Right Hook

Pipes and Krauthammer warn of a second Holocaust; Taranto accuses Red Cross of coddling terrorists; WorldNetDaily claims al-Qaida may have set California fires.

Published October 29, 2003 7:08PM (EST)

Is anti-Semitism surging around the globe?
This week several conservatives are sounding that alarm -- in ominous terms. In the New York Post, Daniel Pipes, the ardently pro-Israel director of the Middle East Forum -- whose anti-Islamist polemics have made him a lightning rod for the debate over terrorism since 9/11 -- argues that virulent anti-Semitism is thriving in the Muslim world. He warns the Bush administration not to fail the high-stakes war of ideas: In a world where scores of Muslim leaders applaud the Malaysian prime minister's Jew-hating rhetoric, and where Saudi children learn that Jews are "apes and pigs," it may only be a matter of time, Pipes says, before enraged Muslims unleash WMD against Israel.

"The prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, informed the world this month, among other things, that 'Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them,'" Pipes writes. "Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, described Mahathir's comments as 'hateful, they are outrageous.' But she then added, 'I don't think they are emblematic of the Muslim world.' If only she were right about that.

"In fact, Mahathir's views are precisely emblematic of current Muslim discourse about Jews -- symbolized by the standing ovation his speech received from an all-Muslim audience of leaders representing 57 states. Then, a Saudi newspaper reports, when Western leaders criticized Mahathir, 'Muslim leaders closed ranks' around him with words of praise ('very correct,' 'a very, very wise assessment')...

"Mahathir is hardly the only Muslim ruler to make anti-Jewish statements. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said in 2001 that Israelis try 'to kill the principles of all religions with the same mentality in which they betrayed Jesus Christ.' The Iranian ayatollahs and Saudi princes have a rich history of anti-Jewish venom, as of course do Egyptian television and Palestinian textbooks.

"Of the myriad examples, one stands out for me: a June 2002 interview on Saudi TV with a 3-year-old girl named Basmallah, made available by the Middle East Media and Research Institute:

Anchor: Basmallah, are you familiar with the Jews?
Basmallah: Yes.
Anchor: Do you like them?
Basmallah: No.
Anchor: Why don't you like them?
Basmallah: Because...
Anchor: Because they are what?
Basmallah: They're apes and pigs.
Anchor: Because they are apes and pigs. Who said they are so?
Basmallah: Our God.
Anchor: Where did he say this?
Basmallah: In the Koran.

"The little girl is wrong about the Koran, but her words show that, contrary to Rice's analysis, Muslim anti-Semitism extends even to the youngest children...

"In its attitudes toward Jews, the Muslim world today resembles Germany of the 1930s -- a time when state-sponsored insults, caricatures, conspiracy theories and sporadic violence prepared Germans for the mass murder that followed.

"The same might be happening today. Wild accusatory comments like Mahathir's have become banal. Against Israelis, violence has already reached a rate approaching one death per day over the past three years. Outside Israel, violence against Jews is also persistent: a Jewish building blown up in Argentina, Daniel Pearl's murder in Pakistan, stabbings in France, the Brooklyn Bridge and LAX killings in the United States.

"These episodes, plus calling Jews 'apes and pigs,' could serve as the psychological preparation that one day leads to assaulting Israel with weapons of mass destruction. Armaments chemical, biological and nuclear would be the successors of Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Dachau. Millions of Jews would perish in another Holocaust...

"Condoleezza Rice and other top-ranking officials need to recognize the power and reach of the anti-Jewish ideology inculcated among Muslims, then develop active ways to fight it. This evil has already taken innocent lives; unless combated it could take many more."

Charles Krauthammer echoes Pipes' concerns in the Jerusalem Post, using the uproar over journalist Greg Easterbrook's recent gaffe to show how the debate about anti-Semitism has veered way off course. (In an Oct. 13 post on Easterbrook's blog for the New Republic, where Easterbrook is a senior editor, he criticized Hollywood executives Michael Eisner and Harvey Weinstein for releasing the über-violent film "Kill Bill." While noting that "plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives ... worship money above all else," Easterbrook questioned whether Jewish executives should do the same, especially if, in light of the Holocaust, it involved a film "glorifying the killing of the helpless." Easterbrook was widely accused of anti-Semitism and was fired from his columnist job at ESPN, which is owned by the Eisner-led Disney Company.) Krauthammer is incredulous that there could be so much focus on the ambiguous Easterbrook gaffe -- while virulent anti-Semitism swells worldwide and resets the stage, Krauthammer says, for the "final solution."

"[Easterbrook] has been vilified. He has been called an anti-Semite. The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying that 'Mr. Easterbrook's remarks reflect either absolute ignorance or total bigotry.' He has been fired from his job at ESPN.

"What is going on here? Jews are being attacked in Germany. Synagogues are being burned in France. Around the world, Jews -- such as Daniel Pearl -- are hunted and killed as Jews. The prime minister of Malaysia tells an Islamic summit that '1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews ... [who think] they have now gained control of the most powerful countries ... We cannot fight them through brawn alone' -- and gets a standing ovation from the heads of state of 57 countries. And amidst all this, the Anti-Defamation League feels the need to wax indignant over a few lines on a Web log?

"It is certainly true that a single anti-Semitic statement can be the slip that reveals the real heart of a person who has simply been careful in public about his prejudices... [But Easterbrook] has written millions of words, none of them remotely anti-Semitic. I hardly know him, but people who do testify that in private life, too, he is free of prejudice...

"The idea of destroying someone's reputation and career over a single slip of this type is not just ridiculous, but vindictive. And hugely beside the point. The world is experiencing the worst resurgence of anti-Semitism in 50 years. Its main objective is the demonization and delegitimation of Israel, to the point that the idea of eradicating, indeed obliterating, the world's only Jewish state becomes respectable, indeed laudable. The psychological grounds for the final solution are being prepared.

"That's anti-Semitism."

The Red Cross, under fire
Following Monday's egregious suicide bombing of Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad, James Taranto, of the Wall Street Journal's online OpinionJournal, urges a "clueless" International Committee of the Red Cross to drop its apolitical pretense and turn against terrorists:

"And a happy Ramadan to you too ... The attack on the Red Cross killed 12 at last count, and the murderer employed a familiar tactic from the Palestinian Arab terror war against Israel: The vehicle he used was an ambulance.

"'Of course we don't understand why somebody would attack the Red Cross,' ICRC spokeswoman Nada Doumani tells the AP. 'The Red Cross has operated in this country since 1980, and we have not been involved in politics.'

"What's the big mystery? As President Bush said this morning, 'There are terrorists in Iraq who are willing to kill anybody in order to stop our progress.' Terrorists have attacked American airplane passengers and office workers and Israeli schoolchildren and restaurant goers. Why would the Red Cross think it is immune?

"The Red Cross's naiveté about terrorism in Iraq reflects a general cluelessness. In an Oct. 10 dispatch, Reuters reported that 'the International Red Cross says it is unacceptable that the United States continues to detain more than 600 people at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba without charges or prospect of a timely trial. "The main concern for us is the U.S. authorities ... have effectively placed them beyond the law," said Amanda Williamson, spokeswoman in the Washington office of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday.'"

But if it's safe to presume that all the Guantanamo detainees are terrorists (or "illegal combatants," as the case may be), Taranto says the law doesn't apply:

"This is nonsense. Terrorists place themselves beyond the law by refusing to observe the rules of war, which prohibit the targeting of civilians. The ICRC is one of many 'human rights' groups that have been trying to blur the distinction between illegal combatants and legitimate prisoners of war to the advantage of the former. Now that terrorists have attacked the Red Cross, will the Red Cross stop defending terrorists?"

Al-Qaida's latest weapon of mass destruction?
Joseph Farah, editor and CEO of the right-wing/libertarian Web tabloid WorldNetDaily, suspects jihad may have sparked the inferno currently raging across Southern California. He cites a recent FBI memo detailing al-Qaida plans to set forest fires in the U.S. Arson, adds Farah, is a Muslim technique of waging holy war already well known to Israel:

"As arson wildfires consumed nearly 200,000 acres in Southern California, destroying 850 homes and killing at least 13, the inevitable question arises: Who started the fires? While firefighters focus on containing the blazes rather than the detective work necessary to prosecute arsonists, many are wondering about a possible connection with terrorism.

"In August, Australian authorities launched an investigation into reports al-Qaida planned to spark bushfires in a new wave of devastating terror attacks. A June 25 FBI memo to United States law enforcement agencies revealed a senior al-Qaida detainee claimed to have developed a plan to start midsummer forest fires in the U.S. The terrorist hoped to mimic the destruction that devastated Canberra last summer, killing four people and destroying more than 500 homes, as well as in other parts of Australia.

"The memo, obtained by the Arizona Republic newspaper, said an unidentified detainee revealed he hoped to create several large, catastrophic wildfires at once. 'The detainee believed that significant damage to the U.S. economy would result and once it was realized that the fires were terrorist acts, U.S. citizens would put pressure on the U.S. government to change its policies,' the memo said.

"The detainee told investigators his plan called for three or four operatives to travel to the U.S. and set timed explosive devices in forests and grasslands...

"In fact, Arab terrorists in Israel have started dozens of major forest fires over the years. And al-Qaida has been known to learn from and take inspiration from the activities of Palestinian Arab terrorists -- who, for instance, first pioneered airline hijackings.

"As far back as 1988, Israeli police caught more than a dozen Palestinian adults in the act of setting fires, while other Arabs confessed to arson after arrest. Some fires followed specific calls by underground Arab terrorists. A leaflet issued by the Palestinian uprising's underground leadership called for 'the destruction and burning of the enemy's properties, industry and agriculture.'...

"Last year, Gilad 'Gidi' Mastai, chief ranger in the Galilee region of Israel, told the Jerusalem Post: 'It's extremely hard to find arsonists, just like it's hard to close off the Green Line to terrorists. The forests here are on the front line.'

"But, [Mastai] said, the vast majority of deliberate fires are started by Arabs with political motives... "

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Read more of "Right Hook," Salon's weekly roundup of conservative commentary and analysis here.

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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2004 Elections Al-qaida Anti-semitism Middle East Terrorism