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Required Reading

Sounding a theme recurrent in these pages, Fiamma Nirenstein has penned an article, “How Suicide Bombers Are Made,” appearing in the current issue of Commentary magazine, which concludes that the problem with Yasir Arafat and company is not that they can't seem to keep their word or that they disagree with this or that Israel imposition, or indeed that they have a recurrent violent bent. It is that they reflect a fundamental difficulty among Arabs with the notion of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Ms. Nirenstein goes through the really nasty anti-Semitic propaganda that pervades the Arab world in general and the Palestinian portion in particular. She is quite descriptive of the incredible accusations Arafat has levelled against Israel ? including the poisoning of Palestinian children, causing foot-and-mouth disease and all the old Protocols of the Elders of Zion stuff ? and his urging the killing of Jews as a holy mission.

Her conclusion is riveting:

[I]f we have learned nothing else from the latest intifada, it is that the Arab world's grievance against Israel has little to do with the minutiae of dividing up territory and political authority. It has to do instead with the entire Zionist project, with the very existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. What Westerners (and some Israelis) dismiss as so much unfortunate rhetoric is an exact articulation of that grievance, whose goal is not to achieve but to prevent accommodation. For how can one accommodate a people who are nothing but murderers of children, instruments of world conspiracy, sworn enemies of religious and historical truth, and perfecters of Nazi brutality ? a people who according to Islamic authorities must be driven out and killed, their body parts “spread all over the trees and electricity poles”? No, anti-Semitism in the Middle East is not just politics by other means; it is an end in itself.

* * *

A new book to be released later this month, by Brown University historian David I. Kertzer, The Popes Against Jews, The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism, raises new accusations of the Vatican's central role in the rise of anti-Semitism. He painstakingly documents the Church's historic demonizing anti-Judaism and ties it to the appearance of anti-Semitism throughout the ages. He also claims that cumulatively, this all paved the way for the Holocaust and other organized anti-Jewish atrocities.

Even prior to publication, Church defenders are already debunking Kertzer's arguments. More about this next week.

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