinian terrorist organizations hold the same anti-Semitic, anti-American, anti-Western ideology, and are often anti-Christian as well.
3. 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, although the way they use it changes from country to country. It is not limited to the Middle East, since anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic propaganda are distributed to Muslim communities all over the world, especially in Europe . Anti-Semitism is marketed in a variety of ways (books, the Internet, television) and helps fan the flames of hatred for Jews and Israel among Muslim communities far beyond the Middle East .
4. 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 . The regime makes intensive use of anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiments to further its own national objectives. 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 .
5. Arab countries such as Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan enable (and some even encourage) anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic incitement for a variety of internal reasons: they can use the struggle against Israel and the image of support for the Palestinians as a way of letting opposition groups let off steam (especially when Israel-Palestinian confrontations escalate), for increasing their identification with Islamist groups and for increasing support for their own regimes. However, the Arab regimes are well aware of the international community's opposition, in principle, to anti-Semitism , especially in the United States and Western countries. Therefore, they play down the support (direct or indirect) they give anti-Semitism and do not initiate extreme or vulgar anti-Semitic policies as does Iran, and they sometimes attempt to represent anti-Semitism as a legitimate criticism of Israel and a show of support for the Palestinians. In addition, various Arab spokesman (although they are in the minority) do not support anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, claiming that such support only helps Israel, since manifestations of anti-Semitism cause the West to identify with Israel and back it up.
6 . 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; the peace process is damaged and obstacles to the normalization of Israel's relations with the Arab countries of the Middle East are erected; 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.
7. The dangers of anti-Semitism in general and Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism in particular require the State of Israel and the Jewish people to cooperate with the international community to struggle effectively against it . The struggle must be based on the methodical monitoring of anti-Semitic publications and the exposure of the countries, regimes, individuals and organizations participating, directly or indirectly in anti-Semitic activities of all kinds. It is not an easy mission because a flood of anti-Semitic propaganda are published and distributed in many Arab-Muslim countries in a variety of languages and are disseminated by all the media, with the result that dealing effectively with them requires a high level of professionalism. The results of monitoring should be used as the basis for a practical campaign of preventative action.
8. For the struggle to be effective, there must be an international task force with the ability to take action, leading the struggle against Arab-Muslim anti-Semitic incitement as part of a general campaign against anti-Semitism, with political, media and legal tools . Not only Jews must take part, but people of all religions with moral authority, senior representatives and leaders of enlightened countries and top-flight jurists. Past experience has shown that a determined struggle can make it difficult for anti-Semitism to manifest itself and can reduce its dimensions, even if it cannot stamp it out entirely.