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Another Anti-Semite

Jerusalem Post Opinion- Tuesday 18th Nov 2003

Criticism of Israel, it is often said, should not be equated with anti-Semitism. True enough. But it's also true that anti-Zionism has long provided anti-Semites with political cover. Every now and then, however, the cover slips.

We saw this last year, when Irish poet Tom Paulin versified against the "Zionist SS." We saw it when Gretta Duisenberg, the wife of the president of the European Central Bank, quipped that she would seek six million signatures for her pro-Palestinian petition. We saw it when Portuguese novelist and Nobel laureate Jose Saramango, on a "solidarity" visit with Yasser Arafat, equated Ramallah with Auschwitz.

Now, Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis has said that the Jews are the root of all evil. Coming on the heels of Malaysian leader Mohamad Mahatir's remarks about the Jews seeking to rule the world, and of German lawmaker Martin Hohmann's accusation that Jews were behind Bolshevism's atrocities, there is a natural tendency to lump all these forms of bigotry together, and link them to Israel's behavior.

Reality is different.

As Mossad experts have recently said in closed forums, the Jewish people is facing today three kinds of anti-Semitism: classic, liberal, and Muslim.

For its part, the Mossad warns that the Muslim sort – which is also the newest – is also the most dangerous. Judging by the deadly attacks waged last year in Djerba, and last May in Casablanca, and last week in Istanbul – that is clearly right, at least in the immediate term.

Conversely, the kind of pronouncement made by Hohmann represents time-honored anti-Semitic instincts, which lead people to first detect persons of Jewish background and then assume they all operate in clandestine coordination.

Those, too, while their social potency cannot be exaggerated, can at least be dismissed intellectually as little more than poor jokes.

Yet statements made by celebrities on the scale of Theodorakis matter, because they come from people who pretend to care about the world, and who are widely respected in opinion-making circles.

Moreover, as a man who sat in jail for facing up to the military junta that once ruled his country, Theodorakis carries "moral weight," or what passes for that in an increasingly immoral world.

Fortunately, Theodorakis's statements were followed by a clear and official Greek statement of disassociation. Unfortunately, the composer's pronouncements are no slip of the tongue, nor the mere case of one individual. Rather, they are evidence of a much broader disaster – the moral disaster of the European Left.

To say, as Theodorakis has, that he is attacking the Jews because he has "always sided with the weak," is a good reflection of current European thinking, which effectively holds that almost any application of power is a sin and that powerlessness is a virtue.

So would Theodorakis have supported Hitler the morning after his army surrendered at Stalingrad, on the grounds that thereafter the Germans were on the defensive? The suggestion is absurd, but so too is a morality that is indifferent to anything but crude calculations of the balance of power.

(Even by Theodorakis's measure, it is far from obvious that a resource-poor country of six million is stronger than its 280 million resource-rich and almost uniformly hostile neighbors.)

What Theodorakis and his fellow travelers – who once made careers of confronting European and South American dictators – have yet to concede, let alone do something about, is the flourishing of despotism in the Middle East. Instead, they have chosen to demonize the US and Israel in a way that bears ever-greater resemblance to what we hear every day from Islamic fundamentalists.

Even now, most Europeans of the Left understand that the real root of the problem is religious fanaticism and political repression. But it also seems that misdirected sympathies, as well as a latent fear of Muslim advances on the Continent, are leading them to appease the worst elements of the Muslim world at Israel's expense.

To them, we say: At best, you are purchasing time at the expense of principle. And at some point, you'll run out of both. We can only hope that Theodorakis's anti-Semitic remarks awaken you to your impending moral bankruptcy.



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