Last week a conference was held in Brussels to develop a legal strategy to fight antisemitism :
Almost 100 people from 16 countries gathered in the capital of Europe to discuss means to confront growing anti-Semitism and its new forms, anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel, particularly in some European countries where the issue of Jew-hatred appears to be more acute and where legal weapons do not yet exist.
One of the speakers was Howard Gutman, the (Jewish) Ambassador of the US to to Belgium. His remarks reportedly ‘stunned’ attendees, who heard him blame the Jews and Israel for antisemitism:
He said “there is and has long been some amount of anti-Semitism, of hatred and violence against Jews, from a small sector of the population who hate others who may be different or perceived to be different, largely for the sake of hating.” “Those anti-Semites are people who hate not only Jews, but Muslims, gays, gypsies, and likely any who can be described as minorities or different. That hatred is of course pernicious and it must be combated…”
He sees growing intimidation and violence directed at Jews as a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories and other Arab neighbors in the Middle East.
Peace in the Middle East, he said would significantly reduce this form of anti-Semitism in Europe. “The solution for this second type of problem – too often lumped under a general banner of anti-Semitism – is in the hands of Israel, the Palestinians and Arab neighbors in the Middle East,” the ambassador declared.
In Gutman’s world, there are only two kinds of antisemites: those that also hate Muslims, gays, etc. — neo-Nazi xenophobes — and those who hate Jews and Israel because of the conflict with the Palestinians.
Note that this is in keeping with the Obama Administration’s rule book: it is forbidden to say anything bad about Islam or Muslim culture. You cannot say that it is imbued with antisemitism, which it is, and which in fact makes antisemites out of many Muslims. So Muslim antisemitism must be in some way justified.
Gutman seems to think that Muslim antisemitism sprang full-grown from the head of the Israeli-Arab conflict, in 1967 or perhaps as as early as 1948. If this conflict could be solved, he suggests, then suddenly Muslim and left-wing antisemitism would vanish, leaving us only the neo-Nazis to worry about.
He ignores Muslim Jew-hatred which goes back to the Quran and other teachings of Mohammad, and which, like the Christian variety, was often expressed quite brutally, long before there was an Israel, and indeed before Zionism was a gleam in the eye of Theodore Herzl.
Yes, there were times and places where Jews could accept a second-class dhimmi status and live alongside Muslims relatively unmolested. But the antisemitic teachings were always there, ready to explode in violence if the Sultan owed money to Jewish merchants or simply decided that there were too many of them.
Pogroms were not rare in the land of Israel, even before Zionist immigration. For example, in 1834 — the First Aliyah began in 1881 — there was a murderous pogrom in Tzfat, which went on for 33 days:
The forgotten pogrom in Tzfat was a regular pogrom, a dreadful yet familiar experience to Jews in both the Islamic world and in Christian Europe. Like all pogroms it was an act of senseless brutality, where the victims were totally helpless. It had no political agenda or motive behind it. There was no ‘Zionist entity’ whose existence served as an excuse to murder civilians; it was motivated by pure greed. The Palestinian Arabs of the Eastern Galilee took advantage of a regional crisis, the war between Egypt and Turkey, to attack their Jewish neighbors and strip them of everything they had, clothes, property, houses, and the like. In the process people were beaten in the streets, many times to death, synagogues destroyed and holy books desecrated.
— Dvar Dea, The Forgotten Pogrom of Tzfat
Later, Arab hate made it impossible for them to live together peacefully with the Jewish immigrants. Despite the fact that Zionist development of the land made it capable of supporting more and more inhabitants — and more Arabs came to enjoy the benefits of it — the Arab world fought diplomatically, and the Palestinian Arabs violently, in anti-Jewish riots in the 1920’s and 1930’s, to keep Jews out.
The WWII period was particularly fruitful for cross-fertilization of the Muslim and European streams of hate, with the Palestinian Arab leader al-Husseini visiting Hitler and laying plans for his own hoped-for Holocaust in the Middle East.
After the war, many Nazis found refuge in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, etc. where their ideology was congenial.
Today a good example of contemporary Muslim antisemitism can be found in the Hamas Covenant, which quotes the sayings of Mohammad as well as ideas from the European “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
If you read the Hamas Covenant, or pay attention to the statements of the PLO leadership (whose ideology comes from al-Husseini via Yasser Arafat), you can see that no possible withdrawals or other concessions could possibly mollify them.They will have no Jewish state of any size in what they consider “Arab (or Muslim) land.”
Gutman has it backwards. Antisemitism is not a result of the Israeli-Arab conflict. It is its cause.
The view that the Jews cause antisemitism by their actions is an old one. A 1942 article in Der Stürmer by one Ernst Hiemer begins thus:
Anti-Semitism is as old as Jewry itself. The Jew was a liar, a swindler, an exploiter, a troublemaker, a poisoner of the blood, and a murderer from the beginning. The non-Jewish peoples thus responded to this people of criminals throughout history with contempt and rejection.
Although Gutman suggests that the solution “is in the hands of Israel, the Palestinians and Arab neighbors in the Middle East,” the position of the Obama Administration that he represents is that the conflict continues because Israel refuses to meet Arab demands. For example, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta expressed this view last week.
Gutman, a Washington lawyer, raised at least $500,000 for the Obama campaign in 2008. He was appointed Ambassador in 2009 .