The Arab Spring Should Liberate.

Jeff Goldberg has a thoughtful column on Bloomberg:

“Cairo is rife with anti-Semitism. On my last visit, I met with leaders of ostensibly liberal parties who were convinced Jews were conspiring to bring about the collapse of the Egyptian economy (something that Egypt’s military rulers are accomplishing all by themselves). One suggested to me that George Soros, Benjamin Netanyahu and a certain “Dr. Rothschild” were working jointly to buy the Suez Canal from Egypt.

A BBC journalist named Thomas Dinham recently wrote of his own encounter with anti-Semitism in Cairo. Dinham, who is neither Israeli nor Jewish, told of one potentially dangerous confrontation: “Someone pushed me from behind with such force that I nearly fell over. Turning around, I found myself surrounded by five men, one of whom tried to punch me in the face. I stopped the attack by pointing out how shameful it was for a Muslim to assault a guest in his country, especially during Ramadan.” He went on, “I was appalled by the apology offered by one of my assailants. ‘Sorry,’ he said contritely, offering his hand, ‘we thought you were a Jew.’”

Expressions of anti-Semitism are common even at the higher reaches of Egyptian politics. Presidential candidate Tawfiq Okasha, speaking on the television station he owns, recently said, “Not all the Jews in the world are evil. You may ask: Tawfiq, what is the ratio? The ratio is 60-40. Sixty percent are evil to varying degrees, all the way to a level that words cannot describe, while 40 percent are not evil.” He noted that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is “one of those Jews who adhere to the Zionist ideology, which is one of the worst ideologies.”

Okasha did concede that, while even among the 40 percent of non-evil Jews there is only one in a million who is blameless, it is possible to “coexist” with this sort of Jew because they “do not betray, conspire, extort or view others as Gentiles.”

In Cairo today, this might count as a progressive idea.

The Arab Spring should liberate people not only from oppressive rulers, but also from self-destructive and delusional patterns of belief. Anti-Semitism, the “socialism of fools,” not only threatens the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and dehumanizes Jews. It also undermines rationality. It prevents its adherents from seeing the world as it is — and it will only be an impediment to actual change in the Arab world. “

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