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October 24, 2003 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-24

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Anti-Semitism Explained

yen in a world where anti-
Semitism is becoming
increasingly accepted, occa-
sionally someone can say
something that shocks even the
The speech of Malaysian Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad at a
meeting of a conference of Islamic
countries last week contained so
much blatant anti-Jewish bigotry
that French President Jacques Chirac
felt compelled to condemn it.
To the applause of his fellow
Muslim world leaders, Mahathir
informed the world that it was being
run "by the Jews." The Malaysian
spiced this rather routine litany of
anti-Semitic invective by going on to
state that the Jews "invented ...
human rights and democracy so that
persecuting them would appear to be
wrong, so that they can enjoy equal
rights with others."
To his credit, President Bush made
a point of personally refuting
Mahathir's screed. It would be nice
to think that Mahathir's speech was
just the ravings of a nutty Malaysian.
That appeared to be the spin the
administration wanted to put on the
affair. Even as she condemned
Mahathir's words, National Security
Advisor Condoleeza Rice tempered
that by saying, "I don't think they
are emblematic of the Muslim


What Moderates' Think

Perhaps Rice missed the fact that
Ahmed Maher, foreign minister of
Egypt, supposedly a U.S. ally,
praised Mahathir's speech as "a very,
very wise assessment." And Hamid
Karzai, recently installed by the
United States as the leader of
Afghanistan, called it "very correct."
And those were just the comments
from the "moderates." Far from
being unusual, this type of Jew-
hatred has become typical in an Arab
and Muslim world that has become
the global producer of anti-
Semitism. Jews and Americans have
become the bogeymen of the Muslim
imagination, filling heads with
ready-made excuses for the failure of
Muslim civilization to keep up with
the West.
This drivel has been hammered
into the minds of young Muslims
around the world in schools paid for
by America's Saudi "allies."
But, predictably, for some
Americans the answer lies not in
confronting the dementia that passes
for wisdom in the Muslim world,
but for America to change its poli-
cies. It didn't take long for such a
suggestion to appear on the Op-Ed
page of the New York Times. The
author was Times columnist Paul
Krugman, the Princeton economist
who usually confines himself to rab-
Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of
idly partisan attacks on Bush's
the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia.
domestic policies.
His e-mail address is
But on Oct. 21, Krugman told his

Israel academics — came
readers that the Malaysian
back to tell us that America's
leader isn't really such a bad
bad image in the Muslim
guy. In a piece titled
world was largely our own
"Listening to Mahathir,"
fault. They think that we
Krugman said that the bulk
should increase our efforts to
of the speech was an accurate
make nice with Arabs and
depiction of Muslim prob-
lems. If he indulged in Jew-
Muslims, and even rethink
baiting, we should, Krugman JONATHAN our foreign policy.
said, understand he was just
And that always comes
throwing his constituents
back to the same canard
Commentary floated by Krugman — that
"rhetorical red meat" as part
support for Israel is at the
of a "delicate balancing act
aimed at domestic politics."
heart of hostility to the West, and
that if only Washington would cut
In other words, Mahathir was no
the Israelis loose, then Muslims
different from, say, a politician in
the American South in the 1950s
wouldn't hate us or crash hijacked
airliners into skyscrapers to get our
who had "progressive" views, but
who ranted about the threat to white attention.
America from blacks in order to stay
This sort of nonsense has been
in office. Except, of course, that
resisted by sensible elements of the
Bush administration, which has
Krugman and the rest of 2003
America no longer believe that such
focused on fighting terror, not
balancing acts are either justified or
rationalizing it. But that has also
been accompanied by a willful blind-
ness to the miasma of hate that per-
vades the Muslim world. Most state-
Blame It On Us And Israel
ments coming out of Washington on
this issue, like Rice's, are something
According to Krugman, it really isn't
Mahathir's fault that he has to say
between a prayer and a hope that if
such nasty things. "The rising tide of we ignore the problem, maybe it will
anti-Americanism and anti-
just go away.
Semitism" is, according to this sage
Instead, maybe we should be
telling Muslims that, contrary to
of Princeton, due to Bush's war in
Iraq and "unconditional support for
Mahathir, they aren't being "humili-
ated" and "oppressed" by Israel. They
Ariel Sharon."
Krugman's view is in line with the
are being humiliated and oppressed
by their own leaders, and a culture
views of a State Department panel
that recently toured the world trying
that is hostile to those concepts of
"human rights" that they claim the
to find out why Muslims don't like
Jews invented to swindle them. ❑
us. That panel — packed with anti-

Loving And Loathing Israel

They love us; they love us not;
they love us; they love us not ...



he contrast couldn't be
more extreme. Earlier this
month, during a week in
which Israel was bashed,
maligned, ostracized, vilified,
shunned, slammed, berated and raked
over the coals by much of the interna-
tional community for its building of a
security fence in the West Bank and

Robert Sarner is a senior reporter-editor

on Israel's only English-language daily
TV news show. Before moving to Israel
in 1990, he was a writer and magazine
editor in Paris and Toronto. His e-mail
address is rsarner@netvision.net.il



its air strike on a terrorist camp in
Syria, 3,000 Christians from around
the world paraded through downtown
Jerusalem in support of Israel.
They marched in delegations repre-
senting the 80 countries from which
they came. Dressed in their national
costumes, the visitors waved banners
and sang songs in solidarity with
Israel. Their unfettered love for our
besieged little nation was heart-warm-
ing for most Israelis, if not a bit
These days, Israelis are much more
accustomed to ill wind from abroad
than warmth from strangers. We're far
more used to being persona non grata
on the world stage. Many people
despise our government and every-
thing it stands for. They blame us for
many of the troubles in the world.

They denounce us as an
Unrelenting Hate
American beachhead in the
Today, Israel seems to have
Middle East. They resent us
reached a worrying new low
being tough, assertive and flex-
in international opinion, even
ing our muscles in self-defense.
worse than during the
Do I exaggerate? If so, not by
Lebanon War in 1982.
Hostility to Israel (sometimes
To be an Israeli today is to
masking a not-so-latent anti-
be hated by much of the
Semitism) is growing. It takes
world. We know it and feel it.
many forms, often going way
We've almost come to expect
beyond condemning specific
it, not out of Jewish paranoia
Commentary actions to even question the
but from mounting evidence.
very legitimacy of Israel as a
We're almost resigned to such
As part of a sinister effort to turn it
It's nothing personal of course, not
into a pariah state, our adversaries
aimed at me or my family or friends
demonize Israel, portraying it as a
and neighbors, just our country. It's
rogue entity and the main cause of
just a visceral contempt for Israel. Not
world terror.
new, but more aggressive and more
Few countries, if any, have been the
widespread than in the past.
object of such loathing and hypocrisy

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