> > > 2002 - 2003
go down Print Page



The year 2002 and the beginning of 2003 witnessed an alarmingly significant increase in the number of violent antisemitic acts and in other forms of antisemitic activity. A total of 311 serious incidents were recorded worldwide in 2002, 56 major attacks (i.e., attacks using violent means) and 255 major violent incidents (attacks without the use of a weapon), whereas in 2001 there were 228 violent incidents, 50 major attacks and 178 violent incidents. The 2002 figure even slightly surpassed the year 1994 which marked a peak in antisemitic activity in the 1990s.

An analysis of the nature of these violent acts shows a troubling tendency: Prior to the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000 physical violence had been directed mainly at cemeteries and in 2001 at synagogues. In 2002, however, this pattern changed dramatically: the number of physical assaults on Jewish individuals, or on people who resembled Jews, almost doubled, from 57 in 2001 to 112. Synagogues were still high on the list with 103 acts, including 40 arson attacks, compared to 92 incidents in 2001, as were cemeteries and memorial sites – 73 incidents.

The violence came in waves. The first wave began in October 2000, shortly after the outbreak of the second intifada, and lasted about six weeks. The second, triggered by the Durban UN conference against racism and intensified by the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, continued for about two months. The third, which commenced with Operation Defensive Shield, the IDF’s response to the Netanya Park Hotel massacre in late March 2002, was the longest to date – until August 2002 –subsiding only after the French elections. The fourth and present one is connected to the war in Iraq.

Most antisemitic violence in 2002 took place in western Europe, with 31 major attacks (out of the 56 recorded worldwide), and no fewer than 147 major violent incidents (out of 255 worldwide). Most of the major attacks in western Europe took place in Belgium and France (25 out of 31), while major violent incidents amounted to 96 cases in these two countries and the UK. In North America and the former Soviet Union the numbers were also higher than in previous years, while in other regions of the world – Latin America, Africa, Australia and eastern Europe – they were lower or remained on the same level. The irony of this situation is that those west European countries which are the most dangerous for Jews monitor antisemitism in eastern and central Europe as well as the former Soviet Union in order to gauge the progress of the states there in human rights activity, including combating antisemitism, prior to admitting them to the EU and NATO.

Threats, insults, calls to kill Jews, graffiti, hostile media reports and commentaries, Internet hate sites, and antisemitic utterances by members of the intelligentsia and government officials are not included in the statistics mentioned above because their numbers are so great that record-keeping becomes impossible; moreover, monitoring systems vary throughout the world. Yet, it should be emphasized that abusive expressions and violence nourish each other, even if they emanate from different circles. Violence, especially in Europe, is perpetrated mainly by Muslim radicals (and to a lesser extent by extreme rightists), while the local population tends to express itself verbally and visually, including in mainstream channels. The latter manifestations are continuous, and even intensifying in frequency.

Many factors coalesced to create this serious situation, and may be discerned in the fourth wave of violence. The opposition to the war on Iraq, which unites a variety of political forces, includes many of the same elements that vehemently opposed globalization. Both the anti-war and the anti-globalization movements intensified anti-American sentiments and pinpointed the Jewish communities and Israel as the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks, which were the pretext for the US decision to attack the Muslim world – first Afghanistan, then Iraq – and as being behind the giant commercial companies and banks that have globalized the world economy. Thus, a so-called axis of evil was created, made up of the US and Israel and encompassing world, and particularly American, Jewry – a villainous, modern, well financed and technologically sophisticated power that has willfully imposed itself upon other nations. The use of force, even in self-defense, has reinforced the comparison of this “axis” and its leaders with Nazi practices, which symbolize the definitive modern evil. Hence, the obligation of European countries to the memory of the Holocaust, which in recent years seems to have become increasingly more of a burden, might be weakened.

These political, economic and social developments, coupled with Arab/Muslim radicals, Arab oil money and their struggle against the West, have created a strong anti-Jewish atmosphere in which taboos are being broken: questioning the uniqueness of the Holocaust is no longer inviolable in Germany; authorities turn a blind eye to violence, as was the case in France prior to the 2002 elections; and academic institutes ban Israeli colleagues – a troubling demonstration of the politicization of some of the world’s most acclaimed universities. Prospects for change seem dim at present because the balance of antisemitism has shifted to the democratic, enlightened West, where left/liberal circles have found common ground with positions in the Arab/Muslim world. Since the voices that speak out against antisemitism are becoming scarcer, and antisemitism often lurks behind anti-Zionism, the demonization of Israel and the Jews and their portrayal as an evil force responsible for all the world’s evils may take even further hold.



Between 11 September and the war in Iraq:

Israel, the Jews and the US as an “Axis of Evil”


In early March 2003 Argentinean Federal Judge Juan Jose Galeano, who has been conducting the investigation into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, indicted “radical elements of the Islamic Republic of Iran” in connection with the attack. The document prepared by Galeano, which was based on the findings of Argentina’s intelligence services, revealed that the decision to blow up the Jewish center was taken by some of the Iranian leadership, including, probably, Spiritual Leader Ayatollah ‘Ali Khamene’i and then Acting President ‘Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rumors of Iran’s involvement in the attack had sometimes appeared in the media. Now the indictment confirmed that the leaders of a sovereign state had decided to murder Jews living in a foreign country as revenge for Israel’s actions in Lebanon. Since these findings emerged during the period of international tensions prior to the war in Iraq they did not receive much exposure. However, in the history of antisemitism the attack may be defined as a watershed, representing what both researchers and Jewish leaders have coined since 2000 “the new antisemitism”: direct identification between Jewish communities and individuals and Israel, which are perceived as a single evil entity. According to this concept, any Jew, whatever his views on Israel, should be held responsible and should “pay” for Israel’s deeds or even for Israel’s existence. Thus, antisemitism has become interchangeable with anti-Zionism and the word Zionist is identified with Jew.

The linkage between events in the Middle East and violence against Jews worldwide, which culminated in the year 2000 in the outbreak of the second intifada, provoked a dramatic increase in anti-Jewish violence, particularly in Europe. No less troubling was the realization that scapegoating of Jews and of Israel was no longer restricted to the radical fringe of the political spectrum in many western countries, but had been embraced by the mainstream media. An important role in this development was played by the UN World Conference on Racism in Durban in August 2001. In numerous meetings and in the official decisions of NGOs, Israel was singled out for condemnation. The dissemination of antisemitic materials and efforts to distort the Holocaust were an integral part of the anti-Israel campaign carried out at this conference (see ASW 2000/1).

Demonization of Israel is also linked to the notion of Israel and the Jews conspiring against Arabs and Muslims, and as the main obstacle to peace in the world; this theory lay behind the accusation that the Jews were responsible for the terrorist attacks of 11 September (see ASW 2000/1).

A motif that resurfaced with the outbreak of the second intifada and which intensified during the year 2002, becoming further entrenched in the mainstream discourse, was that of Israel as the present bearer of Nazi ideology. The outcome of this line of thought is that Israel is a Nazi state and as such must be destroyed.

At the end of 2001 and during 2002, in the wake of the September 11 attacks and the beginning of the American anti-terrorist campaign, another dangerous phase of “blaming the Jews” emerged: the linkage between anti-Americanism and antisemitism. This was based on the idea that the Jews and Israel actually controlled the US government and were driving America to conduct wars against the Arabs and Muslims, first in Afghanistan and then the war on Iraq.

The aim of this essay is to: 1) demonstrate the linkage between the demonization of Israel and alleged Jewish/Israel responsibility for the US-led campaigns carried out since 11 September, and 2) analyze some of the main aspects of scapegoating the Jews that has been a concomitant of these campaigns, in various regions and countries.


Demonization of the Jews and Israel

In many countries, the motif of nazification of the Jews/Israel – accusing them of using Nazi methods against the Palestinians, including mass killings – in order to carry out “ethnic cleansing” – has penetrated influential mainstream media. Since it is commonly accepted that no Nazi state should exist, nazification of Israel and the Jews delegitimizes the right of Israel to exist.

Large anti-war and anti-Israel rallies held in various parts of the world in 2002/3 were used by various groups to legitimize the support of violence and terrorist organizations as well as the use of antisemitic expressions. In attempting to de-legitimize Israel and challenge its right to exist, members of organizations that publicly repudiated bigotry against Jews tolerated or initiated at such events the equation of Zionism with Nazism. In speeches, placards, and chants, Israel’s actions in the territories were regularly likened to the Nazis’ systematic extermination of Jews. Unsurprisingly, these comparisons give way to calls for the destruction of Israel.


Western Europe

In Europe, which seeks to make a break with its Nazi past, blaming the Jews for the Arab-Israeli conflict can almost be seen as an act of absolution. Thus, it appears that guilt feelings over the Jewish fate during the Holocaust have been shifted to the Palestinians and the Arab nations which suffered as a result of the establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East. The Portuguese novelist José Saramago, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998, was part of an international delegation of writers who traveled to Ramallah to observe the Israeli siege of Yasir Arafat's compound. According to Saramago in the 21 April 2002 issue of El Pais, a Madrid-based newspaper read throughout the Spanish-speaking world, the situation in Ramallah was “a crime comparable to Auschwitz.” This point was further highlighted by Oxford literature professor and poet Tom Paulin who told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram that American Jewish settlers on the West Bank and Gaza were “Nazis” who should be “shot dead.”

In Germany, a public controversy broke out when Jamal Karsli, a Syrian-born member of parliament, who had to leave the Green Party after he claimed that Israel was using “Nazi methods” against the Palestinians and criticized the influence of the “Zionist lobby” in Germany, was welcomed with open arms into the FDP (Free Democratic Party – the Liberals) by deputy chairman Jürgen Möllemann, himself a harsh critic of Israel and head of the German-Arab Friendship Association. In the course of the public debate that followed, Josef Joffe, editor of the prestigious weekly Die Zeit commented: “Recent events are more than breaking a taboo on antisemitic expressions; they are uprooting the most basic ethos of postwar Germany: the consensus which determined that this is a liberal democracy, without racism or antisemitism.” After the general elections, on 22 November 2002, when it became clear that Möllemann’s antisemitic statements had contributed to the defeat of the conservative-liberal coalition, Möllemann was forced to resign as deputy head of the FDP. On 17 March he resigned from the party, retaining, however, his seat in the Bundestag.

One of the results of demonizing Israel was an academic boycott. On 6 April 2002, an appeal published by the Guardian, which was signed by more than 120 university academics and researchers across Europe, called for pressure to be put on Israel for its “widespread repression of the Palestinian people” through a moratorium upon any grants and contracts by the EU and the European Science Foundation. Subsequently, a number of other petitions urging a European boycott of research and cultural links with Israel aroused worldwide criticism, inter alia, by leading American professors. The Committee on Human Rights of Scientists of the New York Academy of Sciences, for example, published a statement on 3 May 2002 opposing the calls circulating in Europe on the grounds that they violated “the basic principles of scientific freedom and scholarship” and undermined science “for the sake of some political goals.” Another communiqué published in the Guardian on 22 May 2002 labeled the boycott attempt by European academics “immoral, dangerous and misguided,” and as indirectly encouraging terrorism. Similar counter-petitions appeared in France and Poland, among others.

Another public controversy followed the dismissal of two Israeli scholars from the editorial board of several British academic journals by Mona Baker, a professor at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). Baker explained that Israel had gone “beyond just war crimes,” but failed to clarify this statement further.


East and Central Europe

Anti-war themes (see below) were intertwined with Israel’s campaign against the Palestinians, with Israeli leaders, especially Sharon, being described as “war criminals” – a label further legitimized by the decision of the Belgian court to prosecute Sharon for war crimes. One of the most notorious publications in central and eastern Europe is Magyar Forum, organ of the Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP). Magyar Forum typically linked Israeli policies, Iraq and the “Holocaust industry,” claiming, ironicaly, in its issue of 20 March 2003 that Sharon, the “war criminal and perpetrator of ethnic genocide,” had mentioned in a speech on 10 March that if there had been a decisive force to stop Hitler in the thirties, the Holocaust may have been averted. The article opens with a quotation from Norman Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry, in which the author claims that Israel is using the Holocaust to justify its criminal policies.


United States

Like western Europe, in the US, too, some anti-war groups incorporated extreme anti-Israel and sometimes antisemitic expressions in their protests against the impending campaign against Iraq. The ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition, created by the New York-based International Action Center to protest the bombing of Afghanistan, has organized many anti-war protests around the country since September 2001. Anti-Israel and antisemitic content has marked some ANSWER events, which have been endorsed by such groups as the international Al-Awda – Right of Return Coalition and the Illinois-based Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP).

ANSWER has become one of the most effective organizers of anti-war rallies, playing a key role in bringing Arab and Muslim groups into the anti-war and anti-racism movements, which has led to extreme invective against Israel during protests. The largest and most disturbing ANSWER event was held on 20 April 2002, in Washington DC. Called the “National March for Palestine against War and Racism,” the rally was attended by approximately 200,000 people, including thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators. The rally served as a forum for supporting violence and terror organizations, and for a proliferation of antisemitic expressions. Slogans and images included: “End the Holocaust” (with a picture of Sharon), an Israeli flag with a swastika replacing the Star of David, a US flag with a Star of David replacing the 50 stars and the message, “Free America,” “Bush and Sharon, Tag-team Terrorists,” and “First Jesus Now Arafat, Stop the Killers.” The ANSWER coalition advanced the date of its rally to April 20 to coincide with anti-globalization demonstrations, which were organized to protest the IMF and the World Bank.

ANSWER’s determination to link the war on Iraq to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was demonstrated at a meeting held in Cairo, Egypt, on 18–19 December 2002, when it signed “The Cairo Declaration against US Hegemony and War on Iraq and in Solidarity with Palestine.” Palestinian terrorist attacks are defined as legitimate acts of liberation in the manifesto, which also states that all participants in ANSWER reaffirm their “resolve to stand in solidarity with the people of Iraq and Palestine, recognizing that war and aggression against them is merely part of a US project of global domination and subjugation.” In addition, the declaration calls for boycotts of US and Israeli goods in solidarity with Iraq and Palestine.

On 13 January 2003, in order to demonstrate the link between American Jewish warmongers and Israel, ANSWER endorsed a protest against Henry Kissinger and Shimon Peres held in Los Angeles. ANSWER declared that Henry Kissinger was “an unrepentant warmonger who bears responsibility for much bloodshed throughout the world,” and that Shimon Peres was a war criminal as well because he supported “Israel's brutal and illegal occupation of Palestinian land and suppression and murder of Palestinian people.” Although attendance was small, demonstrators carried antisemitic placards such as an image of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding a bloody butcher’s knife bearing the caption “This is religion?”

In addition to the major demonstrations opposing the war, there were also a series of smaller demonstrations against Israel. These demonstrations, organized by anarchist, anti-war activists, increasingly embraced the Palestinian cause and included hostile anti-Israel rhetoric.

On 29 March in New York City, a “Land Day” protest was organized by about 20 Arab-American groups, including Al-Awda, the Arab Muslim American Federation and the Defend Palestine Committee. This rally was an example of the environment being fostered by the profusion of anti-war activities that has allowed anti-Israel groups to gain greater publicity and momentum in their activities. Several hundred people chanted: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” to protest Israeli occupation and US military force against Iraq.


Latin America

A general increase in antisemitism has been discerned in Latin America, noticeably in comparisons between Israeli conduct in the territories and Hitler’s actions in World War II – verbally, in images and at demonstrations. As elsewhere, Israel’s policy in the territories became an important lever for some groups which once showed no signs of antisemitism to make the symbolic comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, Sharon and Hitler, the Star of David and the swastika. In 2002, these expressions became far more common in the media and television, in protest demonstrations, on posters and in graffiti.

In Brazil, extreme anti-Israel sentiments were voiced both by students and faculty in universities. In every public debate Sharon was compared to Hitler. The claim that Jews and Israel were the driving force behind the American campaigns, together with shrill anti-Israel remarks, appeared in the Brazilian media and at protest rallies. The leftist magazine Liberacion published a virulently antisemitic editorial entitled “Israeli Nazi Methods,” which compared Israel’s actions in the territories to those of the Nazis in World War II. Antisemitic caricatures have appeared repeatedly in Brazil. On 14 April 2002, Correio Brazilliense published a caricature showing the devil sitting at a table with a flag bearing the Star of David behind him. A caricature in O Globo in April showed Sharon wearing a blood-soaked apron, grasping a knife shaped like an Israeli flag with which he is butchering Arabs on the table before him.

Posters with swastikas and antisemitic slogans were reported at demonstrations in April in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In Curitiba, particularly rowdy rallies took place in April, which included members of Islamic groups and leftists from the ruling Partido Trabalhist (Labor Party – PT), as well as supporters of the Socialist Party (PSTU) and the Communist Party (PCDOB). Posters showed Sharon as the devil or as Hitler, Sharon giving the Nazi salute over the heads of dead Palestinians, and Stars of David twisted into swastikas, inside which Israelis were killing Palestinian women and children.

Comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, and the accusation that the Jews and Israel were to blame for all the world’s ills were dominant themes on Brazilian websites, where every current controversy was tinged with antisemitism. Jews were repeatedly portrayed as the enemies of mankind, with some suggesting the solution to the world’s problem was extermination of the Jews. Discussions of the war on Iraq on one of the most important websites in Brazil, www.terra.com.br, were particularly antisemitic.

The connection between hostility toward Israel, antisemitism and anti-Americanism was noticeable also in Mexico, where there was a sharp increase in antisemitic expressions, mainly in threats sent in electronic mail and in antisemitic graffiti. Students and leftist groups were openly anti-Israel. At a student concert at Mexico City University to raise money for Palestinians, the latter were described as victims of “Nazi-fascist Jewish imperialism.” Mexican websites called on the people to fight against the Jews who “are evicting the Mexican people.” Swastikas and antisemitic slogans were drawn on the Israeli embassy in Mexico City. Anti-Zionist and anti-Israel demonstrations held in Mexico on 3 and 4 April were also antisemitic. Among the organizers were members of the guerilla organization active in Mexico during the last years, the Zapatista Army National Liberation (EZLN), founded in the Chiapas area to promote a land redemption scheme for members of the army. The fact that this once purely local action group participated in an anti Israel and anti Zionist demonstration demonstrates that it is making inroads amongst leftists nationwide.

Comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany were also made in Argentina, where, on 1 May, anti-Israel graffiti appeared in the up-market Pocitos area where many Jews live. Most of the scribblings said: “Sharon is a Murderer.” In Peru, a television commentator said, early in April, that the Jews and Israel dominated the Peruvian media and prevented Peruvians from learning the truth about what went on in Palestinian cities.


Blaming the Jews

Antisemitism, a central element of extreme right ideology, has been observed increasingly in the rhetoric of all shades of the left. A vital influence on this development in many countries has been the antisemitic/anti-Zionist argumentation of radical Islamists, in the form of anti-Americanism. In the minds of those who adhere to antisemitic conspiracy theories, anti-Americanism and antisemitism have become inseparable.

Millions throughout the world demonstrated their opposition to the potential attack on the Baghdad regime. United by strong anti-globalization and anti-American feelings, people of conflicting political views marched together. In Europe in particular, the extreme right depicts America as the symbol of racial impurity and plutocracy ruled by the “all-powerful Jews,” while the communists and the Marxist left, characterize the US as the homeland of capitalism and imperialism.

In scapegoating Israel and the Jews the speed and apparent authenticity of the Internet has played a major role. One example was the tragic fate of the US space shuttle. According to one rumor, the disaster was caused intentionally by the Jews and Israelis to distract world attention from events in the Middle East. Another conspiracy theory accused Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon of having been on a secret spy mission against Iraq.


Western Europe

The September 11 attacks, followed by the war in Afghanistan, preparations for the war against Iraq and finally the beginning of the war itself provoked anti-Israel and antisemitic feelings in western Europe, which sometimes translated into violence against Jewish institutions and Jewish individuals. One of the main themes was that Israel and the Jews were behind these campaigns. These sentiments were reinforced in early 2002 by the support of literary and artistic figures such as the New Jersey poet Amiri Baraka and the Greek musician and composer Mikis Theodorakis. Theodorakis hinted that a power greater than the United States was behind the September 11 attacks. The following day, the Holocaust Monument in Thessalonika was defaced and several graves in the Jewish cemetery of the northern city of Ioannina were desecrated.

In Europe, the extreme right and even neo-Nazis groups took advantage of the anti-globalization atmosphere to join the “respectable” chorus of the anti-war demonstrations, mostly organized by left-wing activists. Anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian slogans appeared alongside no-war placards and it was almost impossible to discern the ideological affiliation of the bearers. Chanting anti-imperialist slogans that often had a distinctly radical leftist ring, Germany's otherwise xenophobic National Democratic Party (NPD) and other ultra-right-wing groups used the demonstrations to make political capital out of the war, having discovered their sympathy for Palestinians, Iraqis and even for al-Qa‘ida.

For the majority of marchers, the US and Israel constituted an “axis of evil.” Jewish demonstrators were insulted and sometimes physically assaulted. Placards showing the swastika inlaid with the Star of David were in evidence at many anti-war demonstrations and violent anti-Israel and antisemitic incidents frequently occurred. In Germany, an indication of the now socially acceptable hatred of Jews, often masked as anti-Zionism, was the appearance at anti-war demonstrations of slogans such as “Jewish pigs” and “Sieg Heil” which in the past would have been sufficient to ban neo-Nazi marches or to outlaw the NPD.

Encouraged by the success of the anti-war demonstrations organized by the left, extreme right-wing activists organized their own “peace marches.” The 200 extreme rightists and neo-Nazis who met on 22 February 2003 in Hamburg demonstrated under the banner: “Amis [Americans] out – Peace in.” However, their slogans were far from peaceful and showed their real priorities: “Bombs on Israel!” “German soldiers in defense of Iraq!”; “Revolt of the vassals!”; “For international solidarity! Down with Zion-fascism!”; “For a world of free peoples – solidarity with Palestine!”; “Emancipation of the Zentralrat [the Jewish community leadership in Germany].” The impending war on Iraq inspired some of these “peace activists” to create peculiar associations, such as that between the situation in Iraq and “what happened 60 years ago in Germany.”

The notion that Jewish interests control American foreign policy was further demonstrated by Gretta Duisenberg, wife of the Dutch socialist president of the European Central Bank. She hung a Palestinian flag from her house to protest against “the rich Jewish lobby in America” which perpetuated injustice against the “Palestinian people.”


United States

Since the fall of 2002, and particularly in recent weeks, public remarks about the Iraq crisis have increasingly implicated Israel and American Jews. While most observers remain fair-minded in assessing the many other factors that influence US policy, some have stated or implied that Israel, and high-ranking American Jews in the Bush administration, are pushing the US into war – forcing it against its own interests to undertake what has variously been called “Israel’s war” and “a war for the Jews.” These accusations were raised by both conservatives and right-wingers as well as by leftists. They appeared not only in extreme right and extreme left publications, but in various mainstream ones, too. It should be noted that prior to the American attack, a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that while 62 percent of all Americans supported the war, only 52 percent of the Jews did.

The claim that the American Jewish community has a major influence on American foreign policy was raised in early March 2003 by Democratic Congressman from Virginia James Moran. In his speech Moran asserted: “if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq we would not be doing this. The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going and I think they should.”

Columnist, broadcaster and influential member in the Nixon and Reagan administrations Patrick J. Buchanan, who failed to get the Republican nomination as presidential candidate in 1992, is one of the leading advocates of the accusation that Israel or American Jews exercise entire or substantial control over the US government and had pushed it into a war against Iraq. In his article: “Whose War? The Loudest Clique behind the President’s Policy,” published in The American Conservative (24 March 2003), he wrote:

We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords. We charge them with deliberately damaging US relations with every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian people’s right to a homeland of their own. We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity.

The question of dual loyalties is a traditional antisemitic accusation of the far right. Prior to the war in Iraq it was raised by leftist publications as well. In Counter Punch, a leftist journal edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Kathleen and Bill Christison wrote:

... The issue we are dealing with in the Bush administration is dual loyalties – the double allegiance of those myriad officials at high and middle levels who cannot distinguish US interests from Israeli interests, who baldly promote the supposed identity of interests between the United States and Israel, who spent their early careers giving policy advice to right-wing Israeli governments and now give the identical advice to a right-wing US government, and who, one suspects, are so wrapped up in their concern for the fate of Israel that they honestly do not know whether their own passion about advancing the US imperium is motivated primarily by America-first patriotism or is governed first and foremost by a desire to secure Israel’s safety and predominance in the Middle East through the advancement of the US imperium.

While in mainstream papers the Jewish origin of “neo-conservatives” who allegedly pushed America into war was only insinuated, it was openly expressed by well known antisemites such as leading American white supremacist and a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke, in his Online Radio Report (5 March 2003) under the title: “No War for Israel!” Duke wrote:

By any standard, this Iraq war is of no benefit to the United States of America, nor is it of any benefit to the commercial oil industry. So, for whose benefit does America wage this war? The answer is Israel, Israel, Israel! Radical Jewish supremacists in Israel launched this drive for war. Their agents all over the world, both in government and media, have been the real power behind this war...

It is my hope that for the sake of our brave, young fighting men, and indeed, for the people of our nation, that by a miracle we can avoid this Jewish war.

A similar statement was made by Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam in a Savior’s Day speech, in Chicago (23 Feb. 2003):

The warmongers in his [President Bush’s] administration, the poor Israeli Zionists, have literally gotten America�s foreign policy to protect Israel. Now many of you won’t say these things, but that’s on you. Daniel Perle or Richard Perle, Wolfowitz, Kristol – all of these are architects of policy and they are pro-Israel. One American congressman said, “Listen, the cornerstone of America�s foreign policy is the protection of Israel.”


Eastern and Central Europe

In addition to their “local” agenda (focusing on local events and trends which are allegedly the result of Jewish and Israeli political and economic interests), east and central European extremists adopted an anti-US position, whose main thesis was that Israeli/Jewish interests were driving the US to act against the Arabs and the Muslim world. In this context, a direct link was made between the alleged US-Israel role in the September 11 attacks and the war on Iraq. Alleged US and Israeli global interests were also a principal theme in the anti-globalization stand of the extreme right and the extreme left.

Hungary’s Magyar Forum led the way, in both its weekly and monthly editions, with some of the most vehement antisemitic/anti-Israel accusations. On 6 March 2003, under the headline “The World Order of Murderers,” it wrote that no Arab or Muslim factor could have gained anything from the September 11 attacks after the Durban conference had just condemned “racist Israeli policies.” With the Jewish state under criticism for its actions and US oil companies and the interests of the Jewish state in jeopardy, intelligence services hostile to the Arab and Muslim cause had decided to make “a counterstrike.” The article recounts alleged strange events at the time of the attacks, including the absence of “Jewish businessmen” among the World Trade Center victims. The article goes on to link the attacks to the targeting of Saddam Husayn’s regime by those global interests which had been acting since 11 September. Similar articles also appeared in the February and March issues of the monthly Magyar Forum.

����������� The position of the Greater Romania Party (PRM), the second largest party in the Romanian parliament, is more influential than that of MIEP, which did not pass the electoral threshold in the 2002 general elections. PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor publishes the text of his weekly press conferences in the party weekly Romanian Mare. In contrast to his Hungarian counterpart Istvan Csurka, the Romanian extremist does not justify Saddam Husayn’s regime, but opposes the US-led war against Iraq. In his press conference of 28 March, published in Romania Mare on 4 April 2003, Vadim Tudor, labeled the September 11 attacks “US provoked.” After developing a thesis that Russia would be the real victor in such a war against Iraq, Vadim Tudor said that it was time “to get the source – Tel-Aviv – to give the order to Bush and Blair, who sully everything they touch, to calm down.” He described the overall aim of the war as “creating a security cordon with a radius of 1,200 km to defend Israel.” Paradoxically, he expressed his belief that the State of Israel should live in peace – a position, Vadim claims, drew criticism from the Palestinians and the Iraqis, but at the same time the PRM adheres to the line that Israeli world interests are behind US policies. He called on the two “criminals... Adolf Bush and Tonzy Mussolini” to cease their attacks on innocent Iraqis.


Latin America

In Latin America anti-Americanism, intertwined with hostility toward Israel, spilled over into antisemitism after the events of 11 September and was reinforced in the course of 2002 as the United States and its allies prepared for war on Iraq. No violent incidents occurred, but open antisemitism, far stronger than in past years, was evident in the press and in other media, as well as in protest demonstrations, mostly among leftists and intellectuals. The US/Israel connection was particularly evident in the discourse of students and intellectuals after 11 September and continued until the Iraq war when hatred of America grew as it assumed the role of the world’s policeman, with Israel as its principal ally.

Brazilian anti-Americanism and hatred of Israel was expressed in complete support for the Palestinians, while Saddam Husayn became the hero of the Brazilian left. Bush was compared to Hitler, in a television debate on Globonews in Sao Paulo during which Maria de Aquino, professor of history at the University of Sao Paulo, declared that she had no faith in the good intentions of Bush to bring democracy to Iraq since in the United States democracy “has been destroyed by censorship, the media and certain courts, which claim those they sentence are terrorists.”

An editorial in the Brazilian Estado Do Minas Gerais declared that “we live under the threat of the Pax Americana.” Mixed with antagonism toward the United States is the notion that Jewish power runs the American government. Jorge Boaventura, advisor to the military academy of Brazil, wrote an article in Fohla do Sao Paulo in March which was inspired by The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He described the projected war on Iraq as provocation

During the same month openly antisemitic remarks were made by Estela Padilha, a popular cast member of a Brazilian reality TV show. She praised the destruction of the Twin Towers on 11 September because “they were a symbol of capitalism.” A survey after the broadcast showed that 85 percent of those questioned disapproved of her remarks.


The Arab World

In his national address on state television on 24 March 2003, as the US-led invasion to overthrow him went into its fifth day, Iraqi President Saddam Husayn attacked “the intentions and goals of the American and British administrations, which are driven by accursed Zionism” (NYT, 24 March, Ha’aretz, 25 March 2003). At a televised Friday sermon broadcast about a month and half earlier at a mosque in Baghdad, Shaykh Bakr Samara’i theatrically drew a sword from a sheath and waved it angrily in the air, warning America and Britain of God’s wrath and blaming the Jews, “descendants of apes and pigs,” of plotting and inflaming internecine wars on earth through the ages by using their money and the media. This perception of the Jews/Zionists/Israelis as plotters who were behind all the alleged malaise inflicted on Arabs and Muslims was the dominant antisemitic theme in the Arab discourse on major regional and international issues throughout the year.

While no new trends in Arab antisemitism emerged in 2002, there was a consolidation of existing ones discerned in the wake of the al-Aqsa intifada and the September 11 attacks. Thus, there was total identification between the West, and specifically between the US, and Israel, as well as the reinforcement of conspiracy theories and the notion of Jewish/Zionist control of American foreign policy and the media. Israel was portrayed as a tool and as a stronghold of American imperialism in the Middle East, but at the same time as standing behind the American aggression.

Three crucial conflicts, involving Arabs and Muslims, converged to threaten the region’s stability and its relations with the West: the continuing cycle of violence between the Palestinians and Israelis; the war on terrorism launched by the US following the September 11 attacks; and the escalation of the crisis over Iraq. All three gave rise to Arab and Muslim fears of an imminent clash of civilizations led by the US against Islam; Israel, as part of the West, had instigated this campaign from which it derived legitimacy for its behavior. The perceived linkage made in the Arab and Muslim worlds between anti-Americanism and hostility toward Israel or anti-Zionism, often expressed in antisemitic manifestations, was discerned previously in reactions to the outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000, the September 11 events and globalization (see ASW 1999/2000, 2000/1, 2001/2).

The three conflicts also highlighted the Arab predicament – the gap between lofty rhetoric and the ability to act; that between limited state and regime interests and broad Arab and Muslim aspirations, and the rift between regime pragmatism and reactions in the street. Thus, Arab regimes faced several dilemmas. They did not perceive these conflicts in black and white terms, as their societies did. They did not approve of Arafat’s behavior, Saddam Husayn’s provocation and ambitions or bin Ladin’s attacks on the West, yet they opposed Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories and the American attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Caught between their own interests and their general commitment to Arab and Muslim solidarity as well as the pressures coming from below manifested in spontaneous street demonstrations, Arab political leaders, instead of demonstrating practical opposition, could only voice meek denunciations of Israel and the US. In contrast, the Islamist movements and the masses often instigated by them, as well as the public discourse reflected in the media, expressed unequivocally their anti-American/anti-Israel sentiments.

Anti-American and anti-Israel demonstrations in Arab countries always involved burning both the American and the Israeli flags. Likewise, the calls to boycott Israeli products and to sever all relations with Israel were combined with calls to boycott American companies and food chains.

The Palestinian issue was incorporated into most of the references to the war on Afghanistan and to the Iraqi crisis, mutually affecting each other. “The war criminal Sharon,” wrote Qatari daily al-Raya, on 15 January 2002, “behaves toward the Palestinians as if they were a human mass that has no rights simply because they have no state. This is the same logic that American Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has adopted in dealing with the Taliban and al-Qa‘ida.” In the same vein, al-Quds al-‘Arabi claimed on the same day that “America’s arrogant success” in the war on Afghanistan had pushed it into justifying and supporting “Sharon’s terror campaign” against the Palestinians. Another article in al-Raya, on 22 January 2002 described Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories as “a crime against humanity.” What is strange, the paper said, “is the total international silence regarding the crimes of the butcher of Sabra and Shatila.” Sharon “applies himself assiduously to the Shylockian task of dismembering the Palestinians, but with no regional or international judge… reminding him that the Palestinian Antonio is not a debtor but a creditor,” wrote Jalal al-Mashta in the London-based liberal daily al-Hayat on 22 January 2002.

The increasing deterioration of the situation in the Palestinian territories would not have been possible without American consent, thus exposing its “true policy” and bias against Arabs and Muslims. “Bush manifests understanding of the crimes of the butcher of our time,” wrote Rafqi Fakhri in the Egyptian mainstream daily al-Akhbar on 29 April, in reaction to the Israeli offensive “Defense Shield” in Jenin, following the Palestinian suicide attack on Passover eve in the Park Hotel, Netanya. Bush, he went on, had adopted “the Sharonic religion” which drove him “to preach the gospels of his messenger Sharon.”

Palestinian journalist Khalid ‘Amayrah claimed in an article, published by the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) site on 27 November 2002, that “Zionists and their supporters” should not be surprised about the proliferation of antisemitism among Arabs and Muslims. Jews, he asserted, vilify Muslims, Arabs and the Palestinian people in the West, and harbor “Nazi-like designs on the utterly defenseless Palestinian people.”

The theme of the alleged Jewish anti-Muslim and anti-Arab drive emanated also from the representation of the September 11 events. The canard that the Jews were behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon continued unabated among the Arab and Muslim public as well as among journalists and commentators. A Gallup Poll conducted in nine Muslim countries (Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Turkey, Lebanon, Morocco, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) found that the majority of the population in these countries (61 percent) – with the exception of the West-aligned Turkey, with only 43 percent – refused to believe that Arabs had carried out the bombings. They believed without any doubt that it was a Mossad conspiracy; even those who attributed the bombings to al-Qa‘ida members thought that they were Mossad operators who had successfully infiltrated the organization (Times, 28 June 2002).

In order to reinforce their case, Arab commentators quoted western sources which offered similar explanations for the September 11 events. Jawad al-Bashiti quoted American white supremacist David Duke in the Jordanian opposition paper al-‘Arab al-Yawm on 7 January 2002. Duke claimed that American intelligence agencies knew about the plans of Mossad members in bin Ladin’s network. Moreover, he asserted, logistical support was rendered to the plane hijackers at the airport before take-off, without which they could not have succeeded in carrying out the operation. Duke reportedly visited Bahrain in November and repeated these views. French journalist Thierry Meyssan, author of L’effroyable Imposture (The Frightening Deceit) participated in April in a workshop in Abu Dhabi of the Zayid Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, a think tank affiliated with the Arab League. He considered that the American military had perpetrated the attacks to support “the myth of Islamic terrorists,” and bin Ladin himself was none other than a CIA agent. Lyndon LaRouche and Roger Garaudy were also quoted as reliable sources establishing that the September 11 attacks were an American conspiracy involving the formation of extremist Islamic groups, and that the American strategy to take control of Central Asian oil reserves was largely led by Jewish Pentagon hawks. Egyptian General (Res.) Husam Suwaylam summarized LaRouche’s worldview as “a voice against the stream” and proposed him as a presidential candidate for the 2004 US elections, in an article in al-Hayat on 30 September 2002. Suwaylam has written several articles since the outbreak of the intifada on “the Jewish personality” (see ASW 2000/1).

�Muslims are easy prey,� wrote Riham al-Fara on 4 March 2002 in al-‘Arab al-Yawm, in the intifada, in the war against terrorism and in the anti-Iraq campaign. The Syrian daily al-Ba‘th claimed on 22 May 2002 that the single-pole hegemony over the world has passed on to Israel and the Jewish lobby in the US. Although the decision makers in the White House are not Jews, it admitted, they are influenced by Zionism and are subject to its will as the September 11 events prove. In conclusion, the paper wondered whether the US saw “beyond the octopus” where world Jewry was leading it.

Several commentaries and analyses in Egyptian papers marking the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks gave further exposure to conspiracy theories about those events, prompting American ambassador to Egypt David Welch to write a critical article in the semi-official daily al-Ahram on 20 September. The article provoked a heated reaction in the press, verging on a personal attack and calls for declaring him persona non grata.

�If 11 September was a turning point in the way the US deals with terrorism, many in the Arab world hoped it would also change the way America tackled the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,� wrote Howard Schneider in the Washington Post on 2 February 2002. Instead, President Bush presented the “axis of evil” in his State of the Union address, in which two of the three evil states are Muslim – Iraq and Iran. This further exacerbated anti-American feelings and the notion of Jewish maneuvering behind the scenes to ignite a war against Islam and facilitate Israel’s expansion and transfer policies.

Bush was compared in numerous articles and caricatures to Hitler. `Abd al-Bari ‘Atwan, editor of the pan-Arab London-based daily al-Quds al-‘Arabi, described him on 1 February as bloodthirsty and as seeking to declare war on half of the world “to satisfy a sense of vengeance and in submission to the sick Israeli incitement that stems from the interests of the Hebrew state.” American demands on the Arab states as a result of the pressure and influence of Israel and the Zionist lobby reminded Egyptian editor Jalal Dawidar of the semi-official daily al-Akhbar of 1 February, of Shylock’s greed which whetted his appetite for the flesh of his victims’ bodies. The Egyptian opposition weekly al-Usbu‘ drew a swastika over Bush’s face which covered the front page in its issue of 30 September. Many such images appeared as the crisis escalated.

Pursuing a policy emanating from Bush’s address, the US initiated the adoption of UN resolution 1441, but failing to gain international consent for a war against Iraq it decided to act unilaterally with the UK in early 2003. This escalation process was accompanied by growing discontent and disapproval in the Arab world as well as in other parts of the world. Most of the attacks were directed against the US, which was portrayed as the incarnation of the devil. America was motivated, wrote columnist Salah Muntasir in al-Ahram on 17 December by the desire to rule the world through its economic, scientific and military power. In some articles as well as in caricatures Israel and Jews were implicated. The American plan to impose complete hegemony on the region was allegedly drawn up in the service of Israel (al-Raya, 11 March 2003). A caricature published in the Palestinian daily al-Hayat al-Jadida on 1 March 2003 depicted Sharon pulling the strings of the puppet Bush. In another one published in the Saudi daily Arab News on 11 March, a stereotypical Jew standing next to a figure representing the US, points to a mosque, equating it with weapons of mass destruction. Islamist writer Yasir Zaatra, writing in the Jordanian mainstream daily al-Dustur on 26 February, concluded that “it is necessary for Arabs and Muslims in the US to engage in widespread activities to expose US subservience to the Zionist entity.”

The war was depicted on 29 March in a Friday sermon broadcast on Palestinian Television as a “Crusader Zionist war,” while Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, in an interview to Daily Star (3 Feb. 2003), referred to the “axis of oil and Jews.”

On the eve of the war, during February and March, prominent Muslim clerics including Shaykh al-Azhar Muhammad Sayyid al-Tantawi and Yusuf al-Qaradawi issued edicts (fatwas), calling on Arabs and Muslims to launch a holy war (jihad) to defend themselves against the US invasion. They described the military buildup in the Persian Gulf as a new crusade, and hence according to Islamic law, “if the enemy steps on Muslims’ land, jihad becomes a duty incumbent upon on every Muslim male and female” (IslamOnline.net, 22 Feb.; Washington Post, 11 March 2003). In an article posted on the movement’s website in January, Palestinian Hamas spokesman `Abd al-`Aziz al-Rantisi called on Iraq to use the tactics of Islamist jihad warriors and establish a suicide army composed of Muslim volunteers to halt the Crusader aggression.

It should be noted, however, that Arab commentaries also included harsh criticism of Saddam. He was blamed for bringing war upon himself by his policies, disregarding the damage to his own people. Moreover, some writers even dared to suggest that he resign and seek political asylum in an Arab country – a proposal officially adopted by Arab leaders who sought to avoid a disaster in Iraq and feared that the war would shake up the Middle East and give rise to extremism.

Go Up Print