Report: Muslim anti-Semitism 'strategic threat' to Israel|
Haviv Rettig , THE JERUSALEM POST
Apr. 22, 2008
Muslim anti-Semitism is growing in scope and extremism, to the point that it has become a credible strategic threat for Israel, according to a 180-page report produced for Israeli policymakers by the semi-official Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) and obtained exclusively by The Jerusalem Post ahead of its Tuesday release.
According to the report, by educating generations of Muslims with a deep animus toward Israel and Jews, this anti-Semitism, actively promulgated by many states in the region, holds back the peace process and normalization efforts between Israel and Muslim countries. It also forms the intellectual justification for an eliminationist political program.
"This isn't ordinary prejudice," explained ITIC director Col. (res.) Dr. Reuven Erlich, formerly of the IDF's Intelligence Directorate, who heads the team of researchers that produced the report. "This prejudice is evil because it isn't theoretical. It is ideological incitement by states and organizations with the practical means of translating it into action."
Following on a similar study produced in 2004, the report is a comprehensive examination of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, with emphasis on Iran and Arab states.
It is also an insight into the perception of the threat within the Israeli intelligence establishment. The ITIC operates under the aegis of the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center (IICC), the official commemoration agency for the fallen of Israel's intelligence services. The IICC is chaired by former Mossad head Efraim Halevy and maintains close contact with Israel's intelligence community. The ITIC's reports are widely read among Israeli policymakers.
Among the report's most worrying findings is the growth over the past three decades of uniquely Muslim roots to older European versions of anti-Semitism. Without discounting classical Christian Europe's canards regarding secret Jewish conspiracies, the ritual slaughter of non-Jewish children and other allegations of Jewish evil, anti-Semitism in the Muslim world increasingly finds its own, Islamic reasons for anti-Jewish hatred through new interpretations of Islamic history and scripture.
From the Koranic story of a Jewess who poisoned Muhammad, to the troubled relations between Muhammad and the Jewish tribes of Arabia, radical Islamist groups and thinkers have been using extreme anti-Semitic rhetoric that has grown increasingly popular with the Muslim public, particularly in Iran and the Arab states. Using well-known Koranic texts, these groups have been mapping out the Jews' "innate negative attributes" and teaching a paradigm of permanent struggle between Muslims and Jews.
The goal of this "Islamified" anti-Semitism, according to the report, is to transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a national territorial contest which could be resolved through compromise to a "historic, cultural and existential struggle for the supremacy of Islam."
The study examined books, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts and Internet sites, along with studies of groups following anti-Jewish discourse in the Muslim world, such as MEMRI and the ADL.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, rising anti-Semitic sentiment in Europe was injected into Muslim lands through commercial and diplomatic ties. Spurred by opposition to Zionism and ideologically strengthened by Nazi rhetoric and support, Muslim anti-Semitism grew in the 20th century into a phenomenon so widespread that blatantly anti-Semitic texts can be purchased on street corners of Arab cities, even in countries where almost no Jews remain.
The research team did not deal with "anti-Israel incitement," according to Erlich, "only with anti-Semitism. But when you read an article or listen to a speech, the terminology is confused and intertwined. You can't distinguish the anti-Zionism from the anti-Semitism."
According to the report, the past decade has seen a veritable explosion of anti-Semitic literature in the Muslim world which intentionally confuses Israel and the Jewish people and is broadcast worldwide through books, radio, television, newspapers, caricatures and Internet forums. This discourse reaches outside Muslim lands to a large Muslim audience in the West.
"Until about 10-15 years ago, anti-Semitism was imported into the Muslim Arab world from Europe," says Erlich. "They translated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf into Arabic. Over the past 10-15 years, there's been a deep change. Today it isn't an import, but an export. This needs more research, since we don't have access to European mosques, but we're convinced that the export of anti-Semitic myths and politics to Europe is having an effect on European Muslim communities."
The hundred-year-old Czarist forgery The Protocols, which accuses the Jews, among other "crimes," of fomenting liberalism by masterminding the American and French revolutions, is being published in new editions in Egypt, Syria, Iran and other countries.
The report finds little government action either in the Muslim world or in the West to curb this phenomenon, citing restrictions on viewing Hizbullah's Al-Manar television station as an exception that proves the rule.
At the heart of this surge in Muslim anti-Semitism lies Iran, with the regime's support for Holocaust denial and hosting of anti-Semites from around the world, along with formal calls for Israel's destruction by many of the country's leaders.
"Iran is the first example of its kind since Nazi Germany in which a state officially adopts an active policy of anti-Semitism as a means to further its national interests," the report notes.
It goes on to say that while Iran does not deny that Jews were massacred during WWII, the current regime seeks to minimize the scale of the Holocaust in order to reduce support for Israel's very existence in the West, which it believes comes from feelings of guilt over the world's inaction while Jews were murdered during WWII.
On March 3, during fighting in Gaza, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told his country's Channel 1 that "the real holocaust is happening in Palestine."
Similarly, Palestinian groups, including the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, now regularly refer to Israeli-Hamas fighting in Gaza as a "holocaust."
Anti-Semitism finds governmental sanction, and often support, in Islamic as well as secular states, among those who are at peace with Israel and those still in a state of war with Israel, the study finds. In countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Syria, daily promulgation of anti-Semitic messages are carried out through media that are under the supervision and censorship of the regimes.
While the report's release is slated for Tuesday, Israel's cabinet minister in charge of anti-Semitism issues, Isaac Herzog, had already been briefed on its contents when he spoke to The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
"There's a dissonance between the anti-Semitism that takes on the form of a religious clash and the regional coalition of moderate states, from Morocco to the [Persian] Gulf states and Turkey, that believes in peace and a two-state solution," according to Herzog, who belongs to the Labor Party.
"Unimaginable and unacceptable expressions of anti-Semitism are somehow permitted among members of the coalition," he said.
Part of the problem, he said, is that the rest of the world has simply grown used to Muslim anti-Semitism. "We respond to anti-Semitism only where large, vibrant Jewish communities exist. This is a mistake. It is incredibly dangerous that young Muslims are brainwashed with anti-Semitism. It starts with the Jews, but it won't end with the Jews."
While the report notes that there are Muslim intellectuals who have rejected the growing anti-Semitism, they are in the extreme minority. They neither enjoy the support of the regimes nor possess enough influence or numbers to reverse the trend, says Erlich.
Other Muslim intellectuals have explained the phenomenon as a side effect of justifiable anti-Israel sentiment. According to the report, however, while anti-Zionism feeds the growing anti-Semitism, specifically anti-Jewish sentiments are intentionally spread by religious and intellectual leaders in many Muslim societies, whose statements do not distinguish between Israelis and Jews.
Finally, the report recommends the establishment of a well-funded international task force that will tackle the problem not only through diplomacy and information campaigns, but through legal measures.
"We need a serious body of researchers and legalists, representatives of Israel, the Jewish communities and the nations of the world. Give it funds and send it to war on the diplomatic front, in the media, and with lawsuits," Erlich says, summarizing the recommendation. "Sue publishing houses that print The Protocols. It's a libel. The Syrian government still publishes [writings claiming] that Jews use Christian blood on Passover. You can't say this is anti-Israeli, or caused by the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict."
The report makes clear that the phenomenon of Muslim anti-Semitism is now widespread, popular and expanding. "The anti-Semitism that fed the Holocaust isn't dead," Erlich says. "It is prospering."
Original article: Jerusalem Post
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