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Aktiv gegen Nazi-Propaganda!
Jüdische Weisheit


Translation of an article to be published
in Ma'ariv on February 07, 2000

Haider und die syrische Tageszeitung Tishrin:
Antisemitismus und die Araber

by Uri Avnery

The anti-Semitic article which appeared last week in the official Syrian newspaper, Tishrin, reminded me of a conversation I had 25 years ago with my friend, Issam Sartawi, the PLO leader who became the pioneer of Israeli-Palestinian peace. During one of our first secret meetings he told me that a leader of a French anti-Semitic outfit had come to visit him and offered to help the PLO. "I threw him out," Sartawi said, "I told him: You anti-Semites are the greatest collaborators of the Zionists."

Sartawi was an extremely logical person. He knew that Zionism came into being as a reaction to anti-Semitism, that the Russian pogroms had brought the first Zionists to Palestine, that the Holocaust has given an immense push to the effort to set up the Jewish State. Sartawi was murdered by the Abu-Nidal gang before he could see how a new wave of Russian anti-Semitism pushed another million Jews towards Israel.

Lueger's Vienna

Not by accident, modern Zionism was born in Vienna. Theodor Herzl, the founder, wrote his history-making booklet, Der Judenstaat, in the very year in which Karl Lueger became the mayor of Vienna - the first modern politician to be elected on a platform of pure anti-Semitism. Lueger is the spiritual father of Joerg Haider, as he was the spiritual father of a young Viennese drifter named Adolf Hitler.

Anti-Semitism, together with racism and the extreme form of German nationalism, was born in Austria. There was a reason for that: Some 150 years ago, Austria was a far-flung empire, which reigned over many peoples, including Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Slovenes, Croats, Bosniaks, Italians and others. The German-Austrians were a minority in their own state, and even in their capital, Vienna, a quarter of the inhabitants were Czechs and Poles. In order to justify their imperialism, the German-Austrians invented theories proving that the German race was superior to all others and that the Slavs, and of course the Jews, were inferior.

Joerg Haider, who likes to present himself as the voice of the future, is nothing but an anachronistic remnant of an empire that died 82 years ago.

Sartawi poured his wrath on those Arabs which support anti-Semitism, believing that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". The anti-Semites hate the Jews, the Jews are taking Palestine away from the Arabs, ergo: the anti-Semites are our friends. The same goes for the Holocaust-deniers: the memory of the Holocaust provides Israel with sympathy, money and political support, ergo: the Holocaust-deniers help the Arabs.

An enemy worse than any enemy!

This looks logical but is pure nonsense. In many cases, the enemy of my enemy is worse than my enemy. According to the Nazi racial theory, the Arabs, being Semites, most definitely belong to the inferior races. Hitler treated the Palestinian leader, Hadj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, with disdain and refused to help him in any way (contrary to legends believed by many Israelis, that have been disproved by the Israeli historian, Tsvi Peleg.) If Adolf Hitler had never lived, probably the State of Israel would not have been come into being at the time it did.

The Tishrin article is not only profoundly immoral, it is also stupid from the point of view of Syrian, and indeed Arab, interests. It strengthens the Israeli right-wing, which opposes the withdrawal from the Syrian heights. It mobilizes the Jews the world over against Syria and blemished the image of Syria in the eyes of all the non-Jews whose conscience is troubled by the Holocaust. If it was published so as to punish Israel for Ehud Barak's tactics, Syria is shooting itself in the leg.

Many Arabs believe that the memory of the Holocaust is being manipulated by Zionist propaganda. That may be true. But, as Prof. Eduard Said, the most important Arab intellectual in the United States, has pointed out, Arabs need to study the history of the Holocaust if they want to understand Israel. More and more Arab intellectuals accept this.

It seems that Zionist propaganda does not like this to happen. When Yassir Arafat was invited to the Holocaust museum in Washington, American Jewish leaders objected strenuously and prevented the visit. Some days ago, Israel opposed the idea of inviting the Palestinian Authority to the Stockholm conference on the Holocaust. Obviously, some people in Israel prefer to go on identifying the Arabs with the Holocaust-deniers. Anti-Semitism, they believe, still is Israel's biggest ally.

The rise of Joerg Haider in Austria will encourage the extreme, anti-Semitic right all over Europe. That, in turn, will cause many Jews in Europe to start thinking about immigration to Israel. Even the most fanatic enemy of Israel in the Arab world would not be happy about that, would he?

The Palestinians like to say that they are "the victims of the victims", meaning the Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany to Palestine. If so, Joerg Haider is their biggest enemy.

Gush Shalom
[Visit the Settlement Special]

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