Graffiti On History's Walls
AND THE VIOLENCE CONTINUES. In Ukraine, skinheads attacked Jewish workers and assaulted the director of a Jewish school. In Holland, demonstrators carrying swastikas and photos of Israel chanted "Sieg heil!" and "Jews into the sea!" In Salonika, the Holocaust Memorial was defaced with pro-Palestinian graffiti. In Slovakia, Jewish cemeteries were firebombed. In Berlin, Jews were assaulted, swastikas daubed on Jewish memorials, and a synagogue spray-painted with the words "six million is not enough."
In the Muslim world, a culture of hatred of Jews permeates all forms of public communications--newspapers, videocassettes, sermons, books, the Internet, television, and radio. The intensity of the anti-Jewish invective equals or surpasses that of Nazi Germany in its heyday. The public rhetoric combines the blood libel of medieval Christian Europe with cockeyed Nazi conspiracy theories that echo the famous forgery, the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," and the fanciful notion of a Jewish drive for world dominion. Throughout the Islamic world, one finds slanderous quotations about Jews as the sons of apes and donkeys. A leading Saudi newspaper has Jews using the blood of Christian and Muslim children to make their hamantaschen pastry for Purim and their matzo, the unleavened bread of Passover. In this fundamentalist religious culture, America and Israel are seen as twin Satanic forces, "The Great Satan" and "The Little Satan," as Iran's religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini used to refer to them.
The linkage of the two Satans has been emphasized even more intently since the beginning of the Palestinian intifada, in September 2000, and the attacks of September 11. Ever hear the story of the 4,000 Jews who worked at the World Trade Center being told to not show up for work on the morning of September 11? The story was planted on the Internet by Hezbollah under the cover of a Lebanese TV station. This urban legend has now taken root among Muslims the world over, calling to mind the words of W. B. Yeats: "We had fed the heart on fantasies. The heart's grown brutal from the fare."
Islamists see the fingerprints of their enemy everywhere--the fantasy that a secret and all-powerful Zionist lobby drains the lifeblood of Arabs and Muslims and incites Washington to war against Iraq, all the while carrying out its sinister plans for global control. In Egypt, a 41-part TV series was broadcast across the Arab world during Ramadan entitled Horseman Without a Horse. The theme of the series was that the Zionists have controlled the world of politics since the dawn of history and seek to control the Middle East-- a fantasy, as Prof. Robert Wistrich of Hebrew University pointed out, imported from the Germany of the 1930s.
It is difficult for westerners, unmarked by the searing memories of Jewish history, to realize the extent to which the survival of Israel remains an issue for Jews, who cannot dismiss the overheated Arab rhetoric that seeks to justify terrorism against innocent civilians by describing Israel's existence as illegitimate. That rhetoric is the product of a careful calculation by Arab political leaders who recognized the popular appeal of scapegoating Israel for their failure to provide for their own people while legitimizing their regimes.