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Ralph Nader Says Anti-Semitism Includes Arabs?

Ralph Nader, the consumer crusader, five time presidential candidate and pro-Arab defender has a new cause; expropriating anti-Semitism to include Arabs.  Manfred Gerstenfeld in our review and interview about his latest book, The War of a Million Cuts, noted such examples of flagrant abuse of semantics. Examples, like accusing the Israelis of being the new Nazis and Palestinians as the oppressed Jews. Raphael Medoff, of the David S Wyman Center for Holocaust Studies in Washington, DC, wrote about Nader’s latest twist- anti-Semitism applies to Arabs- because it is about common Semitic linguistics. This is the subject of Medoff’s Algemeiner op-ed  Ralph Nader Targets ‘The Jews’ and Linguistically Hijacks Anti-Semitism.

Here is what Nader said at the American –Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) convention  in Washington:

You never avoid using the word anti-Semitism when Arabs and Arab-Americans are discriminated against, are arrested without charges, are exposed to all kinds of swears and bars against employment and all kinds of discrimination that goes on, and that is anti-Semitism. The Semitic race is Arabs and Jews and the Jews do not own the phrase anti-Semitism.

Medoff asks the relevant question:

Is the Semitic race “Arabs and Jews,” as Nader asserted? Actually, it’s not. “Semitic” refers to a group of Middle Eastern languages. There’s no such thing as a “Semitic race.”

In his critically acclaimed 1986 book, Semites and Anti-Semites, Bernard Lewis (professor emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University) wrote, “‘Semitic’ is a linguistic and cultural classification… It has nothing whatever to do with race in the anthropological sense that is now common usage.”

Medoff goes on to provide the origin of the term anti-Semitism in 19th Century  Europe:

The German anti-Jewish agitator Wilhelm Marr in 1879 coined the term “Antisemitism” (“antisemitismus” in German). His target was still Jews; he simply believed the new phrase would make his brand of hatred sound more legitimate and even scientific. The organization he founded to further these aims was called the Antisemiten-Liga, or League of Antisemites.

He then delves into the purpose of Nader’s  abusive  semantics:

Ralph Nader’s real aim, however, is not linguistic accuracy. As he explained to the ADC convention, he wants to use language as a tool to advance the Arab campaign against Israel.

“Once you use that word, you have equivalence with the other use of that word. It’s anti-Semitism against Arabs, anti-Semitism against Jews—why ignore one to the other?” Nader said.

According to this formula, Arabs would gain victim status just like Jews.

Nader seems to be particularly sensitive to the fact that some hatred of Israel is perceived as anti-Semitic—and he wants to prevent that perception from taking hold.

[Supporters of Israel] know how to accuse people of anti-Semitism if any issue on Israel is criticized, even though the worst anti-Semitism in the world today is against Arabs and Arab-Americans and they know how to use the language, he complained. I suspect AIPAC spends more money on hotels for their national meeting in five hours than ADC’s entire budget, so it’s important to ask the question: “What does it take in terms of human hours and resources to get things turned around?”

I got to know Nader  up close and personal in the late 60’s to early 1970’s before my association came to a screeching halt.

Having collaborated and  co-authored pieces with Nader  and testified  on Capitol Hill on worker safety issues  back in 1968 to 1970, I  came to know what he was like. Fortunately,  I was never a so-called “Nader’s Raider” nor employed in any of his various ‘Centers’. My involvement preceded those developments.  I was an independent researcher and later a systems consultant for a decade in DC.

I left Nader ’s circle  because of two things: his monumental jihadist ego and his maltreatment of subordinates. Some of my comments about this are contained in a chapter on Nader  in Playing for Keeps in Washington, 1977 by Laurence Leamer.

Nader  in his earlier days as the mysterious “white knight of consumerism” lived a monk like existence in a rooming house not far from DuPont Circle in DC. At the time he had a colleague, the indefatigable  Ted Jacobs. Nader was paranoid and a control freak. One day he walked in to Ted’s office and basically told him that he was fired, locked him out of his office and secured all his files!!

Nader  developed a messiah like complex that went well beyond the consumer issues. He  subsequently became an icon in the anti-war movement allied with anti-Israel leftists  like Noam Chomsky. The fact is that he may have mistakenly identified his  Lebanese Maronite Christian immigrant parents as Arabs because they spoke Arabic.  He bought into the Arab vision with all of its attendant problems, including being a dhimmi fellow traveler and an anti-Semite of the 20th  Century variety. Not surprising as Nader  had a Princeton undergraduate  major in Arabic studies. One wonders if he had Professor Bernard Lewis for any of his undergraduate professors at Princeton.

He subsequently earned a law degree from Harvard, became a plaintiff’s  attorney opening offices in Hartford , Connecticut .  His real climb to fame began when the late Senator Pat Moynihan, former aide to New York  Governor Averill Harriman, moved to Washington as a Kennedy  appointee. Moynihan brought with him the treasure trove of his auto crash data files. Nader sought access to that, wrote Moynihan when the later was Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy Evaluation and Research  in 1961-62. Nader  was invited down to  plough through  Moynihan’s files  virtually camping out in Moynihan’s office mining the auto crash data files.   From that research emerged  the Chevy Corvair controversy, the breathless J’accuse against GM in Nader’s best seller Unsafe at Any Speed. Because GM didn’t know who he was they hired a private detective to check him out which led to a suit by Nader that resulted in  a $400,000 legal settlement with GM  in 1964 for violating his privacy.  The settlement, initial and subsequent  book royalties created Nader’s  personnel wealth. Nader was wise enough to  hire a real pro investing the settlement funds for several decades .  Nader  also had a reputation for not spending  much on himself or for that matter on anyone else. Funds for the Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizens were raised from donations.

Nader always reminded  me of  Girolamo Savonarola, the famous mad monk who ruled  Florence and drove Florentines to burn books, art and other alleged fripperies in the famous Bonfire of the Vanities. He sought to found a New Jerusalem in Florence as a world center of Christianity following the invasion of Italy by French King Charles VII. After the ousting of the Medicis,  Savonarola  ruled  Florence  as the head of a virtual populist republic from 1494 to 1498. After refusing  fealty to Pope Vincent VI’s  Holy League against the French, Savonarola was invited to Rome,  tried and excommunicated. He and two Dominican Friars were ultimately condemned, tried by both church and civil authorities, hung and burned in May 1498.  There is a famous statue  in Ferrara, Italy where gaunt like Savonarola  looks as if he’s uttering that famous Italian expression: “ecco uomo.” Nader  resembles a leftist  American version of  Savonarola.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Israel’s Contribution towards Defeating the Islamic State

Manfred Gerstenfeld, author of The War of a Million Cuts reviewed in the June 2015 New English Review, published a prescient essay mid-June in the Jerusalem Post. Gerstenfeld is the former Chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that sponsored a symposium on his new book on June 22, 2015. It was on the difficulty of “defeating”, let alone “degrading” the resilient Islamic State-the self declared Caliphate, “Will defeating Islamic State take more than a generation? “ While addressing the myriad of threats in the Middle East and potentially in the West from Islamic State Jihadis, Gerstenfeld draws attention to the contributions from Israel’s experience fighting asymmetrical wars against Islamic extremists seeking its destruction.

Tunisian Jihadi gunman Seifddine Rezgui

Tunisian Jihadi gunman Seifddine Rezgui. Photo by Rami Al Lolah

There was a trio of bloody spectacles inspired by the Islamic State on the first Friday in Ramadan. In France there was the beheading of an American owned chemical company executive by a Muslim employee. In Tunisia there was a massacre at a beach resort killing and injuring among others dozens of British, Belgian, Irish and German tourists by a Kalishnikov-toting attacker. In Kuwait there was  the bombing of a Shia Mosque where several dozen  at prayers were killed or injured .

In January there were the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Casher Market attacks by Al Qaeda and ISIS inspired émigré Muslims that killed seventeen, including four French  Jews and a Tunisian Jew.  Last fall, we saw attacks in Sydney, Ottawa and Quebec. There were an ax attack injuring  New York police officers and a beheading of food service employee at a company in Oklahoma City both perpetrated by converts to Islam. Last month we had the attack by two Jihadis from Phoenix  who were killed  in an attempted attack a Mohammed Cartoon event in Garland, Texas. One of the speakers at the event  was Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) who is under 24/7 protection of the Royal Dutch Protective service because of threats against his life for his anti-Islam  views in the Netherlands and the EU.

Reuters reported Islamic State spokesman Muhammad al-Adnani urging brothers in the Muslim ummah in honor of the observances of Ramadan to undertake attacks on kaffirs, unbelievers,   whether Christians, Shiites or Sunnis opposing the self-declared Islamic State. He declared in an audio message, Jihadists should turn the holy month of Ramadan, which began last week, into a time of “calamity for the infidels … Shi’ites and apostate Muslims.”  Not lost on many is that June 29th marks the first anniversary  of the Islamic State  self declaration of a Caliphate by  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Gerstenfield’s op-ed was triggered by comments from US General James Allen, commander of the US-led coalition combating the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, suggesting that it might take a generation to defeat IS.  Gerstenfeld wrote:

General Allen’s remarks, whether realistic or not, can serve for more detailed reflection on what it would mean if IS -controlled territory of a substantial size in say 20 years from now. This would indeed have a major impact on the world order, or better said world disorder. It would also have particular consequences for the Muslim world, the West, Russia and many other countries. Israel and the Jews, though minor players, would be affected by the global impact and by possible targeted attacks by IS.

As far as the Muslim world is concerned, the Arab Spring has already added Libya, Yemen and Syria to the roster of failed countries. The continued existence of IS may cause Iraq and possibly other countries to be added to that list. As the Islamic State is an extremist Sunni movement, it is directly opposed to Shi’ite Muslims, with no inclination to compromise. The longer the Islamic State lasts, the greater the threat to the Shi’ites.

That would mean that eventually the Islamic State would likely confront Iran, the leading Shi’ite country. Iran has been an international troublemaker and hardly any external forces have reacted to it militarily in the current century. The more powerful the Islamic State becomes, the more it will have to challenge Iran.  As the Islamic State also opposes the Sunni countries presently ruled by various royal families, the instability in these countries would increase substantially as well. The same is true concerning Egypt.

[…]

The Islamic State calls for murder may bring with it a shift back toward terrorist attacks perpetrated by foreign jihadists. There have been threats and rumors of having them brought into Europe amongst the boat refugees arriving from Libya, or smuggled through the Balkans. … Yet if we speak about decades of sizable continued Islamic State activity, it is likely that there will be attacks from terrorists disguised as refugees.

[…]

Substantial Jihadi-caused terrorism in the West will lead to further stereotyping of all Muslims.

The previous massive influx of Muslims and its ensuing social problems, including the lack of successful integration, has already led to the rise and/or growth of anti-Islam nationalistic parties in various countries.

These include Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands, the Swedish Democrats, and above all, France’s Front National. Substantial Muslim terrorism is not only likely to increase the popularity of these parties but will influence the positions of other parties, who will have to compete for the votes of those with harder positions regarding Islam.

What would all this mean for Jews living abroad? Not much good. Attacks on others are often followed by attacks on Jews.

Gerstenfeld notes the ability of Israel to contend with extremist Salafist jihadi Islamic groups. Groups equipped with advanced weaponry supplied by Iran or Russian and U.S. weapons stocks abandoned by Assad forces in Syria or Iraqi National Forces:

No other country has accumulated as much experience in effectively fighting Muslim terrorists of various kinds as Israel. Israeli know-how in this field is already in demand and that is only likely to increase.

This fact is not well-publicized, but in future it should be, to improve Israel’s image with the Western mainstream populations.

A second opportunity may lie in Israel using the anti- Islamic State (IS)  sentiment in the West to highlight that the majority Palestinian faction, Hamas, is not very different from IS. Israel hasn’t done much about this until now, but at the same time, the grounds for response from the West have been far less fertile than they may become in the future.

A third opportunity for Israel could be the possible change in political alliances in the Middle East. Some Arab states might consider that whatever hatred they promote of Israel to be less beneficial than allying them with Israel against IS, which has become a real threat to many Arab states. A recent poll showed that Saudis consider Iran to be their largest threat, followed by IS, and that Israel ranks third.

There has already been alleged secret meeting between Saudi military and Israeli security counterparts. Doubtless drawn together by the threat of a Shiite Mahdist Iran on the verge of becoming a nuclear threshold state destabilizing the Middle East. That is reflected in the Saudi undeclared war against the Houthi insurgency in the failed State of Yemen. An insurgency equipped and backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image of Islamic State fighters is courtesy of PamelaGeller.com.