Wednesday, September 28, 2011
A prayer for 5772
Upon his return to Ramallah from New York, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was greeted by a crowd of several thousand well-wishers. They applauded him for his speech at the UN. There, Abbas erased Jewish history from the Land of Israel, denied Israel's right to exist and pledged his commitment to establish a racist Palestinian state ethnically cleansed of all Jews.
Many of Abbas's supporters in Ramallah held posters of US President Barack Obama. On them Obama was portrayed as a monkey. The caption read, "The First Jewish President of the United States."
The fact that the Palestinians from Fatah and Hamas alike are Jew-hating racists should surprise no one who has been paying a modicum of attention to the Palestinian media and general culture. Since the PA was established in 1994 in the framework of the peace process between Israel and the PLO, it has used the media organs, schools and mosques it controls to spew out a constant flow of anti-Semitic propaganda. Much of the Jew-hating bile is indistinguishable from anti-Jewish propaganda published by the Nazis.
As for their anti-black bigotry, it is enough to recall the frequency with which Condoleezza Rice was depicted as a monkey and a devil in the Palestinian and pan-Arab media during George W. Bush's presidency to realize that the racist depiction of Obama was not a fluke. Moreover, and more disturbingly, it is worth recalling that like its fellow Arab League members, the PA has strongly supported Sudan's genocide of black Africans in Darfur.
To a degree, the willingness of African-Americans to turn a blind eye to Arab anti-black prejudice is understandable. Since the mid-1960s, oil rich Arab kingdoms led by Saudi Arabia have spent hundreds of millions of petrodollars in outreach to African-Americans. This outreach includes but is not limited to massive proselytization efforts among inner city blacks. The combination of a strong and growing African-American Muslim population and a general sense of amity towards Muslims as a result of outreach efforts contribute to a willingness on the part of African- Americans to overlook Arab anti-black racism.
Unlike African-Americans, Jewish Americans have been targeted by no serious outreach campaigns by the likes of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world. To the contrary, as Mitchell Bard documented in his book The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America's Interests in the Middle East, these Arab nations have spared no effort in anti-Israel lobbying in the US. Among the Arab lobby's goals is to undermine the legitimacy of American Jewish lobbying on behalf of Israel.
Furthermore, the anti-Jewish atmosphere in the Arab world is far more comprehensive and poisonous than its anti-black prejudice. A Pew global opinion poll from 2008 showed that hatred of Jews is effectively universal in the Arab world and overwhelming in non-Arab Muslim states. In Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, between 95 and 97 percent of respondents expressed hatred of Jews. In Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan between two-thirds and three-quarters of respondents expressed hatred of Jews.
Jew-hatred among Muslim minorities in the West is less overwhelming. But Muslim antagonism towards Jews vastly outstrips that of the general populations of their countries. According to a Pew survey from 2006, while 7% of British citizens express unfavorable views of Jews, 47% of British Muslims admit to such views. In France, 13% of the general population admits to harboring negative feelings towards Jews and 28% of French Muslims do. Likewise in Germany, 22% of the general population acknowledges anti-Semitic views and 44% of German Muslims do.
More dangerously, the quantity of anti-Semitic attacks carried out by Muslims in the West far outstrips their percentage in the general population. According to Pew data, in 2010 Muslims comprised just 4.6% of the population of the UK but carried out 39% of the anti-Semitic attacks. Moreover, according to the Times Online, in 2006, 37% of British Muslims claimed that British Jews are legitimate targets for attacks. Only 30% of British Muslims disagreed.
WITH THE overwhelming data showing that throughout the Arab world there is strong support for organizations and regimes which advocate the genocide of world Jewry, the American Jewish community could have been expected to devote the majority of its attention and resources to exposing and combating this existential threat. Just as the American Jewish community dedicated itself in the past to causes such as the liberation of Soviet Jewry and fighting neo-Nazi groups in the US and throughout the world, it could have been expected that from the Anti-Defamation League to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, that major American Jewish groups would be using the financial and human resources at their disposal to defend against this violent, genocidal hatred.
But this has not occurred. Many leading American Jewish organizations continue to be far more involved in combating the currently relatively benign anti-Semitism of the Catholic Church and Evangelical Christians than confronting the escalating dangers of Muslim anti-Semitism.
According to a Gallup poll released last month, 80% of American Jews have favorable views of American Muslims. Seventy percent believe that they are not supportive of al-Qaida. These data indicate that American Jews are second only to American Muslims in their support for Muslim Americans. Indeed 6% more American Jews than American Muslims believe that American Muslims face prejudice due to their religion.
American Jewish championing of American Muslims is disconcerting when compared with American Jewish treatment of the philo-Semitic Evangelical Christians. Matthew Knee discussed this issue in depth in a recent article published at the Legal Insurrection website.
In a 2003 Pew survey, 42% of American Jews expressed antagonism towards Evangelical Christians. In a 2004 American National Election Study, Jews on average rated Evangelical Christians at 30 out of 100 on a "feeling thermometer," where 1 was cold and 100 was hot.
A 2005 American Jewish Committee survey found that Jews assessed that following Muslims, Evangelical Christians have the highest propensity for being anti-Semites. And yet, in the same 2004 American National Election Survey, Evangelical Christians rated Jews an average of 82 on the 1- 100 feelings scale. Evangelical Christians rated Catholics at 80.
Consistent survey data show that levels of anti- Semitism among Evangelical Christians is either the same as or slightly lower than the national average. According to a 2007 ADL survey, the US average is 15%.
There is a clear disparity between survey data on anti-Semitism among various American ethnic groups and American Jews' assessment of the prevalence of anti-Semitism among the same groups. The AJC survey found that American Jews believed that 29% of Evangelicals are largely anti- Semitic. They assessed that only 7% of Hispanics and 19% of African-Americans are anti-Semites.
As it works out, their perceptions are completely incorrect. According to the 2007 ADL survey, foreign born Hispanics, and African-Americans, harbor significantly stronger anti-Semitic views than the national average. Twenty-nine percent of foreign born Hispanics harbor very anti-Semitic views. Thirty-two percent of African-Americans harbor deeply anti-Semitic views.
Like Jews, Hispanics, African-Americans and Muslims vote disproportionately for the Democratic Party. Evangelical Christians on the other hand, are reliably Republican. A 2009 survey on US anti- Semitism conducted by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco found that Democrats are more likely to be anti-Semitic than Republicans.
The Gallup survey from last month showing American Jews' deep support for American Muslims is of particular interest because that support stands in stark contrast with survey data concerning American Jewish perception of Muslim American anti-Semitism.
THE 2005 AJC survey showed that American Jews believe that 58% of American Muslims are anti- Semitic. That is, American Jews are Muslim Americans' strongest non-Muslim defenders at the same time they are convinced that most Muslim Americans are anti-Semites.
What can explain this counterintuitive behavior? And how can we account for the apparent pattern of incorrect Jewish perceptions of anti-Semitism among Evangelical Christians on the one hand and fellow Democrats on the other hand?
As Knee argues, the disparity may very well be due to partisan loyalties. The Democratic Party has openly engaged in fear mongering and demonization of Evangelical Christians in order to maintain Jewish loyalty to the party. Knee quotes then-Democratic national chairman Howard Dean's statement that "Jews should feel comfortable in being American Jews without being constrained from practicing their faith or be compelled to convert to another religion."
As for Muslims, Knee cites a press release from the National Jewish Democratic Council from March attacking Congressman Peter King's hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims. In the press release, the council claimed that such hearings "can and will" harm religious tolerance in America. That is, the council implied that by investigating the radicalization of American Muslims - and its concomitant transformation of American Muslims into supporters of the genocidal Jew-hatred endemic among radical Muslims worldwide - Rep. King is endangering Jews.
If American Jews are most concerned with being able to maintain their loyalty to the Democratic Party, then it makes sense for them to wildly exaggerate Evangelical anti-Semitism. It is reasonable for them to underestimate African-American and Hispanic anti-Semitism, and ignore the higher rates of anti-Semitism among Democrats than among Republicans. Moreover, it makes sense for them to follow their party's lead in failing to address the dangers of global Islamic anti- Semitism.
None of this makes sense, however, if American Jews are most concerned with defending Jews - in America and worldwide - from anti-Semitic sentiments and violence.
On Wednesday evening we begin our celebration of the New Year. Rosh Hashana marks a period of soul-searching among Jews. We are called upon at this time to account for our actions and our failures to act and to improve our faithfulness to our people, to our laws and to God.
It is possible that American Jews are simply unaware of the disparities between reality and their perceptions of reality. But it is the duty of all Jews to educate ourselves about the threats that reality poses to ourselves and our people.
At the UN last week, Abbas received accolades and applause from all quarters for his anti-Semitic assault on Jewish history and the Jewish state. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's remarks were applauded by Israel-supporters in the audience in the General Assembly.
As Israel is increasingly isolated and Jews worldwide are under attack, it is my prayer for the coming year that the American Jewish community will come to terms with a difficult reality and the choices it entails, and act with the majority of their fellow Americans to defend Israel and combat anti-Semitism in the US and throughout the world.
Originally published in the Jerusalem Post.