Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, December 2009
The Myth of Anti-Semitism
By Tammy Obeidallah
ccun.org, December 27, 2009
There is no label that strikes more fear into the hearts of political figures, journalists and the general public than “Anti-Semitism.” To be labeled an “anti-Semite” can mean the end of a career, the failure of a business or being shunned by friends and colleagues.
“Anti-Semitism” is a term that was coined in Europe during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Prominent Jewish scholars used it to characterize the emerging theories that “Semitic” races were inferior to “Aryan” races. Despite the fact that Arabs are Semitic, the term is now exclusively understood to mean “prejudiced against or hostile toward Jews,” according to all major dictionaries.
A similar phenomenon occurred with the word “holocaust,” referring to the period of Nazi rule in Germany from 1933 to 1945 during which Russians, gypsies, Jews, homosexuals, political opponents of the regime and prisoners of war were systematically executed. Today, visitors to Auschwitz, one of the many concentration camps built throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, find little tribute to any group other than Jews; Israeli flags litter the grounds and signs are written in Hebrew. “Holocaust” is now exclusively understood as Jewish suffering.
The prolific Jewish writer and convert to Christianity Israel Shamir, explains the use of the Holocaust and the Anti-Semitic label in his 2001 essay “The Third Dove:”
“The Holocaust Industry is but a branch of the Anti-Semitism Manufacture, a two-pronged weapon: it pumps money from Gentiles and forces Jews into obedience to the leaders of the community.”
Shamir describes how Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) not only profit monetarily from incidents of “anti-Semitism,” but how these establishments use it to bully the rest of America into silence regarding Israeli war crimes. The anti-Semitic misnomer is used to label anyone critical of the Israeli government or expressing the least bit of sympathy for the Palestinian people.
Shamir concludes his essay, “…scoundrels still use anti-Semitism as a weapon, but now most of these scoundrels are Jewish.”
So where does anti-Semitism in America occur at present?
Certainly not in our government. While Jews comprise roughly two percent of the American population, 14 Senators and 31 House members are Jewish; almost 8 ½% of Congress. Jews have served in prominent cabinet-level and advisory positions under both Republican and Democratic presidents, often with disastrous foreign policy consequences.
Bush’s influential advisers Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith and Richard Perle, strong supporters of Israel, long argued that removing Saddam Hussein from power was a critical prerequisite for Middle East peace. President Obama’s chief-of-staff, Rahm Emanuel, helped maintenance Israeli Army jeeps during the 1991 Gulf War. Before him, Emanuel’s father smuggled weapons to the Irgun militia, the same group responsible for the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel as well as numerous attacks on Palestinian civilians.
“Anti-Semitism” is non-existent in churches where an estimated 15-18 million Evangelicals espouse the doctrine of Christian Zionism, the guiding principal of which states all Jews must migrate to Palestine in order for Jesus Christ to return to earth. John Hagee, the founder and pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas boasts more than 19,000 active members and he is broadcast in over 200 countries. Hagee established Christians United for Israel (CUFI) which currently has 146,000 members and holds an annual “Night to Honor Israel,” coinciding with the Jewish feast of Sukkot, celebrated by his church.
It certainly doesn’t exist in our schools where material pertaining to the Holocaust is introduced to children as young as 7 and students learn Hannukah songs while traditional Christmas carols such as Silent Night are shunned as a violation of separation between church and state.
“Anti-Semitism” cannot be found at political demonstrations where police from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles allow pro-Israeli demonstrators free reign to heckle pro-Palestinian activists. Yet let a Palestinian protester confront the Israeli camp and law enforcement officials will shove, use nightsticks and threaten arrest. At a recent fundraiser for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, an Israeli and his three year-old son approached pro-Palestinian activists; the child shouted “I hate you.” Ironically, it is the Palestinians who are maligned by Western media as teaching their children to hate.
The Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) is in the process of ensuring “Anti-Semitism” doesn’t exist on the Internet. Or any material critical of Israel, for that matter. The JIDF is attempting to shut down Palestinian advocacy groups on social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter. They are also flagging individual Youtube accounts for various offenses such as “uploading hateful videos” or targeting users who have “hateful videos” listed as their favorites. “Hateful videos” are those which depict last year’s assault on Gaza. The JIDF inundates the administrators of these websites with abuse reports and terms of service violations so that the accounts are shut down and videos removed. However, little to nothing is done when people post such incendiary comments such as “Nuke Mecca with pork grease” on popular message boards.
Another Internet tactic is the manipulation of search engines which list the ten most popular searches of the day. On December 11, 2009 Yahoo listed “Hannukah” as number one while “Adolph Hitler” came in at number seven. Oh my! There is so much anti-Semitism that Hitler is still the seventh most popular keyword search in Yahoo. Or so they want us to think.
Finally, anti-Semitism doesn’t exist in Bahrain, despite the fact that the nation does not recognize Israel. The Bahraini Ambassador to the United States, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, is a Jewish woman. Since her family emigrated from Iraq more than a century ago, several members of her family have had successful political careers in Bahrain, including a cousin who was appointed to parliament.
Refusal to recognize or support Israel has nothing to do with being “prejudiced against or hostile toward Jews” and everything to do with rejecting occupation, oppression and the myriad war crimes carried out by the Zionist state.
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