Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Islamic antisemitism

January 21, 2013 • 11:52 am

There are a few things I believe about the Israel/Palestinian situation and people’s reaction to it:

1. The roots of the dispute are in the soil of religion, not territory or politics.
2. The above is evidenced by the historic and sworn statements of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the profound and pervasive antisemitism of Arab countries—itself seen daily in their public media.
3. Western liberals are willing to overlook Arab antisemitism to concentrate entirely on the faults of Israel (and I grant that there are some of those), faults which do not include state-endorsed anti-Islamic propaganda. This double standard reflects, I think, some antisemitism itself.

I’ve highlighted on several occasions antisemitic statements in Arab public media—statements far more vile than the infamous Danish anti-Islamic cartoons. But few seem to care about the religious hatred behind Arab propaganda or the tendency of Westerners to ignore this religious bigotry.

My first two conclusions are supported by Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new Op-Ed in the New York Times, “Raised on hatred,” which highlights the stream of anti-Semitic venom flowing daily into Arab homes. She should know, for she grew up immersed in it. Her editorial was prompted by Mohamed Morsi’s two-year-old ravings about the Jews that have recently become public.


As a child growing up in a Muslim family, I constantly heard my mother, other relatives and neighbors wish for the death of Jews, who were considered our darkest enemy. Our religious tutors and the preachers in our mosques set aside extra time to pray for the destruction of Jews.

For far too long the pervasive Middle Eastern qualification of Jews as murderers and bloodsuckers was dismissed in the West as extreme views expressed by radical fringe groups. But they are not. In truth, those Muslims who think of Jews as friends and fellow human beings with a right to their own state are a minority, and are under intense pressure to change their minds.

All over the Middle East, hatred for Jews and Zionists can be found in textbooks for children as young as three, complete with illustrations of Jews with monster-like qualities. Mainstream educational television programs are consistently anti-Semitic. In songs, books, newspaper articles and blogs, Jews are variously compared to pigs, donkeys, rats and cockroaches, and also to vampires and a host of other imaginary creatures.

Consider this infamous dialogue between a three-year-old and a television presenter, eight years before Morsi’s remarks.

Presenter: “Do you like Jews?”

Three-year-old: “No.”

“Why don’t you like them?”

“Jews are apes and pigs.”

“Who said this?”

“Our God.”

“Where did he say this?”

“In the Koran.”

The presenter responds approvingly: “No [parents] could wish for Allah to give them a more believing girl than she … May Allah bless her, her father and mother.”

This conversation was not caught on hidden camera or taped by propagandists. It was featured on a prominent program called “Muslim Woman Magazine” and broadcast by Iqraa, the popular Saudi-owned satellite channel.

Can anyone doubt that if a similar antisemitic conversation took place on American television, or something equally anti-Muslim was shown on Israeli television, there would be worldwide howls of protest? Of course there would be. But it’s convenient to ignore this vile invective when it’s shown on an Arab station.

I’ll add just a few more facts adduced by Ali:

Millions of Muslims have been conditioned to regard Jews not only as the enemies of Palestine but as the enemies of all Muslims, of God and of all humanity. Arab leaders far more prominent and influential than Morsi have been tireless in “educating” or “nursing” generations to believe that Jews are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs.” (These are the words of the Saudi sheik Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, imam at the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca.)

In 2011, a Pew survey found that in Turkey, just 4 percent of those surveyed held a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” view of Jews; in Indonesia, 10 percent; in Pakistan 2 percent. In addition, 95 percent of Jordanians, 94 percent of Egyptians and 95 percent of Lebanese hold a “very unfavorable” view of Jews [pdf].

I don’t like religion, but I’d never call Christians, Jews, or Muslims apes and pigs. What baffles me is that liberals who would never countenance antisemitism in the West turn their heads away when it takes place in the Middle East.

172 thoughts on “Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Islamic antisemitism

  1. I think liberals don’t understand that islamists have a lot more in common with conservatives. Just go down the list of regressive cultural tendencies, racism, misogyny, zealotry, rejection of science,etc. Substitute gods and religious practices and islamists and conservatives would be indistinguishable

    1. I’ve never seen or heard a conservative refer to liberals as apes and pigs, or call for their extermination.
      Try to control your political bias, or at least don’t express it so ridiculously. Remember the old adage: It’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people wonder whether you’re stupid, than to open it and remove all doubt.

      1. Extermination? I’m not sure I can find you an example of that. But it is very easy to find calls for shooting liberals. Glen Beck, Andrew Breitbart, bumper stickers, posters. That stuff is commonplace. So, are we going to argue about whether “shooting liberals” and “exterminating liberals” is significantly different rhetoric?

  2. 1. The roots of the dispute are in the soil of religion, not territory or politics.
    I don’t see how you could separate them. This whole notion that you could take land belonging to party B, and give it to party C because party C’s tribal God had long ago designated this land as belonging to party C wraps religion, territory and politics up in one ball, tied with a ribbon.

    1. I resist the idea that religious and territorial disputes cannot be separated. A dispute over territory need not involve religion at all. If the reason for the territorial dispute is different beliefs about the will of God, then the roots of the dispute are religious. This needs to be recognized.

    2. The fallacy here is that the land did not belong to party B, and the tribal god of party C was not a member of the League of Nations, which oversaw the self-determination of several ethnic groups after World War I. Recall that the early Zionists (your “party C”) were quite secular and that there were already many long-established Jewish communities in the area. The promise made to the Jews in the Old Testament is often held up to ridicule–but is undoubtedly important to some Jews–but it is not the basis in law of the modern state of Israel.

      1. “The promise made to the Jews in the Old Testament is often held up to ridicule–but is undoubtedly important to some Jews–but it is not the basis in law of the modern state of Israel.”

        But it is the basis on which the modern state of Israel settles parts that were not mandated by the UN in 1947.

        1. There was no 1947 mandate. The British gave up their post WWI mandate and the United Nations proposed partition, which the Jews accepted but the Arabs refused, declaring war instead. According to the mandate all of the territory west of the river Jordan had been allocated to Jews, and since this was never superseded the status of the West Bank remained disputed. Religious Jews were more willing than others to settle there because of their conviction that it is theirs by biblical right but Israel’s claim was mainly strategic.

          1. There was a 1947 UN Partition.

            I think you are mistaken that the British Mandate for Palestine allocated territory west of the Jordan for Jews. It created some rights for Jews in this territory, but did not award them the land or rights to create their own sovereign state. This is a common historical revision I’ve seen used by people who oppose a two state solution and who want to delegitimize the Palestinians. I’ve seen this claim used to justify the idea that Arabs from Palestine were supposed to go live in Transjordan, as if the intention of the mandate was to create a fully Jewish state in Palestine and an Arab state in Transjordan. If you read the original documents you can see this is nonsense.

            The Mandate refers to a “Jewish national home”, consistent with the Balfour Declaration, which is not the same thing as establishing a Jewish Nation or a Jewish State. The intention is clear in the historical documents to create a pathway to enable Jews to immigrate to Palestine and live there in peace, not to give them all of the land.

            Here is the original document establishing the Mandate for Palestine, which was approved at the 1920 San Remo conference. And here is a Wikipedia page discussing the Mandate for Palestine.

            The Wiki page discusses how early drafts of the resolution were rejected because it recognized a Jewish “claim” for establishing a “Jewish national home” in Palestine. This was substituted with the words “grounds”, which carries less legal weight.

            The Mandate was fully under the administrative control of the British, and established protection of religious and civil rights for existing residents of all religions, as well as establishing rights for Jews to immigrate to Palestine.

            Note in Article 7 is stated a provision to enable Jewish immigrants to become citizens of Palestine. Article 22 declares English, Arabic, and Hebrew to be the official languages of Palestine, and that all inscriptions on stamps and money should be repeated in Hebrew and Arabic. The preamble states that nothing should be implied to prejudice civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish residents of Palestine.

            So any claim that the Jewish people were granted all of Palestine, or any state at all prior to the 1947 partition is false. No land was given to the Jewish people. The Mandate provided for the establishment of the Jewish Association which coordinated the purchase of lands for Jewish settlement.

            In fact the British carefully regulated Jewish immigration to Palestine, establishing quotas that were continually a source of contention prior to the 1947 legal establishment of a Jewish state in a portion of Palestine. This is what led to the creation of Jewish terror groups like the Irgun and the Stern Gang who repeatedly attacked the British. One of the mosts spectacular Jewish terror attacks was the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people and wounding 46. This attack was carried out by the Irgun, which was led at the time by Menachim Begin, later to become a Prime Minister of Israel.

            1. You left out a couple of things. The Zionists were happy to live in peace with their neighbors, but it wasn’t reciprocal. By 1937 it was clear that the land would have to be partitioned, as the Peel Commission recommended. There was a careful quota for Jews, as you say, but none at all for Arabs, who flocked to Palestine seeking work. There was nothing even-handed about it, and many more Jews could have been saved from the Holocaust if they had been allowed a free entry into Palestine during the 1940s.

              1. I didn’t mean to tell the whole story, which is incredibly complicated. I meant to specifically counter one claim, the claim that Palestine was intended by authorities post WWI to be 100% a Jewish land. That was never intended by any of the authorities that controlled the land, and there is no legal or political basis for the claim.

                What happened is more complicated than simply the Zionests were peaceful, and the Arabs were not. This land had been occupied by Arabs for many centuries. It’s true the Ottomans made the mistake of allying with the Germans, and they lost the territory in WWI, so its fate was left to the League of Nations (and later the UN) and the British. But Palestine was a land and society that was effectively Arab and Muslim in character with a sudden influx of Jewish settlers. This naturally caused tension and resentment, but most Jews and Arabs lived in peace together. There were conflicts, mostly minor but some larger uprisings during the 30s and early 40s.

                It wasn’t as if the partition had to happen because mean Arabs were being bad to Jews. There were also Jewish terrorists trying to intimidate and expel Arabs from certain areas, and fighting with the British to increase immigration.

                The partition was heavily motivated by the holocaust, and lobbied for very skillfully by representatives of the Jewish Association. It awarded around 65% of Palestine (a land and people many right wing Jews claim never existed) to the new state of Israel, and 45% for an Arab nation. To be fair in perspective, while this was a fantastic victory for Zionism and for the Jewish People, it was for the Arabs a loss of control over lands they had de facto ruled over for many centuries. The Arabs gained nothing and only lost from the partition, and really had no good reason to accept it.

                The Israelis were better organized and more hightly educated and skilled than the Arabs. Having run businesses, engaged in banking, law, engineering, medicine, and other professions in modern European economies, they had material, economic, and political skills that the Arabs could not compete with. The Arabs were a largely agrarian middle eastern society with tribal loyalties and rivalries, while the Israelis were organized and unified. So while it was understandable that Arabs were angry, because from their perspective outsiders had come in and effectively stolen their land with the help of the UN and the international community, they were foolish to think they could win a war against the Zionists.

                But the Zionists were not passive and peaceful either. Before war broke out there were skirmishes involving the Irgun and Stern Gang and the Haganah and various Arab militant groups. There was around 8 months of jockeying for position and control before the British left and war broke out in 1948. While the Arabs wanted to reclaim this lost land, the Israelis wanted to force as many Arabs off Jewish land as possible. This was intentional strategy of the Irgun and Stern Gang, and aided and abetted by the Haganah. Arab villages mostly in three key areas were threatened, intimidated, and attacked to scare people into fleeing. In the Galilee, around Jerusalem, and Jaffa major Arab populations were frightened into leaving when undefended communities were attacked with mortars. Arab leaders could not defend them, so uncertain and scared they fled. Only a small fraction of these were ever able to return to their homes.

                Bottom line, yes the Arabs were angry and declared war on Israel, but the Israelis were not peaceful saints. They aggressively sought to advance their own interests at the expense of Arabs.

                Now Israel has expanded its ownership of Palestinian territory to 78%, and only 22% of the original remains for an Arab state. So the Arabs have suffered greately for their mistakes of the past. Since 1967 Israel has suffered some horrible terrorism, yet the Palestinians still endure great hardships, and hundreds of thousands of families lost their land because of the creation of Israel. And to be angry about terrorism against Israel, as we all are, while forgetting entirely that Israelis have killed over 10 Arabs for every Israeli killed by Arabs is not exactly fair and balanced.

                I don’t see anyone as innocent in this conflict. Neither side is blameless but the Arabs have effectively lost. Israel is firmly established, and while not living in peace exactly, it is not existentially threatened. It is a thriving economy, meanwhile Palestinians in the West Bank can’t get to work or school without waiting hours at hostile checkpoints.

                Today’s Israeli right wing is carrying out a protracted strategy to gain permanent de facto ownership of Judea and Samaria, with no intention ever of withdrawing and allowing an Arab state to form. They pretend as if Hamas represents all Palestinians because that is in Israel’s interests. If they gave the Palestinian Authority a victory by withdrawing from the West Bank and making a peace agreement, Hamas would be severely weakened and discredited. That’s the last thing the Israeli right wing wants. They want to keep stringing this out, pointing their finger at Hamas for as many decades as it takes for them to have settled so much of the West Bank that there is no turning back. Hamas is the Israeli right wing’s best friend right now by playing right into their hands. Of course they are enemies, but Hamas is Israel’s pawn they play to provide cover for what they are doing in the West Bank.

              2. If you didn’t mean to tell the whole story, you have succeeded admirably in that. You might have mentioned the role of Arab nationalism in stirring up hatred against the Jews. Or that the early Zionists bought their land from absentee landlords. Or that partition was mooted well before the Holocaust or even WW II. Or that the Irgun and Stern Gang were disbanded as soon as Israel became a State. If Palestine was ever a country, I’d be interested in knowing what kind of government it had (a sultan? an emir? a parliament?)and what its monetary system was. Take your time to answer.

              3. I think I mentioned that neither side was blameless or innocent in this conflict, and that the Arabs have made a lot of mistakes. I agree that you are making valid points, but you are also not telling the whole story.

                Palestine was a political entity created by the League of Nations in 1920 and ruled by the British Mandatory authority. It provided procedures that enables Jewish immigrants to become Palestinians, citizens of Palestine (see Article 7 of the Mandate).

                At the origins of Mandatory Palestine it was not envisioned to be a permanent holding of Britain, but to eventually become an independent nation where Jewish immigrants and the existing Arab population could peacefully coexist.

                Mandatory Palestine had many characteristics of a nation state under British rule. It was named and called Palestine. And at it’s creation it was intended to become a place where Jewish people could live, not a Jewish theocracy or Jewish State that expelled the current Arab inhabitants.

              4. In other words, it was never an independent state. Many places have names and some characteristics of a state without being a state. The Arab “Palestinian people” didn’t exist before Arafat invented them in the 60s. I find this a very telling detail: that in 1949 the definition of a refugee in Palestine–unlike any refugee anywhere else–was someone who had been living in the area for the previous two years. You could spend most of your life in Egypt, go to Palestine for two years and be a refugee, along with your children and grandchildren (and counting).

              5. Sarah,
                This much cannot be denied: Palestine existed as a physical place, it had immigration laws, police, stamps, money, citizenship, rights, laws, official languages including both Arabic and Hebrew etc. What it also had was people, people farming and growing things, people caring for livestock, people making things, having children, loving and living. And most of those people were Arab Muslims. And most of them had been there for generations, living on land passed down to them by their forebears. Jewish immigrants to this place were called Palestinians, and the Arab inhabitants were called Palestinians.There are real people here with a lot at stake.

                Does it matter so much if it had the full legal status of an independent sovereign state? The choices here are not limited to either full sovereign state or fictional people.

                Were the Native Americans a sovereign state when European settlers arrived and essentially stole their land and heritage? Do you justify this because the Native Americans had not seen fit to register with the United Nations as a sovereign state? Oh wait, the UN didn’t exist. Are the Cherokee, the Navajo, the Hopi, the Creek, the Arapaho, the Lakota all imaginary made up people?

                The people we call today the American people didn’t exist at one time either. So your point is absolutely unpersuasive, and the people who push this notion that the Palestinian people are an invented people are people who are committed to seeing only one side of this conflict. Whatever their reasons are, be they tribal, emotional, religious or related to deep attachment to the cause of Jewish peace and prosperity and flourishing, this remains only one side of the issue. Nothing in this world can be seen accurately by looking at it from only one vantage point, from only one angle. I support Jewish peace and prosperity and flourishing. I am not Jewish, but I greatly admire the Jewish people and their great contributions to the world and I have great compassion and sympathy for the suffering they have endured.

                But this admiration in my view is damaged by the right wing and religious fanatics who want all of Palestine, who don’t care about or honor in any way the preexisting rights of Arabs, who don’t respect in the slightest the priorities and needs of millions of real living and breathing human beings, to the breathtaking extent of pretending that they are invented or imaginary people, and thus have no rights.

                I know for a fact that many American Jews agree with me because I’ve discussed it with them. The principle of Tikkun Olam must lead one to looking for a way to make peace with the Arabs, and nothing would do more to reduce the Arab antisemitism discussed in Jerry’s post than to make a peace that recognizes the humanity and the dignity and the rights of Arab Muslims living in Palestine.

                The plan to annex and extend Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria requires the Jewish people to take on one of the following four burdens: 1. force Arabs out via deportation or harassment, 2. maintain an apartheid system under which Arabs are non-voting second class citizens, 3. Make Arabs full citizens of Israel, which means the Jews become a minority, 4. commit genocide. All of these bring shame on the Jewish people or else compromise the Jewish character of Israel. I don’t really see any other option if Judea and Samaria are to become part of the Jewish nation of Israel. The fifth option is to make peace, to give generously to the Arabs, to share Jerusalem, to compensate for losses, to help with investment and development and education, to make the great achievements of Israel bear even more fruit.

                To insist upon absolute Jewish rights to all of Palestine, that these rights can not be questioned, that they are justified by the Torah, that they are the holy command of God, is in my view an intolerable religious arrogance, and it is merely the mirror image of the intolerant Muslim view of Jews. This is how religion poisons everything.

                So what is the correct Jewish solution: Tikkun Olam or a slavish adherence to scriptural fundamentalism?

              6. You’ve gone off on several unnecessary tangents. The fact remains that the Palestinian Arabs could have enjoyed their own state for the last 65 years if they had accepted, as Israel did, the UN partition plan. It might or might not have been called “Palestine”, since the Arabs didn’t consider themselves “Palestinians” at the time. If anything, they would probably have thought the area should be part of Syria. It is also worth remembering that the incoming Jews in the Mandate period bought most of the land they inhabited from absentee landowners who were only too glad to unload their unproductive acres for hard cash. If you want an analogy, I suggest the Highland Clearances, where tenants were put off land they didn’t own. As I am neither Israeli nor Jewish, I don’t have a solution for a problem that is best solved by the people actually on the spot and not by kibitzers at a distance.

              7. You seem to me to continue to take a very one sided view.

                The Arabs could have enjoyed a state for 65 years if they had been super generous and magnanimous and didn’t at all consider it to be an imposition to have a bunch of land they considered to be theirs by historic right taken from them by the UN and given to the Jewish state.

                I don’t see why anyone should expect that a deal that involves nothing but loss for the the Arab residents of Palestine, but is an unqualified gain for the Jews of Palestine, should have been treated equally by both sides.

                The argument I often hear involving blaming Arabs for not accepting the original partition often sounds to me like a childish rationalization: you missed your chance, nyah nyah nyah nyah.

                But mistakes of the past don’t change the facts on the ground tody, nor do they erase real human needs and rights.

                You can try to dismiss me as a kibitzer in the distance, as if that is supposed to devalue or invalidate my opinions, but I’m a taxpaying citizen of a nation that sends over $4 billion annually in aid to Israel, and is in jeopardy of being pulled into a war with Iran because of the need to defend Israel, and that was attacked on 9/11 by terrorists who claimed their motive was punishment for America’s aid and friendship to Israel. So you can try to avoid facing the complexity by tossing the issue aside and dismissing it as a local problem, but it is not a local problem and it effects far more than the fates of the current residents of the region.

                You could also have said the US was a distant kibitzer to WWII and had no right or interest in being involved. In that case too you would be mistaken.

    3. While arab muslims have been indigenous to the region called Palestine, so have christians and Jews. The region termed “Palestine” has never had an aboriginal independent state of Palestine by that, or any other, name, in post biblical history. It is true that the Israel is a state created by European and American powers. But so are Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and all the other tiny independent states on the Arabian peninsula. Only Egypt and Iran can claim “historical legitimacy” if that is your criteria. I leave Turkey out because the Turks, though Muslim, are not Arab, and they were the last non european power to wield political control over “palestine”. Prior to the Ottomans, It was Egypt. The Europeans parceled out the land of the entire middle east, and besides those three mentioned powers, none are any more legitimate than Israel itself. Just ask the Coptic christians of Egypt, or the Sufi’s and Druze of Lebanon and Syria and Turkey, or the Kurds of Iraq, if anyone consulted with them over who got control after the Europeans left.

    4. I totally agree that in this case you can’t separate religion from politics. It is the action of Israel that cause such hatred for it among thinking people. In the Middle East, religion is used as a wedge to widen these differences and inflame opinion.

      We must remember that the root cause is the brutal policy followed by Israel, it is this that creates the opportunity for the Muslim clergy to demonize Jews (Israel). If Israel were to stop its almost genocidal policy against the Palestinians, then we would definitely see a lessening of the anti-Jewish teachings by Muslim clergy. (By the way anti-Semitism is wrong when used in this context since both Jews and Palestinians are Semites.)

      I, too, would be against a religion if my people had been thrown out from my ancestral land, forced to live in camps controlled by a state that kills without provocation, demolishes houses on the slightest pretext, assassinates leaders of my tribe, insists on punishing the whole village for the perceived sins of the few, and favours one religion over all else. In this situation it is easy for Muslim clergy to preach anti-Jew views, Israel is providing all the fodder for them.

      Israel’s actions in themselves are the best propaganda for Muslims to see themselves as being persecuted by Jews.

      Prof. Coyne, is it possible, barely, that you have an unconscious bias for the religion of your birth? As someone who gave up religion in my early teens, I notice this bias at times in my thoughts, and have to work hard to keep it at bay.

      1. I’m inclined to doubt whether “thinking people hate Israel”, as you say. On the contrary, thinking people probably try to understand the history of the area and realize, for example, that Palestinian refugee camps are not administered by Israel, who absorb their own refugees and allow them to become productive citizens.

        1. Thinking people would ask why these refugee camps were created in the first place. And the answer is very simple: Israel. Thinking people would further ask how much control can the Palestinians have over their lives and camps if Israel controls everything that goes in and out of the region, can interdict any supplies and dictate which roads the Palestinians can use in their own land. If that is not apartheid at the very least, I have to conclude that the thinking person is not thinking but is biased.

          Israel was created after the Second World War by the victorious Allies (US, England, etc.) in order to provide a safe place for the Jews after the Holocaust. So, as others have pointed out, to atone for the sins of the Germans against the Jews, the Palestinians paid the price by being chucked out of their land. And all this based on the sayings of a religious book that gave them a certain area in the Middle East for perpetuity! What sort of logic or justice is that?

          The ridiculousness of the situation is apparent if you consider the legends from the religion of my birth. According to one story, Trishanku was given control of the whole world (by the gods). Therefore, Hindus can say that we own the world, and request all the others to go elsewhere! (Where will you others go, by the way, if you have to leave this world to appease Hindu religious sentiments?)

          It is obvious that such a claim would be met with derision the world over, and yet an almost identical Jewish claim to Israel is treated seriously, punishing the Palestinians for no fault of theirs.

          Thinking people who have all the facts at hand cannot but abhor the policies of Israel. Abhorrence of Israeli policies does not translate into a hatred of Jews nor does it imply an endorsement of everything done by the other side. But it is important to realize that at this time. it is Israel that is acting as the regional bully, with the full and knowing support of the US and other Western media elite.

          1. If you want an unbiased picture of how Israel came to be and what happened in the period (you can even limit it to years 1920 – 1948) I would suggest going back to documents, press, reports from that period instead of just parroting Arab propaganda.

            1. Are you suggesting that what Israel is doing today is fair and just?

              There are two main points to my argument: one of them being that the creation of Israel (at least in part) on the grounds that it says so in some holy book, and the current treatment of Palestinians by Israel contributes to the radicalization of Muslims in that region.

              I do not see any Arab propaganda in there, can you?

              1. Israel was not created because of some holy book but because of history: this was the only place on the planet where Jews ever had their own state. There was no other place for them to go, even long before Holocaust. There were always Jews living there in spite of different rulers who threw them out.
                According to Oslo Agreement 95% of Palestinians live now under Palestinian rule (that Abbas just started his 9th year of his 4 year term as president is not Israel’s fault). There is no one Israeli soldier in Gaza, but Hamas is just preparing for the march on Jerusalem. The remaining 5% live under Israeli rule on the disputed territories. Israel proposed many times a peace agreement which would definitely decide which pieces of the land would be Israeli and which Palestinian. They offered close to 100% of land Palestinians claim as theirs, but first Arafat and then Abbas refused. Why? They say that in Arabic: the whole Palestine is ours, from the River to the Sea. Exactly the same as President Mursi said. And because of this hatred and wish to get rid of the very last Jew in Israel, and destroy Israel there is no peace. Your version is an Arab propaganda.

              2. I think these points are valid, and not just Arab propaganda. Arab propaganda does exist though, of course. It is a mistake for Arab and Muslim leaders to not work harder to focus on disapproval of concrete policies of the Israeli government, while seeking very actively to deflect anger from becoming hatred of Jews. But as we see in the US, there are always religious fanatics spouting hatred.

                I have seen some results of Israeli propaganda in this thread. Muslim terrorism against Israel has been self-defeating exactly because it has given Israel propaganda victories that have helped it delay resolution of the 1967 territorial expansion. If Muslims had never engaged in terrorism, there might well be a Palestinian state by now. If Palestinians want to gain statehood they would be well advised to follow Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela, and continue to isolate Hamas until it abandons violence and accepts Israel’s rights to exist. At that point Israeli violence will no longer have any justification.

                It seems to be part of Israel’s strategy to continue to persuade people that the Palestinians can’t be trusted to form a state, and that Hamas represents the majority of Palestinians. The cooperation of the PA security forces with the IDF in tracking and disrupting terror cells over the last seven years or so provides strong contrary evidence to that view. But many Palestinians are losing patience, and there is some danger that support for this cooperative strategy could crumble. Just when it has overwhelmingly shifted world opinion against Israel’s continued occupation and settlement of territory that doesn’t belong to it. I think the UN vote may have been an important psychological lift for moderate Palestinians who have supported or at least patiently accepted Fatah and the PA’s cooperation with Israel.

                It seems to be Israel’s strategy to persuade people that the Palestinians are not a real people and that they have no legal rights to the West Bank and the remaining 22% of Palestine that is not legally part of Israel. There have been a lot of propaganda efforts to spread this lie on the Internet, and they have met with some success in the US. The truth is that if Israel has a legal right to exist (under UN Resolution 181), then so does the independent state of Palestine have the legal right to exist under the same UN resolution. No matter how useless and misguided the last 65 years of resistance have been for the Palestinians, that does nothing to reduce or repeal their rights to agree to peace and form a nation.

                Right now Israel’s Pillar of Cloud offensive has contributed to the prestige of Hamas. I can’t prove this, but it sure seems to me like this is exactly Israel’s intention. I suppose this is why they “pulled out” of Gaza. It was Ariel Sharon’s brilliant way of tightening the grip on the West Bank while crying out to the world as victim and pointing the finger at Hamas. It was totally predictable that Hamas would use the new latitude to attack Israel. Israel must have factored this into its thinking. It makes one wonder why Israel didn’t begin a phased withdrawal from the West Bank and continue to occupy Gaza in order to reward good behavior and punish bad behavior. But it did the opposite: it punished Fatah’s good behavior and rewarded Hamas’ bad behavior.

                Hamas may endanger some Israeli lives and make life very frightening, but it provides no serious military threat to the far mightier Israeli army, and Israel can continue to scuffle with Hamas forever, using it as an excuse to hold the West Bank until it is irretrievably a de facto part of Israel. It seems pretty clear to me that Israel’s present leadership has no intention of leaving the West Bank ever, and Hamas are the useful idiots helping them to achieve this.

              3. I absolutely agree that if Muslims never engaged in terrorism there would be a thriving Palestinian state. The reason there isn’t one is not because of Israel’s belligerence. It’s because Arab and Palestinian leaders didn’t want peace – they wanted to get rid of Jews, and they still do. Just listen to Palestinian YV (not Hamas but Palestinian Authority’s TV), see what they teach their children at school, listen to what Abbas and his closest co-workers say in Arabic.
                Israel does not have to have a strategy of persuading people of the lack of will for peaceful solution by the Palestinian and Arab leaders. They do it themselves and an example is the statements of Mursi quoted in the article under which you are trying to slander Israel.
                It is absolutely cynical and shows a measure of ill will to say that Israel started Pillar of Cloud to contribute to the prestige of Hamas. It went to stop Hamas from terrorising one million Israeli civillians. And do you know what? Now it is two months without Hamas rockets on the south of Israel. The first time this one million people can sleep the whole night without alarm going off since 2002. You should be ashamed of yourself.

              4. Yes. The “holy book” is not the crucial reason the Jews are in Israel, and the Muslim radicalisation is rather chicken-and-egg and not exclusively to do with Israel.

              5. I agree the holy book isn’t why Israel was created. There is no place for that kind of thinking in the deliberations of the UN, which created Israel.

                The holy book is, however, why settlers feel justified in taking land that should legally be under the control of the Palestinian Authority, and the use of which should be determined under the laws of the Palestinian State authorized under UN Resolution 181.

              6. Malgozata,
                I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. I’ve clearly denounced the use of violence and hatred by both sides in this conflict.

                You are taking a very one sided view. During Pillar of Cloud 128 Gazans were killed, and 6 Israelis. Such imbalanced numbers are typical. I don’t know the exact numbers, but since 1967 the numbers of Israelis killed by Palestinians is about one/tenth or so of the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis, and those are not all terrorists. Far more Palestinian civilians have died at the hands of the IDF than Israeli civilians from Palestinian attacks. During Cast Lead over 1,000 Palestinians died and 11 Israelis died, not counting 3 friendly fire deaths. A total of 26 Israelis have died from Gazan rockets. I’m not justifying the rockets, but the threat is not as great a threat to lives of Israelis as is the commonplace gunfire of IDF troops in the West Bank. The IDF shot more Palestinians in 2011 alone than Gazan rockets have killed since 2002.

                If I’m wrong about Israel’s strategy of using Hamas to shield their long term designs on permanent annexation of the West Bank, you’ll have to answer some puzzling questions: why did Israel pull out of Gaza, where the organization sworn to the destruction of Israel Hamas was dominant, but did nothing to withdraw or relax the intolerable apartheid conditions in the West Bank, where the PA and Fatah was actively cooperating in security procedures with the IDF? Why did they reward bad guys and punish good guys? And why do they continue to build settlements in the West Bank? What possible justification is there for building settlements? I can not think of one. These behaviors just aren’t consistent with a country that wants to make peace and support a Palestinian state. They are consistent with a country that arrogantly justifies it’s own imperialist expansion and the permanent annexation of its military conquests.

              7. When one side is building shelters for its civillians and the other is using civillians as human shields, you get this “imbalance”. You almost sound as if you were sorry not more Jews have died. This is definitely the end of my discussions with you, no matter what provocative and longwinded comments you post.

              8. Interestingly, there is a Red Cross report examining the ratio of civilian to military casualties in a number of recent wars. A typical figure is 10 to 1. The IDF record is almost the inverse of this in spite of the fact that Hamas puts its own people in harm’s way. In fact, according to the Red Cross, the IDF record is far better than any other army, ever.

  3. Anti-Semitism in Islamic cultures is as vile as any other form of bigotry, and one of the key black marks against Islam as a religion and a cultural force.

    That said: While I don’t know too much about the specifics of Israel and Palestine, from what I have been led to believe, Israeli settlers push forward and settle across the border onto Palestinian lands, and then have Israeli security forces come in behind them to defend them.

    So Palestinians keep getting hemmed in to smaller and small and smaller amounts of land from the borders they are supposed to have, which are themselves greatly displaced from where they used to be. And those borders were only displaced in the first place due to religious reasons.

    It’s possible for both Islam and Israel to be wrong in different ways.

    But as I said above: I don’t know much, and can only go on what I’ve gleaned from secondary sources. So my position here is tentative and very much open to correction.

    1. The trouble is that there are no borders, and there are no borders because the Palestinian side refuses to accept any compromise. The so called “Green Line” is a line of armistice after the war which ended in 1949. In the armistice agreement both sides explicitly said that those are not borders: Arabs, because they hoped that in time they will be able to eradicate all of Israel; Jews, because they hoped for better borders for themselves. Anyhow, since 1995 almost all construction is happening inside already existing settlements or on the land which in all previous discussions with Palestinian Authority was supposed to come under Israeli jurisdiction.Palestinians have now practically almost the same area as they had when they signed the Oslo Agreement. And there never were any borders in this area. The partition proposed by the U.N., which Arabs didn’t accept, has therefore never been binding and cannot be counted as “borders”.

  4. AAgreed. There is a wonderful film called, Encounter Point, about Jews and Palestinians coming together to break down barries.

    There actions are all based on the fact that sons and daughters have been killed in senseless violence on both sides.

    Here is a link to my review of the film.


    The sooner we do away with religion the sooner we can move forward as a species.

  5. Perfidious xenophobia and balkanization endorsed by a non-corporeal sand tyrant who outsources his desire for geopolitical monopoly to error-prone scribes in dire need of copy editors.

  6. I’m currently reading [i]Infidel [/i] (yeah, I know, but my reading stack is over a thousand books and growing each day, I just ordered Neil Shubin’s new book, so it’s going to get larger), and in the book, her family is living in Saudi and she remarks how the people there (who have never met a Jew) blame everything on the Jews. The lights go out, it’s the Jews fault. No gasoline or heating oil, the Jews…of course. I don’t want to get all Godwin, but I’ve heard of things like this before. There will never be peace as long as this continues.

    I remember my dad speaking this way about blacks in the 1950’s. I had a black friend in school who was nice, very intelligent and a good moral person (he had my back and I had his). Just knowing this one person shielded me from becoming the bigot that my parents were trying to create. My siblings grew up terribly bigoted, they had no black friends. I think that knowing good people of another culture is the only way to defeat bigotry, or at least the best way. /2 cents

    1. I think that knowing good people of another culture is the only way to defeat bigotry, or at least the best way.

      I very much agree with this. I think growing up in a town where there were people of lots of different races, religions, etc. was great and helped prevent me from believing bad things about people who are different from me. It’s part of the reason why I recognized the wrongness of some of the things in my Islamic Sunday school; it made no sense that most of the people around me would go to Hell.

    2. Everyone should read Infidel. And for those who think it might be important but tedious, you will be delighted to find that it’s a damn good read, narrative-wise, as well.

      I’d be floored to ever find it on a syllabus list, though. Stupid liberals.

      1. This term “liberals” is never one I hear used by anyone to describe themselves, at least out here in California. It’s a Rush Limbaugh borrowing from British party politics, IMO. As Limbaugh formulated for use, it is a pejorative grouping to separate “us smart people with common sense” from the monolithic, lock-stepped, uniformly foolish and myopic, non-athletic elitists that are inexorably driving this country to ruin. Too bad that Limbaugh has been uniformly wrong so, so, so many times, yet continues to make millions of dollars annually. And his convenient, fictional pejorative is in widespread usage, as it is a “no-evidence-needed!” card if you want to create a ‘fact’.

        1. Yes, my liberal confederates have been after me to say “progressive.” Alas, my liberalism predates Limbaugh, and I remember a time when it was acceptable in polite company. And I am one of those who would like to “reclaim” the term. 😉

        2. As long as you don’t lower your voice a couple of octaves before you say “liberal” like Rush does, I think you’re alright.

  7. What drives me nuts is that when someone points out the hideous anti-semitism pervading Islam, the inevitable response is some form of “but Israel….”.

  8. I think part of the reason for the focus of some liberals on wrong things done by Israel is because we have one political party that focuses entirely on the wrongs done by Palestinians (and even cites wrongs done by people in various Islamic countries during these conversations, not just those by Palestinians) due to their religious support for the Christian version of the End Times. Wrongs done by Israel have the support of a certain, very influential segment of the population in the most powerful country on Earth. The fact that one side actually has as state and that the other side is having to defend their right to have a state is also part of it. Israel’s wrongs may be focused on in certain people’s criticism, but in situation as it stands, the fact that Christian and Jewish religious arguments are considered a valid reason to be against the Palestinians having a state is a huge problem. (As for the “apes” and “pigs” comments, Hitchens mentioned a Rabbi who said similar things about non-Jewis in his article “Israel’s Shabbos Goy”. This is not to claim that it equally common in both religions, but I find it weird that it’s usually brought up as something unique to Islam, when it’s not.)

    Islamic anti-Semitism is something I encountered, and was appalled by, when I people know making comments against Jewish people and when I read Irshad Manji’s “The Trouble with Islam Today”. It’s disturbing the way that anti-Semitism is this automatic response, mentioned in various conversations, to blame Jewish people for absolutely everything that is not related at all to anything having to do with Jewish people. Often, it’s not even that they are taking some bad action that was actually by a Jewish person and blaming all Jewish people (which would be horrible enough) but they are saying that Jewish people were responsible for something that is totally unrelated to Judaism at all. To add even more absurdity to all this is the fact that there are Muslims who scapegoat a group that has been persecuted by so many different countries and religions throughout the world … while claiming that they are somehow fighting for religious freedom or against religious persecution of Muslims.

  9. Sorry, but the ‘Religion of Peace’ is actually the Religion of Submission. If you do not submit to Islam then you will be killed or in somewhat civilised cases taxed heavier that the Muslim population.
    Mosques are springing up in every country in the world. I wonder why?

    1. Careful.

      I agree that religion is a problem that needs to be resisted, and that at the moment Islam is particularly bad compared to many of the rest.

      However, this notion of Mosques springing up in every country and then pointedly wondering why sounds too much to me like the kind of thing anti-semites say about Jewish synagogues while conspiracy mongering about a Hebrew-controlled world order.

      It’s important that when we resist an ideology that we despise that we remain extra-vigilant against inadvertently adopting the very same cognitive errors ourselves that made us despise that ideology in the first place.

      So when we criticise Islam for other-ing and dehumanizing Jews, we must ourselves be extra vigilant that we do not in the process of our criticism create a dehumanized out-group out of Muslims.

      1. New mosques are the problem too. Or add to existing problem of Islam. They serve as a center of “reeducation” and religious reinforcement. So it is justified concern when there is more and more such places showing up on the Europe’s map. We know that Muslims in Britain and France become more and more vocal and try to push for change of law. They will get to politics too as their number will raise. Just as Catholics in Europe and Evangelical Christians in US they will inevitably start polluting life of societies with their insidious bigoted religious ideology.

        There is nothing irrational of this concern, and it is not a fear of non-real phenomenon. Comparison to Jewish myth of world dominance is totally unfair, because it is based on lack of any evidence for such idea. In comparison, the Muslims openly claim that they try to conquer secular societies of Europe and everywhere else. They are slaves of Allah, and submission or death are only two options. They say it openly in countless examples, and it is in Koran. So analogy with Jewish conspiracy just breaks apart, and it is totally false.

    2. Mosques are springing up in every country in the world. I wonder why?

      Maybe because Muslims live there and decided to build a mosque?

      The original post asks why liberals shy away from criticizing Islam. Some certain do. However, there are others, myself included who don’t like Islam but believe in secularism and equal rights. And we feel like we have to spend at least some of our time talking about Islam defending Muslims against discrimination because of people whose “criticism” of Islam consists entirely of comments like the one above by greyhound1405.

  10. My favorite is when Ayaan is described as an “islamophobe” who spews anti-Islamic propaganda not just by a host of imams, but by western liberals. The perfect example of a multicultural scotoma.

    Territorial disputes can be resolved to some extent unless there is one holy book promising sovereign command of the land to one people and another book exhorting believers to drive out occupiers of that same land. I think that’s what was meant by the dispute having religious soil. Someone famous described the entire area of jerusalem as an archaeological site which produces bad behavior.

    1. I agree. Islamophobia is real, and to pretend that pointing this out amounts to siding with terrorists or is a failure of liberalism to recognize what evils are perpetrated in the name of Islam is typical of the mindless hyperbole reverberating around this issue.

      The truth is that Islam is in fact a source of some very bad ideas and some very horrific ignorance. Ayaan Hirsi Ali levels valid criticisms at primitive patriarchal tribal fundamentalist Islam.

      Then there are several hundreds of millions of Muslims who are not dangerous fundamentalists and who are able to follow the five pillars and lead a life consistent with Sharia in a modern society while tolerating other religions and secular freedoms.

      The problem Muslims are the Salifists, the Wahhabis, and any Muslims who are deeply embedded in the traditional culture in places where Islam and primitive tribal barbarities are inextricably intertwined, leading to stoning, honor killing, and murderous rage against apostasy and blasphemy.

      The Islamophobes are the unreasonable critiques of Islam who fail to distinguish between the primitive fundamentalism and Muslims more at peace in the modern world. The Americans who vandalize mosques in Murfreesboro or shout that a Mosque a few blocks from ground zero is a “Victory Mosque”, who hang posters in the NYC Subway inciting hatred against Muslims (leading stupidly to a Hindu man being pushed onto the tracks and killed), and who accuse accomplished aids to Hillary Clinton who are married to Jewish ex-Congressmen of being Muslim Brotherhood spies, are the Islamophobes. I’m talking about Michelle Bachmann, Pamela Gellar, Richard Spencer, and David Horowitz to name just a few of the professional American Islamophobes who are aided and abetted by Rush Limbaugh and FOX News, and the GOP Presidential candidates even, and who even helped to inspire mass murderer Anders Breivik.

      Many people aren’t able to make basic distinctions, insisting on pushing themselves into overly simplistic categories of For or Against Islam. George Bush style simplicity of declaring the world to be either with us or against us does not do justice to the slightly more complicated nature of reality. If someone uses the term Islamophobia to describe egregious abuses of Constitutionally protected rights of religious freedom, that doesn’t mean they are blind to and uncritical of the horrors of honor killings, terrorism, misogyny and violence and discrimination against women that is perpetrated by Muslims in many parts of the world. We can’t tolerate that kind of stuff in the US. It’s against the law. But Islam and Mosques are protected by the law, so people need to learn to tell the difference.

  11. Well, I don’t know how you could expect a different outcome from the appropriation of Palestinian land to establish Israel. As in most conflicts around the world, it all stems from arrogant, stupid decisions by European leaders in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Imagine if the U.S. were not the greatest world power and Virginia and North Carolina were taken from it and given to a group of Muslims. What kind of language would the residents of the surrounding states use to describe the new inhabitants? It would likely be just as vile and ignorant, but it would be the expected outcome. If you want to have peace, you’ve got to have intelligent foreign policies. Unfortunatley, it’s too late for that now in the Middle East.

    1. But Virginia and North Carolina are part of a sovereign state. “Palestine” was never a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. Jordan is also a state created out of the British Mandate, but you never hear its viability and legitimacy questioned.

      1. Could it be that Jordan’s viability/legitimacy is not questioned because its creation did not entail displacing people from their land to make room for immigrants who whose ancestors had settled in Europe for centuries and who had no physical connection to the land except an emotional one and the promise made by god? There may not have been an entity called “Palestine” but the people existed and lived on the land for centuries and they were displaced to make room for Jewish immigrants.

        Just for the record, I don’t question the legitimacy of the State of Israel nor do I deny its right to exist. I do agree with ploubere above that its creation stems from the arrogance of the West and was bound to lead to conflict.

        1. The displacement of Palestinians was the result of a war, declared by their own side. People have been displaced by war all over the world and you never hear about it. The Palestinians had the misfortune of not being assimilated by their Arab neighbours, who keep claiming they care so much about them. Only the Palestinians are considered refugees after three generations.

          1. This is a strange argument. From Wikipedia:

            Important demographic changes occurred in the country. Between 600,000 and 760,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from the area that became Israel and they became Palestinian refugees.

            When such large scale displacement of people takes place, you certainly do hear about it: what does whether or not the “Arab neighbors” care or not about the Palestinians have to do with whether or not they were forcibly expelled from their homeland (ironically, by a state which was founded for the noble purpose of providing shelter to a group that had often found itself under a similar unjust predicament).

    2. That kind of pure bigotry is unacceptable anywhere, anytime. But it is even more offensive in public discourse, coming from someone who became the president of a major country. Mr. Morsi’s comments deserve to be condemned unequivocally, as the Obama administration did. The fact that there were battles, and wars, and people on all sides lost limbs and lives and property, or that you think the Jews should never have been given a state, isn’t a good, or even an acceptable excuse, by any stretch of the imagination. Defaming Jews is an all too standard feature of Egyptian, and Arab, discourse. Teaching children to hate and dehumanizing one’s adversaries is just the kind of twisted mentality that fuels the conflicts that torment the region. And your justifying and excusing such bigotry is absolutely disgusting and appalling. It is simply nonsense, complete bullshit, that this is what everyone does, or would do, if they were standing in Morsi’s shoes or the shoes of Palestinians or Arabs.

  12. Israeli forces invaded the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in 1967. They have occupied these territories ever since. This occupation is illegal, in the view of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, the International Court of Justice, and the United Nations Security Council, based on their understanding of provisions of the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, of 1907 and the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949.
    The Israel High Court of Justice agrees that Israel is in “belligerent occupation” of the territories.
    The Israeli-Palestinian dispute concerns not the parties’ domestic politics but the domination of conquered regions by the state of Israel, in contravention of international law.

    1. Israel didn’t “invade” West Bank and East Jerusalem. Those territories were under Jordanian occupation, and were even annexed to Jordan, which annexation was not accepted by anybody (except Great Britain and Pakistan). Even Arab League refused to accept it. The then Israeli Prime Minister sent a message to King Hussein that Israel will not start any action against Jordan when Egyptian and Syrian army amassed on Israel’s borders and the war looked very probable. King Hussein however, convinced by Arab propaganda that their side is winning the war, ordered the shelling of West Jerusalem, which every sane person must deem to be an aggressive move and start of the war. Only then the Israeli army went in to East Jerusalem and tne West Bank.

      1. in·vade
        (of an armed force or its commander) Enter (a country or region) so as to subjugate or occupy it: “Iraq’s intention to invade Kuwait”.

        1. English is my third language so it is quite possible that my understanding of the word “invade” is not correct. Did I mistakenly believe that if a country is attacked and pushes back the attacking army, even taking the territory from which the attacker came, is not called “invasion” but “self-defence”?

          1. “invasion” can have different meanings. For example in WWII, the attack on Normandy by the Allies is frequently called an “invasion”.

            So Israel certainly invaded those areas; whether it was justified in doing so is an appropriate topic for debate.

      2. I completely agree with you that Israel was fully justified to defend itself in 1967, and that Jordan had no more right than any other country to take possession of the West Bank.

        The larger question is, how does anyone justify the continued occupation, and even moreso the building of Israeli settlements on this land? There is unanimous international agreement that Israel is overstepping it’s legal rights.

        If 1967 was truly a defensive action, there is no justification for the continued occupation of that land.

  13. I don’t agree with #3. I think Americans tend to overlook the faults of all our allies in the mideast – including Egypt, Israel, SA, and others. Certainly US policy could not in any way be considered anti-Israel or antisemitic; we fund them to the tune of millions per year.
    Yes, we also fund several of the islamic countries to the tune of millions per year. But that is my point – things are not as lopsided as your #3 implies. I don’t know anyone who has done even moderate thinking about US foreign policy, who would match your description of “concentrat[ing] entirely on the faults of Israel.”

  14. I agree with your findings. The West must strenuously hold Islam to account and stop looking the other way out of political correctness. In the face of the murderous cretinism of Nazi ideologues far to little was done. The result was the Holocaust. To react to violent and hateful ideologies with fear and appeasement is not wisdom. It is folly. Imagine Nazi ideologues with nuclear weapons only much more numerous and having a substantial foothold in every western country. Would it not be cause for alarm?

  15. I’ll pick up on the 8’th comment: I think that I understand why some liberals giving Arabs a pass here. The situation isn’t really symmetric and here is why:
    1. The usual understanding is that some Arabs were expelled from their homes to make way for a Jewish state. How would you like this if it happened to you?

    (yes, “1” is way too simplistic of a view, but it is a common one and one that I held until a friend gently suggested that I read “Oh Jerusalem” so I might become closer to knowing what I am talking about)

    2. Liberals tend to rally to the underdog. Think of it this way: most of us abhor it when a white person calles a black person a “n–” but a reverse of this isn’t seen as being as vicious as, in the US, we had hundreds of years of systematic and legal discrimination against black people and NOT the other way around (and no, the occasional injustice from an affirmative action program isn’t on the same universe)

    3. The US is a staunch supporter of Israel; when an Arab says something idiotic and offensive on television, this isn’t done with our backing or approval.

    4. Israel, because is is viewed as being more modern and is viewed as a first world power, is held to a higher standard, as is the US.

    Of course, I happen to find what was said to be disgusting and I continue to shake my head at how backwards and regressive many of the Islamic Republics are (religious discrimination, theological based executions, repression of gays and women, etc.)

    And yes, Dr. Coyne, the speech that you cite is exactly what you say it is, IMHO.

  16. Now, your first comment about the the israeli/palestinian problem being about religion, I thin you are generally wrong even though the background might invovle religion: the problem exists because Europeans – the British and early zionists – decided that Palestine should be the the new home of Jews and this certainly has religious connotations (the funny thing is that early zionists were secular and often atheists). They not only decided that but they implemented it. Jewish immigration (from Europe) to Palestine increased a lot when Britain established the Mandate but by 1947 Jews were still a minority (30% of population owning 6% of the land). This immigration was imposed on the native population from abroad. Again, no one consulted the natives, it was an European colonial project.

    In 1947 the UN decided to partition Palestine. This is absurd, people from outside decided what would happen to the country. No one consulted the locals and if they did, there would be no doubt about the result. And the natives (Muslims, Christians and Jews) should be the only ones deciding that! The partition was immoral and inconceivable today and anywhere else at the time.

    But that is not all: the birth of the state of Israel was accompanied by the expulsion of 750.000 palestinians from their homes. This was the only way to ensure a Jewish majtority.

    From that point until the early 1980’s, the palestinian struggle was mostly secular, as an example I should cite one of the most hated (by Israel) palestinian leader: George Habash who was a secular Christian. Between 1920 and 1985 religion was a very small parte of the Palestinian struggle. Hamas was created in 1987 and the influence from islamists only grew from that point on.

    Palestinian Christians are treated as badly as muslims, they were expelled in the same way during the Nakba and even today, with the rise of islamists occupation is still their main problem.

    While religious elements were important for jewish colonists choosing to go to Palestine, and is the major political force among palestinians today, for much of the last century it was a minor issue.

    1. Of course, Israel bashers like Mr. Jabardo ignore the fact that an equal number of Jews were forced out of various Arab countries.

      1. How is this relevant top the issue??? Talk about a strawman argument!!! Palestinians didn’t force Jews out of anywhere. And by the way, the Jews weren’t expelled from every Arab country. Each Arab country should be analysed separately.

        In Iraq they were certainly expelled and lost everything. But hey, who am I to say anything? Why don’t you check out what they are actually saying: http://www.facebook.com/BaghdadiJews .

        In some places Arab Jews were not expelled but they weren’t “welcomed” and in some other places they left because they wanted (some regions of Morocco and Tunisia for instance).

        But the state of Israel also got dirty hands in some cases. Remember the Lavon Affair? Hell, even in Iraq there are reports of Mossad action to get Jews to leave. Check Naiem Giladi’s story: http://www.ameu.org/getattachment/db462a06-9248-40ca-8b18-d02149b21535/The-Jews-of-Iraq.aspx . Now, people have said that the Giladi story isn’t accurate.

        My opinion isn’t worth much and I think that Arab Jews should be the ones asking what they would like. With this in mind, I think that Arab Jews should have all their property restored with interest, they should have their citizenship back automatically (those who wish it) and damages should be paid. Again each case should be analysed and if Mossad did something the state of Israel should also be liable.

        But facts and logic are not important. It’s easier to blame the Palestinians.

        1. Of course, the other side says that many, if not most of the Arabs who left what is now Israel left because they were ordered to do so by the leadership of the Arab armies that invaded after the deceleration of independence by the new Government of Israel.

          I have a flash for Mr. Paolo, few if any of the Arab Jews who left their homelands have the slightest interest in returning, nor do the governments of those countries have the slightest interest in their return.

          1. Did you at least read what I wrote?
            Again, how is this the Palestinians’ fault? Whether Arab Jews would like to return, it is their choice and my opinion is completely irrelevant. And they would still be entitled to their property and damages. I certainly understand them not wanting to return. Hell, if I were in their shoes I wouldn’t want to return. But again this is irrelevant. You don’t want to discuss history and/or facts so you bring up wrongs that were not commited by Palestinians. This intelectually dishonest.

  17. I had been reading and talking to many people about the history of this conflict, and man is it complicated. I offer this short summary which could explain the origins of antisemitism in this part of the world. a) there has long been friction between Jews and Muslims in this part of the world because of religious differences and resentment that each forms close knit communities with some exclusion of the other. b) waves of Jews immigrated to the territories from Western and Eastern Europe to escape antisemitism during the late 1800s and early 1900s. This increased the resentment since Muslims were being bought out and even displaced from their lands. The economic and political successes of the Jews added momentum to the Zionist movement to create a Jewish state, a movement favored by several Western countries. As you know, c) this was done after WWII. The Jewish state was formed by annexing lands and even evicting Muslims from their homes. A high percentage of the Jews moving in were from Europe. So, yes, antisemitism is pretty common in this part of the world. Is it wrong to see this as the reason?

    1. Yes, it is very wrong, totally wrong, very ugly, very nasty, despicable, vile, to use a one-sided and unbalanced caricature of the conflict as an excuse for justifying an ongoing campaign to dehumanizing Jews.

        1. If I called him a pig, donkey, rat, cockroach, a bloodsucking vampire, and a cancer, you would have a valid complaint. But all I did is answer his question regarding the quality of his argument.

          1. Perhaps giving some countervailing facts would have been more effective…?

            And do you miss the distinction between “explaining the origins of” and “justifying”?

        2. To add a couple more “Hitch” words to “filthy” and “vile”: ghastly and foul. (Would never have heard the word “invigilate” except for Hitchens.)

  18. Funny how AHA is basically ignored by the Western liberal establishment and has been for years. It reminds me of the strange phenom I see all the time of atheists reviling Christianity and Judaism while defending Islam. I’m not saying that any of you would be so unconscious. But, tell me, how can any atheist defend Islam and still see themselves as an atheist? Are they afraid of being labeled racist? Islam is not a race. Muslims are not a race. I don’t get it.

    There are innumerable videos posted every day showing Muslims screeching about killing ALL the Jews, not just Israelis. This is not some sort of joke. Take them at their word. MEMRI is a place to start.

    Jews are less than 1% of the population of Muslims on the planet. One would not only have to be a raging anti Semite, but a stupid raging anti Semite, to not see that this is just standard fare for Muslim whining, blaming all of their problems on Jews, Israel and the US. Israel is a very tiny country in a vast area of Islamic countries. Now, seriously, who is the problem here?

    And, Daniel, maintaining the moral high ground is utterly meaningless when dealing with Islamists.

    1. “Funny how AHA is basically ignored by the Western liberal establishment and has been for years.”
      Probably because she’s just as insane as those she criticizes.

        1. I can’t say anything about her books (as I have not read them, nor do I even know anything about them), but her socio-political views are very repugnant; she’s even called for Muslims to be stripped of their rights. With someone like that, no matter how much they may know about the subject at hand, citing them is the mark of a fool.

          1. I would suggest that if you haven’t read her books then your are not well qualified to describe her views as repugnant.

            You might take a shot at learning a bit more of what she thinks before passing such harsh judgement.

            1. You don’t have to read someone’s books to get a grasp of their views. It’d be one thing if all I had to go on was her appearance on the Colbert Report, where she advocated proselytizing Christianity in Muslim countries, but I’ve since learned things about her that make me place her in the same rung as someone like S.E. Cupp.
              Or do you like people who claim Anders Breivik’s shooting spree was done because “he had no choice” due to censorship? [http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/06/01/492884/ayaan-hirsi-ali-breivik-norway-terrorist/]
              Who agree with all the stupid BS Republicans have said about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan? [http://www.aei.org/article/foreign-and-defense-policy/regional/middle-east-and-north-africa/a-weak-america-roars-but-retreats-when-the-going-gets-tough/]
              Who think that laissez-faire capitalism is the best economic system? [http://bigthink.com/ideas/5754]

              Oh, and Diane G., I can sympathize with someone who’s gone through terrible times, but awful experiences do not justify awful beliefs. People can use her story as an example of how terrible Islam is all they want, but she herself is not someone to listen to.

              1. Sorry, Red, but you really need to get yourself better educated on this matter before drawing conclusions. Ironically, you and I probably are in very close agreement on social/political matters. (I’ve had very similar conversations before.)

                It would be good to have a discussion after you go read one of her books. Until then, I think you aren’t in a position to pass harsh judgement.

              2. If you had read Nomad, you would have a better understanding of her advocacy of Christian proselytization; I don’t agree with her, but her reasoning and the basis for it does make one think.

                Similarly, each of the other links you cited brief as they are, present a more nuanced version of her opinions than your quick summary suggests. From the first:

                While she denounced Breivik’s views as an “abhorrant” form of “neo-fascism,” she then postulated that Breivik was driven to violence because his militant anti-multicultural views were not given a fair airing in the public discourse.

                From the second:

                By quietly conceding to Mr. Obama’s decision to expand the use of drones, liberals seem to have accepted the basic assumptions of Mr. Bush that terrorists are enemy combatants and that the US is at war. Try explaining to a Yemeni, Somali or Afghan survivor of a drone attack that America is not at war with Islam and means well.

                I think we benefit from listening as widely as possible, and esp. from venturing outside our own politically correct confines.

              3. Ugh, for some reason, the Reply button isn’t showing up on either of the below posts (or maybe that’s normal, and I’m just showing how new I am to commenting here), so this’ll have to do.

                Diane, you’re essentially doing the same thing Rush Limbaugh’s defenders do. Whereas Limbaugh gets the “out of context” line even though the context is either provided or irrelevant, you are claiming nuance where there is little to none.
                With the Breivik comment, you’re focusing on the first part (i.e., pre-comma) while ignoring the irrational assertion afterwards; as far as I know, anti-multicultural attitudes aren’t really censored in most European countries (evidence to the contrary is welcome), so it reads more as her suggesting that he became violent simply because his xenophobia was ignored, and giving this weight.
                And although she raises a somewhat valid point about Obama (“somewhat,” because the silence among the left-leaning in the U.S. isn’t exactly universal), it’s undercut by her openly admitting she thinks we are at war with Islam.
                I can agree that expanding one’s intellectual horizons entails listening to things outside one’s normal purview, but I have listened to Ali, and have found her to have the same intellectual shortcomings as a conservative columnist (which, coincidentally, she actually appears to be).

                And gb, I may have more free time than most, but I’m hardly willing to waste it reading 200+ pages written by someone I don’t even consider worth listening to. If I ever want some reading on Islam, I’m sure it would be entirely possible to find at least one author who is significantly better than Ali.

              4. Wow, I really am a newbie at this. The entire first sentence of the above comment can be ignored!

              5. . . .as far as I know, anti-multicultural attitudes aren’t really censored in most European countries (evidence to the contrary is welcome). . .

                Whereas I’ve heard there’s a considerable political correctness operating in some. My non-evidence is as good as yours.

                Not reading Hirsi Ali is definitely your loss. If you had, you’d have known that Infidel is one of the most convincing indictments of the horror that is fundamental Islam you will ever find, but even more, an unforgettably uplifting story of a person finding their own way to enlightenment values from the most intolerant of beginnings possible.

              6. It is notable that someone who is self-admittedly ignorant can imagine himself so authoritative.

    2. Sorry to get back to a dead thread. I only just noticed your comment now.

      I’m here very late so don’t expect a reply. But in case anyone’s still interested:


      “And, Daniel, maintaining the moral high ground is utterly meaningless when dealing with Islamists.”

      Who said anything about the moral high ground?

      If we oppose someone on grounds that they do X, but then we do X as part of our resistance to them, then not only do we become hypocrites, but we also become a problem in our own right.

      It’s not self-defeating because we ‘lose the moral high ground’.

      It’s self-defeating because we’re increasing the amount of X in the world when we should be acting to decrease it.

      The only argument to the contrary I can think of is that an increase in X is counterbalanced by a reduction in Y, and Y > X, therefore we’re better off in the end.

      But I’m inherently wary of the ‘lesser of two evils’ line of reasoning. I’m not saying it’s never a valid argument… But in my experience it’s too often used as an excuse for not coming up with a better way. I’m biased against it, but not, I think, unfairly.

      The injunction to not commit a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater was one of Socrates’ (Plato’s?) better lines.

      Surely you can see the problem in emulating the very behaviour we decry?

  19. Dear Jerry I don’t expect I will get an answer because I know you are a busy man. I agree with your outlook on the present Palestine/Israeli problem. But my problem is with the so called cultural Jew.

    I find Judaism to be a religion. A Jew is someone who’s religion is the Jewish religion. When someone tells me they are a Jewish Atheist it seems to me to be a contradictory in terms. To me holding on to your Judaism for tradition is the same thing as a religious Christian holding on to their Christianity but not going to church. Both of these examples only help to prop up the falseness of their religions claims.

    Why can’t American Jews who claim they are Atheists let go of there Jewishness? Where is the magic line where Jewish religion becomes Jewish tradition?

    1. It is of course a historical and cultural phenomenon, with a long pedigree, and one that cannot be easily expressed in any other terms. I suggest you google it before forming your opionions–just because we have a vision of the world as we’d like it to be doesn’t mean we can easily change the way things have devoloped and exist now simply by re-definition. It’s rather like how we’re stuck with the word “antisemitism” to express anti-Jew bigotry when we all know the semite root is much broader…

      And to a lesser extent it is true of most faith traditions; Dawkins famously calls himself a cultural Protestant.

    2. Because Jews are also an ethnic group. Most Jews are both of Jewish blood AND faith (Judaism), but since “jewish” can mean either or both of those things, it can be a source of confusion.

    3. The Jewish cultural tradition has persisted for long enough that a distinct Jewish cultural identity can be determined even in complete opposition to the teachings of the Jewish religion. It remains to be seen whether the cultural identity can be maintained a few generations hence, in the absence of a religious framework. Traditions being stubborn beasts, I think it can.

      More generally, the question of identity and group identification is a vexed and complex one.
      Cf. the Pew report linked by Jerry, p. 5: In Europe, a majority identifies first by nationality, to a much lesser degree by religion. In the US, there’s an even split among Christians, with a twist: 7/10 of white Evangelicals identify first with their religion. Likewise, majorities in predominantly Muslim states identify first with their religion; the more recent their statehood and the more artificial the national raison d’être, the larger the disparity between national and religious identification.

      A much admired writer, Amin Maalouf, whose acquaintance I cherish, has written an indispensable book on the matter:

      “In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong”

      Consider Maalouf’s own multi-facetted identities: Lebanese-born, hence an “Arab” by the rough definition to which we are accustomed; raised as a Presbyterian Christian; of Catholic, Orthodox, atheist, and Free-mason ancestry, in a country where the Christian half is predominantly Maronite; a Francophone and a francophile; a French resident since 1976 (and now a member of the Académie).
      The original title of his book translates simply as “Murderous Identities” (Les identités meurtrières). A diagnostic and an indictment.

    4. I am an atheist. I am also a Jew, partly because of certain cultural traits that Jews around the world share. A culture is not a race, nor is it a religion. It is a shared experience, and a shared world view. There is an overarching American culture that has nothing to do with ethnicity or religion, and then there are sub cultural traits within those religions and ethnicities that make up America. Why is this hard to understand?

      My grandparents were forced to flee Europe ahead of Nazi jackboots because they were considered jewish by others, even though they considered themselves Poles who happened to follow the Jewish faith. Anti semites would consider me Jewish, regardless of my professed atheism, and attack me with the same ferocity they would a Chassid. So I am a Jew, who is married to a former Catholic, and has a daughter from a previous relationship who is part chinese, part african american, and part me.

  20. The Arabs themselves are Semitic, as both are descendants via Abraham of Shem, the firstborn of Noah.

    Saying that Arabs are anti-Semitic is like saying the Welsh or Scots are anti-British.

    1. While you are correct about the etymology of the expression anti-Semitic, you should remember that words have a life of their own and the expression anti-Semitic usually refers to Jews (for more than 100 years) and in this sense other Semitic people (Arabs for example) can be anti-Semitic.

        1. No.
          In fact, I even know a bunch of “Little Englanders”, who would gladly do away with Great Britain and the UK if that’s what it takes to keep the Scot and the Welsh and the Irish from messing with England.

          Maybe you recall Andy Murray’s match against the Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis at Wimbledon last year, when a wag shouted “Come on Marcos, do it for England!”, much to the general merriment and approving applause.

          1. Actually, what I recall is Welsh dragon beer mats in pubs. They were printed with “I only support two teams. Wales and everyone England plays.”

  21. “Is there any doubt that if this were shown on American television, or something equally anti-Muslim was shown on Israeli television, there would be worldwide howls of protest? Of course there would be. But it’s convenient to ignore this vile invective when it’s shown on an Arab station.”

    Umm, do you ever even watch American media? It is consistently biased AGAINST Muslims, not for them.

  22. 1 is wrong as Arabic antisemitism is relatively young and Baath started as a secular party. Neither does it explain Arabic infighting. All this doesn’t make Arabic antisemitism any better nor does it provide an excuse for the several religions involved – religion is supposed to bring out the best of homo sapiens and it obviously doesn’t. Your assumption is just too simple. Alas if I’m right a solution is nowhere in sight.

    “She should know, for she grew up immersed in it.”
    If she is to be trusted. Most Dutch people don’t trust her stories anymore. But it might be true – Somalia is not a nice country. Caribbean countries are much nicer – perhaps that’s why muslims in those countries are not anti-semitic at all. That might be a pattern – if you want to see it, of course, and realize that things are a bit complicated.
    Anyhow, Morsi is not a nice guy, even if we accept (which I don’t) that his antisemitism is just cheap rhetorics.

  23. We need to hear more from atheists who grew up in Muslim communities. Atheism can be an antidote to much of the strife in the middle east and elsewhere. Promote it personally in your own community and support it globally. We are the people with the solution.

    1. That senator is State Senator Julie Quinn (R) Louisiana, she is not a senator at the federal level. These creationist state senators who spout such nonsense are a dime a dozen. It’s the ones in the U.S. Senate that scare me. I don’t know who the woman is that is responding to her is, but she nails it.

  24. This Islamic characterization of Jews as “apes & Pigs” sounds awfully hitleresque to me.

    I understand that the Palestinians have occupied the area for millenia, but so have the Jews If the Arabs are so concerned about the Palestinians, why can’t they set aside a little land for a Palestinian state?

    Surely there is enough land — maybe Egypt — to dedicate to a Palestinian state &, perhaps, resolve the controversy

    1. This is why the Arab states need Israel to exist. They need to funnel the internal hatred of their own populations toward a common enemy. This has worked for decades, but now it is changing with the “Arab Spring” movements. In many Middle Eastern and North African states, the minority rules, but look how many of these countries have changed regimes lately. Syria is just the latest country where hatred of Israel is not enough to keep the majority of the population living under a minority government.

      But more to your point, the Palestinians consider Jordan as “Eastern Palestine”. Jordan is mostly made up of Palestinians but the country is ruled by the minority Hashemites (Bedouins). So far the Palestinians have been occupied with getting back “Western Palestine” and don’t want to upset the support they get from surrounding nations, but they are realizing that this may never happen. Thus they are turning their eyes to Jordan, which may soon become the first Palestinian run nation. With its long border with Israel, this would be a problem.

        1. They may not find the Bedouin controlled army in Jordan as willing to “avoid casualties” as the Israelis. It will be as bloody as Syria is today.

    2. Firstly, Palestinians haven’t “occupied” the area, they are the direct descendants of the population that has lived there since the Semitic peoples first entered the Levant. Genetic and historical evidence confirm that the vast majority of today’s Palestinians are descended from the Jewish and Christian-Jewish populations of that region (that is, they have the same ancestry as most Ashkenazi (European) Jews). When Arab armies conquered the region, most of the population evidently converted to Islam and adopted Arabic culture along with it (the same process occurred throughout the Middle East and North Africa).

      As to the suggestion that “the Arabs” should “set aside a little land for a Palestinian state”, think how you would have responded to a similar suggestion, during the days of Apartheid South Africa, that “if all the Westerners are so concerned about black South Africans, why can’t they set aside a little land for a black state?”

      Palestinians already have a country. It was conquered by force by European Jews who call themselves Israelis, but it is still their native country, and they should not have to be asked to find a new home simply because someone else is living in theirs.

      1. It is much more complicated. This piece of land was conquered and reconquered many times since the Roman Empire (and even before). Many different peoples left their genetic mark there. What really should count, however, is not genetic heritage but historical and cultural. Until the establishment of Israel Arabs living in this area thought of themselves as Arabs, not Palestinians. Jews living there were called Palestinians. Since Zionists started to develop this very sparsely populated and very poor land (destroyed by every empire which ruled there, but especially by Ottomans) people from surrounding areas (Arabs) started to come looking for work and a better life. There were no restrictions on Arab immigration, neither under the Ottomans not the British Mandate, as there were for Jews. A few months ago Ismail Haniyah made speech in which he made an appeal to Egypt for help, saying that Gazans are predominantly not only Arabs but Arabs from Egypt, and that Egypt should help their brothers. He never mentioned those Jewish and Christian ancestors you are trying to give him.

        1. I think all the squabbling over the demonym “Palestinian” is a red herring. What’s in a name? The relevant point is that there were indigenous Arabs, by whatever name, living there who were displaced by (primarily) European Jews. There seems to be a lot of denial on the part of many supporters of Israel of the extent to which it was populated by Europeans at the expense of an indigenous population.

          I think there are convenient exaggerations and distortions on both sides of these debates…

          1. Better look at data. Huge amount of Jews from Arab countries (and Islamic countries) were seeking refuge in Israel (and previously in Ottoman Province of Palestine and British Mandate, for example waves of Jemeni Jews). Now over half of Jewish population of Israel consist of them and their descendants.
            And, I personally, am happy that at least some of European Jews managed to avoid this continent in the years 1933-1945. Most probably you didn’t want to imply, as many are doing, that European Jews were “a colonial force”. But just to be on the safe side I want to repeat what I said previously: they were refugees.

        2. Despite how sinister it sounds to say the Jewish immigration was restricted while Arab immigration was not restricted, the land had been dominated by an Arab/Muslim majority since the 12th century, so this difference isn’t so unnatural.

          Secondly, during the period of the British Mandate, from 1922 to 1947, the Jewish population increased by nearly a factor of eight, while Arab population increased by a factor of two. So the Jews made impressive demographic gains in spite of the immigration quotas.

          At the time of the partition Jews numbered about 35% of the Palestinian population, and Arabs about 65%. Despite this split, the new state of Israel received nearly 60% of Palestinian land, a figure they have increased to 78% today, and they now seem intent on going for 100%.

          The popularity today of the myth that Palestinians are not a real people who have no rights to a Palestinian Arab state is a result of propaganda spread on the Internet by pro-Israel fanatics (as opposed to reasonable fact based Israel supporters).

          It’s gotten so bad that even some Republican presidential candidates, including particularly Newt Gingrich, used this line of argument as a dog-whistle to the extreme right-wing apocalyptic nutjobs.

          Another meme this group of right-wing liars likes to spread is to use the writings of Mark Twain from “The Innocents Abroad” of his 1850 visit to the Holy Land to create the impression that there were hardly any Arab inhabitants, and that they were poor stewards of a barren land. This is propagandistic selective editing of what Twain saw and wrote. Here are some other lines from Twain’s work that the propagandists prefer to leave out: “The narrow canon in which Nablous, or Shechem, is situated, is under high cultivation, and the soil is exceedingly black and fertile. It is well watered, and its affluent vegetation gains effect by contrast with the barren hills that tower on either side”…”We came finally to the noble grove of orange-trees in which the Oriental city of Jaffa lies buried”

          1. I do not really know what you want to prove: that Israel has no right to exist? That all this hatred against Jews which is pervasive in Arab sociaties is justified? Under the article about this hatred, by a woman who was nursed on it, you started to write a very skewed description of the history of this land, highlighting every real or imaginary wrong Jews had done. I do not think further discussion with you can be fruitful.

            1. I haven’t made any statement challenging Israel’s right to exist, which I fully support within the legal boundaries of present day Israel. I don’t support West Bank settlements, and I don’t support Greater Israel.

              I’m not saying hatred of Jews is justified, and I can’t see where you could have gotten that impression from anything I wrote. I do believe there are reasons for Arabs to be angry with the government of Israel and it’s policies, and with the attitudes of right wing Jews. There are legitimate reasons for Israelis to be angry with militant Muslims who advocate the destruction of Israel.

              What I was trying to do was provide perspective that is rarely presented in the US media, and to push back on the incorrect and biased statement that the British Mandate had allocated all lands to the west of the Jordan for the Jewish people. It’s simply not true, and I explained why.

              If you think something I wrote was skewed or imaginary, why not call it out specifically and provide some reasons for why you disagree with what I wrote.

              My aim is to criticize the anti-peace extremists among both the Jews and the Muslims. I’m not willing to sit quietly and allow statements that challenge Palestinian rights to their lands to go unanswered.

              There are two sides to this story. There have been injustices suffered by both sides. Both sides need to make accommodations to arrive at a just peaceful settlement of this dispute.

              Too many people are programmed to leap to the conclusion that if someone criticizes Israel, it must mean they don’t support Israel’s right to exist. This kind of emotional hair trigger only makes the kind of mutual understanding required more difficult.

              The story that Israel is a blameless victim is false. It’s equally false to say that the Arabs are blameless. But the skewed pro-Israel story is the one that receives the most play in US media, and it’s the story that most Americans have heard. It can’t hurt to honestly look at both sides of the story.

              There is a way to be pro-Israel AND pro-Palestinian, and that is what I aim for.

              1. I wonder if Mr. Johnson would agree that any feasible agreement would leave some of the settlements in place (maybe with territorial offsets elsewhere)?
                Anyway, the world–especially certain parts of it, like Israel and the United States–needs more Jeff Johnsons. Which is not to deny that there is a great dearth of liberals in the Arab world.

              2. James,
                I’m sure there is room in negotiations for land-swaps in order to minimize the disturbance of people who are already settled. This approach has been pretty widely discussed among advocates of a two-state solution, and I don’t think it’s too controversial. This is especially true of settlements near the border.

                I suspect some settlers will have to face the tough choice between becoming Jewish Palestinians, or moving back to Israel. This is better than grotesquely skewing the border or leaving Israeli islands in the middle of Palestine.

                I believe that Israel and the settlers have broken international law by establishing these settlements. This has always been the official position of the US government, even though it has taken little or no action to discourage Israeli territorial expansion. Imagine if the United States had tried to build a bunch of American towns in Japan, Germany, Afghanistan, or Iraq. The Six Days War was supposed to be a defensive war, not a strategy for territorial expansion.

  25. How can you have a favourable or unfavourable view of a people?

    Having a “very favourable” view is assuming everyone is the same because of their religion. Just because it’s a good trait doesn’t mean it isn’t bigoted.

    1. Bigotry involves intolerance and hatred. It can’t be stretched to include a favorable disposition toward a group. There are other terms for that.

  26. They’re channeling Mel Gibson. Well, not really – islam and christianity (at least catholicism) were more akin in promoting hatred of Jews a mere 50 years ago. Various protestant and Lutheran sects were equally cruel to the Jews, but the question is when will islam grow up and how can people change it? I see something similar happening through many poor regions of Asia – people are being trained to hate all the foreigners because the foreigners are the cause of all their problems; it’s a particularly bad problem when that sort of hatred is promoted by islam as we can see in the bombings in Bali, Spain, England, and of course the terrorist attacks in New York and the numerous attacks on foreigners in Asian and African nations.

  27. It all dates from the creation of the modern Jewish state surely? In the early Middle Ages as I understand it, Jews were given a place in Arabic ruled countries that was much better than that in the post-Roman states of Europe.

    1. No, it goes way, way back. Jews were always second-class citizens in Muslim countries, sometimes treated in an enlightened way and sometimes not. There were always special taxes and restrictions and that kind of thing.

  28. May the day come when they, starting with their biology professors, start calling us the distant cousins of apes and pigs!

  29. This may seem a petty semantic point given the larger issues at stake here, and I certainly acknowledge that hatred of Jews is a serious problem in the Arab Muslim world, as is the failure of many to acknowledge it. Having said thar however, I must say I always find myself doing a double take when I see the phrase “Arab anti-semitism”.

    This seems quite strange to me, given that Arabs are an unambiguously Semitic people whereas Israel is dominated by the roughly 50% of it’s Jewish population who are Ashkenazi Jews, who the best recent genetic research evidence suggests European Jews are only partially of Semitic/Levantine origin.

    For this reason, I tend to avoid using the term “antisemitism” to describe Arab bigotry against Jews; they’re not anti-Semites, they’re anti-Jewish. Maybe I’m being a tad to literalist here, but I would be surprised if I was the only one who finds applying the term “anti-Semite” to Arab Jew haters a bit odd, given that he Arabs are themselves Semites and generally more so than Ashkenazi Jews.

    1. The term antisemitism is pretty Eurocentric. It evolved in a cultural context where Jews were the only Semitic people present in significant numbers. You are technically correct, but most Americans, Europeans, and other countries and cultures with strong European origins understand what is meant by the term.

      What bothers me about the usage of “antisemitism” is that the term, at least in the present American political environment, is becoming terribly diluted by the extreme neocons and right wing Jews and conservative Christians.

      They are wielding the term as a political weapon in an attempt to shift American policy on Israel from four decades of consistent opposition to West Bank settlements and in favor of a two state solution, to uncritical cheer-leading of Likud and the Israeli right-wing’s Greater Israel project, which is dedicated to permanent annexation of Judea and Samaria, aka The West Bank, into the modern state of Israel.

      They aren’t very clear on exactly what kind of apartheid system, deportation plan, or genocide (no I don’t expect this, but I’m covering the only three options Israel has without a two state solution), or what they might do to prevent those some 3 million Arabs from turning Israel into an Arab majority democracy. Their goal of never ever letting go of that land shines through in speeches, writings, and actions of Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, Gilad Sharon, and many other defenders of the Israeli right wing. Current trends suggest their plan is to implement Apartheid as the centerpiece of a long term self-deportation plan for Arabs.

      Supporting this abominable policy of the present Israeli government is very bad for American interests, and it’s very bad from a pure human rights standpoint, and in my view it’s even bad from a standpoint of supporting Israel in the long run as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

      Calling, for just a few examples, Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama, Stephen Walt, Andrew Sullivan, and now even Jeffrey Goldberg antisemitic is totally absurd. The term is becoming identical in meaning and use with “does not slavishly support every policy of the current Israeli government”.

      This is totally wrong, and people who care about Israel and the Jewish people, but also see Israel’s future as dependent on making peace with the Palestinians, need to push back on this disturbing trend. And meanwhile there is still real antisemitism to contend with in the world, which makes this abuse of the term even more self-defeating because it distracts attention from real antisemitism.

    2. Everybody feels that way when they first encounter the term. Don’t know if it ever ceases to grate, but eventually you become resigned to the fact that you can’t single-handedly reverse decades (centuries?) of common use. SIGH.

      Still, if enough of us began to use “anti-Jewish”. . . ? (Somehow anti-Judaism doesn’t seem right. Too removed from the ethnic part, maybe?)

      1. My understanding is that “antisemitism” is a borrowing from a German word coined in the 19th century. The thing itself is many centuries old, unfortunately and tragically, but this name for it is relatively new.

        1. Well, you caught me speculating when Google is my friend. You are right, according to Wikipedia:

          While the term’s etymology might suggest that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic peoples, the term was coined in the late 19th century in Germany as a more scientific-sounding term for Judenhass (“Jew-hatred”),[1] and that has been its normal use since then.[2] For the purposes of a 2005 U.S. governmental report, antisemitism was considered “hatred toward Jews—individually and as a group—that can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity.”[3]

          So, just a little over a century. “. . . coined . . . as a more scientific-sounding term . . . ” How disgusting.

          1. But apparently the first usage of it is credited to Moritz Steinschneider, an Austrian Jew, who used it critically to characterize prevalent theories of Aryan racial superiority in the 19th century.

            So perhaps the reason for an abstract term is that it isn’t as unpleasant as Judenhass, even when criticizing it.

            1. Though Aryan racial superiority did disparage all Semitic peoples…

              It is instructive what people will do to get around unpleasant terminology! Change the word, solve the problem. As if.

  30. Given that the article at the head of this thread is about the endemic hatred of Jews in the Middle East and in particular the intemperate language of the president of Egypt, shouldn’t you be more concerned as a taxpayer about the huge amount of money lavished on Egypt including the sale of 20 F-16 fighter planes?
    As for kibitzing, Israel has a functioning democracy, unlike any other country in the vicinity. There are regular elections and voters vote. The only motive for kibitzing is to tell people that you know better than they do what they should do. In these circumstances that manages to be both arrogant and farcical.

    1. There is no reason to interpret criticism and concern about Israel as a lack of concern about Egypt. That is the kind of zero-sum thinking that perpetuates conflicts. It shouldn’t be a reflex to assume that criticism of Israel indicates a blind devotion to Israel’s rivals or enemies. The only side I’m trying to take is the side of humans and peace.

      It kind of goes without saying in my book that antisemitism is horrible and ugly. So is anti-Muslim hatred. Hopefully this is so elementary that I don’t have to waste words ranting about how awful it is. I can waste words ranting about more interesting aspects of this problem.

      Here is something I believe about this kind of rhetoric though: for many Muslims such antisemitic talk is recognized as wrong and ugly. There is not a vast Muslim consensus ready to engage in a new holocaust. This kind of talk is aimed at placating the anger of a populist base, just as similar anti-Muslim rhetoric in the US is aimed at a populist base. These are people who are largely driven by emotional opinions, not by much knowledge or deep thought. The reason such talk has any popularity beyond a very radical minority is because people are angry about the situation of injustice that exists, and they like to blow off steam. We’ve seen plenty of that in this country directed against Muslims. It’s easy for people to hate in the abstract, but when they come face to face with their supposed enemy, they see another human being. I feel pretty confident that a satisfactory peaceful resolution of the conflict would be the best way to defuse this kind of hateful rhetoric. And a continued escalation of violence won’t lead to anything good.

      I agree it’s a good thing Israel has a democracy. Let’s hope that Egypt, which has already made some big mistakes, manages to arrive at a functioning democracy as well. It’s a good thing about democracy is that it stands the best chance of correcting its errors a few years down the road. The big barrier to such progress is religious thinking.

      I believe there are many Israelis that know better what to do than Netanyahu and the Israeli religious right. As a citizen of a country that does have, as they say, a dog in this hunt, I think it’s time for us to stand up and say “Mr. Netanyahu, tear down that wall.”

      1. And Mr. Netanyahu would say, “Why tear down a wall that has saved hundreds of lives?” It will be necessary for as long as the PA encourages suicide bombers and “martyrdom operations”. A peace treaty would indeed be a good thing, but it doesn’t seem likely given the careful inculcation of hatred in Palestinian children. Hatred seems to be a religion with a life of its own. It seems to be an emotion horribly easy to stir up.

        1. I would agree with you if I thought that A. The only effect of the wall was to save lives, and B. that your characterization of the PA activity were accurate.

          But these things are not true. Your view of the PA doesn’t reflect present realities.

          There has been over half a decade of unprecedented cooperation between between the PA security forces and the IDF to fight against terror activities. This has probably done more than the wall to save lives.

          The wall provokes anger and hostility, including Hamas rocket attacks. The wall cuts peoples homes off from their crops, their jobs, and their schools. The wall was not built on Israeli territory, it was built on Palestinian territory. The wall in some instances divides towns and villages, and requires people to travel miles to reach locations that used to be a few hundred yards away. The wall stifles economic activity in the West Bank.

          And now due to recent hostilities the PA has been undercut by Israel in the eyes of the Palestinian public, and in the eyes of lots of Israelis too. Rather than rewarding the PA for its cooperation, recent Israeli actions has done more to lift the prestige of Hamas while giving the impression that the door to peace has been slammed shut. The behavior of Netanyahu tells me that he thinks keeping hostility alive is his goal, and peace is not. The reason is because he never wants to let go of the West Bank. Every action of Israel says that the strategy is to take permanent possession of the West Bank. And Israel probably has the power to do that. But it will earn them lasting hatred around the world. It is a mistake.

          Here are a few articles that discuss the somewhat more complicated situation with the PA than you suggested:



  31. It seems to me that, even if it’s true that the Four Horsemen and such are by no means too shrill or wrong to come on as strong as they do, still they’ve made four wrong turns.
    One, to deny that historians and metaphysicians and ethicists can arrive at valid knowledge claims by routes that differ from those traversed by biologists and physicists and other students of empirical, non-human phenomena. We should not expect that what we’re supposed to do, what it is we’ve done, and how our individual actions and social interactions are best explained are questions to be answered in just the ways questions about sharks are. And even very smart birds have no history of which they’re cognizant.
    Two, to deny the historicity of Jesus, even those who know the languages and have read the texts of the time can see how preposterous mythicism is.
    Three, to kick liberal believers in the teeth, even though they are not a bit less dismayed by assaults on science in the classroom than are the horsemen.
    Four, to have settled for an imperceptive and simplistic understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of Islam itself.
    I’m very glad Mr. Johnson has done such good service in expounding the nature of the conflict and of Islam.

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