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March 10, 2016

The Economic Costs Of Boycotting Israel: An Arab Perspective

Anti-Israel activists have often argued that the goal of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) campaign is to encourage Israelis to think critically about the “economic cost of the Occupation,” but a recent article published by Al-Hayat, one of the leading daily pan-Arab newspapers, may be challenging them to consider thinking about the costs some Arabs endure as a result of calls to resist normal relations with Israel.al hayat

“Resisting Normalization [with Israel] in Jordan adds economic losses to the defeat” by Jordanian journalist Ibrahim Gharaiba, which appeared on the international edition of Al-Hayat on March 7, offers a realistic picture of the real price Jordanians are paying as a result of calls to boycott Israel.

According to Gharaiba, the Israel–Jordan peace treaty, known as Wadi Araba, could have transformed the status of war between the two counties into great economic and development opportunities for Jordan. “Israel, which its status has changed into a non-enemy country is located at the same geographic region as Jordan, and it has an advanced economy which achieves very high levels of human development.”

This Israeli success story, according to the article, is focused around areas with strategic importance for Jordan, such as water desalination and agriculture.

“Jordan, which suffered a military defeated in 1967 and regional crises creating a refugee proportion close to 70 percent of the population, is also plagued by bizarre political trends working against its best interest in a puzzling way. [This political trend] turned work in Israel, export to and import from it, and training and technical cooperation with it into something taboo.”

Israeli goods burned as part of the BDS activities in the Arab world

Israeli goods (and goods perceived as Israeli) burned as part of the BDS activities in the Arab world

The author also defends his fellow Jordanian citizens who seek work opportunities in Israel against attempts to criminalize their actions. “Citizens who work in Israel are trying to preserve their [human] dignity, especially as the unemployment rate [in Jordan] is too high.”  Gharaiba also responds against those who label cooperation with Israel as “treason” by offering a paradoxical realistic definition: “Treason is when a government abandons the interests and economic opportunities of its people.”

The article compares the consequences of such political rhetoric about boycotting Israel with the situation in 1967 when Jordan joined several other Arab countries in attacking Israel. Many in the Arab world remember the political rhetoric in these years, which rejected any compromise with Israel. According to the author, today’s calls to boycott Israel would add an economic defeat to the military defeat of the Six Day War.

Gharaibah is not the only one in the Arab world who emphasizes the economic hardships that are shaping the future of the Arab world. A number of Arab intellectuals have challenged attempts to mask the role of economic conditions in triggering frustrations of the Arab youth.

While many who support the BDS movement may be motivated by what they believe to be the human rights agenda of its leaders, they often choose to disregard realities on the ground when it comes to the real burden endured by the average Arab citizen. This article is a sobering reminder that the BDS movement’s rhetoric is disconnected  from the reality of the citizens of Jordan and potentially others in the Arab world, many of whom are in serious need of the economic benefits that could come from further cooperation with Israel.

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January 22, 2016

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Still…..A Jew

Saud Al Shureem anti-semitic Tweet

Saud al-Shuraim’s anti-Semitic tweet about the Jewish-Iranian alliance

Over the past month, escalating tension in the Middle East between Iran and the Arab Gulf States helped fuel a resurgence of anti-Semitic statements and conspiracy theories about a supposed link between Israel and Jews to Iran.

Angered by Iran’s increasing influence in the region, prominent Arab figures including politicians, religious leaders and journalists have accused Jews and Israel of secretly supporting Iran and Shi’a Muslims in their war against the Sunni Muslim world.

Just last week, prominent Saudi scholar, Saud al-Shuraim, an Imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca wrote the following statement on his Twitter account: “It is no wonder the Safavids [Iranians] ally with Jews and Christians against Muslims because history testifies that this is the case. What is strange are the minds which took too long to understand this fact.”

Some went as far as accusing “the Jews” of orchestrating Iran’s war against the Sunni Muslim world. Jordanian online news agency Ammon News published an article on January 19, titled “Iran started its holy war on the Sunnis with the blessing of the Jews.”

The online publication, Al Khaleej Affairs, which specializes in Arab Gulf States’ Affairs, interviewed Iraqi Sunni activist Falih Al Shibly on January 21 to talk about the Iranian involvement in Iraq. In the interview Al Shibly claimed, “Unfortunately, there is ignorance in the region about the Jewish supported Persian plot.” He added that “This plot is against all Arab countries from the Arabian West to the ‘Arabian’ Gulf.”

Other anti-Semitic accusations included conspiracy theories that the Jewish lobby in the U.S. is responsible for driving America’s policy in Iran’s best interests. Dubai Police Chief, Dahi Khalfan, whose bizarre statements in the past included accusing the Jews of being linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, claimed on January 18 that President Obama is of Shi’a roots and “the sons of Zion” [the Jews] helped him  reach presidency to “bring Iran and America closer.” Khalfan’s statements were widely circulated in the Arab world.

Such a claim about Jewish support for Iran was the subject of several tweets by former Manager of the Dubai Government Media Office, Dherar Belhoul Al Falasi, on January 11. He claimed that Jews revere Iran because it is considered a “holy” country in Judaism. He wrote “Jews revere Iran more than ‘Palestine.’”

The terrorist organization ISIS is capitalizing on this anti-Semitic trend as well. The featured article in their most recent English-language magazine Dabiq issue included a 14-page screed linking Jews and Shi’as. The back cover of the magazine also featured a full page image of Jews praying in a synagogue with a clear reference to the Jews of Isfahan in Iran.

This anti-Semitic rhetoric is more than just a delusional perspective. It is a tool that has been used time and again to galvanize Arab public opinion.

These conspiracy theories also fail to recognize both the very real threat Iran represents to the Jewish state and the centrality of anti-Semitic propaganda in the ideology embraced by Iran’s ruling regime. It is ironic that such accusations emerge while Iran is organizing  an international cartoon contest–on the Holocaust.

Tension between Iran and the Arab world has a long history, but it has escalated notably over the past few months as a result of the Iran nuclear agreement and growing concern among Arab Gulf States about Iran’s expanding regional influence and its involvement in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Arab world. Both sides have used the media to propagate anti-Semitic accusations against the other through the lens of their own agendas. It seems that  Shi’as  and Sunnis can agree on one thing: blaming the Jews for their problems.

In the past, ADL documented a number of similar conspiracy theories in the Arab world including that ISIS has Jewish roots and that Israel and Jews are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

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November 3, 2015

Iran’s New Anti-Israel Slogan Recycles Old Hate

“Israel will be destroyed within 25 years” appears to be the new mantra promoted by Iran’s propaganda machine ahead of Iran’s “National Day to Fight Global Arrogance” on November 4. It marks the anniversary of the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran by the Iranian students in 1979.

An image circulated on social media

An image circulated on social media

Posters to promote the slogan, circulated recently by institutions affiliated with the Iranian government, demonstrate an effort to popularize the motto as its new anti-Israel slogan. The words echo a statement by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which prophesized the destruction of Israel within the next 25 years.

In early September, Khamenei said, “After [the nuclear] negotiations [ended], in the ‘Zionist regime,’ they said they were not concerned about Iran for next 25 years. I’d say, firstly, you will not see the next 25 years. God willing, there will be nothing called the ‘Zionist regime’ within the next 25 years.”

The new slogan, which recycles the same hateful message of the infamous “Death to Israel” slogan, may indicate an attempt by Iran’s elite to invigorate anti-Israel sentiments among the Iranian people, and specifically the younger generation who have grown weary of the old rhetoric. While the “Death to Israel” slogan continues to be used in Iran, the new slogan introduces a more tangible goal and a timed promise of victory.

Pro-government media outlets are also using the new slogan on social media platforms. Several accounts which appear to be affiliated with government controlled media have shared images promoting the new slogan and created a hashtag in an attempt to make it trend.

The slogans of “Death to America,” “Death to Israel” and “Israel will be destroyed within 25 years” are part of the Iranian regime’s ongoing attempt to promote and justify its hostile policies to audiences inside and outside Iran.

Below are a few examples that demonstrate the media campaign to promote the new slogan.

An image circulated on social media

An image circulated on social media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An image circulated by the office of the Supreme Leader

An image circulated by the office of the Supreme Leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A billboard of the slogan outside the University of Tehran

A billboard of the slogan outside the University of Tehran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iran 1

A street sign in Tehran promoting the slogan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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