FREE Subscription to our
just enter your email address
View Previous Issues



"Anti-Semitism" is Israel's last refuge

By Abdeljabbar Adwan
The Daily Star (Lebanon)
15 July 2002


Many American newspapers are feeling the pinch because of a boycott by Jewish businesses and individuals. France (which helped Israel develop its nuclear capability) today stands accused of anti-Semitism, thus joining a long list of countries, businesses and individuals targeted by fundamentalist persecution in recent years.

After the end of World War II (mainly since the 1960s), a series of campaigns targeting the remnants of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism have been launched around the world.

Anti-Semitism, rampant in Europe for centuries, is defined (by Chambers’ Twentieth Century Dictionary) as: “Hatred of Semites ­ especially Jews ­ and the influence they wield.”

The main point that has to be noted here is that Semites are not exclusively Jews. Jews form part of the Semite peoples, who also include Arabs and ­ naturally ­ Palestinians. (For an excellent account on the origins of the Semite peoples, see Sabatino Moscati’s Ancient Semitic Civilizations, Elek Books.) The Germans, with the Jews in mind, invented the term, as Arabs were rather thin on the ground in Europe at the time. Consequently, European hatred (sanctioned by the church) was directed mainly at the Jews. Subsequently, Jew-haters came to be known as anti-Semites.

The main reason Jewish communities came to be found in Europe in the first place was the fall of the Muslim empire in Andalusian Spain at the hands of the Catholic Spaniards. The unimaginable persecution visited by the victorious Christians against Andalusia’s Muslim and Jewish inhabitants drove the former as well as some of the latter to the Arab lands. Many Jews, however, chose to flee to other European lands ­ where persecution at the hands of Christians was less than it was in Spain. At any rate, the treatment meted out to the Jews by the Europeans could not compare with the eight centuries of tolerance they enjoyed under Muslim rule.

It is important to point out the origins of the term, since it has gained in importance recently, thanks to its use by ignorant demagogues against all Semites, whether Arabs or Jews. The term “anti-Semite” ­ in a political context ­ has been increasingly brought into play in recent years, especially by right-wing extremists, against anyone not submitting to their blackmail.

Before World War II ended, the term anti-Semitism was never drawn on accusingly. Hatred of Jews in Europe was so intense and so widespread that it would have meant nothing. Even the United States refused to take in European Jewish immigrants in those days. Those Europeans less averse to Jews decided to dispatch them to Palestine.

In the Nuremberg trials, those Nazis who took part in the Holocaust got off relatively lightly, so long as they had something to offer the West and the Soviet Union (such as rocket scientists, for example).

However, with relations between Jews and the United States increasing in strength and, thanks to the former’s excellent organizational skills as well as their shrewd exploitation of the American political system, it gradually became possible to go after anyone who even hinted at hostility to Jews.

A good source of information about how the Jews came to control political life in the United States is Paul Findley’s They Dare To Speak Out. Despite the fact that this book was written more than 17 years ago, it still faithfully portrays the situation prevailing today. Findley was a member of the US Congress for more than 20 years, before the Jewish lobby booted him out for speaking his mind. A critic said of his book: “It exposes the degree to which pro-Israel groups are able to suppress free debate, compromise national secrets and shape American foreign policy. Findley focuses on individuals who have stood up to the pro-Israel forces and brings out their statements and observations on the Middle East and US foreign policy toward Israel.”

Another informative study of Jewish organizations and the Jewish lobby in the United States is American Jewish Organizations and Israel, by Lee O’Brien. In order to find out what effects these organizations have had over the last four decades, one could do worse than to read Stephen Green’s America’s Secret Relations With A Militant Israel.

The foreign and domestic policies of the world’s only remaining superpower have become inextricably linked to the interests of pressure groups to a degree that threatens democracy itself. The United States is in danger of being taken back to a pre-democratic age, when rich industrialists and entrepreneurs dominated political life.

The Holocaust has been used to blackmail European countries and businesses despite the vast sums they paid to survivors and to Israel since the end of the World War II. Using American influence, anyone who refused to pay was instantly branded an anti-Semite.

Another point worth mentioning is that opportunists have been trying to confuse criticism of Israel’s policies with anti-Semitism to further their own political ends.

One of the best accounts of how the Holocaust was turned into an industry was written by Norman Finkelstein. His book, based on the experiences of his own mother in Nazi concentration camps, nevertheless drew criticism from right-wing fundamentalists. Finkelstein, himself a Jew, was accused of anti-Semitism! Why? Let us read this review of the book (on
“He portrays the lawsuits against Swiss banks as the doings of the Jewish liquor tycoon Edgar Bronfman (eager to augment his $3 billion net worth) and New York Senator Al D’Amato (courting Jewish money and votes). In Finkelstein’s account, Bronfman’s World Jewish Congress ‘working with … the gamut of Holocaust institutions mobilized the entire US political establishment. From President Bill Clinton, who buried the hatchet with D’Amato … through 11 agencies of the federal government as well as the House and Senate, down to state and local governments across the country, bipartisan pressures were brought to bear as one public official after another lined up to denounce the perfidious Swiss.’

“And so it goes, page after page. What this adds up to is pseudo-scholarship, extreme anti-Israel ideology and ­ there is no way around it ­ anti-Semitism. And it stinks.”

Norman Finkelstein replied to his critics in the second edition of his book, which won the following acclaim:

“In an iconoclastic and controversial new study, Norman G. Finkelstein moves from an interrogation of the place the Holocaust has come to occupy in American culture to a disturbing examination of recent Holocaust compensation agreements. It was not until the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, when Israel’s evident strength brought it into line with US foreign policy, that memory of the Holocaust began to acquire the exceptional prominence it enjoys today. Leaders of America’s Jewish community were delighted that Israel was now deemed a major strategic asset and, Finkelstein contends, exploited the Holocaust to enhance this newfound status. Their subsequent interpretations of the tragedy are often at variance with actual historical events and are employed to deflect any criticism of Israel and its supporters.”

The Jews of America have grown so reckless as to call for boycotting France, a friendly country, and The New York Times, which was established by a Jew a century ago, and which led the calls for compensation for Holocaust survivors.

The reason The New York Times was targeted was because it printed pictures of Jews demonstrating against the Israeli occupation. The logic was that anyone who appreciates the Palestinians’ position threatens Israel’s security.

This, by the way, was after the recent Israeli invasion and the crimes committed in Jenin.