Historically, antisemitism has provided the perfect diversionary ploy for dictators and demagogues. Today is no different. From Tehran to Timbuktu, radical political Islamism (not to be confused with Islam the religion), and the governments and institutions they control are employing antisemitism as a highly effective means of distracting the masses. Demonize Jews and Israel as you transform your society into an intolerant theocracy.
Case in point: Egypt has just adopted a Sharia-based constitution that dooms millions to second-class status, including women, religious minorities, gays and lesbians and, of course, Jews. Its Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government and president, Mohammed Morsi, cynically promote antisemitic venom such as denial of the Holocaust and the vicious canard of a Jewish conspiracy behind 9/11. And they remain ideologically adamant in their overarching goals: the implementation of Sharia to redefine society at all levels, and Israel’s elimination.
In the face of this, the Obama Administration and the mainstream media have been largely silent. In fact, eager to appease their supposed new friends in Cairo and elsewhere, they are now busily promoting for U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a former senator who has a problematic history with Jews and Israel.
The situation has reached a point where the political and academic elites actually believe that speaking out against present-day antisemitism somehow equates to opposing the valid aspirations of millions of Muslims. They resist applying any honest analysis to political reality, continuing instead to cling to failed notions like the Arab Spring. They refuse to acknowledge the ascendance of a hate-filled, anti-democratic revolutionary wave that is inflicting incalculable harm on people throughout the Muslim world.
Interesting how those same elites rarely miss an opportunity to denounce Israel’s political leaders and the policies they must uphold to ensure their nation’s survival in a violent region that refuses to recognize the Jewish state’s basic right to exist.
The time has come for President Obama to act. The world must not witness a repeat of 2009 when pro-democracy Iranians were slaughtered in the streets of Tehran by agents of the regime – while the President did nothing.
Sadly, history seems to be repeating itself in Egypt, as Washington continues to soft-pedal the base nature of the Brotherhood and its ascent to power in the region’s most important country. It’s a disturbing trend that began with the President’s 2009 Cairo speech, when he invested the Muslim Brotherhood with undeserved prestige by insisting on their attendance, as he embarked on his policy of engagement with the Islamic world. If Obama does not act to change course soon, that speech will become his Neville Chamberlain moment.
Incitement to genocide against the Jewish people is a basic tenet of radical political Islamism. President Obama and his Administration must confront it head on. Surely he knows the core lesson of the civil rights movement: that blaming the victim only emboldens those who hate. To be blunt, the President can take a principled stand in support of human rights and against antisemitism. Or he can allow the forces of intolerance to aggregate even more power.
How can the U.S. turn a blind eye to a doctrine of antisemitism that literally incites to mass slaughter? When the elites make excuses for extremists in the name of mutual understanding and engagement, then, one fears, we have lost our way. To borrow the words of Martin Luther King Jr., we must not sleep through this revolution.
Dr. Charles Asher Small is Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy (ISGAP), and Distinguished Scholar at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.