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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Surprise (not): Libyans using Star of David as a symbol of hatred and contempt

I'm sure you'll all be shocked - just shocked - to hear that the anti-Gadhafi demonstrations in Libya are associating both Jewish and anti-Semitic symbols with the hated dictator.
The virtual entirety of the western media and all western governments appear to be united in their condemnation of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi and their open or tacit support of the forces seeking to topple his regime. It should be noted that this “opposition to Gaddafi,” as it is typically described in the media accounts, is clearly not now a non-violent opposition — whether it ever was one — but has taken the form rather of an armed rebellion.

Little attention, however, has been paid to the nature and motives of the Libyan “opposition.” Indeed, there is even evidence of the American media editing out aspects that might trouble the simple and reassuring picture of the oppressed masses protesting against tyranny.
The few commentators that have taken note of the Stars of David have as a rule seen them as an occasion to engage in blanket denunciations of Arab and/or Muslim anti-Semitism as such. My earlier collections of photographic materials from the Egypt protests (see here and here) provoked some similar responses. Note that for Israelis, supporters of Israel and/or Jews, such a “pox on all their houses” response is in its own strange way also reassuring. After all, it suggests — quite independently of any concrete evidence — that what is to come after the deposed Arab dictators will at least be no worse in this respect, even if it is no better.
It should be noted, however, that at least one key advisor to Gaddafi — namely, his son Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi — has in fact been known to speak quite positively about Israel. In a 2009 interview with Germany’s ZDF public television, Saif al-Islam praised Israel as a “progressive” country whose economic success should serve as a model for Libya’s own economic development. When German interviewer Claus Kleber suggested that Israel’s economic success might merely be a function of American aide, he responded, “Okay, they have dollars. We have oil and gas. There is no excuse.” (The interview forms part of the ZDF documentary Die Bombe.)

In a 2009 op-ed in the New York Times of all places (hat-tip: Martin Kramer), Saif’s father pleaded for a “one-state solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Such a “one-state solution” would certainly seem to imply the end of Israel as a Jewish state. But the tenor of the editorial can hardly be described as anti-Semitic. Indeed, it is not even unambiguously anti-Zionist. Gaddafi not only recognizes but indeed underscores the history of the persecution of Jews. He even states, “The Jewish people want and deserve their homeland.” Perhaps Gaddafi has expressed himself differently in Arab media. The editorial is, however, consistent with similar remarks that he has made in the European press.

It is also worth noting that Gaddafi’s 2003 decision to abandon Libya’s nuclear arms program will undoubtedly have been seen as a craven act of capitulation by those Arab nationalists and/or Islamists eager to obtain an “Arab bomb” to counter the “Jewish” one.

In any case, one thing is sure: simply averting one’s gaze from the evidence does nothing to clarify its significance.

Read the whole thing and look at the rest of John Rosenthal's pictures. When it comes to the Arab and Islamic world, it's always about the Jews.

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At 10:03 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - popular anti-Semitism is a persistent feature in the Arab World. A century's worth of brainwashing and incitement against the Jews and Israel is not going to disappear in our lifetime.

We have to acknowledge they hate Jews and Israel and that makes real peace impossible for a long time to come. Ignoring that is just engaging in wishful thinking.

Again, nothing Israel could do would attenuate anti-Semitism among the Arabs. Its just a fact of life Israel will have to live with for a long time to come.


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