memri
September 10, 2021 Special Announcements No. 1102

From The MEMRI Archives – A NEW ANTISEMITIC MYTH IN THE MIDDLE EAST MEDIA: The September 11 Attacks Were Perpetrated By The Jews – New Foreword By Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett

September 10, 2021
Special Announcements No. 1102

MEMRI is rereleasing its 2002 report "A New Antisemitic Myth In The Middle East: The September 11 Attacks Were Perpetrated By The Jews" with the original foreword by the late Congressman Tom Lantos, for whom the MEMRI Lantos Archives On Antisemitism And Holocaust Denial are named.

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Congressman Lantos' daughter Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, wrote a new foreword, reviewing events to date and reiterating the need to continue the fight.

NEW FOREWARD BY DR. KATRINA LANTOS SWETT
President, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice

When MEMRI first released "A New Antisemitic Myth in the Middle East: The Jews Perpetrated the September 11 Attacks," my late father Congressman Tom Lantos provided the foreword for this important piece of work. Writing in May 2002, he noted that one of the most shocking and upsetting developments of recent decades had been "the emergence of full-blown, old European-style antisemitism" in the Arab world. "As a Holocaust survivor," he wrote, "I am particularly saddened – indeed sickened – by this phenomenon, for it occurs during a half-century when antisemitism in Europe has been mainly in decline. Indeed, it is tragic that the Arab world, which has rejected Europe's freedoms and democratic institutions, imported only the worst ideas Europe had to offer."

The world is about to mark 20 years since the horrific events of September 11. It will do so against the backdrop of the truly catastrophic and heartbreaking scenes unfolding in Afghanistan. This solemn anniversary will also take place amid the harsh reality that, over the past two decades, very little progress has been made in the effort to combat antisemitism in the Middle East. Indeed, in August 2021 a report[1] from UN Watch uncovered more than 100 incidents of teachers employed by UNWRA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, inciting violence, praising Adolf Hitler, and spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories on social media. These individuals were hired by the United Nations literally to educate a rising generation of Palestinians in the Middle East, and the report clearly shows that this worthy effort has been poisoned by the ancient and enduring scourge of antisemitism and a deep hatred of the Jewish people. Thanks to reports like this, and MEMRI's own vital work, we can see that such antisemitism persists across the Middle East.

Perhaps even more troubling, in many ways the narrative has been reversed from 2002 when my father wrote the original foreword for this book. He lamented the fact that the Middle East had imported Europe's antisemitism. Today, however, we must lament the shocking and disturbing resurgence of antisemitism in Europe and the United States – indeed, in nearly all corners of the world. Some of this resurgence has been driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has dredged up the worst tendencies of humanity to use the Jewish people as a scapegoat when calamity strikes. But that is certainly not the only explanation for the surge in antisemitism; the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported[2] that U.S.-based antisemitic incidents hit an all-time high in 2019, before most of the world had even heard the word "Covid."

Events in Israel and Gaza have also unleashed a torrent of antisemitism in countries around the world, particularly in Europe and the United States. The group Community Security Trust reported[3] a 500 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in London during a two-week period in May 2021. Hateful antisemitic language and violent acts of antisemitism have been reported in cities from Boston to Berlin, often cloaked in the frail excuse of political expression.

Moreover, the rise of the Internet and social media have propagated antisemitism with terrifying speed and ferocity. In 2019, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice partnered with MEMRI to expose just a sliver of the vitriolic online antisemitism, in a report titled "The Hater Next Door: Online Incitement Against Minorities in America."[4] As this important research makes clear, the Internet – for all its power and potential for good – has also become a highway for hate, and particularly antisemitism. The conspiracies and absurd myths that twist and swirl in the mire of social media have even appeared on the public accounts of American leaders, who lend credence to such false, misguided and dangerous ideas simply by repeating them.

In short, the outlook for combatting antisemitism is, in many ways, even bleaker than it was when my father penned his foreword nearly 20 years ago. To be sure, there are also some bright spots of hope and some important progress has been made. Today, countries like the U.S. and Canada have created high-level government roles tasked specifically with combatting Holocaust denial and antisemitism. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism has been gaining traction with governments, academia, and other important organizations that have tremendous potential to help clarify, and subsequently call out, modern-day antisemitism. We must hold to the belief that we can prevail against this pernicious evil, and we must continue pressing forward in our efforts to do so.

That said, we must also be wholly realistic in recognizing the challenges facing this work. MEMRI's vital contribution in identifying, reviewing, translating, and disseminating information about antisemitism in the Middle East and beyond has never been more important. We might have hoped that a changing and evolving world would have rendered MEMRI unnecessary – but instead its work continues to grow in relevance and consequence.

As you read this book, rereleased to mark 20 years since that fateful day in September 2001, I hope you will consider the state of antisemitism in the world today and commit to standing up against it, in whatever sphere or community you inhabit. We will defeat the world's oldest hatred only when we are able to look at it clear-eyed and fully resolved to push it back. MEMRI's research is one of the most important tools to help us do this.

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett
President, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice
September 1, 2021
 

ORIGINAL FOREWARD BY THE HONORABLE TOM LANTOS
Ranking Democrat, International Relations Committee
U.S. House of Representatives

One of the most shocking and upsetting developments of recent decades has been the emergence of full-blown, old- European-style antisemitism in the Arab world. As a holocaust survivor, I am particularly saddened — indeed sickened — by this phenomenon, for it occurs during a half-century when antisemitism in Europe has been mainly in decline. Indeed, it is tragic that the Arab world, which has rejected Europe’s freedoms and democratic institutions, imported only the worst ideas Europe had to offer.

Writing in 1986, Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis explained contemporary Arab antisemitism as a reaction to the sense of humiliation Arabs feel at repeated military defeats at Israel’s hands, blows made all the more painful because they were inflicted by a people, Jews, long presumed to be inferior.

According to Lewis, Arabs were accustomed to viewing Jews as no better than "a tolerated subject minority, and ... by appearing as conquerors and rulers the Jews [in Arab reckoning] have subverted God’s order for the universe."[5] Whatever its cause, the cancer of antisemitism has metastasized and spread throughout the Arab world. Jews, both as Israelis and simply as Jews, are demonized daily in the Arab press, electronic media, and textbooks, often with ugly illustrations and "political" cartoons on a par with the worst of Julius Streicher’s Die Sturmer. Indeed, Nazi-style imagery and conspiracy-thinking abound in the Arab world, and all the ills of the world are attributed to "the Jews." As a recent article in the New York Times noted, "Stay in a five-star hotel anywhere from Jordan to Iran, and you can buy the infamous forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Pick up a newspaper in any part of the Arab world and you regularly see a swastika superimposed on the Israeli flag."[6]

This worsening problem carries dire implications for the Arab-Israeli conflict, adding a racist and religious-warfare dimension to an already exceedingly difficult political problem. Moreover, in an obscenely bizarre twist, the Middle East may now be exporting to Europe the antisemitism it originally imported from there. Since the latest phase of Arab violence against Israel began in September 2000, there have been hundreds of antisemitic incidents reported in Europe, particularly in France.

Some of the ugliest examples of Arab antisemitism came in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States, as detailed in this important publication. The Arab media reaction to the September 11 horror reflected all the elements of Nazi-style defamation — particularly, Jewish conspiracy.

Here we can read the now-famous claims that Mossad organized the September 11 attacks; that 4,000 Jewish employees, forewarned, avoided work at the World Trade Center that day; and that Jews exploited their foreknowledge of the tragedy to profit from the stock market. We observe the shocking sense of cultural inferiority — self-serving but nonetheless real — of Arab commentators who "prove" Jewish complicity in the September 11 murders by pointing out that "only the Jews are capable of planning such an incident, because it was planned with great precision of which Osama bin Laden or any other Islamic organization or intelligence apparatus is incapable." And we learn of the grisly, Nazi-type punishment one Egyptian cleric wishes on the Jews of America.

But the totality of what is presented in the following pages also reflects a sad reality: the Arab world’s inability, first, to come to terms with the fact that Arabs planned and carried out the evil deeds and, second, to reflect productively on how and why that happened. Such is the classic utility the antisemite finds in his antisemitism: scape-goating Jews for problems of his own making.

I am full of admiration for the work MEMRI has done in putting together this book and, more generally, in its dedicated exposure of Arab antisemitism. Until MEMRI undertook its effort to review and translate articles from the Arab press, there was only dim public awareness of this problem in the United States. Thanks to MEMRI, this ugly phenomenon has been unmasked, and numerous American writers have called attention to it.

To cite one interesting example: A recent series of articles in a Saudi newspaper invoked the ancient "blood libel" against Jews, claiming Jews use human blood (non-Jewish, of course) to prepare their holiday delicacies. MEMRI translated and disseminated the series, which evoked widespread outrage, including a Voice of America editorial condemning Arab antisemitic incitement. The surprising result? The editor of the paper was embarrassed by the exposure and felt compelled to acknowledge publicly that the accusations in the articles are "not based on scientific or historical facts" — a rare victory for truth in the Arab world. One can only hope that publicizing and embarrassing the Arab media about their prejudiced provocations will more often have a salutary effect.

I congratulate MEMRI for its pioneering work in bringing Arab antisemitism to light, and I commend it for this fine book. For laymen, diplomats, and scholars of the Middle East and conflict resolution, this book highlights like few others one of the most troubling phenomena of our time, how antisemitism has come to pervade Arab culture.

The Honorable Tom Lantos
Ranking Democrat, International Relations Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
May 1, 2002

Click here to download the book in PDF format.

 

[1] UN Watch, "Beyond the Textbooks: A Report Exposing UNRWA Teachers’ Incitement to Antisemitism and Violence," Unwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/UNW_094_UNRWA_Report_2021__RC_5_Singles.pdf.

[2] "U.S. Antisemitic Incidents Remained at Historic High in 2020," Anti-Defamation League, Adl.org/news/press-releases/us-antisemitic-incidents-remained-at-historic-high-in-2020.

[3] "During Israel-Hamas conflict, British Jews come under physical and verbal attack," Washingtonpost.com/world/2021/05/21/israel-gaza-jewish-attacks-rise, May 21, 2021.

[4] "The Hater Next Door: Online Incitement Against Minorities in America," Lantosfoundation.org/thehaternextdoor.

[5] Lewis, Bernard, Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice (W.W. Norton & Company, New York/London, 1986), pp. 239-240.

[6] The New York Times, April 27, 2002, "Anti-Semitism is Deepening Among Muslims: Hateful Images of Jews Are Imbedded in Islamic Popular Culture" (by Susan Sachs), pp. A19, A21.

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