Uri Avnery: Anti-What?


ANTI-SEMITISM is on the rise. All over Europe it is raising its ugly head. Jews are in danger everywhere. They must make haste and come home to Israel before it is too late.

True? Untrue?


PRACTICALLY ALL the alarming incidents which have taken place in Europe recently – especially in Paris and Copenhagen – in which Jews were killed or attacked – had nothing to do with anti-Semitism. 

All these outrages were conducted by young Muslims, mostly of Arab descent. They were part of the ongoing war between Israelis and Arabs that has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. They are not descended from the pogrom in Kishinev and not related to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

In theory, Arab anti-Semitism is an oxymoron, since Arabs are Semites. Indeed, Arabs may be more Semitic then Jews, because Jews have mingled for many centuries with Gentiles.

But, of course, the German publicist Wilhelm Marr, who probably invented the term Antisemitismus in 1880 (after inventing the term Semitismus seven years earlier) never met an Arab in his life. For him the only Semites were Jews, and his crusade was solely against them.

(Adolf Hitler, who took his racism seriously, applied it to all Semites. He could not stand Arabs either.  Contrary to legend, he disliked the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had fled to Germany. After meeting him once for a photo-opportunity arranged by the Nazi propaganda machine, he never agreed to meet him again.)

SO WHY do young Muslims in Europe shoot Jews, after killing cartoonists who have insulted The Prophet?

Experts say that the basic reason is their profound hatred for their host countries, in which they feel (quite rightly) that they are despised, humiliated and discriminated against. In countries like France, Belgium, Denmark and many others, their violent rage needs an outlet.

But why the Jews?

There are at least two main reasons:

The first is local. French Muslims are mostly immigrants from North Africa. During the desperate struggle for Algerian independence, almost all the Algerian Jews sided with the colonialist regime against the local freedom fighters. When all Jews and many Arabs emigrated from Algeria to France, they brought their fight with them. Since they now live side by side  in the crowded ghettos around Paris and elsewhere, their mutual hatred lives on and often leads to violence.

The second reason is the ongoing Arab-Zionist conflict, which started with the mass immigration of Jews to Arab Palestine, continued with the long list of wars and is now in full bloom. Practically every Arab in the world, and most Muslims are emotionally involved in the conflict.

But what have French Jews to do with that far-away conflict? Everything.

When Binyamin Netanyahu does not miss an opportunity to declare that he represents all the Jews in the world, he makes all the world’s Jews responsible for Israeli policies and actions. 

When Jewish institutions in France, the US and everywhere totally and uncritically identify with the policies and operations of Israel, such as the recent Gaza war, they turn themselves voluntarily into potential victims of revenge actions.  The French Jewish leadership, CRIF, did so just now.

Neither of these reasons has anything to do with anti-Semitism.

ANTI-SEMITISM is an integral part of European culture.

Many theories have been put forward to explain this totally illogical phenomenon, which borders on a collective mental disease.

My own preferred theory is religious. All over Europe, and now also in the Americas, Christian children in their formative years hear the stories of the New Testament. They learn that a Jewish mob was shouting for the blood of Jesus, the gentle and mild preacher, while the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilatus, was desperately trying to save his life. The Roman is depicted as a humane, likeable person, while the Jews are seen as a vile, despicable mob.

This story cannot be true. Roman rulers all over the Empire used to crucify potential troublemakers. The behavior of the Jewish authorities in the story does not conform to Jewish law. But the New Testament story, written long after the death of Jesus (whose real Hebrew name was Jeshua), was aimed at the Roman audience the Christians were trying to convert, in hot competition with the Jewish missionaries.

Also, the early Christians were a small, persecuted sect in Jewish Jerusalem, and their grudge lives on to this very day.

The picture of the evil Jews crying out for the death of Jesus is unconsciously imprinted in the minds of the Christian multitudes and has inspired Jew-hatred in every new generation. The results were slaughter, mass-expulsions, inquisition, persecution in every form, pogroms, and finally the Holocaust.

THERE has never been anything like this in Muslim history.

The Prophet had some small wars with neighboring Jewish tribes, but the Koran contains strict instructions on how to deal with Jews and Christians, the People of the Book. They had to be treated fairly and were exempted from military duty in return for a poll tax. Throughout the ages there were some rare anti-Jewish (and anti-Christian) outbreaks here and there, but Jews in Muslim lands fared incomparably better than in Christian ones.

If this had not been so, there would have been no “Golden Age” of Muslim-Jewish cultural symbiosis in medieval Spain. It would have been impossible for the Muslim Ottoman empire to accept and absorb almost all the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from medieval Spain, driven out by their Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella. The outstanding Jewish religious thinker, Moses Maimonides (the “Rambam”) could not have become the personal physician and adviser of the outstanding Muslim sultan, Salah-al-Din al-Ayubi (Saladin).

The present conflict started as a clash between two national movements, Jewish Zionism and secular Arab nationalism, and had only slight religious overtones. As my friends and I have warned many times, it is now turning into a religious conflict – a calamity with potentially grievous consequences.

Nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

SO WHY does the entire Israeli propaganda machine, including all Israeli media, insist that Europe is experiencing a catastrophic rise of anti-Semitism? In order to call upon European Jews to come to Israel (in Zionist terminology: “make Aliya”).

For a Zionist true believer, every Jew’s arrival in Israel is an ideological victory. Never mind that once in Israel, new immigrants – especially from countries like Ethiopia and Ukraine – are neglected.

As I have frequently quoted: “Israelis like immigration but don’t like immigrants”.

In the wake of the recent events in Paris and Copenhagen, Binyamin Netanyahu has publicly called upon French and Danish Jews to pack up and come at once to Israel for their own safety. The prime ministers of both countries have furiously protested against these calls, which insinuate that they are unable or unwilling to protect their own citizens. I suppose that no leader likes a foreign politician to call upon his citizens to leave.

There is something grotesque in this call: as the late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz remarked, Israel is the only place in the world where Jewish lives are in constant danger. With a war every few years and violent incidents almost every day, he had a point.

But in the wake of the dramatic events, many “French” Jews – originally from North Africa – may be induced to leave France. They may not all come to Israel. The US, French Canada and Australia offer tempting alternatives.

There are many good reasons for a Jew to come to Israel: a mild climate, the Hebrew language, living among fellow Jews, and what not. But running away from anti-Semites is not one of them. 

IS THERE real anti-Semitism in Europe? I assume that there is.

In many European countries there are old and new super-nationalist groups, who try to attract the masses by hatred of the Other. Jews are the Others par excellence (along with Gypsies/Roma). An ethno-religious group dispersed in many countries, belonging and not belonging to their host countries, with foreign – and therefore sinister – beliefs and rituals. All the European nationalist movements which sprang up in the 19th and 20th centuries were more or less anti-Semitic.

Jews have always been, and still are, the ideal scapegoat for the European poor. It was the German (non-Jewish) socialist August Bebel who said that “anti-Semitism is the socialism of the stupid guys”.

With frequent economic slumps and a widening gap between the local poor and the multinational super-rich, the need for scapegoats is rising. But I do not believe that these marginal groups, even if some of them are not so marginal anymore, constitute a real anti-Semitic surge.

Be that as it may, the outrages in Paris and Copenhagen have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

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1 Response

  1. Poo says:

    I know, why do I bother? I promised myself that I would ignore Avnery and I hope in future I do. Doesn’t everyone? But, when Avnery is right, he is right and it is only fair that I say so. His “opinion” is “Nonsense.”

    Avnery’s thinly veiled attempts at misdirection (“hey, look over there”) demand some comment. He throws around the odd bit of historical data just to make it look like what passes for his argument is documentable. It is not what he mentions that matters. It is the resounding roar of what he omits that does. The study of logic calls it the error of omission. This latest in an overly long series of anti-Binyamin Netanyahu, anti-Israel government policy, ego-maniacal screed is as out of whack as all those that preceded it. In musical terms, it is a “clanger.”

    It would be simpler and more efficient if he just addressed each and every issue that concerns him with, “It is Netanyahu’s fault. I was right all along.” If not him then, “Israel is wrong. I was right all along.” Sure there are Jews in Israel but not Jews like him. As he has so often said: “Israelis like immigration but don’t like immigrants.” They say that here too and in England, the U.S., France, Germany, Spain and well, pretty much everywhere there is immigration. Like most of his ideas, this one too is borrowed, thinly researched and one-sided. There is only ever one side to an Avnery argument.

    “The alarming incidents,” in Paris, Copenhagen, Ottawa and Sydney, known as terrorist acts to the rest of us, were anti-Semitic, among other things. Most were led by disaffected young Muslims and some recent converts with limited knowledge of Islam itself. Though in truth, it is difficult to nail down which Islam is Islam as it seems to vary from country to country, city to city and even mosque to mosque. The only similarity between the ardent jihadist and the complete loony tune is a devotion to some definition of Islam. You will note that none of the terrorists cries, “Up the Hindus,” or “Go Leafs Go.” You will further note that none joins the boy scouts, a commune or rock and roll band in order to find self-expression or glory; no, they all shout “Allah Akbar” and maim, kill or terrorize in pursuit of a Caliphate on their way to what, world domination? Well, that’s what they say. You can’t make up things like that.

    Avnery wanders into territory I would be called names for mentioning. “Arabs may be more Semitic then Jews, because Jews have mingled for many centuries with Gentiles.” Well, shame on them! Let us not confuse the issues with definitions. Let’s just stick with Arab and Jew or better still, Jew and Muslim. Who is more Semitic than who sounds too much like a playground argument. But ask yourself, how many Muslims consider themselves to be brothers under the Semitic skin with the Jews?

    Adolf Hitler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini? Really? Avnery drops a comment and skips on as if he has uttered some profound truth. The devil is in the details. I could belabor the facts about the Grand Mufti’s activities throughout the Middle East and North Africa but will restrict myself to a few for Avnery’s edification. Oh, I forgot. He won that war too!

    The Mufti met with Adolph Hitler in Berlin on November 28, 1941. Photos and film records clearly demonstrate that he was received as a visiting head of state. Hitler promised the Mufti that he would become the chief administrator of the Arab world after the Nazi “liberation.” Hitler introduced the Mufti to Himmler and Von Ribbentrop along with other Nazi leaders. The Mufti favored the extermination of the Jews so he was given a tour of the Auschwitz-Monowitz concentration camp by Himmler himself. Hitler wanted to persuade the Mufti to extend the Nazis’ anti-Jewish program to the Arab world. In an effort to bring Nazism to his own country, the Mufti organized the “Nazi Scouts,” based on the “Hitler Youth.” The swastika became a welcome symbol among many Palestinians of the day.

    Avnery makes it seem like Hitler met the Mufti for a quick photo op and then departed. The fact is, you can Google photos and film! The Nazi controlled news not only filmed the Mufti’s remarks they published his anti-Jewish ravings. I have mentioned before that Hitler allowed the Mufti access to the German Foreign Office and broadcast his speech on Radio Berlin during the daily Arab-language newscast to the Middle East On March 1, 1944.

    “Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you,” the Mufti opined. I don’t think he viewed the Jews as fellow Semitics.

    Note the dates. The Mufti met Hitler in Berlin on November 5, 1941. 3 years later Hitler was still bestowing favors on this man he disliked so much, at least according to Avnery who never let a fact get in the way of his opinion.

    Hitler’s objective was the destruction of the Jewish people residing in the Middle East and elsewhere. He had a multitude of collaborators to achieve that end but believed the Mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world. The Mufti was, naturally, very grateful to Hitler.

    Clearly, the Mufti’s reception in Germany was far greater than indicated by Avnery but then, he knows this. Even the Jerusalem Post has written of it. Surely he reads that from time to time. Perhaps not.

    After meeting with Hitler, the Mufti recruited Muslims for the German armed forces. He helped to organize a Muslim component of the Waffen-SS who were notorious for torturing and murdering European Jews.

    On 29 November 1947, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending a partition with Economic Union of Mandatory Palestine to follow the termination of the British Mandate. By 1948 the Mufti was among those who persuaded the Egyptian military to become one of the five Arab armies that attempted to annihilate Israel on its first day of existence.

    The Mufti’s pro-Nazi sympathies were widely supported among his Palestinian followers. He was regarded as a hero even after the war as large segments of the Arab world shared his sympathy and support of Nazi Germany. In 1948 the Mufti was elected President of the National Palestinian Council even though he was a wanted war criminal living openly in Egypt, supposedly in exile.

    Generations of Muslims have been raised on these very beliefs and hatred. The Mufti’s direct actions prepared the ground for attacks on Jews in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. He was responsible for much of the anti-Jewish propaganda in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Avnery likes to blame the Jews for supporting the French during the Algerian war but the enmity goes back further and deeper. Who should the Jews have supported, Nazi sympathizers?

    Avnery also likes to blame the host countries who have discriminated against their Muslim immigrants. Yeah, there’s a good reason to behead someone. Ask the Irish, the Italians or the Polish immigrants who first stepped on to the shores of North America. No one held parades for them. It was tough but they have produced Presidents, Governors, Premiers and leaders of all sorts of industries and universities. Such is the nature of immigration. If you are looking for a parade, better to stay home and organize one yourself.

    His other sleight of typing is the “ongoing Arab-Zionist” conflict. Note “Zionists.” All Israelis are Zionists save for Avnery, I suppose. For Avnery it is all about Palestine and the Palestinians about whom his good friend said in his official biography, “if there is any such thing as a Palestinian people, it is I, Yasser Arafat, who created them.” Not history, not Avnery but Arafat!

    Fathi Hammad, the Hamas Minister of the Interior and of National Security once said, “Half of the Palestinians are Egyptian.” He went on, “Who are the Palestinians? We have many families called al-Masri, whose roots are Egyptian! They may be from Alexandria, from Cairo, from Dumietta, from the north, from Aswan, from Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians; we are Arabs. We are Muslims. We are part of you. Egyptians! Personally, half my family is Egyptian and the other half are Saudis.” Don’t tell Avnery.

    As most Palestinian Arabs well know, with very few exceptions, they are not indigenous local peoples but relative newcomers who migrated in the 19th and 20th centuries to the land then called Palestine. Many Jews migrated to Palestine during the same centuries. The Jewish people have maintained a well-documented, unbroken presence in Israel for well over 3,000 years. The Muslim Qur’an refers to the Jewish people as the “Children of Israel”. In fact, until Arafat invented a “Palestinian” people to further his goal, which was justifying wiping out Israel, Jews were the ones called Palestinians. Don’t tell Avnery that either.

    The Nazis found a willing ally in the Mufti and declared him to be the “Fuhrer of the Arabic World”. Not a term they used lightly. The Mufti passed his belief system, such as it was, on to future Arab leaders like Arafat who he met while Yasser was still young. The Mufti became young Yasser’s role model and mentor. They both became part of the ongoing war between the Israelis and Arabs that Avnery claims “has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.” Oh brother!

    Arafat’s successors, Hamas, have a Charter which calls for “….the obliteration or dissolution of Israel. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.” 13,000 rockets in 9 years, not to mention tunnels of terror have been directed against Jews and only Jews but hey, Avnery says it “has nothing to do with anti-Semitism” either because, “Arabs may be more Semitic then Jews, because Jews have mingled for many centuries with Gentiles.” I didn’t see that in the Charter. Must be written on the rockets.

    Moderate Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, educates Palestinian children to hate Jews and wants “a Palestinian state free of Jews.” Avnery is playing with words and he knows it. Semitism Schmemitism, hate is hate.

    In the Knesset, Avnery was known for his volume of speeches, somewhere north of 1,000. Much like Obama, he loves little more than the sound of his own voice unless it is the look of his own words. I suspect he reads them aloud. Like Obama, he favors writing books about himself. At least he never made Prime Minister. Israel can be thankful for that much at least. America was not so lucky.

    Avnery talks about terrorists like Obama talks about ISIS, vacant, wishful and completely unrealistic. Don’t call it what it is and maybe it will go away. Obama wants to leave office and then blame whatever happens on his successor like he has blamed Bush for everything during the past 6 six years and, no doubt, the next 2. Nothing is ever Obama’s fault. Life is good. The world is fine. What’s Avnery’s excuse?

    And what of Binyamin Netanyahu? He does not, in spite of Avnery, claim that he “represents all the Jews in the world,” nor does he make “all the world’s Jews responsible for Israeli policies and actions.” He invites them to Israel. That’s his job. We invite them too and we are far from alone. It is the job of European governments and others around the world to attract high-value immigrants. It is the job of the Israeli government to attract high-value immigrants too as Israel has prospered from immigration.

    A Jewish exit from European countries would be nothing new. They were expelled from England in the 13th century, from France in the 14th century, from Spain and Portugal in the 15th, from Ukraine in the 17th and various Austro-Hungarian lands in the 18th. The 19th and 20th centuries saw two million Jews flee Russia. Millions more fled in the 1930s and 1940s or perished in the Holocaust.

    Jewish immigrants have also been attracted. In Biblical times, Nebuchadnezzar brought in thousands of Jews to further trade and commerce, and help administer his kingdom. In the 13th and 16th centuries, Polish kings issued invitations to attract Jewish immigration for much the same reasons. When Spain’s King Ferdinand expelled Spanish Jews in 1492, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire formally invited them to Constantinople. In the 17th century England’s Oliver Cromwell decided to attract Amsterdam’s affluent Jews in order to improve England’s trading prowess.

    So Netanyahu is not treading any new ground. Immigration has always been big business. Today’s tug of war between leaders of Israel, European countries and North America for European Jews is simply a matter of attracting capital and skilled labour, a wise immigration policy.

    Mid-East politics also factor in. Israel is erroneously demonized over its conflicts with Palestine. Anti-Semitism is rampant in Europe. Israel-bashing has been led by European leaders and by NGOs funded by European governments. The departure of Jews for Israel in particular will only strengthen the country and make it better able to withstand any pressure from Europe.

    Europe’s leaders want the Jews to stay and no doubt feel some guilt at their inability to protect them. They also do not want don’t their countries branded as anti-Semitic.

    Jews tend to be well educated and many are well off. Jews make up less than one 1 percent of the French population but 8% of its billionaires. In the U.K., the Jews make up .5% of the population but 14 percent of its billionaires. European countries work hard to attract well-educated, affluent immigrants who can bring investments and jobs to their countries.

    It has been reported than as many as half of the Jews in the U.K. and France are considering leaving. I rather doubt the numbers but, if true, it would trigger a capital flight as well as a brain drain. Jews are disproportionately represented in academia, the sciences and the arts as well as in industry. Who could blame Netanyahu for wanting a piece of that? We sure do.

    The Nobel Prize is regarded “by far as the most prestigious prize in the world.” It is awarded to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.”
    Still, they laughingly gave one to Obama and Gore. That’s how much of a joke the Noble has become. It has little to no credibility left. It has become the political equivalent of an Oscar.

    That said, with approximately 1.4 Billion Muslims in the world (around 20% of the world’s population), Muslims have won only 8 Nobel Prizes. In 1994, terrorist Yasser Arafat was one of them. Current Saudi cleric Sheikh Bandar al Khobairi is an example of why the Muslims have fared so poorly in the science division. He preaches that the Earth does not revolve around the Sun! Stay tuned for his future thoughts on gravity.

    The Global Jewish population, on the other hand, is approximately 13.2 million or about 0.2% of the world population. Jews have received 166 Nobel Prizes. No wonder most forward looking countries want them as immigrants!

    In Avnery’s world, those that identify or actually agree with the policies and operations of Israel, “turn themselves voluntarily into potential victims of revenge actions.” Well, there’s free speech in his own words. Agree or off with your head! Avnery in Wonderland?

    Of course, none of his explanations rise to the level of anti-Semitism because “ANTI-SEMITISM is an integral part of European culture.” Good to know. What doesn’t exist is. What else is new?

    “Many theories have been put forward to explain this totally illogical phenomenon, which borders on a collective mental disease.” It’s the Bible. Its Bible school. Oh please.

    “THERE has never been anything like this in Muslim history.” Well now.

    There are plenty of historical examples from Biblical times to this very day that illustrate co-operation between Jews and Muslims and paint the Muslims in a favorable light. Of course, there are at least an equal number that do not. In 732 the Muslim Army, moving on Paris, was defeated and turned back at Tours; in 1571 the Muslim Army/ Navy was defeated by the Italians and Austrians as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to attack southern Europe in the Battle of Lepanto; in 1683 the Turkish Muslim Army, attacking Eastern Europe, was finally defeated in the Battle of Vienna by German and Polish Christian Armies; in 1783, 5 Muslim countries of North Africa declared war on the newly independent U.S., hijacking and kidnapping merchant sailors and selling them for ransom, or into slavery; it took until 1805 when the U.S. could send the Navy and Marines to conquer Tripoli and end the piracy. It seems Islam has been at war with the U.S. since its founding.

    But the trend, from the time of Mohamed himself, has been in the violent direction. Ask the Coptics or the Yazidis to name just 2. As to how the conquered fared in earlier times, until they converted, which over time most did, they paid the jizya (poll tax). Not exactly Nirvana. It is true that until the end of World War II, Jews under Muslim rule enjoyed more safety, freedom, and autonomy than they ever did under Christian rule. But times have changed and drastically so. Its time Avnery acknowledged it.

    It has been “a religious conflict” for some time, he says. Newsflash, the “grievous consequences” are already upon us.

    “IS THERE real anti-Semitism in Europe? I assume that there is.” Prior he said, “ANTI-SEMITISM is an integral part of European culture.” Which is it? I’m going with yes.

    Oh, I know, the terrorists are in the minority. But so too were their hereditary inspiration, the aforementioned Nazis, and they were in the minority too.

    “The outrages,” as Avnery likes to call them, “have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.” This could only be true if you leave the Jews out of the equation and define Semites solely as Arabs.

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