2008-07-02 / Editorial

Arab governments must end their antisemitic rhetoric

Amid all the news about the upcoming presidential election, Supreme Court decisions and political machinations in Israel, a little-observed vote in the U.S. House of Representatives deserves some attention. The House passed a resolution condemning antisemitism in the Arab media and criticizing Arab governments for their censorship of the press.

JTA reported that the House vote was both nonbinding and unanimous. In other words, no politician risked his or her political career by casting this particular vote. Condemning antisemitism, thankfully, is like supporting motherhood as far as Congress is concerned.

Nevertheless, the vote recognizes two of the most intractable problems facing those working toward peace in the Middle East. The fact that there is no real freedom of the press in the Arab world arises out of the fact that there is no real freedom in the Arab world. Israel's neighbors are despotic regimes. Hosni Mubarak rules Egypt with an iron fist. So does Assad in Syria. If there are independent voices in the Arab world, they are seldom heard from. It is risky to speak up if your views can end up putting you in prison- or worse. As Israel has found, undemocratic societies with little freedom make for risky peace partners.

The House resolution also pointed out the fact that Arab societies, whether in the press, academia, or government are virulently antisemitic. The government controlled media typically spew the worst forms of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

How can peace be achieved and maintained if the typical non-Israeli citizen of the Middle East is constantly being bombarded with anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda? .

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