Letter from Jerusalem

By Israel Shahak
Lies of Our Times, February 1991, p. 8.

It seems to me that a great fault of Middle East coverage by the U.S. media in general, and the New York Times in particular, is their consistent omission of Jewish chauvinism, racism, and religious fanaticism. Even the politically significant fact that such things exist, in Israel or in the U.S., is never alluded to.

Two examples: Gush Emunim is often mentioned in U.S. media. But what of their opinions? Two Hebrew papers, Ha'aretz, the most prestigious, and Yediot Ahronot, the largest-selling paper in Israel, both referred on December 7, 1990, to a symposium in which leaders of Gush Emunim and of the “moderate left” participated. Nahum Barnea of Yediot Ahronot quoted Rabbi Yitzhak Shilat, described as part of “moderate wing of Gush Emunim.” He cautioned the “moderate left” that “the fate of the Arabs was fixed forever 3,500 years ago, as proven by the Bible which says of their ancestor Ishmael, 'And he will be a wild man, his hand will be against every man and every man's hand against him' (Genesis, XVI, 12). Rabbi Shilat summed up his beliefs: 'Jews are being murdered while saying 'Hear, O Israel'; Arabs are murdering while shouting 'Allahu Akbar.' It is because [as the Talmund says], 'the God of the Arabs is a murderer.' “

Uzi Benziman in Ha'aretz summarized the opinion of Gush Emunim: “The spiritual shepherds of Gush Emunim [the rabbis] see current events in Israel and in the Middle East as ordained by God. The present immigration [from the USSR] is God's miracle. The crisis in the Gulf is being masterminded by God in person, and the inevitable war - although they hasten to add 'God forbid' - will be a pageant of God's power.” Everyone in Israel knows those are characteristic opinions of many Jewish chauvinists and religious fanatics, but while the pages of the New York Times are full of detailed descriptions of Muslim fanaticism (some even correct), there is no mention that Jewish chauvinism or fanaticism can be as bad or worse.

The second example concerns both Israel and U.S. Jewry. One of the greatest Jewish fanatics, with much influence on both Israeli and American politics, is Rabbi Shneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, head of the powerful CHABAD sect in New York City. For more than 25 years, his opinions have been consistently bloodthirsty. Here is what Hadashot (a paper owned by Ha'aretz) said (May 21, 1990). After noting that according to his followers “the Rabbi can never be wrong,” his advice to them about the Lebanon war was reported: “The Rabbi said that we should have entered Beirut and killed all women and children, because the Arabs are our enemies and there are too many of them. If we don't kill them they will multiply and kill us.”

Until the American media devote the same attention to these rabbis that they do to someone like Rev. Farrakhan, there is no chance of a fair American policy in the Middle East.


Israel Shahak is professor of chemistry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a leading opponent of Israeli government policies.