Antisemitism After September 11th

By Esther Kaplan
The Public Eye Magazine - Vol. 16, No. 2


To White supremacists across the United States, the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were a cause for celebration. On a radio broadcast that week, William Pierce, head of the neonazi National Alliance, called the attacks “a direct consequence of the American people permitting the Jews to control their government and to use American strength to advance the Jews’ interests at the expense of everyone else's interests.”[1] He victoriously announced the dawn of a “new era,” in which Jewish money, and Jewish manipulation of the media and the U.S. government are “no longer are enough to guarantee the Jews’ continued hegemony.”[2]

James “Bo” Gritz, a Patriot Movement leader and former Green Beret, suggested that it was the “high concentration of influential Jews” that made New York and Washington, D.C., attractive targets,[3] an idea echoed by the likes of Swiss neonazi Ahmed Huber and the Posse Comitatus militia in jubilant references to the attacks on “Jew York.”[4] As reports began to emerge of a surge of anti-Muslim violence across the United States, World Church of the Creator leader Matt Hale wrote to his listserve: “Now we have to help channel this hatred toward the Jews.”[5] He urged his followers to proselytize that the attacks were due to “the control of the United States government by International Jewry and its lackeys. Perhaps never before,” he added, “have people been so receptive to our message.”[6]

The Great Conspiracy

Hale may have had his finger to the wind. On September 17th, the Lebanese television station Al-Manar posted a story on its website claiming that 4,000 Israelis were absent from their jobs at the World Trade Center on September 11th, “based on hints from the Israeli General Security Apparatus,” and that Israeli secret police prevented Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from traveling to New York City the day of the attacks.[7] The Anti- Defamation League (ADL) suggests that this number may have been plucked from the Israeli Embassy’s statement of concern about the 4,000 Israeli nationals residing in New York City.[8] By the next morning, when the story reappeared on an obscure U.S.-based website, the Information Times, it had become 4,000 Jews. Within days, the rumor appeared in newspapers and on listserves around the world—in Russia's Pravda (later retracted), in papers in Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia,[9] even circulating within the American Left, in emails with such credulous introductory remarks as “interesting but unconfirmed information.”[10]

According to Asghar Ali Engineer, a Bombay-based progressive scholar and activist who is an expert on communal violence in India, a version that the Mossad was responsible for the attacks was circulated broadly on e-mail networks in India and was widely believed, “especially among Muslims.”[11] Another version, accusing “Zionists” of plotting the attacks, was posted on a website linked to a ministry of the Qatar government.[12] The rumor made its way to jihad recruitment rallies in Peshawar (the capital of Pakistan’s Pashtun-dominated North West Frontier Province) in late September, where Allama Noorul Haq Qadri, the Naib Amir of the Ahl-i-Sunnah Wal-Jamat called the attacks “a conspiracy of Jews to pit America against the Muslim world,”[13] and in Rawalpindi (in Pakistani Punjab) in October, where Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman explicitly blamed “the Jews” for the September 11 attacks and urged a U.S. probe into why 4,000 Jews were absent from the towers and why Sharon cancelled his U.S. visit.[14] The Ahl-i-Sunnah and the JUI are two of the numerous jihadi groups that first gained ground in Pakistan during the regime of Gen. Zia ul Haq in the 1980s.[15] The JUI repeated these tales at several other rallies in the following weeks, including one in Hyderabad (in Sind province) where according to the Pakistani English-language daily, the Dawn, a leader called on JUI workers “to eliminate the American commandos and Jews.”[16] The rhetoric of Jewish conspiracy had indeed found receptive audiences around the world.

Finally, it was adopted by the Taliban itself—in late November 2001, a Taliban security chief charged that the attacks were “the work of Jews trying to blacken the name of Islam;”[17] an unsurprising development, given that Osama bin Laden had long before dubbed his forces “The World Islamic Front against Jews and Crusaders.[18]

The Question of Violence

But if the rhetoric conjured up dangerous images of Jewish conspiratorial reach, it did not seem to be reflected in a dramatic rise in violence—at least in the United States. An ADL national poll conducted in November found no evidence suggesting that antisemitic attitudes had worsened in the United States as a result of the September 11th events.[19] The ADL documented one serious September 11–related attack: A synagogue in Tacoma, Washington, was set on fire just days after being sprayed with graffiti blaming Jews for the terrorist attacks. Still, ADL spokeswoman Myrna Shinbaum says that there was no significant increase in anti-Jewish hate incidents in the wake of September 11th.[20] In fact, the ADL’s 2001 audit noted an 11 percent drop in anti-Jewish incidents from 2000 to 2001, for a total of 1,432, including 555 acts of vandalism and 877 acts of harassment or physical assault, with no deaths.[21]

Contrast this number with those from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which recorded 520 violent attacks or explicitly violent threats—including six murders—directed against Arab-Americans in just the first two months after the World Trade Center attacks, along with several hundred cases of employment discrimination, numerous reports of racial profiling by police, and 27 airline expulsions in the same period.[22] The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund tracked an additional 77 violent attacks against South Asians in the first month after September 11th.[23] Despite the popularity of conspiracies involving Israel and “the Jews,” Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians were overwhelmingly the targets of both street level violence and public and private sector discrimination in the United States.

But outside of the United States, many Jews and Jewish institutions did become the targets of vicious post–September 11 violence. The murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in February was the most notorious instance, and the most deeply disturbing. Although Nafisa Hoodbhoy, a former reporter for the Dawn, has persuasively argued that Pearl was singled out in great part for his investigations into the complex ties between militant Islamic groups and Pakistani intelligence agencies, it is almost impossible to believe that antisemitism did not play a decisive role.[24] One of Pearl’s captors has admitted that his kidnappers were specifically looking for a Jewish victim. And reports that Pearl’s likely coerced last words, just before his throat was cut, were “My father is a Jew, my mother is a Jew, and I am a Jew,” indicated that it was Pearl’s very Jewishness that his captors sought to annihilate.[25]

An attack in Tunisia produced the highest death toll of any post–September 11 attack on Jews, when an explosion at a synagogue on the island of Djerba killed 16 people.[26] Acts of violence and provocation began to appear in Europe much earlier, and though less gruesome than the murder in Pakistan, and less deadly than the attack in Tunisia, they were far more plentiful. A Muslim sheikh based in London, for example, recorded and distributed tapes immediately after September 11th calling for violence against Jews and urging young boys to learn to use Kalashnikovs.[27] There was an eruption of vandalism of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Germany and Belgium.[28]

In October, vandals torched a Jewish elementary school in southern France, leaving behind a spray-painted message reading “Death to the Jews” and “bin Laden will conquer.”[29] The French incident was part of a wave of more than 400 attacks in that nation on rabbis, synagogues, Jewish schools, and Jewish students documented in a report, “Les Antifeujs,” published in early March by SOS Racisme and the Union of Jewish Students of France.[30] After the report’s publication, the French violence seemed to escalate, and the final weekend of March was marked by a burst of attacks: a gunman opened fire on a kosher butcher shop near Toulouse, a young Jewish couple were wounded in an attack in Villeurbanne, vandals set fire to a synagogue in Strasbourg, and a dozen hooded attackers crashed two cars through the main gate of a synagogue in Lyon, ramming one vehicle into the temple’s main prayer hall and setting it on fire.[31] These were followed by an organized attack on a Jewish soccer team in a Paris suburb in April, which left one person hospitalized. The young, masked attackers shouted “Death to Jews” as they assaulted the soccer players with sticks and metal bars.[32]

But there is a critical component in the outbreak of anti-Jewish violence documented in “Les Antifeujs,” as well as in the incidents documented in a similar, global report from the Israel-based Stephen Roth Institute: both tie the upsurge in hate crimes against Jews not to the events of September 11th, but to a date a year earlier—the beginning of the al-Aqsa intifada, and Israel’s brutal response. In fact, those Lyon attackers were ramming their cars into the synagogue at almost the exact moment that Israeli troops were breaking down the walls of Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah—in other words, the outbreak of violence that weekend in France closely matched the intensification of Israeli assaults in the West Bank. The Stephen Roth report documents more than 250 violent anti-Jewish attacks worldwide in the weeks that immediately followed the outbreak of the intifada in the final days of September 2000. “Up to October some 90 cases of extreme right violence were recorded,” according to the report, but “since October, Muslim activity has predominated. . . . [This pattern] confirmed the potential of the Arab-Israeli conflict to escalate ethno-religious enmity between Jews and Muslims worldwide.”[33] The report reminds us of a similar upsurge in attacks on Jewish targets in the early 1990s, at the beginning of the Gulf War, a conflict in which the U.S.-Israeli relationship was seen by some to be central.

The ADL’s 2000 audit of anti-Jewish violence echoed this same trend, with 259 incidents reported in October 2000, just after the intifada began, far more than in any other single month that year. At the time, ADL National Director Abe Foxman said, “When the crisis in the Middle East reached a fever pitch, Jews around the world and in the United States became targets for random acts of aggression and violence,”[34] a comment that became even more apt in the spring of 2002.

The question becomes: How do we interpret this violence and its relationship to the Israel-Palestine conflict? Did “events in the Middle East only set off [antisemitic hatred]” as Malek Boutih, president of France’s SOS Racisme, said in March? As he went on to say, “There is always a good reason to be anti-Semitic for those who want to be.”[35] Or has the identification between the State of Israel and Jews as a whole become so well established that these acts of violence should be understood more specifically as expressions of rage over Israeli policy? The evidence for both readings is fairly persuasive.

Strains of Classic Antisemitism

In addition to the international popularity of Jewish conspiracy theories about September 11th, there are other signs that anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe and the Arab world has strayed far from criticism of Israel and squarely into the territory of classic European antisemitism. The Saudi Arabian broadcast company, Arab Radio and Television, produced a multimillion dollar 30-part dramatization of the classic anti-Jewish forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in time for a 2002 Ramadan broadcast, which according to Egyptian star Muhammad Subhi, “expos[es] all the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that have been implemented to date.”[36] A January 2002 article in the Egyptian government weekly, Akher Sa'a headlined; “The Jews are Bloodsuckers and Will Yet Conquer America,” and included such choice lines as “A great danger threatens the United States of America. This great danger is the Jew. . . . Why? Because they are vampires, and vampires cannot live on other vampires.”[37] A December 2001 comedy sketch on Dubai TV called “Terrorman,” depicted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon drinking the blood of Arab children—a clear reference to blood libel myths that date back to the medieval Crusades, while cartoons in more than one Egyptian paper depicted the American Jewish lobby through images of shrunken, groveling, hook-nosed Jews that could have been lifted directly from Nazi literature.[38]

Here in the United States, Sheikh Muhammad Gemeaha, then imam of the Kuwait-funded Islamic Cultural Center of New York City explained back in October that “only the Jews” were capable of the September 11th attacks, and that “if it became known to the American people, they would have done to the Jews what Hitler did.”[39]

Ali Abunimah, vice-president of the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network, cautions that some of these translations are questionable.[40] In fact, all of the above translations—with the exception of the Gemeaha quote, which was verified by the New York Times—come from the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington-based pro-Israel outfit that a former CIA operative has called “selective . . . propagandists.”[41] Abunimah also emphasizes that there are sounder voices in the Arab and Muslim communities who try to challenge these kinds of statements, and that some of the language about Muslims and Arabs in the U.S. and Israeli press is equally vile.[42] And yet, he says, “a lot of anti-Israeli sentiment is indeed mixed with antisemitic rhetoric imported from the West.”[43]

As Martin Lee documented in a recent report for the Southern Poverty Law Center, these images have not filtered into Arab culture by accident. Alliances between Muslims and Nazis date back to the years before World War II, when the grand mufti of Jerusalem sought an alliance with Nazi Germany.[44] Since then there has been a history of Arab countries, especially Egypt, providing safe haven for Nazis and neonazis; of freelance neonazi shock troops joining the Palestinian and Iraqi causes; of wealthy Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Libya financing American and European neofascists; and of Holocaust denialists from the United States and Europe seeking out audiences in the Arab world by sponsoring conferences and translating and distributing literature. Lee calls it a “peculiar bond” in its current form, that derives “in part from a shared set of enemies: Jews, the United States, race-mixing, ethnic diversity” and part from “the shared belief that they must shield their own peoples from the corrupting influence of foreign cultures and the homogenizing juggernaut of globalization.”[45] A key figure in the current alliance is Swiss neonazi Ahmed Huber, who is a director within Al Taqwa, the international banking group that apparently helped to channel funds for Osama bin Laden’s operations.[46]

Israel and “the Jews”

At other times, antisemitism watchdogs may be reading sinister anti-Jewish ideology into articles and illustrations in the Arab media that may fairly be understood as straightforward criticism of Israeli militarism and the Israel-U.S. alliance. “There’s this idea that all of this anger must come from an external source, which is antisemitism,” says Abunimah, and “that somehow the occupation and the butchery couldn’t possibly explain the hostility toward Israel.”[47] Arab and Muslim identification with the Palestinian cause is intense, to say the least: popular demonstrations of outrage over Israeli aggression were so ferocious and widespread in March that they nearly threatened to destabilize the governments of Jordan and Egypt.

Take as an example, in this context, a cartoon posted on the ADL website from the Palestinian paper Al-Ayyam, which pictures Vice-President Dick Cheney with Stars of David reflected in his glasses. Does this image, as the ADL suggests, “promote the anti-Semitic canard that Jews control the U.S. government”? At one level, it does. On the other hand, the United States has, until recently, vetoed every UN resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, and Cheney himself has made remarks indicating, perhaps disingenuously, that Israel’s interests are at the center of U.S. foreign policy in the region, telling Sharon on March 25th that the United States was planning to attack Iraq “first and foremost for Israel’s sake.”[48] And how can one argue definitively that the Star of David symbolizes Jews in general, rather than the Israeli State in particular, when that symbol adorns the Israeli flag? As Abunimah points out, “People see Palestinians being brutalized every night on television, and the Apache helicopters being used in the attacks have Stars of David on them. Israel is the one who attached an ancient symbol to its violent, colonial operations.”[49]

Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis, a senior fellow with the Progressive Policy Institute, describes the dynamic: “Israel the State, the army, the occupation uses the language of being Jews a great deal, and the symbols of being Jews, and often claims that what it does is in the name of all Jews. And in the Arab world, particularly among Palestinians, that language gets translated. So instead of saying, ‘The Israelis came and shot up my house and arrested my brother,’ they say, ‘The Jews came. . .’ At a certain point it gets to be too much. Traveling there, I sometimes say, ‘You know, I’m Jewish,’ and they reply, ‘But you’re from New York!’ For them ‘the Jews’ means ‘the Israelis.’”[50]

This identification between Jews and Israel is reinforced by Israeli leaders and by most of the major Jewish organizations in the United States. At the height of Israeli incursions into the West Bank this spring, Sharon called the troop actions “a battle for the survival of the Jewish people.”[51] Here at home, ADL’s Abe Foxman, is fond of saying “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, period,”[52] while the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations push a hawkish pro-Israel politics on Capitol Hill that is out of step with the propeace American Jewish majority—despite the fact that the conference claims to represent the entire American Jewish community.[53]

In any case it needs to be said: Though identification with Israel is at least as intense for many Jews as identification with Palestine is for many Arabs, not all Israelis and diasporic Jews support the occupation or Sharon’s escalating brutality. A recent Ma’ariv poll showed that 63 per cent of Israelis support a ceasefire and a peace agreement that would establish a Palestinian state;[54] 45 per cent even support the evacuation of all Jewish settlements in order to accomplish this end, and support for Sharon has hovered between 35 and 62 per cent in 2002, hardly a ringing endorsement. Even as civilian Israeli casualties began to mount last fall, a poll by the New York-based Jewish Forward found that 51 per cent of respondents identified with Israeli “doves” rather than Israeli “hawks.”[55]

Distinctions like these are easily lost in regions where the only encounters people have with Jews are shots of Israeli soldiers on the evening news. Mohammed Fadel, a member of the post-9/11 New York City-based organization, Muslims Against Terrorism, and a specialist in Islamic law, says that Egyptians of his father’s generation had Jewish neighbors, colleagues, and schoolmates, and there were Jews in prominent positions in the government—but that’s no longer the case. “One of the unintended consequences of Zionism,” Fadel argues, “is that you no longer have a social presence of Jews in the Arab world. And without any kind of reality check in society to limit the tendency of people to view their enemies in the worst possible way, it’s not hard to understand how antisemitic rhetoric can grow and spread.”[56]

The increase in anti-Jewish violence over the past year and a half indicates that the tight identification of Israel with world Jewry has converted Jewish institutions, not just Israeli ones, into targets of violence. According to the Stephen Roth report, “In contrast to former Arab-Israeli clashes, the main targets of these attacks were not institutions identified with the State of Israel, but Jews and Jewish sites.”[57] But while this identification is indeed propagated by racist neonazis, in their obsession with the so-called Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG), and by anti-Jewish propaganda in the Arab world, it is being forged in equal part by major Jewish organizations in the diaspora, and by the State of Israel itself.

The Silence of the Left

One might hope that the Left would be helping to disentangle this morass, by protesting Israeli incursions on the one hand and antisemitic attacks on the other, and helping to break down the identification of “Jews” with “Israel.” But outside of the Jewish Left, that is rarely the case.

In France, protests of the rising anti-Jewish violence have been attended primarily by Jews, but with significant support from Muslim organizations and Left activists from antiracist groups such as SOS Racisme. But such instances of left-wing solidarity are not widespread. Just after Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the racist National Front, came in second in the first round of France’s presidential balloting, Naomi Klein, a chronicler of the anti-corporate globalization movement, wrote the following in the London Guardian: “I couldn’t help thinking about the recent events I’ve been to where anti-Muslim violence was rightly condemned, Ariel Sharon deservedly blasted, but no mention was made of attacks on Jewish synagogues, cemeteries and community centers. Or about the fact that every time I log on to activist news sites like which practice ‘open publishing,’ I am confronted with a string of Jewish conspiracy theories about September 11 and excerpts from the Protocol of the Elders of Zion.”[58] A recent glance at the Jerusalem Indy Media site also revealed an article by racist former Klansman David Duke, identifying him only as a former member of the Louisiana state Legislature.[59]

Far from issuing overt expressions of solidarity against antisemitism, many on the Left have attempted to turn concern over antisemitism on its head. On the same Indy Media site, one encounters a graphic described as a “Zionazi flag” that flashes the Nazi flag and the Israeli flag with an equal sign in between.[60]

Similar images appeared on dozens of handmade flags and signs at a massive demonstration in Washington DC in late April against the Israeli occupation, where protesters also chanted “Sharon and Hitler, they’re the same; the only difference is the name.”[61] In February, demonstrators in France carried signs reading “Sionisme = Nazisme.”[62] A March 2002 email from a Pakistani progressive reads in part, “Looking at Sharon’s tanks going into Ramallah brings to my mind Hitler’s invasion of Poland. . . . The Israelis are behaving like Nazis now.”[63] This language has become commonplace.

Leftists could be seeing in Israel’s incursions the brutality of the Soviet Union, whose tanks rolled into Prague in 1968, or the bloody violence of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. But they do not. Instead, leftists around the globe choose to compare Israel with Nazi rule, a choice that contains at least a hint of an attack against the Jewish experience.

Author and activist Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz a member since its inception of the Middle East peace group Women in Black, says, “I’ve been uncomfortable with the Nazi language around the conflict for years. It feels like a desperate attempt to shake Jews loose from their identity as victims.”[64] The complication, as she points out, is that Israelis, too, have wrapped themselves in the language of the Holocaust in order to explain their military aggression. Undeniably, for Jews, this connection has an emotional basis in the deep-seated fear and anxiety produced by the Holocaust, and in the intense post-Holocaust yearning for a safe haven. But, decades after the end of Nazism, the idea that Israel is the one bulwark against threats to Jewish safety came to be used more cynically, as well. Peter Novick writes in The Holocaust and American Life that it was in the wake of the 1967 war, and especially after the 1973 Yom Kippur war, that “[Israeli] conflicts were endowed with all the black-and-white moral clarity of the Holocaust, which came to be, for the Israeli cause, what Israel was said to be for the United States—a strategic asset.”[65]

With Israel using the Holocaust to justify its military aggressions, the temptation has clearly become strong, within the movement against the occupation, to take that moral authority away. The trouble is this gesture has far too much in common with the work of Holocaust denialists—usually overt antisemites—who try to paint the Holocaust as a victimization myth invented by Jews in order to veil Jewish power or to make false claims to being God’s chosen people.[66] If advocates of Palestinian rights hope to free themselves of charges of antisemitism, they must find ways to condemn the occupation that avoid any attempt to erase the violent and traumatic history of the persecution of Jews—or better yet, take a stand against antisemitism themselves. “It is precisely because anti-Semitism is used and abused by the likes of Sharon,” writes Naomi Klein, “that the fight against it must be reclaimed.”[67]

Sorting it Out

The debate in Europe over the significance of the recent anti-Jewish violence highlights some of the truly difficult questions in understanding antisemitism during this period. In the wake of an attack on a German synagogue with explosives in late March 2002, local police said they were investigating both the German Racist Right and the possibility of “Arab terrorism,” while Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called for an investigation into possible contacts between the two—each response reflecting a sense that the attack may be linked to deep historic currents of German antisemitism.[68] On the other hand, a significant leader in the French Jewish community, Theo Klein, argued that the anti-Jewish attacks there were not an antisemitic wave with ties to Europe’s Nazi past, but a spontaneous outburst by frustrated immigrants living on the fringes of society—many of whom are frequent targets of racial violence themselves. A former French Resistance fighter, Klein emphasizes that the State has condemned, rather than endorsed, the attacks on Jews: Police guard synagogues, while presidential candidates—with the exception of the Far Rightist Jean Marie Le Pen—outdo each other in expressing outrage at the violence.[69]

In late February 2002, Ariel Sharon remarked that with “the wave of dangerous anti-Semitism sweeping France . . . [French] Jewry could find itself facing great danger” and announced that Israel was preparing to welcome Jewish immigrants,[70] and several British and French intellectuals echoed Sharon’s alarm. But others have argued that the furor over antisemitism has wrongly conflated the reprehensible acts of violence with what one journalist called “one of the most vigorous media critiques of Israel’s policies in the European media in a generation.”[71] As Peter Beaumont wrote in the London-based Observer, “For while the phenomenon of anti-Jewish sentiment and attacks in some quarters of the Islamic community in Europe is to be deplored, so too must be the effort to co-opt it as an alibi for Israel’s behaviour and to use it to silence opposition to its policies.”[72]

As this article goes to press, Israeli aggression in the West Bank, and Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, continue, with the horrible, lopsided death toll growing weekly. So, too, have attacks on Jews and Jewish religious institutions continued to escalate in France and Germany, and new reports have emerged of anti-Jewish attacks in Russia. One critical challenge for the Jewish community, and progressives everywhere, in responding to these situations in the months ahead is to reject fear-mongering by pro-Israeli sectors in the face of increasingly harsh international criticism of Israeli actions; to assert the distinction—rather than the identity—between Jews everywhere and the Israeli State; and yet to forcefully challenge truly antisemitic acts and statements wherever they occur. An end to the occupation would certainly clarify matters. As Klein said recently, “When a political solution for the Middle East conflict can be found, and a viable Palestinian state coexists with Israel, then we shall see that the Muslim community in no way cherishes the anti-Semitic hatred that characterized the Fascist movement in France and Europe before 1950.”[73] If he is wrong, and attacks against Jews continue, then at least their nature will be abundantly clear.

A second challenge is to constantly test the lens through which Jewish victimization is being seen. “Any effective framework,” says Kaye/Kantrowitz, “must allow us to really see what’s happening to people, and who is really at risk.”[74] A vision of contemporary Jewish vulnerability that does not allow us to acknowledge the daily brutality being experienced by Palestinians under occupation, or the intensity of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim violence in the United States since September 11th is simply not adequate. Nor is one that refuses to take at least some solace in the Muslim groups who marched in solidarity with Jews to protest the antisemitic attacks in France, or the quiet but persistent Jewish-Muslim interfaith work that has taken place almost monthly in New York City, ground zero, since the World Trade Center towers collapsed. Timor Yuskaev, an academic fellow at the Interfaith Center of New York, speculates that, “In the long run, this is possibly a much more lasting legacy of the attacks.”[75] Perhaps he is being too hopeful. But alarmism has its dangers as well.

Esther Kaplan is an activist, writer, and radio producer. She is cochair of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, a New York City-based social justice organization, and the cohost of Beyond the Pale, a Jewish public affairs program on WBAI radio in New York.


[1] Anti-Defamation League, “Terrorism Strikes America: What They are Saying,” September 20, 2001. See

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] ADL, “Terrorism Strikes America: What They are Saying,” September 13, 2001. See

[6] Ibid.

[7] Bryan Curtis, “4,000 Jews, 1 Lie: Tracking an Internet Hoax,” on, October 5, 2001.

[8] ADL, “Terrorism Strikes America,” September 20, 2001, op. cit.

[9] Curtis, “4,000 Jews,” op. cit; See also ADL, “Anti-Semitism in the Egyptian Media: February 2001 - February 2002.” See

[10] Email from Sally O’Brien, reporter and producer for WBAI radio in New York, September 27, 2001.

[11] Email interview with Asghar Ali Engineer, March 30, 2002.

[12] “ADL Calls on Qatar to Take Action Against anti-Semitic & anti-Jewish Reports Featured on Web Site Sponsored by Government Ministry.” See

[13] “Rally warns US against Afghanistan adventure,” Dawn, Monday, September 24, 2001.

[14] “Religious groups start recruiting fighters: Jihad against US,” Dawn, Saturday, October 6, 2001.

[15] The Pakistani media often collectively terms Islamic fundamentalist groups in that country as jihadi groups. The JUI (F) is a splinter group of the JUI headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The JUI is a political party whose leaders are Islamic clergy.

[16] “JUI asks workers to kill US forces,” Dawn, Wednesday, October 10, 2001.

[17] “Taliban offers $50 million for Bush’s capture,” Dawn, Wednesday, November 12, 2001.

[18] “Bush enters rhetorical minefield,” Dawn, Saturday, September 22, 2001.

[19] ADL, “ADL Poll: No Increase in Anti-Semitism in Wake of Sept. 11 Attacks,” November 2, 2001. See

[20] Interview with Myrna Shinbaum, April 1, 2002.

[21] ADL, “ADL Audit: Anti-Semitic Incidents Rise Slightly in U.S. in 2000. Increase Linked to Mideast Conflict,” March 21, 2001. See

[22] American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, “ADC Fact Sheet: The Condition of Arab Americans Post 9/11” November 20, 2001. See

[23] Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, “World Trade Center and Pentagon Attacks: The Anti-Asian American Backlash,” October 11, 2001. See

[24] Nafisa Hoodbhoy, “Missing Links; There's Much More To Daniel Pearl's Murder Than Meets the Eye,” Washington Post, March 10, 2002, p. B1.

[25] Michael Kamber, “The Chosen One,” Village Voice, March 5, 2002, p. 55.

[26] Donald McNeil, Jr., “Tunisian Jews at Blast Site: A Stalwart Remnant,” New York Times, April 15, 2002, p. A3.

[27] “Government says police monitoring Muslim sheikh calling for violence against Jews,” AP Worldstream, February 4, 2002.

[28] Victor Homolo, “Germany: Jewish Leader Cites Extremists,” New York Times, November 21, 2001; “Belgian Government Condemns Brussels Synagogue Attack,” Agence France Presse, April 1, 2002.

[29] Jocelyn Gecker, “New Book Details 405 Recent Anti-Semitic Acts in France,” AP Worldstream, March 12, 2002.

[30] “Les Antifeujs,” published by SOS Racisme and the Union des étudiants juifs de France. See

[31] “Shooting in France in Wave of Anti-Jewish Attacks,” New York Times, April 1, 2002, p. A6.

[32] Suzanne Daley, “Gang Attacks Jews on Sports Field in France,” New York Times, April 13, 2002, p. A3.

[33] Steven Roth Institute, “Anti-Semitism Worldwide, 2000/1.” See

[34] ADL, Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents (2000). See

[35] Gecker, “New Book Details,” op. cit.

[36] ADL, “Anti-Semitism in the Egyptian Media,” op. cit. See also Matthew Kalman, “Arab TV to Spotlight Anti-Semitic Program,” Chicago Sun-Times, December 15, 2001, p. 4.

[37] ADL, “Anti-Semitism in the Egyptian Media,” op. cit.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Jonathan Rosen, “The Uncomfortable Question of Anti-Semitism,” New York Times Magazine, November 4, 2001, p. 48.

[40] Interview with Ali Abunimah, March 26, 2002.

[41] Marc Perelman, “No Longer Obscure, MEMRI Translates the Arab World,” Forward, December 7, 2001, p. 6.

[42] Interview with Abunimah, op. cit.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Martin A. Lee, “The Swastika and the Crescent,” The Intelligence Report (Montgomery: Southern Poverty Law Center, Spring 2002). See

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Interview with Abunimah, op. cit.

[48] James Ridgeway, “Mondo Washington,” Village Voice, April 9, 2002, p. 26.

[49] Interview with Abunimah, op. cit.

[50] Interview with Phyllis Bennis, March 26, 2002.

[51] Serge Schmemann, “13 Israeli Troops Killed in Ambush,” New York Times, April 10, 2002, p. A1.

[52] Abraham H. Foxman, “New Excuses, Old Hatred,” speech to the Anti-Defamation League's National Executive Committee in Palm Beach, Florida, February 8, 2002. See

[53] Michael Massing, “Deal Breakers,” American Prospect, March 11, 2002, p. 18.

[54] “Most Israelis Unhappy with Sharon, Support Palestinian State,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 15, 2002.

[55] See the survey conducted for Forward by Steven M. Cohen and Market Facts Inc., 10/28/01-10/31/01.

[56] Interview with Mohammed Fadel, March 27, 2002.

[57] “Anti-Semitism Worldwide,” op. cit.

[58] Naomi Klein, “Sharon’s Best Weapon,” Guardian, April 25, 2002. See,4273,4400973,00.html

[59] David Duke, “No Anti-Semitism Here,” January 2002, posted April 26, 2002. See

[60] Zionazi flag, posted by Free Palestine, April 23, 2002. See

[61] Interviews with protest participants, April 8, 2002.

[62] Nicholas Simon, “Jews in the Line of Fire,” with accompanying photograph, Jerusalem Report, February 25, 2002, p. 32.

[63] Email Interview with a progressive Pakistani activist. March 20, 2002.

[64] Interview with Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, April 7, 2002.

[65] Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), p. 156.

[66] Lin Collette, “Encountering Holocaust Denial,” The Public Eye, vol. 8, no. 3 (September 1994), pp. 1-15.

[67] Klein, “Sharon’s Best Weapon,” op. cit.

[68] “German Community Leader Furious Over Synagogue Attack,” Jerusalem Post, March 24, 2002, p. 7.

[69] Interview with Theo Klein, honorary president of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), France’s Council of Representative Jewish Organizations, April 11, 2002.

[70] Yair Ettinger, “Sharon Angers Paris with Charges of Racism,” Ha’aretz Daily, February 25, 2002. See

[71] Peter Beaumont, “The New Anti-Semitism?” Observer, February 17, 2002, p. 28.

[72] Ibid.

[73] Julio Godoy, “Gov't Urged To Stem Anti-Semitic Attacks,” Inter Press Service, January 22, 2002.

[74] Interview with Kaye/Kantrowitz, op. cit.

[75] Interview with Timor Yuskaev, March 25, 2002.

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