Anti-Semitism in the Arab Spring

By Jeffrey Goldberg

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/11/anti-semitism-in-the-arab-spring/249188/