Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Anti-Semitism 2.0

From Hudson New York, March 21, 2011, by Mudar Zahran, a Palestinian writer and academic from Jordan, who now resides in the UK:
The concept of the "evil Jew" has made a well-disguised comeback: Criticizing Israel and Zionists, is now deemed a legitimate option to cursing Jews and Judaism. Not only is it open, socially acceptable and legal, but it can actually bring prosperity and popularity.
This new form of anti-Semitism 2.0 is well-covered-up, harder to trace and poses a much deeper danger to the modern way of life of the civilized world than the earlier crude form of it, as it slowly and gradually works on delegitimizing Jews to the point where it eventually becomes acceptable to target Jews, first verbally, then physically -- all done in a cosmopolitan style where the anti-Semites are well-groomed speakers and headline writers in jackets and ties; and not just Arab, but American and European, from "sanitized" news coverage of the most bloodthirsty radicals, to charges against Israel in which facts are distorted, selectively omitted or simply untrue, as in former President Jimmy Carter's book on Israel.
Why would a Palestinian be writing this? The answer is simple: The Palestinians have been used as fuel for the new form of anti-Semitism; this has hurt the Palestinians and exposed them to unprecedented and purposely media-ignored abuse by Arab governments, including some of those who claim love for the Palestinians, yet in fact only bear hatred to Jews. This has resulted in Palestinian cries for justice, equality, freedom and even basic human rights being ignored while the world getting consumed with delegitimizing Israel from either ignorance or malice.
Worse, just as the old form of anti-Semitism has proven itself a threat as poisonous to its supporters, as it was to the Jews, the new form of anti-Semitism 2.0 could prove itself the same -- all the more likely as we see the world tolerating Iran's nuclear ambitions not necessarily out of love for the Mullah's regime, but instead because of mental fixation against Israel.
Such bias against Israel cannot be "accidental" or merely "unfortunate." No other nation has received the amount of scrutinizing, criticism, coverage, demonization and delegitimization. In fact the question to be asked is not whether there is bias against Israel; but rather why there is bias against Israel?
While honest coverage is a pride claimed by all modern media, news reports are assigned according to every editor's choice, this has resulted in a wide editorial bias against Israel and its actions. What makes things worse is the fact that there are no adverse consequences -- such as "lack of access" or physical retribution -- against whoever writes lies about Israel, an open society with a free press. More than 80 human rights non-governmental organizations operate within Israel, constantly monitoring and criticizing it with nothing to worry about -- either professionally or politically --therefore, anyone who misreports or misrepresents facts, or even who lies, is free to keep doing so -- including the the Israelis. For example, the English language newspaper of choice for foreign journalists, Ha'aretz, does not even contain a corrections column. Reporters are told only to write about "The Conflict," and if they do not file by six pm, they are out of a job -- while conflicts which are claiming lives, such as the slaughter of the Assyrians in Iraq, are forgotten. The global media seem to be so consumed by the conflict in Israel which, as dramatic as this may still be, still has claimed only a fraction of the total number of victims of other conflicts.
Bias against Israel does not stop with the media; international organizations exhibit a similar pattern. The recent governmental meltdowns in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have exposed that Arab dictators keep cash and property in Western countries, where they are able to roam freely, while many Israeli politicians have to think twice before they set a foot in Europe for fear of being arrested for "war crimes." Also, Israeli military actions seem to receive more scrutinizing from the international community than the rest of the world's militaries: the UN Security Council still stands reluctant to tackle Qadafi's ongoing atrocities against protesters, but shows no hesitation in investigating even wild claims against Israel.
Recent protests in Arab countries have provided further proof of the media's selective coverage. While young peaceful protesters are being shot by the Jordanian King's guards or attacked by what doctors describe as "a mysterious teargas" in Yemen, the media fail to provide proper coverage for any of that; on the other side, a car accident involving a Palestinian boy and an Israeli driver made global headline news.
Further, amid recent protests in Arab countries, most global media outlets refrained from taking a position on the power-contested Arab dictators; but they have never failed to present pre-packaged anti-Israeli positions when they cover Palestinian uprisings. This extends to perplexing twists: when the protests in Libya started, for example, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, a leading Muslim scholar and no friend of Israel,, appeared on Al-Jazeera, saying, "Qaddafi has done to his people what the Zionists would never do to the Palestinians," yet this strong statement from an unlikely source never made it to the Western media.
Media bias against Israel dies not harm only Israelis; it comes at very dear price to us, the Palestinians. In July of 2010, for example, a seasoned journalist Robert Fisk interviewed a group of right-wing ultra-conservative East Bank-Jordanians who were calling on King Abdullah of Jordan to strip the Palestinian majority of their citizenship and property. The group, mostly made up of retired Jordanian servicemen and journalists were also calling for ending the peace treaty with Israel and "establishing it as an enemy state." Despite my attempts to contact Mr. Fisk –-along with another Jordanian-Palestinian journalist---to warn him of the people he was going to meet, he nonetheless, published an article entitled, "Why Is Jordan Occupied by Palestinians?" -- Which was mainly a manifesto for those with whom he had met. They then publicized the article as a global media victory for themselves, and drove the Palestinians of Jordan into even deeper fear for their own safety in a country where they are already oppressed by security agencies; virtually barred from any government or local authority positions, excluded from state universities, despite paying "a university tax", as well as other taxes and tariffs --which their fellow Jordanians of Bedouins heritage are exempted from-- and regularly and openly insulted by the government-run Jordanian media calling for them to be expelled.
The day before Mr. Fisk met with the extremist group, one of their members, a retired intelligence officer now turned writer, published an article calling on the Jordanian intelligence service to "chop off Mudar Zahran's head in the UK without any observance of diplomatic restraints;" would Mr. Fisk have met with an Israeli journalist calling for the Mossad to behead a Palestinian on British soil?
Anti-Semitism and the image of the "evil Jew" find their roots deep in Europe's intellectualism, from Shakespeare to Nietzsche, not to mention the fraudulent Franco-Russian Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The pretexts for Hitler's Nazi ideology existed vigorously before he came to power. Hitler probably manifested more of a crude exposure of a public trend, exacerbated by a terrible economy, except that the suffering Hitler brought to the world was not limited to Jews. It took the destruction of entire nations and the deaths of millions for people to realize that racism and extremism can be as dangerous to the oppressors and the haters as it is the oppressed and the hated.
As a result, European societies of today collectively renounce racism and anti-Semitism, but even though the haters encountered rejection and exclusion, they were nonetheless able to find an alternative pathway by prospering on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. As it has raged -- and continues to rage -- for sixty years, the global media have found a lively source of news material that is endlessly interesting as a conflict between "two religions," "two ethnicities," and the line between the West, represented by Israel, and the East, represented by the Palestinians and Arabs in general.
This form of hatred is hurting us all; it must be countered.

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