Anti-Semitism in the Arab Spring

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It's no longer deniable -- though some people insist on denying it -- that anti-Semitism has infected some of the discourse surrounding the Arab Spring. Jews were a convenient scapegoat for Mubarak and Qaddafi, but unfortunately, they seem to be a convenient scapegoat for those who opposed them as well. My Bloomberg View column this week concerns this phenomenon:

The Arab Spring should liberate people not only from oppressive rulers, but also from self-destructive and delusional patterns of belief. Anti-Semitism, the "socialism of fools," not only threatens the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and dehumanizes Jews. It also undermines rationality. It prevents its adherents from seeing the world as it is -- and it will only be an impediment to actual change in the Arab world.

Walter Russell Mead, in a post about my column, addresses the question of why anti-Semitism is bad for anti-Semites eloquently and concisely:

 As I've observed before in this space, countries where vicious anti-Semitism is rife are almost always backward and poor.  This isn't, as anti-Semites believe, because the Elders of Zion are plotting to keep Uz-beki-beki-beki-stan poor.  It is because the inability to see the world clearly and discern cause and effect relations in complex social settings is linked to many other failures in economic and political life. Anti-Semitism isn't just the socialism of fools; it is the sociology of the befuddled.  The anti-Semite fails to grasp how the world works, and that failure condemns him to endless frustration.  Naturally, this is the fault of the Jews.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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