General Antisemitism

Robert Wistrich on failure of the liberal West to confront antisemitism in the Middle East

The following is an essay by Professor Robert Wistrich, the director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of: A Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad.

Essenweinstrasse Synagogue in Nuremberg, Germany, is in ruins after Kristallnacht in 1938.

Seventy-three years ago, on Nov. 9, 1938, the murderous Nazi onslaught against the German Jews began with a nationwide pogrom that smashed the fabric of their existence. Known euphemistically as “Kristallnacht” (“Crystal Night”), this state-organized orgy of violence happened in peace time. It involved the systematic burning of hundreds of synagogues, the destruction of approximately 7,500 Jewish businesses, the murder of nearly 100 Jews and the deportation of another 30,000 male Jews to German concentration camps.

It was a crucial turning-point in Hitler’s “war against the Jews,” a major signpost on the road leading to World War II, which Nazi Germany would initiate less than a year later. Already, Nazi propaganda openly warned about the imminent annihilation of Jewry through “fire and sword,” though few in the West took these threats too seriously.

Today, there is no immediate danger of a new Kristallnacht in the western world, although levels of anti-Semitism (hiding under the more acceptable mask of hostility towards Israel) have reached levels unprecedented since 1945. But in the Middle East, the hatred of Jews burns much more fiercely — both in Iran and in the Arab world. Islamist anti-Semitism, in particular, is soaked in some of the most inflammatory motifs that made the Kristallnacht atrocities possible in Nazi Germany and only three years later provided the rationale for the mass murder of European Jewry.

For example, there is the pervasive exploitation in Arabic of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with its insistence on the reality of the “Jewish conspiracy for world domination”; there is a revival of the medieval Christian blood-libel against Jews, transplanted from Europe to the contemporary Arab-Muslim Middle East; and the mass diffusion of stereotypes about the Jews as cruel, treacherous and bloodthirsty colonialists seeking to destroy the identity and beliefs of the Muslim peoples.

The NYTreported the Nazi-inflicted damage durng Kristallnacht.

To this, one must add the slanderous but widely popular identification of Zionism with Nazism and apartheid and the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians — a Goebbels-like propaganda lie that has also found a growing audience in the West. However contradictory it may appear to some, the Zionism-is-Nazism fabrication co-exists in the Middle East today with Holocaust denial on a broad scale.

Indeed, in Ahmadinejad’s Iran, Holocaust denial has become a state-sponsored weapon in the regime’s efforts to win over the Arab street and indoctrinate its own people with anti-Jewish toxins.

The increasingly entrenched anti-Semitism in the Arab world has not, unfortunately, been diminished by the “Arab Spring.” Earlier this year, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most authoritative religious leaders of the Sunni Arab world (and especially esteemed by the Muslim Brotherhood), told a million Egyptians assembled in Tahrir Square that he hoped their mission would be to complete Hitler’s work.

Al-Qaradawi, an immensely popular cleric, publicly insisted that the esteemed German Führer had been sent by Allah as a “divine punishment for the Jews.” Not long before, CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan had been sexually assaulted and brutalized in the heart of Cairo by a mob of Egyptian men screaming “Jew, Jew, Jew.” Logan is not, in fact, Jewish.

But this aspect of her ordeal was, typically enough, very much downplayed by both the American and European media.

Read the rest of the essay, here.


18 replies »

    • A poster who sees nothing wrong with the call to “nuke the Arabs” links to the Muslim-hater Pat Condell. Why aren’t I surprised?

      And gets 5 thumbs up from the bigoted CiFW regulars! Why aren’t I surprised?

      What a disgrace.

      • Who here has called “nuke the Arabs” Pretzelberg!?

        Phillips? Wistrich? CiF Watch.? Not even Condell, who speaks passionately about safeguarding democracy with freedom as being one of its most treasured consequences, talks about wiping out the Arabs or Iran.

        Is it not the case, Pretzelberg, that the threats are coming from the opposite direction? Does the IAEA Report mean anything to you. Does breaching the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory since the 1970s, not mean anything to you?

        Not even Israel calls for it.

        • A poster here recently said “nuke the Arabs” – and enjoyed massive support.

          And Lieberman’s threat to nuke Gaza is a a far clearer threat than anything the Iranians have said (dickhead though Ahmadenijad may be).

          • @Pretzelberg

            You say: “And Lieberman’s threat to nuke Gaza is a a far clearer threat than anything the Iranians have said..”

            Let’s assume you are right, and Lieberman said it, do you honestly think that Israel is daft to consider a nuclear attack on Gaza with the several miles of nuclear fallout that would result in many deaths both in gaza and Israel and several square miles of unlivable. Can you not see this Pretzelberg? If there was an intention to destroy Gaza, do they need nukes to do this? That they have not done so is clear as day to anyone that there is no intention to kill innocent people. Can you not tell the difference between Ahmadinejad and Lieberman?

            As I said before, the IAEA Report has made it clear Iran is devloping thermonuclear devices. It is in breach of the NPT. I now add the following. It attacks embassies. It attacks US bases in Lebanon. It attacks shipping. It arms terrorists. It declares the end of Zionism. It promotes Holocaust denial. It butchers its opponents. It stones women. It hangs people in public squares. It spews hatred daily towards Israel and the US…

            Now read your words to yourself again.

          • The above post by the racist pretzelberg once again demonstrates his utter minimization of documented calls for the murder of Jews and their homeland Israel.

            Once again for the benefit of the blind racist socialist pretzelberg…

            Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “Death to Israel”

            I once again challenge pretzelberg to present a video of a President of Israel or a President of the US leading a rally of tens of thousands demanding death for all Arabs, Islamic Republics.

            How ’bout it pretzelberg?

      • What are you doing here pretzelberg? I am amazed you would want to be associated with such people 😦

        Your post has got one star from me because you are wagging the finger again. It’s becoming tiresome. I shall continue to “reward” you in like fashion every time you do it.

  1. Wistrich ‘s article is very good, but overlooks the fact that Nazi-style antisemitism is not a relatively recent phenomenon in the Arab world. Nazism began making inroads into the Arab world as early as the 1930s. He correctly identifies the Mufti as one of the major purveyors of antisemitism, but the Iraqi government introduced Nazi-style quotas in education and sacked Jews from the public sector. The culmination was the pro-Nazi Rashid Ali coup in 1941 and the horrific Farhud in which more Jews were murdered than on Kristallnacht.
    The Muslim Brotherhood, a reaction against modernity, which spread like wildfire in the 1930s, also had its roots in Nazism.
    In the late 1940s the Iraqi and other Arab governments followed a Nazi pattern of state sanctioned persecution and ethnic cleansing of their Jewish minority.

  2. Quite so, bataween.

    Did you by any chance listen to the Radio 4 programme about the Jews of Iraq on Monday last?

  3. Yes, I did. I thought it was good, although ending on a false note. Instead of harking back to an age when Jews and Arabs ‘lived together’ it should have demanded a reckoning from the Arab side for all the crimes and injustices they committed towards their Jews – and other minorities.