Arab-Muslim Anti-Semitism Threatens Peace Process, Report Says

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:18 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Growing Arab and Islamic anti-Semitism is posing a strategic threat to Israel by threatening the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and encouraging and justifying terrorism, according to report released this week.

The study, conducted by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), a quasi-official organization, examines the roots and characteristics of and dangers posed by contemporary anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world.

Through the use of anti-Semitism, a generation of Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims are being educated to hate Israel and the Jewish people, ITIC director Dr. Reuven Erlich told Cybercast News Service in a discussion about the report.

"It contradicts the peace process. It encourages and justifies terrorism [and] is a tool in the policy of Iran, which became an anti-Semitism-sponsoring state," Erlich said.

(Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has openly called for the destruction of Israel and denies the magnitude of the Holocaust.)

According to an English summary of the study, anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world has distinctive characteristics.

It is generally directed against Israel -- the "Jewish-Zionist state" -- as well as the Jewish people; it draws from a political interpretation of verses from the Koran and Islamic oral tradition to delegitimize Israel and the Jewish people; it denies or minimizes the Holocaust and conversely accuses Israel of committing a Holocaust against Palestinians; and it provides justification for terrorism against Israelis and Jews.

There also is a link between anti-Semitism and anti-American and anti-Western sentiments. Al Qaeda, global jihad and radical Islamic groups claim that "the struggle between Islam on the one hand and Judaism and Christianity on the other is an integral part of the ancient, multidimensional struggle between Islam and the 'infidel' West," the report says.

Anti-Semitic attitudes are disseminated through television, Internet and other media. Arabic bookshops in London even carry copies of Adolph Hitler's Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an early 20th century Russian forgery in which Jews purportedly plan to take over the world. The book has been published in Arabic in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.

"Anti-Semitism and the accompanying hate industry are a strategic danger for Israel and the Jewish people," said the 180-page report written in Hebrew for distribution to Israeli policymakers.

"Generations of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims are brought up hating the Jews; the peace process is damaged and obstacles to the normalization of Israel's relations with the Arab countries of the Middle East are erected; indiscriminate Palestinian terrorism against Israel is made palatable, as is Hizballah's Shi'ite terrorism and that of al Qaeda, when directed against Israel and Jews around the world," it says.

Erlich said failure to deal with this growing phenomenon means there is little chance for any peace process to succeed.

"Within the peace process, the issue of education in the Arab world is very important. Education is the basis for Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian peace. Without the right education, there will be a continuation of hate [and] anti-Semitism," Erlich said.

President Bush is hoping that Israel and the Palestinians will reach a permanent status agreement by the end of his term in office in less than a year. But Erlich said that is unlikely.

It will be very difficult to push the peace process forward without the right educational foundation, which could take dozens of years, said Erlich. The timetable of such education is different from the timetable of the peace process, he said.

Because anti-Semitism and anti-Israel incitement are such an obstacle to peace, they should be dealt with in the first phase of any peace process, he added.

(According to the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian interim agreement, both the Israelis and Palestinians undertook to strengthen understanding and tolerance and to prevent incitement and hostile propaganda, including legally. They also pledged to advance peace through their educational systems.

A trilateral committee (U.S., Israel and the Palestinians) established to monitor incitement never got off the ground.)

The ITIC has been monitoring anti-Semitism in the Arab and Islamic world for the past six years, Erlich said, and it appears to be getting worse, perhaps because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the strengthening of the radical Islamic movements, Erlich said.

Erlich said the ITIC has recommended the establishment of an international task force to against anti-Semitism and incitement.

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