The upheaval in Egypt, and the media’s negligence in failing to report on anti-Semitism in the Arab world

Anti-Semitism in the Arab world has been described by professor Robert Wistrich as comparable to that of Nazi Germany at its worst, and yet it is a subject that is rarely covered by the Guardian and the rest of the mainstream media.  The following excerpt of a recent essay by Caroline Glick, as well as the subsequent commentary by Fresno Zionism, is especially relevant in the context of Rachel Shabi’s recent Guardian piece, where, as I noted yesterday, she not only whitewashed anti-Semitism of the Muslim Brotherhood, but actually claimed that Israeli fears of the Brotherhood was indicative of Israeli racism.

This is cross posted at Fresno Zionism:

Caroline Glick:

“Israelis are indifferent [to the current upheavals in the Middle East] because we realize that whether under authoritarian rule or democracy, anti-Semitism is the unifying sentiment of the Arab world. Fractured along socioeconomic, tribal, religious, political, ethnic and other lines, the glue that binds Arab societies is hatred of Jews.

A Pew Research Center opinion survey of Arab attitudes towards Jews from June 2009 makes this clear. Ninety-five percent of Egyptians, 97% of Jordanians and Palestinians and 98% of Lebanese expressed unfavorable opinions of Jews. Three quarters of Turks, Pakistanis and Indonesians also expressed hostile views of Jews…

That is why for most Israelis, the issue of how Arabs are governed is as irrelevant as the results of the 1852 US presidential elections were for American blacks. Since both parties excluded them, they were indifferent to who was in power.

What these numbers, and the anti-Semitic behavior of Arabs, show Israelis is that it makes no difference which regime rules where. As long as the Arab peoples hate Jews, there will be no peace between their countries and Israel. No one will be better for Israel than Mubarak. They can only be the same or worse…

One of the more troubling aspects of the Western media coverage of the tumult in Egypt over the past two weeks has been the media’s move to airbrush out all evidence of the protesters’ anti- Semitism…

Given the Western media’s obsessive coverage of the Arab-Israel conflict, at first blush it seems odd that they would ignore the prevalence of anti-Semitism among the presumably pro-democracy protesters. But on second thought, it isn’t that surprising.

If the media reported on the overwhelming Jew hatred in the Arab world generally and in Egypt specifically, it would ruin the narrative of the Arab conflict with Israel.That narrative explains the roots of the conflict as frustrated Arab-Palestinian nationalism. It steadfastly denies any more deeply seated antipathy of Jews that is projected onto the Jewish state. The fact that the one Jewish state stands alone against 23 Arab states and 57 Muslim states whose populations are united in their hatred of Jews necessarily requires a revision of the narrative. And so their hatred is ignored.”

The problem is not that the media are antisemitic. Most aren’t. As Glick points out, there is an accepted narrative which argues that the reason for the conflict is that Israel hasn’t allowed the Palestinian Arabs to realize their national aspirations. This could be solved, therefore, by pressuring Israel to give them what they want. But if the cause is simply Arab racism, then it’s the Arabs that have to change. And that is not what the NY Times and the Obama Administration want to hear.

But there is more to it than this. Arab antisemitism is so blatant, so obvious, so much part of what makes them who they are, that it is hard to understand how any but the most cynically dishonest journalist could miss it. And yet they do.

It’s remarkable that the slightest whiff of racism in any other context often becomes a cause célèbre. There were Shirley Sherrod’s remarks that  got her fired from the Department of Agriculture, Trent Lott’s praise of Strom Thurmond that led to his resignation as Senate Minority leader, the police officer’s treatment of Henry Louis Gates that brought about the absurd ‘beer summit’ with President Obama, and the use of the word ‘Macaca’  (which doubtless very few Virginians had ever heard before) that caused Virgina Senator George Allen to lose his bid for re-election.

It seems to be a hair trigger reaction in most cases — except for Arab antisemitism. Here it’s entirely unexceptional. Because they are Arabs, it’s expected and accepted. Even in Europe, where a person can be jailed for denying the Holocaust, it’s business as usual when an Arab calls for another one.

Even many Israelis are desensitized. “What do you expect?” they say. Everyone, media, politicians, ordinary people, have gotten used to it.

But Arab racism is no more acceptable than western racism. Blood libels, demonization, vilification, Hitlerian imagery, scapegoating and all the rest are not acceptable, regardless of the source. No automatic exemption from the values of the civilized world should be given just because the racists happen to be Arabs or Muslims.

The Israeli leadership must understand this as well. How is it possible to negotiate with such as Yasser Arafat, Marwan Barghouti, Mahmoud Abbas, et al? Shouldn’t it be a requirement that the Palestinian authority agree that there is a Jewish people and it is not descended from monkeys and pigs before Israel agrees to talk about giving up part of the Jewish homeland to them?

It’s enough. We, the Jewish people, do not need to take this abuse. And the media, which are so ready to accuse and condemn westerners for racist speech, have a responsibility to call out Arabs and Muslims when they hear it from them.

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