The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
The Anti-Semitic Spring

Jeffrey Goldberg has an important piece at Bloomberg on anti-Semitism and the Arab Spring.  It makes for deeply depressing reading, but it tallies well with my own experiences in the region.  Goldberg’s most important observation comes at the end, where he writes:

The Arab Spring should liberate people not only from oppressive rulers, but also from self-destructive and delusional patterns of belief. Anti-Semitism, the “socialism of fools,” not only threatens the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and dehumanizes Jews. It also undermines rationality. It prevents its adherents from seeing the world as it is — and it will only be an impediment to actual change in the Arab world.

As I’ve observed before in this space, countries where vicious anti-Semitism is rife are almost always backward and poor.  This isn’t, as anti-Semites believe, because the Elders of Zion are plotting to keep Uz-beki-beki-beki-stan poor.  It is because the inability to see the world clearly and discern cause and effect relations in complex social settings is linked to many other failures in economic and political life.  Anti-Semitism isn’t just the socialism of fools; it is the sociology of the befuddled.  The anti-Semite fails to grasp how the world works, and that failure condemns him to endless frustration.  Naturally, this is the fault of the Jews.

Read Goldberg’s whole piece.

Published on November 28, 2011 8:40 pm
  • Jules

    As I’ve observed before in this space, countries where vicious anti-Semitism is rife are almost always backward and poor.

    Yet according to many neocons Europe, the richest and most advanced part of the world for most of the Modern Age, has always been viciously anti-Semitic.

  • Luke Lea

    Let me play devil’s advocate. The widespread anti-Semitism in the Arab world is largely a function of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the perceived injustice of the European powers conquering large parts of the Arab world (during WWI) and then giving part of it away to European Jewry as a way to solve its own “Jewish problem.”

    This sense of grievance might be assuaged if those same European powers would acknowledge their responsibility (both moral and historical) for creating this tragic conflict and then commit themselves to indemnifying the victims on both side, not just the survivors of the Holocaust.

    Popular passions can be ugly, irrational, destructive, dangerous things, as they are in this case. Still they are no excuse for ignoring the kernal of truth that lies at their heart.

    Europe owes it not just to the Palestinians, but to Israel, to themselves, and to the rest of the world to own up to this painful truth.

  • K2K

    Luke Lea is WRONG when he writes “…The widespread anti-Semitism in the Arab world is largely a function of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…”

    Mr. Mead – history lesson please?

    I am worn out trying to explain the false “history” that underlies the palestinian narrative, let alone the myth that Jews had thrived when the Ottomans ruled the arabs.

    The Ottoman Empire has a very complex history, and gets cheers for how the Jews were welcomed by those who never bother with the details. A simpler example are the Circassians. yes, the Ottomans took in the survivors of the Tsarist genocide that ended with final expulsion in 1864. But the Ottomans continued to buy the Circassian daughters for their harems, and the Circassian boys for their armies. Slavery was better than extermination.

  • Adam

    Luke Lea wrote:

    “Popular passions can be ugly, irrational, destructive, dangerous things, as they are in this case. Still they are no excuse for ignoring the kernal of truth that lies at their heart.”

    So that goes for racism, or ethnic prejudices? B.S.

    ===
    On a separate note…

    I suppose you want Europe to apologize to the Arabs for compelling them to take the property of Jews who lived among them and scaring those Jews into moving to Israel, where they and their descendants now equal just over half the Jews.

    Europe should apologize for this “grain of truth,” in your view?

  • Micha

    The Europeans did not “give” anything to the Jews. and they certainly did not do it to solve their Jewish problem.

    Britain, for its own purposes, tolerated briefly the efforts of Jews to build a homeland in Israel/Palestine. And then they stopped tolerating it, and Jews continued doing it anyway. And they succeeded in creating Israel.

    The fact that he Arab world has opened itself so fully and willingly to antisemitism as part of an actual conflict with Israel does not make their antisemitism any less repugnant or harmful.

    The suffering of the Palestinians is partly the result of a conflict between the Jews’ national aspirations and their own, and partly the result of their own actions, often motivated by exactly this kind of blind hatred that they so willingly embraced.

    The devil needs no advocates, he’s doing quite well.

  • Luke Lea

    @ To all who disagree above: try a more sympathetic reading, both of my motives and the motives of the Arabs and Palestinians, and you advance your understanding of this issue. Let me leave you with a single historical proposition: it was European anti-Semitism culminating in, but by no means limited to, the Holocause which drove the Jews out of Europe; and it was European statesmen in the course of WWI who decided to solve their “Jewish problem” (and, incidentally bring America into the war on their side) by issuing the Balfour Declaration.”

    For documentation of this second clause I refer you to the secret diplomatic history of the Balfour Declaration in “The Question of Palestine 1914-1918 by Friedman.

    I am pro-Zionist, I recognize Israel is in an impossible situation, but I also sympathize with and understand the Palestinian sense of grievance. I also sympathize with Jewish uneasiness about the things I am saying. And I most certainly understand the historical background of this conflict, with which I am far more conversant than any of my critics above. Your arguments are for beginners.

  • Adam

    Luke, I don’t think you got any direct attacks on your character or solidarities. So attack the arguments of all “beginners”, please. Start with mine, if you like.

  • hadsil

    There is a Jewish proverb: Those who bless the Jews will be thrice blessed by God. Those who curse the Jews will be thrice cursed by God.

  • Keapon Laffin

    The anti-Semite fails to grasp how the world works, and that failure condemns him to endless frustration.

    That bit is similar to what I tell my friends is my Grand Unified Theory of AntiSemitism.
    All Anti-Semites are the same. Educated or not, any religion or none at all, rich or poor. All the same.
    All Anti-Semites believe that Jews have magickal powers.
    There is no other explanation to how Jews are able to do all the things Jews supposedly do. If you have such a mindset, of course you’re not going to do well in the Real World. Jews are like an evil Deity, so how can you win in life when such powerful beings are against you?
    That’s probably why it’s always ‘Da Jooos!’, you never call an Evil Deity by it’s proper name. :)

  • Sluggo

    Any article that starts off with “Jeffrey Goldberg has an important piece” cannot be taken seriously.