Ray Hanania, Arab News
Friday 24 September 2004
Last Update 24 September 2004 12:00 am
I opened my copy of one of my favorite national newspapers (New York Times, Sept. 22) this week and found another one of those misleading and expensive half-truths funded by the American Jewish Committee to libel all Arabs, Muslims and the Arab world.
The full-page advertisement displayed four images with captions. One was of Hitler and his book Mein Kampf. Another was the purported cover of the book “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Below them was a grisly image supposedly of Jews killing Christians for their blood. And next to that were Arabic writing attributed to a Muslim religious leader in Saudi Arabia who has said nasty, anti-Semitic things about Jews.
The question the AJC asks atop the page is “How can there be peace in the Middle East when anti-Semitism is so widespread?”
It’s not by accident that the ad only targets Arabs and Muslims. The AJC, once the symbol of Jewish moderation, is today one of the most conservative supporters of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim slander in the United States. I remember years ago standing up with leaders of the AJC to denounce suicide bombings, an unprecedented event to have both Palestinian leaders and Jewish leaders speak out against the growing cycle of violence that continues today. Those leaders today have certainly changed their strategies.
Why concede anything? In today’s post-Sept. 11 atmosphere of hatred and an anti-Arab hysteria that is as bad or worse than that which fuels anti-Semitism, the AJC can ignore acts of compromise and understanding and instead concentrate on being intolerant.
The fact is the AJC advertisement should have included many American institutions, like the State of Illinois Building where I went the other day and found a copy in its bookstore of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
I guess that makes the officials of Illinois proponents of anti-Semitism, too.
And go in to many bookstores in America and find copies of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” Log on to Borders online and buy a copy for $22. You can even get his “second book” — I didn’t know he had a sequel — for $32.
The point is that the AJC is doing exactly what its advertisement seeks to stop, hatred based on stereotyping, broad stroke animosity, and vilification of people simply because of their race or religion.
The AJC’s advertisement is both anti-Semitic and racist in its unfair targeting of all Arabs and all Muslims. But of course, the AJC doesn’t really care about anti-Semitism, do they? Isn’t the real purpose of the advertisement to promote the hatred of Arabs and the hatred of Muslims? And didn’t they select American newspapers to publish their vicious attacks to reinforce American public hatred of Arabs and Muslims?
It serves the AJC’s new purpose. Support Israel at all cost. Why compromise when the polls show that Americans are siding with them today? So what if years ago many Americans were among the most anti-Semitic people on Earth? What makes the AJC action even more partisan and unfair is that they intentionally ignore the viciousness and the racist hatred that dominates many Jewish communities and Israeli communities.
Israel’s and the Jewish American media is filled with vicious anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate, slander, lies and exaggerations. Anyone who dares to criticize Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or challenge the lies regarding his predecessors so-called “most generous offer of peace” are slandered, attacked and intimidated into silence.
In Israel, you can go to a park where there is a memorial honoring Dr. Baruch Goldstein — The American Israeli settler who walked into a mosque in February 1994 and gunned down 29 Muslims as they were praying?
Brushed off as the act of a crazed man, the Goldstein terrorism is celebrated by numerous right-wing Israeli and Jewish groups. It provoked the very first act of suicide bombing by Hamas several months later in Afula. It was precisely that suicide bombing that I proudly stood up with leaders of the AJC to denounce, back when justice, fairness and sanity seemed to still have some value.
Today, hope for Middle East peace is being extinguished. I put a large part of the blame of organizations like the AJC that speak out against terrorism, hate and racism only when it seems to suit their political agenda.
— Ray Hanania is the former national president of the Palestinian American Congress.