Yediot Ahronot
Dec. 28, 2001. Sabbath Supplement. P. 10.

Talking Heads
The New Antisemitism


“Since September 11”, A British Weekly Reported To Its Readers, “Open Expressions Of Antisemitism Merit Respectability At London Dinner Tables” * Not Only There, All Over Europe * It Is Still Forbidden To Be A Neo-Nazi, But It Is Permitted To Cast Doubt On the Legitimacy Of The State Of Israel * The Muslim Establishment Employs The Unmistakable Language Of Genocide, Of Annihilation * Towards The End Of 2001 Yediot Ahronot Invited Senior Historians To A Round Table Discussion On The Character Extent And Aggressiveness Of The New Antisemitism

By Sever Plotzker

Translation by Jonathan Silverman

The Participants

Prof. Yehuda Bauer – Shoah researcher, academic adviser to Yad Va Shem, professor emeritus Hebrew U., winner of the Israel Prize for research on the history of the Jewish people.

MK Shlomo Ben Ami – Professor of history, former foreign minister.

Prof. Dan Dinar – Professor of history at Hebrew U., researcher at Van Leer Institute.

Prof. Robert Wistrich – Professor of history at Hebrew U. and academic chairman of Austria Center.

Yigal Carmon – Former head of the Institute for Middle East Media Research MEMRI, adviser to Prime Ministers Rabin and Shamir on the war against terror.

Prof. Benny Morris – Department of Mideast Studies Ben Gurion University.

Prof. Dina Porat – Head of the department of history of the people of Israel and head of the Steven Roth institute for research on anti-Semitism and racism at Tel Aviv U. She was a member of the Foreign Ministry delegation to the Durban Conference, and to one of its preparatory conferences.

Daddy, is it OK to be anti-Semitic? I don’t know how many well-behaved Christian children asked their parents this question on Christmas eve. I don’t know how the parents replied. With embarrassment, anger, honesty. I know that it has been given free rein and an atmosphere exists in which anti-Semitism can come out of the closet. Like smallpox, another fatal disease that was considered eradicated to the extent they stopped producing the immunization against it, likewise anti-Semitism this year has made its return. “Since September 11”, one British weekly reported to its readers, “open expressions of anti-Semitism merit respectability at London dinner table”. Not only in London, also in Paris, Barcelona, Berlin and Toronto. And not exactly from September 11, 2001. The combeback of anti-Semitism started roughly a year earlier. It spread quietly and penetrated: an American intellectual asked in a long article, how it is possible that I feel now that they are coming to annihilate us. Like my father? It is permitted for adults to be anti-Semitic. It is permitted to exclaim in a loud voice what on earth makes the Jews a people who only bring troubles to the world. It is permitted if done politely of course, to ask the Jews to explain why they are murdering the Palestinian people in cold blood. It is permitted, between the NASDAQ report and a story on Tora Bora, to note by the way that there is something truthful in the things Bin Laden says (“did you see how noble and elegant he is?”) on the source of terror; America really does support Israel and the Jews too much. The massive Jewish influence on the media, banking, military industries, fashion and the internet in every country in which they only “live” is an establishef fact that can’t be disputed. No? For adults today it is permitted to be anti-Semitic. It is permitted to hug Arab friends who claim that it has been proven beyond a doubt that the terror attack at the twin towers was planned and executed by the Israeli Mosad. A fact: all the Jews fled from there before the attack”. It is permitted to without comment learned articles which examine why the Israeli occupation is worse than the Nazi occupation. It is permitted to shake hands very warmly with a person who explains the blood lible as an ancient Jewish ritual, and pleasantly describes why the Jews, like the apes of evolution, need to become extinct. On one condition: that the polite guest and expert in mideast history isn’t God forbid a vulgar Neo Nazi skinhead but an authentic representative of an authentic Islamic movement.
But it is only permitted to adults to be anti-Semitic. Because only the adults know to behave politely even when they express themselves on the despicable character of Jews. Only the adults adhere to the culture of the exchange of ideas; on one side the opinion that states that the Jews and their tiny wretched country are guilty for all the troubles of the world and on the other equal time for the opinion that states that the Jews are guilty only for some of the troubles of the world. Only the adults will guard their tongues and will not shout “Out With The Jews”, perhaps at a moment of weakness. Until September 11 antisemitism seeped into western speech bit by bit. The generation that remembered Auschwitz and the generation that remembered the generation that remembered Auschwitz seemed sufficiently immune from it. In every city, says Prof. Yehuda Bauer, a Shoah museum opened. After September 11 the picture changed. Vociferous anti-globalization went out of fashion and polite anti-Semitism became fashionable. Polite: it is still forbidden to be a Neo Nazi, because that is racism, but it is permitted to be anti-Semitic, because this is, as it were, anti-racist. It is understood per se that it is permitted and even respectable to be anti Zionist. Towards the end of 2001 Yediot Ahronot invited a group of leader Israeli historians for a round table discussion focusing on the character, extent and aggressiveness of the 21st century brand of anti-Semitism. Is it the case that in every generation a Jew has to feel as if he was rescued from Auschwitz?

We Thought Antisemitism Was Wiped Out

2001 was not a good year for Jews. It was a good year for antisemites. They rejoiced at the Durban Conference and they rejoiced after September 11. Western anti-Semitism and Muslim anti-Semitism connected and together created a alarming pattern of hate. Is the Jewish people standing face to face with a new anti-Semitism?

Prof. Dina Porat: It is not possible to speak about “a new anti-Semitism” as a phenomenon. It is possible to speak about the return and increasing force of he earlier and ancient anti-Semitism. We thought that anti-Semitism in Europe was wiped out or at least remained in the farthest sidelines. Toward the end of the 20th century we even saw that anti-Semitism was in opposition to the public order, as an inseparable part of the general problem of democracy. Laws were passed against anti-Semitism, there were important achievements that pushed it into a corner. But in 1998 I already saw it coming back again.

And in the last year?

Prof. Porat: Manifestations of anti-Semitism have grown more extreme and more severe. Expressions of hatred for Jews that were considered taboo are returning. Today, speaking against Jews is almost a bon mot. People speak freely about international Jewish schemes and about Israel as the source of all the troubles in the world.

Prof. Dan Dinar: There is a certain fundamental and symbolic event regarding continuing anti-Semitism in Europe: the fall of the Berlin Wall. After the wall fell, a wave of anti-Semitism broke out from the south of France to Scandinavia, from west to east.

How come? What is the connection between the fall of the wall and anti-Semitism?

Prof. Dinar: In one instant we encounter a new phenomenon, globalization. People are losing their compass, they do not understand what is happening. A worldwide stock market, a new form of money, no borders. Concepts like country, nationality, everything is in doubt. They are looking for the ones who are guilty for this new situation and they find the Jews. The peasantry in Poland is afraid that their country’s participation in the European Union will destroy their livelihoods. And they respond to this danger in a “natural” way: the European Union they say is the Jews. The European Union is depicted as a Jewish scheme whose purpose is the destruction of the whole class of peasants in eastern Europe generally and Poland in particular. It is very similar to developments in Europe in the decades of the 70s and 80s in the 19th century.

The Jews are returning as the symbol of evil?

Prof. Dinar: In the age of globalization the Jews are again becoming a symbol. And not only Jews. Outside of the United States we are witnessing a much wider phenomenon: anti-Americanism, which is connected to anti-Semitism and resembles it in more than a few elements. I would define anti-Americanism as second rate anti-Semitism.

From reading certain newspapers in the west I get the impression that now it is permitted to say the following: the state of Israel is the last creation of western colonialism and therefore it will disappear from the map as all the other colonies disappeared. The time has come to solve “the Israeli problem” by erasing the Jewish state.

Prof. Dinar: 1947 is a symbol for us, the year in which the United Nations recognized our right to a state. But the Israeli/Palestinian question remained open. It was only swalloed up in another event that occurred in 1947 – the start of the Cold War. Until 1989 the Cold War impressed itself on the whole world. Since then there is no more Cold War and the conflicts that weren’t really solved 61 years ago are erupting. One of them is the conflict between us and the Palestinians. Another is the conflict in Kashmir, and there are others. They are therefore perceived as outgrowths of the colonial past”.

To what extent is the new wave of anti-Semitism dangerous?

Prof. Shlomo Ben Ami: There is anti-Semitism that isn’t for political purposes, it is only in the mind. I know a country where a strong anti-Semitism prevails which does no harm to anyone. This is Spain. Spanish anti-Semitism does not kill Jews, does not close their shops, does not smash their display windows, essentially it does nothing to them. The anti-Semitism is deeply rooted in Spanish Catholicism, it is practically a norm. It is called harmless anti-Semitism”. Doesn’t it do harm? Under certain conditions – an economic crisis, the appearance of a charismatic political demagogue, the dilemma of globalization – it is liable to turn into lethal anti-Semitism.

The Cause Of The Third World War

Prof. Robert Wistrich: The situation of the Jews in France today is the most severe since the Second World War. I talk with people there, and hear things that I never heard. Since September 2000 in France there have been dozens of attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions. The Jews feel threatened: the Muslim community in France numbers at least 5 million people. The intellectual discourse is hostile towards Israel and public opinion is anti-Semitic. In England one of the well known publicists asked already whether the establishment of the state of Israel wasn’t really a mistake that needs to be fixed now. It is a danger to world peace, it is the cause for the third world war. The idea that the state of Israel was born in sin is finding many supporters. I see this as a very severe matter.

Prof. Yehuda Bauer: I suggest distinguishing between the non Islamic world and the Muslim world. In the west anti-Semitism remains, in my opinion, a marginal matter. Now it is is more widespread and acceptable in various circles, and is causing much uneasiness, but not more than that. There aren’t anti-Semitic parties in the west that ones needs to watch out for. There isn’t official anti-Semitism. It isn’t like that in the Muslimworld. Within the Muslim world a new phenomenon is developing which isn’t penetrating the consciousness of the non Islamic public. It also does not resemble the “old” Arab anti-Semitism, about which much has been written. I am speaking about totalitarian Muslim Fundamentalism, which longs for global rule as did communism and Nazism. The aim is to destroy the old, the civilization of “the Jews and infidels”, as Bin Laden said, and to erect on its ruins an absolute Islamic regie. The Jews are perceived as perverse, as the hard core of the world against which Muslim Fundamentalism is fighting. Jews and Israel – there is no distinction. This Muslim threat against us uses the unmistakable language of genocide, of annihilation.

Opinionmakers in the United States have crystallized the concept “Muslim Fascism”, “Muslim Nazism”.

Prof. Bauer: There are parallels between the various Fundamentalisms: Nazi, Communist – both of which are forms of religion – and the religious. Muslim Fundamentalism begins in 1928 in Egypt and it is in my view something new and threatening. It threatens us and it threatens non fanatic Muslims and Arab nationalism. I see in it the greatest anti-Semitic threat of the start of the 21st century.

Are anti-Israelism and anti-semitism the same thing?

Prof. Porat: The difference between them is becoming more hazy. The antisemitis of today does not distinguish between the Jewish state and the Jews.

Prof. Ben Ami: I don’t think it is possible to separate between the Jewish question and the Israeli question in Arab and western discourse. The Europeans’ memory perceives Israel as completely bonded with the Jewish question. And the Jews pay the price of political opposition to Israel.

Prof. Dinar: We are a sovereign state. We are in a conflict. The conflict is real, national. I would suggest trying to separate between it and antisemisism. I suggest a formula: deal with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as if there is no anti-Semitism and deal with antisemisism as if there is no Israeli/Palestinian conflict. We must separate these things. For our own sake.

Let’s say we can see in the conflict with the Palestinians only a war between two peoples over division of a strip of land. Can the other side do that? In the Arab world today the discourse that Prof. Bauer spoke of: genocide, annihilation of the Jews is gaining momentum. Jews in Israel are perceived not as a human group with whom they need to divide territories but as someone marked for annihilation.

Prof. Benny Morris: The basis of anti-Semitism has existed in Islam for a long time, and stems from, among other things, the feeling that Islam as a world power needs to replace Christianity and Judaism, and Judaism first of all.In the Koran it says that Muhammad had a confrontation with Jewish tribes and they tried to arrest him and help the enemies of Islam overcome him. This anti Jewish story is in the Koran and has been passed from one generation of believers to the next. It has still not turned Islam itself into an anti-Semitic religion. Only in the 19th century a new layer of modern western anti-Semitism was applied to the Islamic faith. Priests and missionaries introduced it. Unmistakable anti-Semitic literature, like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, started to be translated into Arabic too. When the conflict broke out between Zionism and the Palestinians, the Palestinians found supporting arguments against the Jews in western anti-Semitic literature and also the Islamic tradition. Haj Amin El Huseeini, the previous leader of the Palestinian people, was anti-Semitic. He viewed the Jews as Hitler viewed them; he saw in Judaism the underlying basis for evil in the world. This legacy passed to the Islamic Fundamentalists, its its various permutations. However the word “annihilation” in connection with Islamic extremism is premature and it would be for the best not to use it.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah – are these anti-Semitic organizations?

Prof. Bauer: Definitely. And they do speak of genoicde.

Prof. Morris: Hamas and Islamic Jiad integrated the traditional anti-Semitism of extremist Islam with the Palestinian national struggle. The basic Hamas Covenant, which was issued in 1988, accuses the Jews of wanting to spread over the whole region from the Nile to the Euphrates. It accused the Jews of the French and Russian Revolutions, of the First World War, the Second World War, the founding of the UN. In other publications the men of Hamas and Jihad equate the Jews with apes, regularly. From their perspective, the Jews and Israel are one. They identify Israel completely with Judaism, and Judaism bears responsibility for all the evil in the world.

Prof. Ben Ami: Look how quickly European discourse adopted concepts like genocide to describe what we are doing to the Palestinians. How easily the European politicians use concepts taken from the Jewish Shoah. I assert that this is the expression of a collective European mind set. Christian Europe persecuted us, wanted to annihilate all of us. We, the Jews placed the mark of Cain on its forehead. And it is trying to free itself from the mark of Cain, to find balm for its tortured soul in accusing us of a parallel genocide. The Palestinian Intifadas, when they are depicted in the European European media as a genocide that the Jews are conducting heals Europe’s conscience. Exploiting a wonderful opportunity, without discrimination and without nuances, European public opinion has cast on Israel the language of the Shoah it conducted.

Zionism Is A Reincarnation Of Nazism

Has the new anti-Semitism come from Europe?

Prof. Wistrich: It doesn’t appear so. The claim that Zionism is a reincarnation of Nazism, and even worse than it, did not originate in Europe, even though now it has European sympathizers. It began in the Muslim intellectual world and was brought by it to the Conference Against Racism in Durban. Israel was accused of racism and ethnic cleansing; with great sophistication the sensitive tones of Arab propaganda played on European consciousness. Europe wants to keep its colonialist past behind it and atone for it. How? With Jew hatred.

Is the UN anti-Semitic?

Prof. Wistrich: In recent years the UN has made decision after decision that has gradually removed Israel from the family of cultured nations. Israel is represented as a leper state which has no equal. If not for the American veto, I don’t know where we would be in the UN and what our situation would be.

Prof. Ben Ami: If not for the American veto, they would banish us from the UN.

Prof. Wisrich: In Israel people are inclined to disparage UN resolutions, and this is big mistake. The accumulation of anti Israeli resolutions there is liable to cause the complete delegitimization of the Jewish state. Is this anti-Semitism? Sometimes I think this situation is worse than anti-Semitism.

Prof. Porat: The UN has undergone Islamisization. Sudan. Sudan! Sits in the Committee on Human Rights instead of the US. Whoever heard such a thing? Mary Robinson, the Human Rights Commissioner, wants to be the next UN Secretary General and isn’t withstanding the Arab Muslim pressure.

So there is a logical connection between the UN resolutions on Israel and the Bin Laden videocassette?

Prof. Wistrich: There is a logical connection. In the UN they are causing the demonization of the state of Israel. They present it as a satanic and criminal state; the biggest criminal in the history of mankind. Bin Laden puts his seal on that with both hands, even though in Bin Laden’s performance we are only the small satan. He fears first of all the acceleration of the process of seculaization in Arab society. He fears modernity, progress, enlightenment. He displays a desire to return to the seventh century, to the origins of Islam. On the other hand, Bin Land knows how to use the most advanced instruments, the most global, to spread his message and death.
And even though we are only the small stan from the perspective of the Bin Ladens, and not first on his struggles list of priorities, anti-Semitism is built into his concept of Jihad. Bin Laden’s ultimate objective is to bring about totalitarian Islamic rule over the world; in order to realize this he needs to bring about the elimination of the state of Israel and vanquish the Jews, who are Islam’s enemy. The enemy of the whole Muslim nation.

Bin Laden Is Nothing New

Has there been a change in the Muslim and western world of ideas regarding anti-Semitism after September 11? Is there a dividing line?

Yigal Carmon: I personally feel a change for the worse. In my travels abroad I associate with many non Jewish groups and hear many people starting to say: these Jews, they are guilty of everything. Because of them Bin Laden attacked us. Because of them we waste three hours on line at the airport, because of them the economy isn’t recovering. They are starting to see Israel as a bone in the world’s throat. It is legitimate to seek “a solution for the Israel problem”.

And in Arab countries, what has changed there? Have they adopted Bin Laden?

Carmon: Bin Laden is nothing new. There are three permanent bases for Muslim anti-Semitism. One base is the Islamic religion, in its various forms. The second base is the enmity against Jews, which the Muslims adopted from Christianity: The Protocols, blood libels and the various negative images of the Jew. The third base of Muslim anti-Semitism is the Shoah, denying it or using it in different variations. These three bases are not tied to Israel, not to its policy and not to the conflict. In Syrian text books they preach that Jews should be liquidated like cockroaches. Add to that now the new myth, which became in the greater Arab Muslim media an irrefutable fact: that the Jews blew up the twin towers in New York on September 11 as an anti Arab scheme and provocation. That’s new.

Aren’t there other voices? Isn’t there a moderate Islam that extends its hand to Jews?

Prof. Morris: Not to my knowledge. From the perspective of the dominant Islamic ideology, we, the Jews, are outside the human sphere. This is the case with almost all of them. The expert on Jewish affairs in the Arab world, Abdel Wahab Mansiri, wrote a whole encyclopedia whose purpose is to prove that the Jews are essentially inferior beings beyond the bounds of humanity. He is very popular in Hamas.

Is this a basis for national annihilation?

Carmon: In the publications of Hamas on Jews there are associations that are practically beyond the Nazi theories. We gave research findings about this to the Wiesenthal Center, and even they were deterred from publishing them. It is simply impossible to believe that someone can write about Jews things that are worse than the Nazis wrote about them. And Zionism of course, is represented in them as the successor to the Nazis. Do you know that every week some important Arab newspaper publishes an article thanking Hitler, again and again? The French forced an Egyptian newspaper to remove from its website research that “proved” there was unvarnished truth in the blood libel against the Jews: in these matters French laws are really excellent.

They Said Sadat Was Antisemitic

So it seems that all our searching for a settlement with the Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims is doomed to failure, if vigorous anti-Semitism is planted in them at birth.

Prof. Dinar: Antisemitism is a civilized poison. This poison exists, in various dosages, in various cultures in the world. But we also live in a world that goes beyond discourse and text. We live in a world of realities. And I ask myself, after I heard and read all the terrible things that the Palestinians and Muslims say about us, why should I talk to them at all? What kind of negotiations can I conduct with them? About what? In the normal course of affairs I don’t meet with an obvious antisemite, I don’t embrace him. Why on earth.
Is the right approach to wait until anti-Semitism in the Muslim world comes to an end? I think not. We have to try to make a distinction, we are Israelis and our discussion is Israeli. Take Sadat for example. I remember the ‘60s and what was published then about Sadat. They said that he was anti-Semitic, that he had contact with Rommel, that he was a Nazi sympathizer. And it was all true. Afterwards I saw the pictures from Camp David: embraces, kisses between Begin and Sadat.

Prof. Bauer: The Jews cannot lead the war against Islamic Fundamentalism. A coalition is required for that, which we can be part of and the non fanatic Muslims can be part of. Such a coalition is in our interests.

Carmon: From where do you recruit the Arab participants? I know many Arabs who speak heatedly against fanatic Islam, bu when they change subjects and talk about the Jews they use the same anti-Semitic clichés.

Prof. Dinar: And nonetheless, it is possible to walk together with them a little. Especially now, after September 11.

Prof. Bauer: Force solves nothing. The answer to totalitarian fanaticism must be multi layered. Economic, social, public affairs policy and political.

Prof. Morris: I am pessimistic regarding the possibility of mobilizing moderate Islam against radical Islam, or recruiting the secular groups in the Islamic countries against fanatic Islam. The secular and the moderate people in the Arab countries are fearful and weak. They will not succeed in subduing radical Islam. The Islamic fanatics are not the Muslim world’s leftovers. They are strong and getting stronger. In particular among simple people. As I see it, we are at the start of a great western-Muslim confrontation. And since Israel is perceived as emissary and representative of the west in our region, much of the belligerent energy of the Muslim side in the anti-western struggle will be directed to the war against it, as a weak links that is close to the western world.

Prof. Dinar: I also am relatively pessimistic regarding how things are going in the Muslim and Arab world. I don’t expect modernization and separation between Muslim religion and Arab country. Nevertheless, new voices are emerging from there. Voices that ask: how is it possible that only the west is guilty? How is it possible that we, the Muslims, always see ourselves as the victim. These voices are very important, even if they are few.

Every Settlement Is An Argument Against Us

If an Israeli Palestinian settlement were achieved, would the power of Arab anti-Semitism weaken?

Prof. Ben Ami: The Muslims and the Arabs are prepared for a peace with Israel that is political, and territorial. They are not prepared for a peace of deep substance. They are not prepared to concede the discourse that views Israel as a foreign body in the region. They continue to see Israel as “an unjustifiable” entity, crusader, whose temporary existence they accept only as the least of all evils. And therefore when the time comes it will weaken and disappear, with the advent of one revolution or another.Among our negotiating partners on the Arab side they are not intellectually reconciled with Israel, they are not morally reconciled, they are not reconciled from an historical perspective. They told me once: how do you dare touch the deeds to our historical and religious real estate? From my experience in negotiating with the Palestinians I came to the conclusion that it is not possible to break the genetic code of the Israeli Arab conflict.

Prof. Dinar: We have a deep problem that political and intellectual discourse ignores. It relates to the basis of our legitimacy and it relates to anti-Semitism. I mean the settlements. In my estimation, every settlement beyond the green line is perceived in the world as an attempt to re establish the state of Israel and seek legitimacy for it. Every new settlement is therefore an argument against us in the discourse on legitimacy, which undermines and weakens us. Now I want to use a concept that that Abba Eban stated, but to reverse it. After the Six Day War Abba Eban defined the 1967 borders as the borders of Auschwitz. He was right, but in a different sense than he intended: these are “Auschwitz borders” with regard to their legitimacy. The nations of the world granted Israel recognition on the basis of the borders from before the Six Day War because of Auschwitz. Their legitimacy in the west stems from a memory of Auschwitz and not from something else. Therefore the west does not accept the Israeli territories in the West Bank and Gaza. Not one millimeter. The west also does not accept other things that are part of our Zionist experience. And the Arabs do not even accept that the legitimacy of the borders from before 1967 is based on Auschwitz. Amru Musa in his visit to Jerusalem was against visiting` Yad Va Shem. The only legitimacy that the Arabs are adapted to accept is the fact that we exist, and exist and exit.

Will returning to the 1967 borders do away with European or Arab anti-Semitism?

Prof. Dinar: No. But it will sever anti-Semitism from our conflict with the Palestinians. It is vital to sever these two fateful problems.

Does anti-Semitism flow from attitudes about Israel towards attitudes about the Jews in the diaspora, and not the opposite?

Prof. Ben Ami: Without the legitimacy of the state of Israel meaning within fixed and recognized borders and agreements with our neighbors – the antisemites are liable to lose the barrier of shame towards the Jews. The statements of the French Ambassador in London condemning Israel as “a small wretched country” are definitely representative. You hear many things like that in Europe. Things which since Hitler were not spoken in Europe about Jews are spoken now. Israel is making it possible to say them. The Jews are not making it possible for anti-Semitism to break through the barrier of shame, but the Israelis, with their deeds, their mistakes. True, Israel’s objective – the strategic, political and military objective is not the elimination of anti-Semitism but the maintenance of security and peace. But we must recognize that issues are integrated here that we have not succeeded in taking apart.

Prof. Wistrich: Muslim anti-Semitism is not the result of the Israeli Arab conflict or the Israeli Palestinian one. The basis of this claim has been disputed. Antiseitism exists and flourishes freely in Arab countries with which we have signed peace agreements, like Egypt. Antisemitism floods public opinion, the press and the intellectuals in Egypt. It is common not only in circles of fanatics but also the Nasserist left, in professional associations. In Arab countries the worst things that have been written about Jews since the defeat of Nazi Germany are printed without limit. The state of Israel is perceived there as the materialization of “the collective Jew”. True the policies of Israel have an influence on the Arab public, but the hatred for Jews in the Arab world is not dependent on a conflict. This is hatred for Jews whoever they are. It has an autonomous existence.

Prof. Ben Ami: I don’t have the impression that we are under an Islamic Fundamentalist attack. On the contrary, fanaticism is a pathetic, withdrawn, and defensive reaction of frustrated Islam, which did not succeed in integrating itself with progress and is fleeing from it. I don’t have the impression that the Iranian revolution has gone anywhere.

Israel Is A War Criminal

The whole world was not always against us. At the Sharm Conference against terror in 1996, leaders from dozens of countries in the world, including Arab countries, gathered to salute Israel in its struggle against terror and to aid the election of Shimon Peres as Prime Minister.

Prof. Dinar: We forget history. In the west there already were waves of anti-Semitic attitudes toward Israel, waves of anti Zionism that were accompanied by anti-Semitic ciscourse. It does not happen inisolation from Israel but when Israel appears as if it is a war criminal, as in the Lebanon War.

Prof. Wistrich: Islamic Fundamentalism is the most tangible threat to the Jewish people, but not the only threat. I assess with concern the damage that was caused to Israel by groups of Arab intellectuals who are respected and accepted in th west, some even media stars, who disseminate anti-Semitism with a sweet tongue and camouflaged as a solution to the Palestinian problem.

The recent wave of anti-Semitism is connected to the movements against globalization, against racism. How come?

Prof. Porat: The European intelligentsia, and especially the European left, has been immersed for more than ten years in matters of human rights, protecting refugees and condemning racism. In the west hundreds of non governmental organizations have been set up against racism. They establish the tone in the discourse of the intellectuals. In the past we benefited from this development, which helped restrain anti-Semitism. Today the wheel has turned and Israel finds itelf accused of racism and even “anti-Semitism” as it has been redefined as being “anti Palestinian”.

This is what happened at the Conference Against Racism in Durban which gave Israelis and many Jews a terrible shock. It was pivotal in crystallizing a new Jewish consciousness. The voices from Durban recalled the voices of Nuremberg.

Prof. Porat: The issue of human rights was central to the Durban Conference and it was hijacked, with intelligence and guile, by the Arabs and Muslims. They identified the anti-Semitic trend and mobilized it against Israel. In 1997 the UN recognized for the first time that anti-Semitism is racism. In that respect this was an important declaration because separate legislation against anti-Semitism is no longer needed. And look three years later and the UN wasn’t far from declaring in 2001 that Judaism is essentially racism.

Countless Arab Delegations

And nonetheless the Conference closed with a very moderate announcement, almost a victory for Israel.

Prof. Porat: The Durban Conference had four regional preparatory conferences. Three of them presented good proposed resolutions, balanced. No one thought to make the mideast a sticking point at Durban. But the fourth regional Conference took place in Tehran and all the bad anti Israeli formulations that entered the drafts of the Durban declarations came from there. What did the Arab world do here? The Arab world appointed Israel as the principle racist and sat it down, and only it, on the defendant’s bench. And so it happened that a Conference that was supposed to serve as an historic meeting between the third world and the first and to discuss correcting the injustrice of colonialism became an arena of uninhibited attacks against Israel and against the Jewish people in Israel. The Arab delegations were innumberable. They did not stop making speeches against us., and I was sitting alone in the hall. After a few days of complete Arab domination over the discussions and ugly personal behavior – including the shouts of the man serving today as Egypt’s foreign minister: Murderers Murderers! – everyone was disgusted with them. The Arabs and the Muslims simply crossed the border and overdid it. The non Arab participants understood that things went too far and defied all logic. Perhaps this happened when they demanded that the word Shoah not be capitalized. Somehow, at the very last moment the Conference regained its sanity. It fills me with a certain optimism.

Prof. Ben Ami: In Durban it was again proven that the Palestinian national movement has the largest levels of support in the recent history of any national movement.


Prof. Dinar: Because of us.

Prof. Ben Ami: Yes, exactly, that is the connection. The massive support for the Palestinians is nursed on their being in a struggle with the Jews. When Arafat once did not receive a vis to the US, the UN Gen. Assembly moved to Geneva to listen to his speech. Because of Arafat? To hear the illuminations of the PLO Chairman? No. Only because of us. We, the Zionist Jews, have broken all the norms, all the patterns. We are both the people of the Old Testament, and a people of the diaspora, also a persecuted people, also a people that survives and also a people that returned to the quarry from which it emerged after two thousand years. We have confused the world.

Prof. Dinar: We the Jews are confusing the western world and the whole world. In the Jewish Emancipation what did we ask? Human rights, full equality and full citizenship. And look after we received it we also want collective rights as a nation. And this confuses the gentiles.

Prof. Ben Ami: We are being scrutinized all the time. A country under scrutiny. Our legitimacy in the eys of non Jews is an open matter all the time, all the time on limited credit. And therefore our battle is over legitimacy. That is the key word.

Prof. Dinar: I want to quote an intelligent Jew the likes of whom there are very few in our generation. Nahum Goldman. In his memoirs he tells about a conversation he had with Ben Gurion in his home in Jerusalem at the end of the ‘50s. They reached the early morning hours and Ben Gurion suddenly yawned and said, Nahum, I will be buried here in Israel. But I am not certain that my son Amos will be burid here in Israel. And Goldman says tohim: How can you Ben Gurion say things like that? And Ben Gurion replied: I ask myself what is the basis for our existence here? Our legitimacy is from the Hebrew bible, right? But the promise came from our God. It doesn’t obligate the Arabs. The Shoah, Ben Gurion continued, is another basis of our rights to the country. The Shoah, agree the Arabs, indeed a terrible disaster – why won’t the Germans clear out the Rhineland for you? Goldman listens and answers Ben Gurion: I only hope that the Arab leaders don’t think like you.

Prof. Bauer: I have no doubt that even if the state of Israel displayed exemplary behavior in everything it did, there would still be anti-Semitism in the world. Why? Because the negative attitude toward Jews is imbedded deep in western culture, of which we are a very significant part. The Christian holy scriptures are comprised of two books: the old testament and the new testament, both of which were written in large measure by Jews and about Jews. There is a tremendous cultural tradition here. And then something happens and these strange Jews do the strangest thing and establish a country for themselves in the land of Israel. A returning national encountered a nation in place. Antisemitism which would have existed in any case gains additional momentum

Our hands, therefore are clean of any contribution to the wave of anti-Semitism?

Prof. Bauer: Not completely clean. Many things Israel has done recently in the territories, like forbidding Arafat from taking part in Christmas mass, aids anti-Semitism. They are not the reason for the wave of anti-Semitism, they are not the main thing, but they help the anti-Semitic discourse a little in finding a willing ear.

Questions Of Identity In A Global Society

Does globalization advance anti-Semitism?

Prof. Dinar: Globalization has many facets. It isn’t a one dimensional process. Beside the spread of anti-Semitism, globalization also disseminates the antidote for anti-Semitism. The Shoah has become one of the founding events of the European Union.

Prof. Ben Ami: As a result of globalization a situation can be created in which the centrality of Jews is lessened – of Jewish difference and otherness – in the historical memory of western society. The exceptional status of the Jews is liable to decrease as globalization accelerates. The question of Jewish identity will become one of a great variety of questions that global society ponders.

Prof. Porat: I don’t see globalization blurring the negative image of the Jew as it is revealed in anti-Semitic publications. The status of the Jew as a symbol and image of bad things is not disappearing. It is getting stronger: globalization is money and money is Jews. If indeed on September 11 the third world war broke out, it isn’t contributing to the suppression of anti-Semitism and its symbols. Perhaps the opposite.

And nonetheless, September 11 contributed to a new view of terror in the west.

Prof. Dinar: On September 11 the period in which terror or guerilla groups enjoyed praise and quiet support in public opinion in the west ended. From September 11 there is no legitimacy to the use of indiscriminate force. There is no more tolerance for killing civilians and we, to a certain extent, benefit from this. No one is prepared to justify terror acts, even in anti Israeli Europe. All terror today is worthy of condemnation.

Carmon: After September 11 an open contest started between the west and Muslim fanaticism. This is the right moment, from our perspective, to do two things. We the Israelis and Jews need to start a great struggle against all the foundations of anti-Semitism as they are revealed in the new terror organizations. To remove the masks from their faces and not ease up on them. The US is in a fighting mood and in Europe there is a base of comprehensive laws against anti-Semitism.

And what is the second thing?

Carmon: We must be even more ethical than we have been in the past. Because we, as was mentioned here, are a country under scrutiny.