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Posted at 9:29 AM ET, 03/ 1/2011

No, a peace deal wouldn't diminish anti-Semitism

By Jennifer Rubin

Richard Cohen argues (with much justification) that anti-Semitism remains a scourge in the Muslim World: "There are nearly no Jews in Arab lands -- they were kicked out after Israel was established in 1948. Nowhere in the Middle East is peace with Israel popular. Nowhere in the Middle East is anti-Semitism considered aberrant or weird. It is inconceivable to me that Arab politicians will not attempt to harness both sentiments, combining nationalism with anti-Semitism -- a combustible and unstable compound. History instructs about what follows."

So what to do about it? Israel should settle with the Palestinians, Richard argues:

Consequently, now would be the propitious time for Israel to settle with the Palestinians. I am aware that resolution of the Palestinian issue will not satisfy anti-Semites or extreme Arab nationalists - Israel is not going to give up all of Jerusalem nor, for that matter, disappear - and both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza have only been emboldened by recent events. Still, the creation of a Palestinian state -- the lifting of all the onerous restrictions on Palestinian movement -- will take some air out of this particular balloon and, possibly, improve Israel's deteriorating moral standing in Europe and elsewhere. This is no small matter.

There are some glaring flaws in this analysis.

Indeed, as Israel has made peace with Egypt, withdrawn from Gaza and extended autonomy to much of the West Bank, anti-Semitism, by all accounts, has been on the rise -- not only in the Middle East but in Europe and South America as well. There is something inappropriate, if not noxious, in suggesting that Israel is responsible for the toxic brew of anti-Semitism bubbling up. As we know all too well, there need not be any Israel for anti-Semitism to flourish.

Second, it's not as if Israel hasn't tried to make deal. Richard seems to suggest that if only Israel got with the program, it could make a deal. It was, of course, the Palestinians who refused peace deals at Camp David and from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. It was the Palestinians who revealed they have no intention of recognizing a Jewish state. What would Richard have the Israelis do?

And finally, shouldn't the formula work the other way? I mean, might not a peace deal become easier if the spotlight was trained on anti-Israel propaganda, anti-Semitic textbooks sent around the globe by the Saudis, and the concealed nexis of anti-Semitic Europeans and NGOs dedicated to Israel's destruction? This seems, at any rate, a more logical approach than the assumption that a paper agreement would quell anti-Semitism.

It's a confusing time in the Middle East. But even Dennis Ross stumbled on the truth when he said yesterday:

The ongoing wave of political change will finally enable the region to address the long-standing problem that political stagnation actually limited the prospects for comprehensive peace and regional reconciliation. The landmark 2002 Arab Human Development Report recognized that the lack of Arab-Israeli peace was "both a cause and an excuse for distorting the development agenda, disrupting national priorities and retarding political development." For these Arab scholars, Israel's occupation was used to "justify curbing dissent at a time when democratic transition requires greater pluralism in society and more public debate on national development policies. " As a peace negotiator, I heard countless times from leaders in the region that reform could not take place without peace. That was an excuse then; today, it is simply denial. As governments begin to initiate reforms in response to the demands of their own citizens, they will soon realize that continued conflict will impede their efforts and national resources can be better applied to local concerns. In the early 1990s, Shimon Peres described a "New Middle East" where economic opportunities and interdependence would propel the region to a new era of cooperation and coexistence.

Two decades later, let us hope that the people of the Middle East will begin recognizing these opportunities, and that leaders will seize the moment to take necessary reforms not just to advance the cause of local reform, but also to advance the prospects for a comprehensive peace in the region. Reform and peace go hand in hand and offer the peoples of the region a future of hope and possibility.

In short, Arab states' internal reforms are more likely to produce peace than a peace deal is to cure Arabs' anti-Semitism.

By Jennifer Rubin  | March 1, 2011; 9:29 AM ET
Categories:  Israel  
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It's flawed logic to attribute a rise in antisemitism (which you haven't even sourced) to the peace deal in Egypt. In fact, the evidence points to the contrary -- that peace made with Egypt actually has diminished antisemitic tendencies in Egypt, while reinforcing world wide Arab opinion that the Egyptian-Israeli peace deal wasn't legitimate at all.

Internal reforms must be matched by a legitimate peace deal that is seen by all to be just, and not more intransigence on either side--settlements included.

Posted by: fakedude2 | March 1, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Was the Arab/Persian world a hotbed of anti-semitism before the creation of Israel?
My understanding is that the Arab/Persian world WAS more hospitable to jews than Europe/America/English speaking world.

Posted by: rcaruth | March 1, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

There may be no Jews in Arab countries, but there are still about 20,000 Jews in Iran, where there is little antisemitism but there is strong opposition to Zionism. Even the Jews in Iran seem to be against Zionism. Many have refused to emigrate to Israel in spite of being offered monetary incentives.

Posted by: quinterius | March 1, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I have a problem with the whole concept of 'anti semitism". Based as it is on the idea that people hate and have always hated Jews for absolutely no reason.

There have always been group conflicts over religions, territories,power, resources..there have always been "victims" and "losers" in those conflicts...Christians, Jews, Muslims, countries, parties and movements.

But those like Rubin and company would have the world believe that somehow Jews are the only victims worthy of the title victim. And that Jews are the only group on earth thruout all time who have been totally innocent in all events, presecuted thru no fault of their own, did nothing, acted on no beliefs that were threatening to others to bring about any of their own downfalls or exclusions.

Or in Bush II words...hated for who they are not what they do."

There is not a rational person or expert sociologist in the universe who would agree that it is possible for one group of people to have been eternally and continuously hated by the entire world for absolutely no reason whatsoever. And the key words are 'eternally' and "continuously" and 'for no reason'.

Irrational hatreds can occur as aberrations and groups can be victimized due to no fault of their own from time to time as in the German slaughter of the Jews, but anti semitism as it is described by Rubin is cult like and mythical thinking.

The current resentment of Jews in the ME, in the US, and around the world, is for their 'behavior' in supporting what is not acceptable to decent people about Israel. It doesn't matter if they are Jews, Buddhist or Presbyterian...if the movement and agenda they support is repugnant to the majority of people they are going to get criticized and knocked around like any other group in the arena would.

Blaming it on anti semitism is ridiculous.
The holocaust and the victim hood mantle of the Jews does not confer a eternal get out of jail free card for their behavior or Israel's.
Jews and Israel have to accept the fact that they like everyone must live with the consequences of their actions.

Posted by: Renfro1 | March 1, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Renfro1 -
Paul Johnson’s A History of the Jews points out that Jews have been alternately tolerated and persecuted throughout recorded history, with the latter happening a lot, usually for no good reason other than the fact that they made a convenient, easily identifiable target. At some point or another a tribal leader would blame bad times on the Jews, and it was off to the races again, a hurried relocation to less hostile areas. For whatever reason, that’s a big part of the history of the Jews, whether some rational persons or expert sociologists may agree. It’s not universal and not eternal, yet, but long-standing in Europe and the Middle East.

In my sixty years, blue-eyed and once blond, I’ve been puzzled when others have made hateful remarks about Jews (and other readily identifiable ethnic groups). There are those who believe that Jews run things, control all the money and banks, that they are individually and as a group, dishonest, etc. Anti-Semitism seems as good a label as any to apply to the sort of thought process that causes that, especially when most of the folks hurling such epithets have had no personal contact with Jews.

Which makes me wonder whom folks regard as “Jews”, mainly because folks who practice Judaism or self-identify as Jewish are a pretty varied bunch in the US and elsewhere. But that’s another issue.

As to your point that Israel is hated because of its actions in the Middle East, I suppose it’s as valid as folks who hate the US for its actions: it’s a mixed bag, some warranted, some not. But in today’s Middle East there are a lot of folks, some in positions of authority, who speak lustily of eliminating not only Israel, but all Jews. They often do utter these sorts of things in one of them furrin languages, keeping any pronouncements in English much blander, but they are on tape and make no excuses to their adherents. Again, anti-Semitism seems as good a term as any to label their ‘tude.

Posted by: SCMike1 | March 1, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

SCMike1, misogynist tribal cultures tend to be war oriented bloodthirsty and genocidal
Hateful snapshots of settlers clamoring to murder their own dissenters is NOT the missing piece to the puzzle BUT a telling one
for an outsider there is NO difference with fanatic womenhaters and stonekillers in iran and entire arab world.

Posted by: manittou | March 1, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer, your article is right on point! Arab propaganda has been designed and used to pressure Israel into making concessions of land that would only serve to jeopardize its security (Israel is only 40 miles wide from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River) without providing Israel anything substantive in return, such as end to Arab hostilities and threats of future wars. Israel should stand firm and insist on an end to Arab hostilities before even considering any concessions. And, the world's focus should be on the need to end Arab hatred, lies, and distortions and to make the Arabs firmly understand that Israel is here to stay and they have no realistic choice other than to recognize and negotiate with Israel as an equal among nations.

Posted by: EuripedesSmythe | March 2, 2011 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Racism says nothing about the target, everything about the racists. Racists will be racists. End of discussion.

Posted by: Farnaz2Mansouri21 | March 2, 2011 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Why not look at it from a real conservative (non-neocon) point of view?

Would a peace deal be good for Americans? If we want to add ethnocentricity to it, would a peace deal be good for us American Jews?

Neo/non-cons of course will never look at it from a conservative point of view.

Posted by: mfray | March 2, 2011 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Israel is increasingly matching, in its religious fanaticism, anything the ayatollahs can come up with. We have former Chief Rabbi Yosef, leader of the Shaa Party claiming that non-Jews were created, like donkeys, to serve the Jews. The governmemt was silent on his comments. His Hitleresque view of a Jewish "master race" appears to be growing. We have the popular book "Torat Hamelech" written by two Rabbis and supported by many more, which is a justification for Jews to kill non-Jews and even their babies pre-emptively since non-Jews are born "uncompassionate". What sort of anti- is this. Anti the 98% of the world that isn't Jewish. Will this book become required reading in Israeli schools. How many Israelis believe these views? The Shaa's and settlers do. How many others?
Are these views not racist. I hate religious fanaticism of all types both in the Arab world and in Israel. "A pox on both of your houses"!!!

Posted by: treetopsfarm | March 3, 2011 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Treetops Farm-
RE: the bigoted book “The King’s Torah (Torat Hamelech)"You Ask What sort of anti- is this. Anti the 98% of the world that isn't Jewish. Will this book become required reading in Israeli schools. How many Israelis believe these views? The Shaa's and settlers do. How many others?

The References Father/Son Rabbinical Team residents of Yitznar, Settlement Outpost of 895.Your implication thatit "might"
"is it?" indicative of World Jewry (the 2% of the world that is Jewish)is just an old anti semitic canard in new wrapping.Further:

"I Hate" religious fanaticism of all types both in the Arab world and in Israel. "A Pox on Both of Your Houses"!!!
I guess "all types" covers ALL the other religions that exist in the minority in Arab world and in Israel but not US,Asia,Europe"Christian Fanaticism" is non existent.

Please reference these quotes from The Jewish Daily Forward 1/19/11 article
by Daniel Estrin

"Rabbinic Text or Call to Terror?"

“The King’s Torah (Torat Hamelech),....
published by the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, garnered a front-page exposé in the Israeli tabloid Ma’ariv, which called it the stuff of “Jewish terror.”

Now, the yeshiva is in the news again, with a January 18 raid on Yitzhar by more than 100 Israeli security officials who forcibly entered Od Yosef Chai and arrested 10 Jewish settlers. The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, suspects five of those arrested were involved in the torching and vandalizing of a Palestinian mosque last month in the neighboring Palestinian village of Yasuf. The arson provoked an international outcry and condemnation by Israeli religious figures, including Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who visited the village to personally voice his regret

“The King’s Torah” reflects a fringe viewpoint held by a minority of rabbis in the West Bank, said Avinoam Rosenak, a Hebrew University professor specializing in settler theology. Asher Cohen, a Bar Ilan University political science professor, thought its influence would be “zero” because it appeals only to extreme ideologues.

Treetops Farm- Your disproportionate implication of this fringe and shameful thinking as being indicative of World Jewry is Anti Semitic. The willingness of Israel Security Forces to show that these actions will not be tolerated! Religious and Intellectual figures who speak out openly (and fearlessly)does not bespeak the rherotic of a "House" that deserves a "Pox"

Posted by: getreal22 | March 4, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

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