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February 1, 2013

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PAGE 18A By Johanna Ginsberg New Jersey Jewish News Neil Kressel, an expert in religious extremism and the rise of terrorism and geno- cide, says he never expected to write a book on virulent anti-Semitism in the Muslim world. Growing up in West Or- ange, N.J., hewas not among those who heard breaking glass or the crunch of jack- boots behind every swastika scrawled on a wall. "My focus has been on understanding the mindset of people who participate in mass atrocities. I've written chapters on Nazism but I always viewed anti-Semitism as historical, not contem- porary," said the Wayne, N.J., resident, a professor of social psychology at William Paterson University. "If you had asked me in 1980 if the Holocaust was important, I would have said yes. But if you asked me if I thought HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 1, 2013 Author: Too few condemn swelling tide of Muslim anti-Semitism there were good prospects of a virulent anti-Semitic movement rising anywhere in the world [today], I would have said no." And yet his new book, "The Sons of Pigs and Apes: Muslim Antisemitism and the Conspiracy of Silence" (Potomac Books), is all about the threat of rising anti-Semitism in the Muslim world and his analysis of why the rest of the world is turn- ing a blind eye. In his book, he lays out the evidence of the ways in which Jew-hatred (he avoids the term anti-Semitism, calling the 19th-century coinage a mischaracterization of the phenomenon) has become commonplace in the Muslim world. He notes that the 19th-century anti-Semitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is com- monly accepted as truth in many Muslim countries, and that prominent Muslim lead- ers, including those widely considered moderates, often discuss their lffatred of Jews matter-of-factly, or regularly refer to the ways in which Jews control the world. He shows the ways in which Muslim leaders are cmplicit in propagating old stereotypes. "People who express an alternate point of view run into a problem in the Muslim world," said Kressel, who holds a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University. Kressel also points out stunning levels of hatred among the general popula- tion in many of those coun- tries. According to one of the few studies available--a 2005 survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project--99 percent of Jordanians, and similar numbers of Lebanese have a very unfavorable view of Jews, compared to 77 per- cent in the United States who have a favorable view of Jews. The title of the book comes from a common epithet for Jews in Muslim countries, derived from a traditional story about Jews who sinned against God and were turned into pigs and apes. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is heard using the term in a 2010 video translated last month. Kressel acknowledges that these attitudes haven't led to mass murder, but points with concern to those who have been targeted because of their Jewish identities, including slain "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl, the Jewish victims of the 2009 attacks in Mum- bai, and last March's deadly shootings of a rabbi and three schoolchildren in Toulouse. "The mentality behind each of these is genocidal," said Kressel. "What keeps the body count low is the axis of the American army, the Israeli army and the fact that people who hold these views do not have the power to implement them. In tran right now, the mentality of virulent anti-Semitism will soon be wedded with nuclear weapons. "The consequences of that nobody knows." Most of the book analyzes why there is not more analy- sis of the phenomenon. "When I started to look at the question of anti- Semitism in the Muslim world, I found there were close to zero studies. And texts dealingwith racism and prejudice did not mention this at all," he said. "The obvi- ous question is why there is so little that has been done on this topic." Although the book's sub- title is "Muslim Antisemi- tism and the Conspiracy of Silence," Kressel acknowl- edged that he does not be- lieve there is an organized plot to suppress discussion of the issue. What he is saying is that "there is an extreme reluc- tance to focus on the problem of Muslim anti-Semitism," The possible reasons he gives for this reluctance range from a general desire not to say anything bad about another religion for fear of being called a bigot, to a perception that such anti-Semitism is merely spillover from theArab-Israeli conflict, to fears by those on the Left that to condemn Muslim attitudes is to risk being labeled a right-winger. Kressel said he hopes the book will start an "open and honest debate about why there is so much anti-Semitism and what to do about it.' He added, "I'd like to see the anti-racist and human rights communi- ties engaged in it. Right now, it's only the Right and strongly pro-lsrael organizations inter- e sted, but I think all Americans should be interested." Johanna Ginsberg is a staff writer for The New Jer- sey Jewish News, from which this article was reprinted by permission. Next From page 1A the four biggest parties, and puts Likud and Netanyahu squarely in its center--with Jewish Home on the right and YeshAtid, Hatnuaand Kadima on the left. Every party agrees on the need to draft haredi yeshiva students, and Yesh Atid and Jewish Home agree on some aspects of economic reform. But it's hard to imagine Hatnua, founded to advance the peace process, sitting in the same government as Jewish Home, which strongly opposes Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Thatwould leave the coalition at a weak 61 to 63 MKs. - All-secular Parties: Likud-Beiteinu (31), YeshAtid (19), Labor (15), Hatnua (6), Kadima (2) Size: 73 MKs This option is unlikely because it includes Labor, which vowed not to join a Netanyahu-led coalition. If the party changes its mind, though, this coalition would allow Netanyahu to leave out Jewish Home, which he at- tacked in the campaign. And if Netanyahu changes tack and decides to pursue Israeli- Palestinian peace, he'll have the support. But such a change is a long shot, mostly because Netanyahu is right wing and his party shifted even further to the right in this year's primaries. Center-left-haredi Parties: Yesh Atid (19), Labor (15), Shas (11), UTJ (7), Hatnua (6), Meretz (6), Kadima (2) ...... Size: 66 MKs Here are a few reasons why this coalition, suggested by some analysts, probably won't happen: Netanyahu leads the biggest party, so he'll almost definitely get to form the coalition. Yesh Atid has Said ex- pressly that it would join Netanyahu's government. Haredi parties fit more nat- urally onthe right, which shares their traditionalist values. In return for joining a center-left coalition, the hare- dim probably would demand continued draft exemption for yeshiva students, which would drive away Yesh Atid. Common From page 1A 61 seats from 65. But it would be a mistake to interpret the right wing as nearly dead- locked with the left, as some headlines have suggested. Rather, the other side of the political aisle is divided. Yesh Atid's 19 seats belong in the political center, not on the left. To wit: Party leader Yair Lapid made clear during the campaign and after that he is interested in joining a "Netanyahu-led coalition. The center-left controls 23 seats--Labor with 15, Tzipi Livni's Hatnua with six and the eviscerated Kadima with two. The lefthasjustsix, in the unabashedly secular and pro- peace Meretz party. And the Arab-lsraeli parties have 11. The right wing, though it hails from a multiplicity of parties, including Orthodox and nationalist ones, is not nearly as divided--ideologi- cally or pragmatically. These are the parties that have stood together in a steadfast coalition for four years-- practically an eternity in the Israeli political universe. Even Naftali Bennett, leader of the new nationalist Jewish Home party, which catapulted to 12 seats in the new Knesset, is a former Netanyahu chief of staff. The man of the hour follow- ing the election is, of course, Lapid. Son of the late Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, a Holocaust survivor who worked as a journalist before leading the liberal, secular Shinui party from 1999 to 2006,Yair Lapid long has been a well-known and popular figure in Israel. For years he was a respected TVcommentator and journal- ist focusing more on domestic and ultural issues than on security or politics. But Lapid began publicly flirting with the idea of entering the Knes- setamid the massive socioeco- nomic protests in the summer of 2011, and last January he formally inaugurated his new party, Yesh Atid (Hebrew for There is a Future). The party's unexpectedly strong showing this week-- capturing nearly one-sixth of the Knesset--answered a question that has been on the table since the 2011 protests: Would the hundreds of thou- sands of Israelis who took to the streets that summer be able to translate their energy into political power come election time? The emphatic yes deliv- ered by Yesh Atid's support- ers highlights the growing importance of kitchen-table issues in Israel, particularly for hard-working Israelis in good jobs who are finding it hard to make ends meet. Tel Aviv, where Yesh Atid had its strongest showing, consistently ranks as one of the world's most expensive cities. In central Tel Aviv, apartments cost $5,700 to $7,100 per square meter. The average Israeli salary is about $2,572 per month, and fami- lies with two wage earners earn approximately $3,428 per month, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. Teachers in Israel earn an average of $1,666 a month -- among the lowest in theworld, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Cars and gasoline cost nearly double what they do in the United States, taxes are much higher and even basic household goods cost more. Israelis were outraged to learn that the ubiquitous Israeli soupnuts made by Osem carry a higher price in Israel than they do in New York, seem- ingly defying all logic. These are the things that Lapid talked about in his campaign, and they struck a chord, particularly with young Israelis. Remarkably, Lapid rode to victory with a slate of candi- dates as diverse as Israel, a rarity in the country's hyper- factionalized politics. Yesh Atid's 19 Knesset members include avowed secularists and Orthodox rabbis, figures associated with the right and left,, blacks and whites, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, and eight women. "The citizens of Israel today said no to politics of fear and hate," Lapid said the night of Jan. 22. "They said no to the possibility that we might splinter off into sectors, and groups and tribes and narrow- interest groups..They said no to extremists, and they said no to anti-democratic behavior." Now the. question is what Lapid will do with his new- found power. Clearly he believes that he can have more influence from inside the government than from outside it, and Netanyahu reached out to Lapid as early as election night to invite him to join his coalition. The two are unlikely to find themselves in deep disagree- ment on Arab-Israeli issues. Lapid is not sanguine about the likelihood of progress in negotiations with the Pales- tinians, and he has made clear that he wants Israel to retain its large West Bank settlement blocs and al| of Jerusalem. The more potent issue is likely to be what to do about drafting haredi Orthodox Is- raelis into the Israel Defense Forces. The longstanding draft exemption for haredi Israelis--a source of much resentment among those who serve--expired last summer. Butso far there has been little change on the ground. It's unclear where Netan- yahu stands on the issue. He has spoken of the need to change the status quo, but he has been unwilling to oppose the haredi.Orthodox parties, his coalition partners, on the issue. This time around, Ne- tanyahu does not need the haredi parties to assemble a coalition, and the haredim alone are not enough for Netanyahu to reoccupy the Prime Minister's Office. In theory, Netanyahu can cobble together enough seats if both Lapid and Bennett's Jewish Home party join him, giving him a slim 62-seat majority. It's not an outlandish sce- nario. Bennett also wants to end the haredi draft exemp- tion, though his hard-line views on Palestinian issues, including opposition to state- hood and annexation of the West Bank, likely make some of Lapid's progressive supporters queasy. With the Palestinian issue relegated to the back burner, however, both Bennett and Lapid might take a pragmatic approach and join with Netanyahu. Getting Netanyahu to take action to end the haredi draft exemption is another matter. The prime minister is famous- ly risk averse, and moving ahead on an issue that could doom a future relationship with the haredi parties would be a huge political gamble. Which is to say that what- ever coalition Netanyahu manages to put together may not hold for long--and that might bring everybody right back to where they started.