Commentary Magazine


Does Israel Cause Arab Anti-Semitism?

In recent years, a myth has taken root that the intense Jew-hatred that permeates Arab countries is simply the outgrowth of territorial disputes between Israel and Arab countries. Howard Gutman, the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, created a mini-firestorm when he embraced this view, declaring, “Hatred and indeed sometimes… violence directed at Jews generally [is] a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories.”

Colin Rubenstein and the good folks Down Under at AIJAC have done a useful service by tackling this myth, noting the long history of anti-Semitism in the Middle East:

Jews across the Middle East began to suffer heightened violent hatred well before Israel and Zionism emerged on the agenda. In 1912, the Jewish quarter in Fez was almost destroyed in a mob attack. In the 1930s and 1940s pogroms and other attacks on the Jews were widespread in Iraq and Libya. Pro-Nazi Arabs slaughtered dozens of Jews in the “Farhoud” pogrom in Baghdad in 1941.

Tzvi Fleisher, editor of AIJAC’s The Review, goes further, taking a snap shot of anti-Semitism in the Middle East in 1835, and providing some suggestions for further reading.

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