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Arab Anti-semitism and Incitement Kill Peace Prospects, Congress Told

April 22, 2002
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Congress got an earful about anti-Semitism in the Arab world this week, and members didn’t like what they heard.

Lawmakers listened to experts at a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing Thursday speaking about increasing anti-Semitism and anti-American incitement in the Arab world, and how it threatens peace prospects in the Middle East as well as U.S. security.

The Anti-Defamation League painted a grim picture of Arab anti-Semitism, and said hopes for regional cooperation in the Middle East have been shattered. Political leaders must promote tolerance and reject hatred, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said.

“Arab anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, if allowed to flourish, could become one of the most destructive forces unleashed in this new century,” Foxman testified.

The ADL called on Congress to take steps against the incitement and hatred that fuels terrorism.

“Now that we are simultaneously witnessing the unraveling of hopes for peace and a spurt of Arab anti-Semitism, it forces us to take another look at the connection between anti-Semitism, efforts to dehumanize Jews or Americans, and the terrorism against Israel and America,” Foxman said.

New satellite channels cater to the masses’ anti-American sentiments, according to Yigal Carmon, president of the Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors Arab media.

Arab education systems are “no less powerful a tool of indoctrination of the youth,” Carmon said.

At times it seemed the experts were preaching to the choir. Some lawmakers already are well versed in the problem and used their time to advance the message that anti-Semitism is rampant in the Arab world.

“We find ourselves facing an ideological enemy that may turn out to be harder to defeat than Al-Qaida or the Taliban — the fanatical anti-American and anti-Semitic incitement that permeates the Arab world,” said Gilman, chairman of the International Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

“This propaganda constitutes a real threat to long-term U.S. interests in the region, and does great damage to the prospects for a real and lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and to the bilateral relations between the United States and its allies in the Arab world,” he said.

Gilman said Arab leaders must make it clear that such anti-Semitic rhetoric is politically and culturally unacceptable.

“Every time an Arab government, newspaper, school, or mosque uses this inflammatory type of language, we set back any chances that the United States, Israel and the Arab world can come together peacefully,” Engel said.

Foxman issued a series of recommendations to focus pressure on nations that “traffic in the weaponry of hatred and incitement.”

ADL wants incitement to be on the U.S. diplomatic agenda, recommends a focus on anti-bias education and wants Congress and the White House to report on how governments are dealing with incitement in their countries.

Foxman also called for a presidential commission to study U.S. responses to incitement.

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