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Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2001 / 21 Elul 5761

Don Feder

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Racists cry racism at U.N. conference -- BRAVO Bush for withdrawing U.S. delegates from the United Nations Conference Against Racism. At the Durban debacle, racists cried racism and anti-Semites paraded their bigotry while condemning Israeli intolerance.

A meeting of non-governmental organizations excoriated Israel for running an "apartheid/racist state,'' committing "racist crimes against humanity'' and conducting "ethnic cleansing.'' Conference officials are currently considering which of these smears to include in the conclave's final document.

Even Secretary General Kofi Annan, who occasionally shows signs of brain activity, joined the assault when he commented it was wrong for Palestinians to mute their complaints just because Jews are oversensitive.

While this was going on, Palestinian protestors waved signs reading, "Hitler should have finished the job,'' and the Arab Lawyers Union distributed a booklet of anti-Semitic cartoons condemned by Mary Robinson, U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights.

If Israel is running an apartheid/racist state, it's doing a damned shoddy job. Israeli Arabs, 20 percent of the population, have full civil rights. Arabs, Druze and Bedouins hold 12 seats in the Knesset.

Israel's Arab citizens have a 95 percent literacy rate, thanks to 1,000 government-funded schools. More than 5,000 Arab students attend Israeli universities and technical schools. In a recent poll, while 70 percent of Israeli Arabs said their loyalty lies with the Palestinians, the same percentage said there's no other nation in the region where they'd prefer to live, including under the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli society is the most multicultural on earth. It's taken in Jews from almost every land, including 40,000 from Ethiopia. It also accepted hundreds of Vietnamese boat people in the '70s. Roughly 60 percent its population could be classified as non-Caucasian.

The Arabs are somewhat less inclusive. Anti-Semitism, racism, and persecution of religious and ethnic minorities thrives in the Middle East.

Egypt's Coptic Christians would consider second-class citizenship a promotion. Sudan's Moslem government enslaves black tribesmen.

Shitte Iran persecutes Christians, Jews (11 recently were convicted in a show trial of spying for Israel), Bha'is and Sunni Moslems. Iraq and Syria kill Kurds.

Jews are prohibited from living in Jordan. Christians can't practice their religion in Saudi Arabia. Arafat wants 120,000 Jews now living on the West Bank to be cleansed from his future Palestinian state.

And Arabs accuse Israel of oppression. The Jews have a word for this -- chutzpah. Most Arab states have no Jews left to persecute, as their ancient Jewish communities were destroyed in the late 1940s. That hasn't stopped them from engaging in anti-Semitic agitation.

In 1937, a decade before the rebirth of Israel, Saudi Arabia's King Ibn Saud explained that the Moslem's hatred of Jews is based on the Koran. Thus, "for a Moslem to kill a Jew ... ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven.''

Half a century later, when Syrian ruler Bashar Assad met the pope, he offered the same rationale for Arab Jew-hatred. The Jews, Assad declared, "tried to kill the principles of all religions ... and the same way they tried to betray and kill the Prophet Muhammad.''

In Egypt, government newspapers circulate the blood libel and engage in Holocaust denial. A sermon by the acting rector of the Islamic University of Gaza, broadcast on Palestinian television last October, railed, "Whever you (Moslems) are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them.''

An article by Egyption Gen. Hassan Sweilem in a government periodical described Jews as "base and loathsome,'' and observed that, wherever they've settled, "they turned the place into a den of evil, corruption, incitement to internal strife and the spreading of wars.'' Other than that, what do you think of the children of Abraham, Adolf?

As Yogi Berra would say -- only at the United Nations. Only at the U.N. could the victim become the villain. Only at Babble International could a conference called to oppose collective hatred become a forum for group libel. Only at a U.N. conference could Hitlerites in kaffiyehs complain of persecution by a nation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate