Translation of an article
to be published
in Ma'ariv on February 07, 2000
Haider und die syrische
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.
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,
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
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
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
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.
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