Ah, anti-Semitism: so old, yet forever new. In the Middle Ages, many ignorant people thought that rabbis stole Christian children to use as a blood-sacrifice. They neither demanded proof nor expected any — having decided that Jews were collectively evil, they felt free to invent any malicious stories they wished.
We’re past that, because the Holocaust has awakened us out of our moral stupor and in this post-modern, relativistic, multicultural world, nobody would dare make up such crude falsehoods.
Yet in our enlightened world, a state-run Iranian television channel can broadcast a TV show about Israeli doctors stealing the eyes of Palestinian children. The news media won’t give this 1% of the air time they spent on examining whether “The Passion of the Christ” was anti-Semitic. This bile is hardly atypical — browse MEMRI’s site and you’ll see what I mean. But the Middle Eastern hate-peddlers get a pass because, of course, they don’t have white skin.
I never met a Middle Easterner who was entirely free of paranoia and conspiracy theories. One example: a former co-worker, an American citizen from Palestine with whom I enjoy a warm friendship, is convinced that every time Starbucks sells a cup of coffee, they send a nickel to the Israeli stettlements in the Palestinian territories. Bewildered, I asked him for proof, but he kept insisting it was true. (If you’re reading this, R.A., send me proof and I’ll post it right here!) This is one of the more sensible, admirable people I know, who isn’t by any means irrational or filled with hatred toward anyone.
I keep hearing some people bleet that we should get out of Iraq and the region in general (including Israel). Do you really think that if we disengage from the Middle East, it will somehow become better? As if we are the primary contagion of all these pathologies? The world will continue to buy Middle Eastern oil, the oil-fattened sociopaths in these regimes will continue to oppress their own people and promote an anti-Western and anti-Semitic ideology that encourages external, aggressive death and destruction.
We weren’t doing much of anything in the region throughout the 1990s besides protecting one Muslim country (Saudi Arabia) from invasion by another Muslim country (Iraq). That and telling Israel to make generous concessions to the Palestinians in exchange for paper promises of security. In return, Israel got hundreds of its citizens blown up and a suppressed economy. The U.S. got its servicemen blown up at Khobar Towers and in the U.S.S. Cole, two embassies bombed in Africa, and the coup de grace on September 11. If we disengage, why does anyone think these outrages would cease? As if terrorists and the despots who love them are suddenly going to change their ways when we turn tail and run.
I do not contend that the Bush administration’s policies sprang fully formed from the brow of God, nor do I think the execution of their policies is beyond question or critique. But if you’re going to say they’re wrong, it’s incumbent on you to say what you would do differently. And whatever solution you come up with needs to address the deep spiritual sickness that infects a good portion of the Muslim world. The conflict between the Islamists and the West starts with the soul, not with politics.