Snapshots of anti-Semitism

By JEREMY RUDEN
January 2, 2011 22:12

Despite all the progress made since the hatred of Jews started thousands of years ago, the last month of 2010 showed us just how far we still have to go.




Jeremy Ruden

Jeremy Ruden 58. (photo credit: Courtesy)

One of the proverbs I have always believed related particularly to the Jewish people is “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

This applies to anti-Semitism more than any other topic I can think of.

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Despite all the progress made since the hatred of Jews started thousands of years ago, we are still confronted by the same methods used by our enemies to convince others that we are the main cause for their problems. The last month of 2010 showed us just how far we still have to go.

Three cases stood out in the international media, all of which border on the absurd.

The first case took place in the small Muslim nation of the Maldives. A delegation of Israeli eye surgeons arrived by government invitation to help treat locals. The doctors were sent by the Foreign Ministry. While they received a warm reception from the government, that didn’t stop Muslims from protesting their arrival. They burned Israeli flags in front of their hotel, gave the usual hate speeches against Jews and peppered their campaign with the “fact” that the doctors were there to harvest organs. The “eye from Zion” doctors were apparently unfazed. They examined hundreds of patients and operated on about two dozen while they were there.

The second case was widely reported here because it was so outrageously stupid. I’m talking about the story about the Mossad being behind the recent shark attacks at Red Sea resorts which killed at least one foreign tourist.

The south Sinai governor said the attacks could be a Zionist plot designed to affect Egyptian tourism. Israel has been accused of influencing the animal world in the past.

According to the Palestinians, in 2009 we sent wild boars into West Bank farmlands to destroy agricultural produce.

Even more ridiculous was their claim a few years back that we released poison-resistant rats into the Old City in Jerusalem to oust Arab residents living there.

Finally, how could there not be a conspiracy theory thrown in? The latest piece of cyberspace garbage is the fictitious Israeli connection to the WikiLeaks fiasco.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Zionist sites are blaming the Jews, saying the documents released make Israel look good – therefore WikiLeaks founder Julian Assanage must have either struck a deal with Israel, or is an Israeli spy. This, according to them, is just another conspiracy by the Jews – just like 9/11 and the global economic meltdown. Over the centuries, the “Jewish conspiracy” has been blamed for just about everything, so the Jew haters cannot leave WikiLeaks out of the equation.

ON THE surface, these might seem like similar acts of anti-Semitism, but they are not – at least not in the hasbara sense. These attacks are rooted in different arenas, and if the government wants to stem such outrageous falsehoods, different strategies must be taken.

Let’s start with the Maldives. It seems unimaginable that any dignified country would allow its citizens to violently protest humanitarian guests invited by the government.

When such an incident occurs, that government should make a formal apology to Israel and its delegation.

Spreading lies, including blood libels, is certainly grounds for that delegation to pick up and leave.

But this incident is more than just about a bunch of Muslim radicals in the Pacific. Israelis on official business are beleaguered around the world, and it’s time to hold the countries in which such incidents take place responsible.

Formal complaints should be lodged in every case of harassment, and we should make it clear that there will be repercussions if such episodes repeat themselves. We are the victims here and our friends in the diplomatic arena must be put on the spot to help stop the lies perpetrated by our enemies. There can be no compromise on this principle.

The conspiracy theorists must be attacked on their home turf, the Internet. Israel must challenge them in every possible forum. We have truth on our side and it should be made visible even in the most hate-filled websites and chat rooms. Show the pictures of the men who committed the 9/11 attacks again and again.

Sites that perpetuate the old falsehoods of Jews controlling the banks and media should be overrun by statistics of how much Arab money has been invested in financial and communication institutions. The numbers are staggering. Even a virtual tour of the posh areas in London should show the skeptics just who’s trying to “take over.”

Israel must invest a considerable amount of resources on this front. It’s a lot of work, but we are the only government whose sacred duty it is to combat anti-Semitism on the Web.

As to the stories of Jews controlling the animal kingdom or other preposterous notions, Israel should come out with a book which compiles the most off-the-wall allegations. The title is self- explanatory, something like “The 100 Wackiest Anti-Semitic Conspiracies.”

Gather research from all over the world and write it up in a humorous way (keeping in mind that these stories have serious implications). Get a famous Jewish comedian to write a forward. These books can be handed out to foreign diplomats as presents for the holidays and sold at bookstores, with profits going to a worthy cause. There can be an edition for the Western countries and another for the Muslim world, and a highly publicized book tour to get the word out.

Sometimes the best way to tackle hate is through laughter, but in most cases Israel must be more serious in making the fight against anti-Semitism – in all these arenas – a national priority. There will be plenty more slander and lies and we must be ready to fight and let the world know that we are doing so.

The writer is an independent media consultant, an adjunct lecturer at IDC Herzliya’s School of Communications, and a former producer at the Fox News Channel in New York. Jeremy@ jeremyruden.com


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