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Lies Poison Mideast's Hopes

September 04, 2002

The influential Arab League is belatedly attempting to distance itself from anti-Jewish comments spewed at a symposium run by an affiliated organization. The halfhearted disavowal by the 22-member league is insufficient. The episode demonstrates the lies and the depth of hate that poison the atmosphere in much of the Middle East, even in some rarefied Arab circles.

The denunciations of Jews occurred at a conference last week organized by the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, a think tank with links to the Arab League, whose members include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. The executive director of the Zayed Center said in his opening remarks that Jews were "the enemies of all nations," considered by many to be "cheaters" consumed by greed.

Those libels have endured for centuries, even surviving the murder of millions of Jews in the Holocaust. The advance notice of the symposium said it would counter Israel's "lies and exaggerations" about the Holocaust.

The Zayed Center, based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is a respected regional forum that promotes Arab unity. Jewish groups rightly condemned the seminar for adding to the bitterness between Arabs and Jews. An Arab League spokesman belatedly argued that the conference should not reflect badly on the league itself, which recognizes Israel's right to exist within its pre-1967 borders. Israel's triumph in war that year led to its occupation of Arab lands, some of which it still holds. That occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has inflamed anti-Israel passions among most Arabs.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 05, 2002 Home Edition California Part B Page 14 Editorial Pages Desk 0 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Arab Anti-Semitism--The Middle East Media Research Institute headquarters is in Washington, D.C., not Israel as stated in an editorial Wednesday. The institute's media center is in Jerusalem.

But many Arab intellectuals had distinguished between Jews in general and Zionists, followers of the political movement that led to the establishment of Israel in 1948. The Zayed Center dropped the distinction, turning anti-Israel statements into full-blown anti-Jewishness. Contrast that with President Bush's correct insistence that the horror perpetrated by Osama bin Laden's followers last Sept. 11 was separate from Islam.

Newspapers in Arab nations, either controlled by governments or following their lines, publish anti-Jewish lies daily. The Israel-based Middle East Media Research Institute documents them, including publication in Egyptian and Saudi newspapers this year of the loathsome falsehood that matzos eaten on holy days must include blood from a non-Jew.

The Arab League's weak protestations are far too little. It has yet to condemn the leadership of the Zayed Center or demand retraction of the symposium's most hate-filled speech. Rantings against Jews will not make Israel disappear, but they will continue to curdle every effort to find peace.

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