Fred Maroun
Fred Maroun

The three A’s of the Israel/Arab conflict

The Israel/Arab conflict’s three A’s are antisemitism, antisemitism, and more antisemitism.  Antisemitism is the reason why the conflict started.  Antisemitism is the reason why there is no Palestinian state.  Antisemitism is the reason why Israel is in a constant state of war.  Anyone who gives other reasons for the conflict is either lying or uninformed.

Arab and Muslim antisemitism

Arab antisemitism pre-dates modern Israel.  On March 1, 1944, while the Nazis were massacring six millions Jews, Haj Amin al-Husseini, then Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, declared on Radio Berlin, “Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.”  Not surprisingly, Jews decided that they needed a state of their own.

After Israel declared its independence in May 1948, Azzam Pasha, the General Secretary of the Arab League, announced to the world just before attacking Israel that “this will be a war of extermination, a momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”

Leading into the Six-Day War in 1967, Arab regimes whipped up their peoples into a frenzy.  Marches were held to vilify Israel and to intensify antisemitic hatred.  On May 20, 1967, Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad stated, “The time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.”  Cairo Radio announced on May 22, 1967 that, “The Arab people is firmly resolved to wipe Israel off the map”.  A few days before the start of the war, on May 27, 1967, Egypt’s President Abdul Nasser declared, “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel”.

The Arab antisemitic propaganda is as strong today as it has ever been, and it is taught early to ensure optimal indoctrination.  It is notoriously taught in Palestinian schools and Palestinian summer camps.  When three Jewish teens were kidnapped by Hamas in June 2014, a three-finger salute celebrating the abduction became wildly popular among Palestinians; Abbas officially denounced it, but one cannot reverse generations of antisemitism with one feeble attempt at political correctness.

All of the ten most antisemitic countries in the world are Muslim, and most are Arab.  Even Turkey, a supposedly modern and democratic Muslim country, is a hotbed of antisemitism.  There is no question that the Arab refusal to accept Israel is steeped in antisemitism, and it is not due to love for the Palestinians, whom Arab states have mistreated profusely.

International antisemitism

In 2014 the United Nations (UN) passed twenty resolutions against Israel, and only four against all other countries in the world, including Syria, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Egypt, China, and North Korea.  No other country other than Israel had more than one resolution against it.  This is consistent with previous years, and the message is consistently clear: the world hates the Jewish state.

A third international conference was held in 2014 in Switzerland, supposedly to condemn war crimes, but the only country in the world that has been criticized on this occasion and both previous occasions, is the Jewish state.  Only the US, Canada, and Australia joined Israel in boycotting the conference.  As UN Watch wrote, “at a time when Islamic extremists worldwide are, with singular barbarism, targeting civilians — kidnapping, beheading and shooting men, women and children from Nigeria to Iraq to Pakistan — it is telling that London, Paris and Berlin chose to go along with singling out the Jewish state.”

A total of 32 United Nations member states out of 160, or 20 percent, do not even recognize the State of Israel.  Of those 32, 18 are members of the Arab League, and 11 are members of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.  There is a clear international Muslim opposition to the very existence of the Jewish state.

The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement is another manifestation of international antisemitism.  As Dan Diker concludes in his comprehensive analysis, “BDS is merely a recent variant of centuries of anti-Jewish boycotts that the Arab powers embraced nearly three decades before the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in 1948.”

Antisemitism and the resulting extreme anti-Israel bias at the United Nations is no accident.  The UN reflects the governments of its member countries.  Based on the actions of the UN, one has no choice but to conclude that international diplomacy is highly antisemitic.  The BDS movement confirms it.

Antisemitism in liberal democracies

Many articles have been written about the anti-Israel bias of Western media and Western liberals, its lack of criticism of terrorists like Hamas, and Europe’s growing antisemitism.  As I noted in a previous blog, left-wing bias against Israel is due to its irresistible attraction towards those who appear disadvantaged.  The reason for media bias is due in part to its left-wing tendencies, by even right-wing oriented media finds it easier to tell news in a way that makes Israel seem like the aggressor; it takes time and effort to explain why Israel has the right to defend itself even if it has much fewer casualties than the Palestinians.  In the end, intellectual laziness wins, and antisemitism is reinforced.

One of the places in liberal democracies where antisemitism is most obvious is in institutions of higher learning.  Antisemitism does not afflict all, or even most, university students or faculty, but there are many well-organized groups who use the cover of academic freedom to promote hate against Israel and Jews.  They hold events throughout the year, but their flagship event is the yearly hate-fest they call “Israel Apartheid Week”.  As a panel of Canadian parliamentarians from all parties concluded in their report, “Israeli Apartheid Week is sponsored by groups bound in common cause to demonize Israel as a Jewish homeland”.

At no time is blatant antisemitism more obvious than when Jews dare defend themselves.  Without fail, antisemites throughout the Western world demonstrate their rage and their violence every time Israel decides that it has had enough of rocket attacks from Gaza, and that it decides to respond to Hamas.  Western governments generally support Israel’s right to defend itself, but as the war progresses and pressure is placed on them by their own country’s antisemites, they demand an end to the war, knowing very well that an end that doesn’t destroy terrorist capability in Gaza will resolve nothing and is bound to give way to more wars in the future.

Some European countries have recognized “Palestine” or are planning to do so.  While this is not by itself antisemitic, it indicates that they consider Israel as the obstacle to a two-state solution.  They do not consider Hamas, a terrorist organization that is likely to take over any sovereign Palestinian government, as the obstacle.  They do not consider Mahmood Abbas, who supports terrorists and uses lies to promote hate, as the obstacle.  They consider Israel, the Jewish state that all Arab states rejected due to antisemitism and that almost all still reject for the same reason, as the obstacle to a two-state solution.  If this is not European antisemitism then it is extreme hypocrisy.

Failing to recognize antisemitism

Although liberal democracies are no longer systemically antisemitic, despite the growing number of antisemitic attacks by individual citizens, they seem incapable of recognizing Arab antisemitism.  Perhaps they are afraid of being seen as racist.  Perhaps they have not overcome their own feelings of guilt for their antisemitic past.  Whatever the reason happens to be, pretending that the Israel/Arab conflict is not based in antisemitism is counter-productive.

It has been argued by those who want to immediately create a Palestinian state that antisemitism or not, it doesn’t matter.  They say that since Israel is much stronger than the Palestinians, allowing the Palestinians to run their own state is a very small risk.  They say that there is much to gain and nothing to lose from ignoring antisemitism and proceeding as if it didn’t exist.

Recognizing antisemitism matters

Unfortunately, however, a conflict born of antisemitism cannot be resolved without at least containing the antisemitism.

If Palestine becomes independent under current conditions, what will stop Hamas from taking over its government?  What will stop all of Palestine from becoming a terrorist base?  What will stop Hamas from launching rockets from the West Bank as well as from Gaza?  What will stop Hamas from acquiring even heavier weapons from Iran?  Nothing will stop any of this, not the Arab League, not the UN, and not Europe.  They will just blame Israel when it defends itself, just as they have always done.

As long as antisemitism drives Arab and international decisions, and as long as the West pretends that antisemitism doesn’t exist, the conflict will continue.

Arabs must extend a hand of peace

Arab leaders have it within their power to change the direction of history in the Middle East, and world leaders should push them in that direction.  Arab leaders can start by announcing their recognition that antisemitism played a key part in the conflict with Israel.  They can then follow this with a visit by several high-level Arab politicians to Israel.

In Israel, Arabs leaders can then speak of their opposition to terrorism and intolerance.  They can express their recognition that the common enemies of both Arabs and Jews are fanatics such as ISIS and Hamas.  They can lay the ground for constructive dialogue with Israel to end a 66 year-old war that benefits no one.

A conflict that was started by hate must be resolved by denouncing hate.

Back to reality

It is very unlikely, however, that Arab leaders will willingly lend a hand of friendship to Israel, at least not in the near future.  Israel will have no alternative but to continue to defend itself just as it has done so far, and the dream of a Palestinian state will not become a reality, no matter how many naïve Western governments wave a magic wand and wish for it to happen.

Just as in 1930’s the world used the Jewish people as the scapegoat, setting the stage for the unrestrained murder of six million Jews, so is today the world singling out Israel.  As former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney pointed out, Israel is today the new Jew.

Knowing this, those who support Israel, must do everything to ensure that Israel remains strong, militarily and economically.  We must never respond to hate with hate, no matter how tempting that might be, but we must denounce antisemitism whenever it occurs.  We must avoid unnecessary criticism of Israel because in the current climate of global antisemitism, any criticism can be used to promote antisemitism.  We must do what Canada’s current Prime Minister does: through fire and water, stand with Israel.

About the Author
Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and he supports the Palestinians' right to self-determination in their own state. Fred supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities, including Palestinians, can co-exist in peace with each other and with Israel, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere.
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