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Islam rejecting globalization - and Jews and Israel

[...]It bears mention that not just Islamic extremists, but also leftist movements' activities in the west against globalization rely on a strident anti-Israeli ideology which periodically lapses into outright demonstrations of anti-Semitism. For instance, Becker reports that in many anti-globalization rallies protesters carry placards that compare Israel to Nazi Germany. [...]
Three weeks after the Twin Towers attack on September 11, the prestigious Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram published an article in which the writer hoped that "with the collapse of the city of globalization, it's possible to dare to predict that the whole theory of globalization will be buried with it."

Dr. Esther Webman, from Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies and Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism says: "Globalization is viewed in the Arab world as an economic threat, and as the continuation of the Western colonialist enterprise of exploiting the Arab world. But more than anything else, it is viewed as a social-cultural threat, of imposing Western culture on the Muslim world, and the undermining of the family values of Muslim society."

Just as radical Islamic thinkers identify globalization with the United States, so too Israel and Jews generally are thought to pose the danger of regional domination. Israel is seen as the lever by which the loathed Western values are disseminated in the Middle East.

Hezbollah's spiritual leader, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, has warned in the past that "the world Jewish movement has labored to expropriate from Israel its present positions of strength. Jews want to control the Muslim world's economic potential and resources, and they want to weaken it spiritually with respect to the Jerusalem question, and geographically, as regards the question of Palestine."

As Sheikh Fadlallah sees it, the struggle against Israel is a wide cultural battle, and is not limited to the political or military contest for pieces of turf in Palestine.

Ibrahim Ghosheh, formerly the spokesman for the Hamas movement, claimed in the early 1990s that if compromise were to be forged between Israel and the Arabs, "Israel would rule in the region just as Japan dominates south-east Asia, and all the Arabs will turn into the Jews' workers."

Regional conspiracy

Hence the array of arguments used to substantiate radical Islamic contempt for Israel has added a new component - and it could be that this point is the most potent anti-Israel barb of them all. The Islamic extremists berate Israel as an agent of Western globalization seeking regional domination.

Dr. Webman says that the extremist Islamic wing of the Arab world views the peace process in this context. "A'adal Hussein, the editor of the pro-Islamic Egyptian newspaper Al-Shanb, who is himself a vehement critic of globalization, published in 1999 a series of articles in his newspaper in which he depicted the normalization process with Israel as a new conspiracy hatched by the `Zionist-American' alliance, and designed to penetrate and wrest control of Arab economies," she says.

Arab intellectuals also express the concern that the Israeli-Arab conflict loses its centrality on the world stage due to the impact of the globalization process. Due to this loss of centrality, Arab political demands lose their potency.

The widespread idea in the west, by which world politics today is depicted as a "clash of civilizations" (according to a theory devised by the American researcher Samuel Huntington long before September 11), is taken by Arab intellectuals as a ploy devised to view Islam as an inexorable foe of Christianity.

The clash of civilizations model is attacked in Arab discourse as an idea fabricated under the influence of the "Zionist lobby," even though Huntington himself is not Jewish.

"In Israel, many thought that once we brought up the idea of a `new Middle East,' and proposed the idea of economic and technological progress to the Arab world, the whole region would embrace us," says Prof. Dina Porat, head of Tel Aviv University's Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism. "In reality, the Arab world actually views this idea as a threat."

Maligned trend

Islamic Fundamentalism today represents one of the most prominent elements in resistance to globalization; and the Jews, not only Israelis, are seen by Muslim Fundamentalists as the vanguard of the detested globalization process. This association of the Jew with a maligned global trend invariably leads to propaganda and discourse that is laden with anti-Semitism. Dr. Avi Becker, Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress, explains that such propaganda exploits and distorts the fact that many Jews hold key position in the world economy. Such critics of globalization, he says, "use names such as Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, whose decisions on interest questions effect interest rates all over the world, and World Bank President James Wolfensohn, as well as senior officials from the International Monetary Fund, such as Stanley Fischer."

An example of these dynamics occurred a few years ago in Muslim Malyasia. The involvement of Jewish businessman George Soros in currency speculation contributed toward an economic slide in the country. Malyasia's Prime Minister Mohammed Mahathir did not limit his criticism to Soros; instead he spoke about "Jews who determine our currency levels, and bring about the collapse of our economy."

The association between globalization and the Jew rests, of course, on the familiar image of the Jew as the ruler of the world's economy. "This is an image which is familiar from the `Protocols of the Elders of Zion," explains Webman, "and so it is easy [for anti-Semites] to connect the current process to the old Jewish-Zionist scheme to dominate the world's economy."

It bears mention that not just Islamic extremists, but also leftist movements' activities in the west against globalization rely on a strident anti-Israeli ideology which periodically lapses into outright demonstrations of anti-Semitism. For instance, Becker reports that in many anti-globalization rallies protesters carry placards that compare Israel to Nazi Germany.

Babbling Bove

Three days of demonstrations last April in Washington timed in sync with World Bank and IMF conferences turned into large pro-Palestinian rallies. One of the symbols of the anti-globalization crusade, the French farmer Jose Bove, known for his attack against a McDonald's branch in France, has gone as far as to accuse Israel of orchestrating acts of vandalism against synagogues in France.

It would appear that despite obvious differences between the left in Europe and radical Islamic thinkers, anti-globalization displays by both groups are animated by hostility to the United States and its growing domination around the globe.

Porat identifies another context which helps account for the left's hostility to globalization and Israel. "During the last decade, the question of immigration has erupted in the west," Porat explains, "and this was after a period of many years in which the issue almost ceased to exist. The collapse of the Communist bloc brought a new wave of immigrants from the former Communist states to the west, and these joined a large wave of newcomers from Africa. As a result, countries in the west had to deal with tough questions about immigration; and left organizations in these countries focused their activity on legislation, and anti-racism campaigns. In this context, Israel was perceived as a racist state."

Whether there are viable, ongoing links between these two seemingly disparate flanks in the anti-globalization crusade, the new left and Islamic Fundamentalism, is an interesting question. At first, it would appear that there is no such connection, and the two protests have different intents and motives. Large rallies staged by the left against globalization are held mainly in conjunction with events perceived as emblems of the process - the demonstrations take place against the background of G-8 meetings, or World Bank and IMF gatherings. Muslim protesters are hard to find in such protest rallies. On the other hand, European leftists are hardly major contributors to radical Islamic journals.

Left and leftist

Nevertheless, there are some connections linking the Islamic and leftist critics of globalization. Becker explains: "Palestinians, for example, have in recent years identified the sensitivity felt in parts of the world toward American domination, and they have created an association between their struggle and the general question of globalization." This explanation accounts for the appearance of pro-Palestinian placards at anti-globalization rallies staged in the west.

Porat argues that the Durban conference was a symbol of this connection. "Durban," she says, "was a clear emblem of this connection between the left and Islam, [and the alliance] suddenly found that the subject of racism, to which the conference was devoted, served as a convenient arena for cooperative attacks against Israel. For the Arabs, this was an extraordinary opportunity to raise the question of Palestinians in an international forum."

In this connection, Becker refers to an "unholy alliance between, on the one hand, some of the most dubious regimes in the world, belonging to Arab and Muslim states, and, on the other hand, some of the most enlightened organizations, in the name of the joint struggle against globalization."

Mira Assau has been active for several years in "Green Action," an Israeli organization which is active in the campaign against globalization. She makes an effort to take part in international anti-globalization events; when such participation isn't feasible, she sponsors activity in Israel undertaken concurrently with large demonstrations overseas. She insists that anti-globalization activity conveys no anti-Semitic messages. "On the contrary: our activity, and activity undertaken by parallel organizations around the world derives from a world view that opposes any form of racism and hatred of others. True, there are neo-Nazi groups which are trying to `ride the bandwagon' and exploit our activity, claiming that globalization is driven by Jewish aspirations to rule the world. But such groups are not partners in the general activity against globalization; and our organizations denounce them, and demonstrate against them," explains Assau.

Sharon's best

Assau doesn't believe that placards which compare the Star of David and swastikas constitute anti-Semitic agitation. "On the contrary," she declares. "This is an act of defiance against racism, and against the racist policies of the government of Israel. In no way is it against the Jewish people."

Naomi Klein, a Jewish journalist from Canada, has become a symbol of the anti-globalization campaign thanks to the publication of her book "No Logo." Among other claims, Klein argues that advertisement-based western commercial culture is propped by multi-national companies which attain the brunt of their power thanks to the exploitation of cheap labor in Third World countries. In an article entitled "Sharon's Best Weapon," published after the anti-globalization rallies held in Washington in April, which became a platform for pro-Palestinian agitation, she warned her comrades against staying silent in the face of trends of rising anti-Semitism.

She demanded that anti-globalization activists combat anti-Semitism with the same energy and determination they display in the fight against any form of racism. Klein wrote: "I couldn't help thinking about all the recent events I've been to where anti-Muslim violence was rightly condemned, but no mention was made of attacks on Jewish synagogues, cemeteries and community centers ... The anti-globalization movement isn't anti-Semitic, it just hasn't fully confronted the implications of diving into the Middle East conflict... But it is possible to criticize Israel while forcefully condemning the rise of anti-Semitism. And it is equally possible to be pro-Palestinian independence without adopting a simplistic `pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel' dichotomy."

Assau doesn't agree with this analysis. "Movements which battle globalization are not silent about anti-Semitism," she says. "In September 2000, when we demonstrated in Prague in front of IMF and World Bank meetings, there was also a rally held by neo-Nazis, and our people held a special demonstration against them [the neo-Nazis]. A day is devoted at our conferences to the struggle against all forms of prejudice in the world, including anti-Semitism, though as we see it anti-Semitism is directed not only against Jews, but also against Muslims. The problem is that the media rarely report on our activity in this connection, and that's what causes the mistaken impression that we are apathetic about this question" of anti-Semitism."

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Partial agreement 22.Jul.2002 21:38


I believe the Palestinian movement has malignantly infiltatrated the anti- globalization movement. And since many of the people involved are relativiely young and impressionable they barely understand from the heart the situation which is going on between the Palestinians and Israel. People in their forties barely know how to teach and respond. I believe Palestine should exist but not in Israel and there should also be a state for the Kurds. It's hard to explain the history of Jews and Palestine the land of Israel not the land of the Palestinians. I am very anti-the IMF and the world bank and other instituitions that manipulate third world countries and first world countries currencies for self interest reasons such as feeding many rich peoples pockets. This includes using cheap labor and destroying the environment. But I do not believe in the Palestinian agenda which is clearly against Israel and the Jews and so I do not participate in rallys which I feel have been taken over by people who I do not believe have any sincere feelings to the movemnet beyond their hatred of Israel and Jews. I think as the ani-globalization (as it has been pegged) defines itself more some of the so called solidarity movements, which are hurting the anti-globalization movement will eventually be found out for their anti-american hatred and hatred for Jews. I dont believe that most people in the United States who are involved with the anti-globalization movement are anti-american. OK maybe some young kid who is new to politics views Amercan Policy as only Amercan policy with out looking at the other countries who freely participate in such things as the world bank and IMF. Countries invest their money into these funds freely because their officials want to become rich as well. It's not just rich Americans it's rich people from every country who want to subjugate the poor in order to make another buck. I repeat not just the united states. These Arab countries freely participate as well as European countires. They have already established a new world. A new world of Jet setters who run where the money is. They are not protesting against the same things in the Arab world. They are protesting against the west not a more humane world. The Agendas are clearly different. And so there are Jews involved with the corporate mess, their are also Christians, Catholics and Muslums and all religions involved from all over the world. To single out Jews is old propaganda which has been strung into our society and western society for thousands of years and it has to stop now. In the Rab world they still freely talk about anti-west and anti-jewsih BS allthe time--Its called propaganda. And I am deeply concerned about how easily the public can be persuaded into anti-Jewish settements and antiwestern US sttements. And have it tolerated in your community and many communities. There are good people and bad peole in every society every color and every religion. I'm Jewish and the only true stereotype for us is that we are still suffering post traumatic stress disorders over the fact that all of Europe turned a blind eye to the staughter of six million Jews for no reason except religion and the slaughter of millions of Jews in Arab lands for no reason except religion. And the slaughter of millions of Jews in Pre-communist and communist Russia for no reason except that they were Jews. This Country turned a blind eye as well. The United States was so anti-Jewish that they didnt get involved quik enough too save millions of peoples lives. They also turned away boats of people who went back and got gased. Grant millions of others were killed as well but not as many. I believe Jews still live in fear else they would speak out more and educate themselves and their friends about the atrocities done to their relatives. The Murder, Experiments, Rapes, Torture. Its so horrible they dont even want to talk about it. Well, it's time to talk about it especially if you are standing in line for a humanitarian cause with people who would cheer in the streets if you were dead. They have in the past not so long ago either like yesterday if you know what I mean. Jews are not allowed to practice their religion freely in any other country except Israel. The United States is a Christian Society, Europe is a Christian society The Arab world is a mostly Muslum society. So why cant the Jews have a State where they can openingly everywhere be Jewish with out being looked at weird because they have to be home by sun down on friday and have to live a more anti-technology life from sunset on friday to Sundown on Saturday ect. A place where Jews can celebrate the new year in september during the harvest season and practice sukot---Jews have a harvest calendar which corresponds with the seasons and farming. This country does not have a harvest calendar in Israel a jew can experience her/his religion on a daily bases and I dont mean orthodox or hassidic theri are many other more earthy aspects to Judaism which are alive in Irael. Where else can you go live on a Kibbutz and experience communal life and work with the land and still contribute to society. You are not an outsider like in the United States or other countries which have communes. Jews are a minority in this country but many of them are heavily involved in humanitarian projects and earth save projects because it is taught in our religion to respect the planet not to destroy it and to fight for justice because we were enslaved, brutalized, vandalized, attacked and completely wiped out in certain areas for centuries. This does not mean to fight for justice for people who will turn around and enslave us and steal from and kill us. For you Jews out their and non-Jews why dont you go talk to holocaust survivors and surviviors from the Muslum genocides against the Jews and you will find out the facts. It's in their eyes its tatooed on their bodies. The survivors of the Bolshevik and Communist are all dead now and they were so shamed they barely ever spoke to their children about it. I ask my grandmother all the time and all she knows is that her family moved here because of anti-Jewish progroms which came from Russia and Poland who would burn their villages and kill innocent people based on the fact that they were Jews. So they moved here and a few years later no more letters came from their family members they left behind because they were murdred. During the Holocaust the same thing happened all of a sudden their were no more leters.

In the Muslum world they did the same thing. So what makes you think that these people are so innocent. I have met many Arabs who are half Jewish but are afraid to practice Judaism in their Arab homeland. For centuries Jews were uprooted so why shouldnt they live in the only area through history they have considered their homeland but were not allowed to live. Israel did not have a very large population before Jews started moveing their but their were Jews living there and in surrounding areas--the ones who survived. Many Arabs started moveing into the area in order to find work which the Jews created in Israel. These Arabs did not live their before. This is a proven fact. I pray everday that anti-Israel people come to realize that first it is not Israelis fault that the US was bombed--that we were bombed and second the Arab world has always been hostile towards Jews and now wants to plead with the so called left for help in establishing a state in Israel a state which for decades the inhabitants have been planning how to destroy Israel and bomb it's people. Many Palestinains are living among terrorist who kill innoccent peoples lives. They have been brainwashed. And they want all of Israel. Israel is not a very large country. It's a very small country. Why does a nomadic people want Israel so bad. Just look at history it explains everything. I pray that non-Jews realize the prejudices and the Jews who are in denial of the atrocities which have happened to their families come to grips with the reality of the world. This is not that we have to agree with Israeli policy all the time but this is differnt than siding with a people who have declared us the enemy. I am an American and maybe I am not happy and maybe I am deeply disturbed by our governments policies but that does not make our country evil. Maybe we have been badly brutalized by our own governments propaganda to keep us in check and we have to learn as much as we can from the facts and stand up and say we are not going to live or participate in hate and the destruction of innocent peoples lives.

I believe 23.Jul.2002 01:21

pdx radical youth

It's generally bad policy to list your beliefs as additional comments to stories. Strange off-topic, hateful slandering of an entire people (malignantly infiltrated?) is never an acceptable thing to do.

To say: "I believe Palestine should exist but not in Israel" ignores the question of whether Israel should exist in Palestine. You see, the tentative boundaries of Palestine are not random. It isn't just a good location to put a bunch of Palestinians. They've been living there since time immemorial. Israel's claim to the land is military, and their current justification is to keep it as a buffer zone, so there is not an enemy nation right alongside it.

The way you talk about "the Palestinian agenda" makes you sound paranoid and irrational.

Basically you talk about "I believe" this and "I believe" that, but have you actually talked to Palestinian activists? You will surely be able to isolate people who are both pro-Palestinian and anti-semitic, but most people who actually turn out to demonstrations have well-thought out positions on the matter, whether or not I agree with them specifically. You slander an entire people on the basis of propaganda you've been exposed to. It's not to say that there aren't murderers and terrorists among the Palestinians. But as a PEOPLE they are no more or less deserving of autonomy and self-actualization that anyone else on the earth.

The long speech about the Holocaust is certainly relevant, but completely useless in the context of contemporary international land-conflict in Palestine. Recent Jewish suffering does not justify current Palestinian suffering.

Please learn to differentiate between a people and specific people. It does not help a situation to generalize ignorance upon the entire Arab population of the West Bank.

Shalom aleichem