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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

April 29, 2003

The Zionist Treatment

The opinion page of the WSJ does a nice job on anti-semitism, anti-Israeli posturing, and our journalistst. You need toopen the various links to this post to appreciate fully what this short piece manages to convey
Remember all those anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the motives behind the liberation of Iraq. As one of our readers, whose name we withheld (we're cruel, but not that cruel), explained it last month:

What is obvious is that they [the Israelis] will use the resulting chaos as a pretext to get rid of the Palestinians, driving them out of the country into Jordan or Egypt. Who will say or do anything to stop them when the region is totally destabilized and a mess?

We're pretty sure this didn't actually happen. Here's what the Israelis actually are doing, according to the Jerusalem Post: "Hadassah-University Hospital in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem is ready to treat an Iraqi child who suffered severe burns in the war." Arieh Eldad, a member of the Knesset and a physician who formerly worked at Hadassah, "assisted in making the connection" between the hospital and the U.S. military. Eldad, incidentally, is a member of the National Union, a party to the right of Ariel Sharon's Likud.

There's reason to hope that it may be slowly dawning on the Arab world that a politics based on the hatred of Israel is self-defeating. Here's an eminently sensible editorial in the Arab News:

For decades it has been difficult to find anything in the opinion pages of the Arabic language press that did not concern Israel. Every problem faced by Arab societies was blamed, in however obscure or far-fetched a way, on Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. The issue served as a sort of lowest common denominator, satisfying many journalists who were not equipped to write about anything else as well as many of those who rule the Arab world and who would prefer Israel--rather than their own shortcomings--to be the subject of heated discussion in the "Arab street." . . .

The days when the Arab world could just scream "Israel", as if that one word were sufficient answer to every question about every problem that came its way--as though saying that one word could deflect all further inquiry--are over. The time for peaceful coexistence, internal reflection and healthy, progressive thinking has come.

The Jerusalem Post's Barry Rubin recounts a journalists' dinner with Tariq Aziz, then Saddam's foreign minister, at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington in 1984:

Helen Thomas of UPI interrupted him, "Why didn't you retaliate" against Israel, she asked, "when [it] destroyed your nuclear reactor?" The foreign minister tried to brush away the question. Thomas did not find the response acceptable, "Just yellow, I guess," she complained. . . .

Aziz soldiered on. He was just explaining why the Iran-Iraq war was the most important issue in the Middle East when Rowland Evans, co-author of the famous Evans & Novak column, interrupted him. "You must not talk like that!" he lectured the startled Iraqi foreign minister. Evans instructed Aziz to tell the US government that the Arab-Israeli conflict was the Middle East's central issue and that the lack of peace was all Israel's fault.

Unaccustomed to being attacked for excessive softness on Israel, Aziz looked astonished.

Evans died in March 2001, but Thomas is still around, and judging by her questions at White House press briefings, her hostility toward Israel hasn't abated in the past two decades. It's quite something that a Saudi newspaper takes a more sensible line on Israel than American journalism's nutty old aunt in the attic.