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March 10, 2016 2

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 2

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 17, 2015 1

Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Crop Up In Wake Of Paris Attacks

In the after­math of the wave of coor­di­nated ter­ror attacks across Paris, con­spir­acy the­o­ries link­ing Jews or Israel with the attacks have begun to sur­face in the U.S and abroad.

al-alam-news-tweet-netanyahu-isis

Tweet from Iran­ian news chan­nel Al-Alam

Sup­posed links between Israel and the Paris attacks have been dis­cussed in inter­na­tional media outlets:

  • Iran’s Fars News Agency (FNA) pub­lished a report on Novem­ber 16 that read in part: “After the ter­ror­ist attacks in Paris, it was once again con­firmed that French Jews were informed that the tragedy would hap­pen. Just as it hap­pened in the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks 14 years ago, when Jews work­ing in the Twin Tow­ers did not attend to work.” The report added that “Zion­ist offi­cials wanted to exploit [the attacks] to achieve their spe­cific goals.” The report listed sev­eral con­spir­a­to­r­ial the­o­ries about Jew­ish respon­si­bil­ity for the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks.
  • On Novem­ber 14, Egypt-based Al-Asima TV inter­viewed Colonel Hatem Saber as an expert on inter­na­tional ter­ror­ism to com­ment on the Paris attacks. Saber sug­gested that Israel stands behind the ter­ror­ist attacks in Paris because France agreed to pro­vide Egypt with arms, which was con­sid­ered threat­en­ing to Israel.
  • A car­toon tweeted by the Iran­ian news chan­nel Al-Alam on Novem­ber 17, shows Israeli PM Netanyahu putting an explo­sive vest on an ISIS ter­ror­ist in the back­drop of the Eif­fel Tower.

    al-arab-tweet-israel-paris-attacks

    Tweet from Qatari news­pa­per Al-Arab

  • A car­toon depict­ing Israel as the dri­ving force behind the attack was pub­lished in Qatar’s Al-Arab news­pa­per on Novem­ber 17 and cir­cu­lated on Twit­ter. It shows Israel as the ulti­mate oper­a­tor of the small fig­ure in the pic­ture, which rep­re­sents terror.

These the­o­ries about the Paris attacks are sim­i­lar to past con­spir­a­cies that have been cir­cu­lated in the Mid­dle East about Israel being behind ISIS.

In the U.S., fringe anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rists, who rarely miss an oppor­tu­nity to exploit tragedies to pro­mote their hatred of Jews, blamed Jews or Israel for the attacks, much as they did after the Jan­u­ary ter­ror attacks in Paris.

  • Mark Glenn, a vir­u­lently anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist, posted an image on his blog The Ugly Truth on Novem­ber 15 of a dog think­ing “All the ISIS guys smell like Mossad” in a post titled “France should have beefed up anti-terror laws.”  In a Novem­ber 16 post on the attacks, Glenn wrote “Until peo­ple begin to grasp this sim­ple fact, that there is no such thing as a ‘good Jew’, and that Judaism–AT ITS CORE AND FROM THE MOMENT OF ITS INCEPTION–is and has been the embod­i­ment of religiously-induced men­tal ill­ness, the world will con­tinue to march at break-neck speed towards its own destruc­tion, the peo­ple of the Mid­dle East being its first vic­tims, and then every­one else, one by one, tak­ing their turn as well.”
  • On Novem­ber 16 in Vet­er­ans Today, a U.S.-based web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news, a Pak­istani con­trib­u­tor named Saj­jad Shuakat wrote in an arti­cle titled “Is Israel Behind Paris Attacks?” that “…we are liv­ing in a world of Zionist-controlled media which is very strong and what­ever it release [sic] by con­ceal­ing truth and prop­a­gat­ing Israeli inter­ests as part of the dis­in­for­ma­tion, impress the politi­cians and gen­eral masses in the whole world.”

    mary-hughes-thompson-anti-semitic-tweet

    Retweet from anti-Israel activist Mary Hughes-Thompson

  • Kevin Bar­rett, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist and fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Iran’s Eng­lish lan­guage pro­pa­ganda news net­work, Press TV, wrote a Novem­ber 13 arti­cle in Vet­er­ans Today titled “Another French False Flag?” In the arti­cle Bar­rett states that “Since we now know the Char­lie Hebdo attack was a…false flag by the usual sus­pects (NATO hard­lin­ers and Zion­ists), can we safely make the same assump­tion about these new Fri­day the 13th Paris atroc­i­ties? I think we can.” Bar­rett added “The first ques­tion, as always, is: Who gains? And the answer, as always, is: Author­i­tar­ian insid­ers. Zion­ists. Mil­i­tarists. Islam­o­phobes. New World Order-Out-Of-Chaos freaks.”
mary-hughes-thompson tweet

Tweet from anti-Israel activist Mary Hughes-Thompson

At least one anti-Israel activist also linked Jews and Israel to the attacks:

  • On Novem­ber 14, Anti-Israel activist Mary Hughes-Thompson, co-founder of the Free Gaza Move­ment, tweeted that “I haven’t accused Israel of involve­ment. Still, Bibi [Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu] is upset about the Euro­pean set­tle­ment boy­cott. So who knows.” She also posted a car­toon on her Twit­ter page depict­ing an anti-Semitic car­i­ca­ture of a Jew­ish man say­ing “Merci [Thank you]” to an ISIS fighter, with the com­ment that “Every­thing is work­ing out as planned. Soon those White goyim will be on their knees.”

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