Raymond M. Berger
Real Bullet Points

Bernie’s Blinders

Palestinian leaders have a long history of inciting Jew hatred and anti-Jewish violence.

At a Town Hall campaign event this month, Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made a startling accusation.

Referring to Israel, he said the US should “not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing, dare I say, racist government.”

In his speech, Sanders offered no criticism of Palestinian leaders. He did opine however, that Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, “is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly.”

What Did Netanyahu Do?

There is some basis for Sanders’ accusation. Just prior to the 2015 Israeli elections, Netanyahu sought to rile up his electoral base of conservative Israelis by announcing that Arabs would be “heading to the polls in droves.” This was a dog whistle to animate fear of Arabs and to encourage Jewish Israelis to vote.

More recently, prior to this year’s elections, Netanyahu sought to encourage a coalition that included an Israeli party—-Otzma Yehudit—- with a history of anti-Arab sentiment, and historical links to the ultra-nationalist rabbi and politician, Meir Kahane.

Netanyahu should have avoided both of these moves. It is not desirable for an Israeli leader to use racist appeals.

But the rare racist pronouncements by Jewish Israeli leaders pale in comparison to the deeply anti-Semitic and blood-curdling rhetoric employed by Palestinian leaders on a regular basis. And oddly, Sanders seemed not to notice that.

Like other left-wing Americans, Sanders sports a pair of blinders. These blinders prevent him from seeing Palestinian racism and bigotry.

Palestinian leaders have a long history of shocking incitement. In this post, I summarize a small portion of that history.

Palestinian Authority Incitement

In 1982, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas completed a doctoral thesis that is a classic work of Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish slander. In his thesis, Abbas falsely argued that the number of Jews killed by the Germans was just a fraction of that claimed by Zionists. Abbas’ “research” concluded that Jews who were killed by the Nazis were victims of a Zionist-Nazi plot.

In a speech last April, Abbas stated that the root cause of the Holocaust was not German anti-Semitism, but rather the Jews’ own behavior. Abbas explained that by this he meant the “social behavior” of the Jews, as well as their “social function related to banks and interest.” In other words, Abbas drew on ancient anti-Semitic tropes to blame the Jews for the Holocaust.

These historical arguments are instances of classic anti-Semitism. Abbas’ record of anti-Semitism continues unabated.

Palestinian leaders have a long history of inciting Jew hatred and anti-Jewish violence by spreading the false accusation that the Jews intend to destroy and take over Muslim holy sites. These accusations were used by Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini in the 1920s in order to encourage Arabs to riot and murder the Jews of Palestine. Abbas’ anti-Semitic rhetoric is identical to that used by al-Husseini.

For example, Abbas declared recently that Palestinians won’t allow Israelis to desecrate Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem: “Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. They [the Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet.” (Al-Aksa is the mosque on the Temple Mount.)

Abbas has defended the Muslim “guardians” who regularly patrol the Temple Mount and harass non-Muslim visitors by running toward them screaming and waving their arms.

Abbas openly praised terrorists who kill Jews in order to “defend Al-Aksa.” He proclaimed, “Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as it’s for the sake of Allah. Every shahid [martyr] will be in heaven and every wounded person will be rewarded by Allah’s will.” Every Arab understands that this is a call for violence against Jews.

The Palestinian Authority government has a law prohibiting any Arab from selling land to a Jew. In 1996, the official Mufti [leading cleric] of the PA issued a fatwa [religious ruling] banning the sale of Muslim and Arab property to Jews, and calling for the killing of violators.  The following year, the PA formalized this fatwa by passing a so-called Property Law for Foreigners. The PA has an office that monitors all land sales and identifies any Arab who sells property to Jews. Various Palestinians have been convicted and imprisoned under this law. Some have been killed.

The PA government regularly promotes a culture of anti-Semitism. Its anti-Semitic acts are too numerous to mention here. They include anti-Semitic incitement in official PA media, extensive anti-Semitic content in official PA teaching materials in the public schools, ceremonies honoring terrorists who have murdered Jewish adults and children, and the honorary naming of streets and public squares after these terrorists.

Hamas Incitement

An observer might believe that no government could be more extreme in its anti-Semitism than the PA. That observer would be wrong. Hamas, the governing authority in the Gaza Strip, outpaces the PA in anti-Semitism and Jew hatred.

Hamas is an internationally-recognized terrorist organization. It is run by a collection of Jew-hating seventh-century Islamic ideologues. The 1988 founding charter of Hamas is replete with history’s worst canards against the Jews.

The charter cites the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as if it were an authentic historical document. In fact, it is a forgery and an outrageous and false screed against Jews. It promotes the lie of an international Jewish conspiracy to control the world.

The Hamas Charter accuses Jews of using shrewd trickery and secret societies to control world events. According to the Charter, Jews were responsible for all manner of wars and historical disasters, going back as far as the French Revolution. The charter and other Hamas propaganda repeat the canard that the Jews used their money to foment numerous revolutions in order to promote Jewish business interests and amass wealth at the expense of others. The Jews were responsible for imperialism, including the brutal conquest of Muslim countries. They used their money to control these imperialist countries and instigate them to colonize much of the world.

According to the Hamas Charter, today Jews control the media, including publishing houses, radio, and television. This ensures world-wide Jewish control.

The charter declares that the conflict between the Jews and Islam is irreconcilable. Muslims must never relinquish control of any Muslim lands, and must avoid all negotiations and peace treaties—-except temporary truces that will allow the eventual victory of Islam over the non-believers, including the Jews. Thus, the Oslo Accords, a peace agreement between the PA and Israel, are null and void. The Accord’s prohibition against incitement is also void.

The only means to the inevitable Muslim victory over the Jews is jihad, that is, armed struggle. In the pursuit of jihad, the most admirable path for Muslims is martyrdom. Martyrdom is achieved when a Muslim dies in the fight against the non-believers. The charter cites verses from the Koran that encourage the killing of Jews—-not just Israelis, but all Jews.

In 2017, Hamas removed some of the most incendiary anti-Semitic clauses from its charter. For example, it removed clauses that claimed that Jews were descended from apes and pigs. This was a ploy to present Hamas as a moderate group, and thus garner greater international acceptance and financial support. But it has not changed Hamas’ goal of destroying Israel nor its use of anti-Semitism.

The most chilling aspect of Hamas’ anti-Semitism is its use of children in what it sees as the war against the Jews.

Children are routinely used as human shields to protect Hamas “fighters” against Israel. Hamas missiles and explosives are placed in schools, hospitals and residential neighborhoods to ensure Palestinian civilian deaths when Israel responds to Hamas attacks.

On its television network, Hamas enlists children’s programs in its war against the Jews. These disturbing programs have come to light thanks to non-governmental organizations that monitor Arabic media and translate their programs from Arabic to other languages.1 One of the most infamous of these children’s programs is “Tomorrow’s Pioneers.” The show uses puppet characters—-a mouse, a bee and a rabbit—to indoctrinate children with violent and anti-Semitic propaganda. One quote from these adorable animals:

We will liberate Al Aksa mosque from the Zionists’ filth……We will liberate Jaffa and Acre [cities in Israel].

Two of the darling animals die at the hands of Israelis—-one is murdered by an Israeli interrogator, and another dies from lack of health care because the Jews have closed the borders. An adorable rabbit replaces these characters.  He vows “to get rid of the Jews, God willing, and I will eat them up, God willing.”

Children in Gaza are routinely exposed to official Hamas programs that demonize Jews and praise martyrdom—-that is, death—-in the fight against the Jews.

Why is Bernie Wearing Blinders?

Bernie condemned Netanyahu’s two mildly racist gaffes and gave a free pass to Palestinian leaders for their routine and demonic anti-Semitism.

It is as if Bernie denounced a jay-walker and defended a mass murderer.

The man is not stupid. Why did he do it?

Most likely, he is pandering to his base, that is, to the left wing of the Democrat party. White males and Jews—-like Bernie—-are not “in” these days among the left. This puts Bernie at a disadvantage in his campaign for the presidency. Bernie’s remedy for this is to prove he has the “correct” views. And these days, that means he has to oppose the Israelis and defend the Palestinians.

It has become a truism among those on the left—-most of whom are poorly informed about the Middle East—-that a powerful country is always wrong and a weak one is always right. Taking the side of the weaker underdog allows those on the left to feel morally righteous, and to display that righteousness to their peers.

But here’s the rub.

Bernie and his supporters are allying themselves with some of the most reactionary, racist and repressive elements in the world. Bernie is empowering Islamist forces that promote values that are the opposite of what liberal used to mean, before far-left ideologues assassinated that word.

Bernie, please remove your blinders.

Footnote

  1. Two such non-governmental monitoring groups are: Palestinian Media Watch (PMW); and Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). Both do excellent work.
About the Author
The author is a life-long Zionist and advocate for Israel. He believes that a strong Jewish state is invaluable, not only to Jews, but to the world-wide cause of democracy and human rights. Dr. Berger earned a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has twenty-seven years of teaching experience. He has authored and co-authored three books as well as over 45 professional journal articles and book chapters. His parents were Holocaust survivors.
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