It’s not Zionism that fuels hate

A TV debate on antisemitism will almost certainly ignore damning evidence

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 28, 2009

A question that has often arisen in recent times is: what are the causes of contemporary anti-Jewish prejudice? It is a big question, and it would require a great deal more space than a newspaper column to answer it in any depth.

Nonetheless, simply because a question has been asked before doesn’t mean it should not be asked again. Just because I’m a simple newspaper columnist doesn’t mean that I should not attempt some sort of answer. Besides, I confess that I have an ulterior motive in troubling you again with this topic.

In a few days’ time, Press TV, the London-based Iranian television channel, will host a panel discussion entitled “Antisemitism Rising. Why?” Chaired by the (non-Jewish) former ITN and BBC Panorama correspondent, Alan Hart (author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews) the panel of four Jews (two Zionists and two anti-Zionists), will debate this important topic. Mr Hart was kind enough to extend an invitation to me to join the studio audience. Alas, my official academic duties have prevented me from accepting this invitation. So I am having my say now.

The argument will probably be put that Zionism is a major cause of contemporary anti-Jewish prejudice. Jews and Arabs, it will doubtless be said, lived together in near-perfect harmony until the nasty Zionists came along, stealing land and terrorising those who had since time immemorial dwelled upon it. Then came the Naqba — the devious re-establishment of a sovereign Jewish state in the Dar-el-Islam (Realm of Islam) outraging Muslim and Christian opinion alike.

Then the wicked Zionists fomented further wars (1956, 1967, 1973 etc), stealing yet more land, colonising the West Bank and using “disproportionate” force with gay abandon.

All this nastiness (the argument will doubtless go) created anti-Jewish prejudice where none had previously existed. Of course this is deplorable but what else did you expect?

Had I been able to accept Mr Hart’s invitation, I would have taken with me into the studio copies of three documents.

The first would have contained an excerpt from an interview with an Egyptian cleric broadcast on Al-Rahma TV (Egypt) on January 6 last: “Let me be clear. Jihad is the only way to resolve this issue. With the Jews, one cannot achieve anything by means of peace, or a settlement, or open borders, or diplomatic and commercial ties. They are devils in human form. Many people think that Judaism is a religion, but today’s Jews are not really Jews, and have nothing to do with Moses and the Torah. They are a gang of evil thieves.”

The second would have been the transcript of a sermon broadcast on the same TV channel on January 17. In this, a Muslim cleric addressed the faithful thus: “If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them. Absolutely not. The Jews are … enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing … We must believe that our fight with the Jews is eternal … we will fight, defeat, and annihilate them, until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth.” (Translations courtesy of Memri TV.)

And the third? Well, that would have been a compendium of health warnings concerning the recent outbreaks of so-called swine flu. For example, in late April, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt launched an instructional video entitled “Swine Flu or Jew Flu.” At the beginning of May, the Hamas newspaper Felesteen ran an article warning the citizens of Gaza about the dangers of this virus: “This disease called swine flu, has attracted worldwide concern. Its very mention causes panic, because it has started to affect dozens of people a day… What is striking is that Zionists began spreading the disease…”

Having read from these documents I would then invite Mr Hart and his anti-Zionist friends to agree (1) any connection that disgusting propaganda such as this has with Zionism is at best tangential in the extreme and at worst simply non-existent; (2) disgusting propaganda such as this reveals a primitive hostility to Jews and Judaism that is rooted in certain interpretations of Islamic theology; and (3) that to suggest that if Israel were (God Forbid!) to disappear, such hostility would wither away is to indulge in deluded fantasy.

Last updated: 11:09am, May 28 2009