1, Issue 1 (November2006 / Cheshvan 5767)
Two Greatest Hatreds
By Barry Rubin
the twentieth century began, Theodor Herzl recorded an amazing
fact. Despite advances in technology, transportation, and communication,
one thing remained as it was when the Turks conquered Byzantium,
Columbus set sail, and oxcarts were the main means of travel.
one thing was antisemitism. Indeed, Herzl mournfully pointed
out, "After a short breathing space...bad times have come again...not
only in the backward countries...but also in those that are
here we are at the onset of the twenty-first century and the
cycle is being repeated.
there is another phenomenon of which the same can be said.
It is not so old as antisemitism, but it does date back to
the time when men wore powdered wigs, people wrote with quill
pens, and no railroad existed. That is anti-Americanism.
the two most widely hated peoples in the world today are the
Americans and the Jews or, in national terms, the United States
and Israel. Moreover, these two unreasoning hatreds are closely
linked. Apologists for this fact, or well-meaning souls who
know no better, attribute this tragic situation to the narrowest
and most immediate historical context, as if it is the result
of the nasty personalities or latest deeds of President George
W. Bush or former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, or to bad--or
at least controversial--policies.
there are far wider and deeper reasons for the flourishing
of this sole permissible prejudice in an era which boasts of
its record-high tolerance in human history, factors that make
it far harder to combat or change the situation. Attributing
hatred exclusively either to policy--what the United States
and Israel does--or values--a dislike for what these countries
stand for--misses the point. It is not merely a matter of better
behavior or more effective public relations' techniques. Those
who misunderstand and hate will not be so easily persuaded
that they are wrong.
some reasons for hatred are as fresh as the latest newspaper
headlines, many of the themes bringing together contemporary
antisemitism and anti-Americanism are a century or two old.
To understand this better, let's look at five factors: claims
that America and the Jews represent the same thing, that Jews
control America, the manipulation of hatred for political advantage,
the systematic misrepresentation of policy, and the structural
problems of the United States and Israel as democracies facing
enemies who are dictatorships.
The Parallel Threat
some historical anti-American themes are quite different from
anti-Jewish stereotypes--for example, America seen as anti-intellectual--most
are startlingly identical. European critics saw both groups
as brutally materialistic, fanatically devoted to money-making
and profit. Similarly, both were portrayed as bearers of a
corrosive modernism subverting cherished ways of life and existing
nations. Equally, both were accused of seeking world conquest,
through conspiracies, seizing direct control, or imposing their
system through cultural contamination.
themes are better known regarding antisemitism but also apply
to anti-Americanism. In the nineteenth century the United States
became the world's greatest political example, as in the twentieth
century it became the globe's greatest power. In its ideological
influence abroad America would be to the nineteenth century
what the Communist Soviet Union was to the twentieth: an alternative
to everything that existed, which attracted some and repelled
others. As such, it was easy to view the United States as the
negation and threat to all existing Western civilization, destructive
of order and the enemy of traditional values.
a revolutionary experiment, the United States was a new type
of country, without monarch, aristocracy, strong traditions,
official religion, or well-defined classes. It regarded itself
as superior to existing European systems and its success would
jeopardize them all. Many European writers, politicians, and
ideologues saw the United States as a travesty to be despised
or as a threat to be discredited. And if others among them
liked what America was doing, that task became all the more
urgent. Though surface aspects of these arguments shifted over
time, Europe continued to see itself as the repository of high
culture, high standards, coherent ideologies, and intellectual
merit. Rather than critique the unbridled capitalism of America
from the right, the later European view would apply the same
arguments from the left. And shortcomings in their own society
were often blamed on the imitation or influence of America.
short, America--like the Jews--became for its enemies the symbol
of modern capitalism and modern culture. Many of the most classic
statements of antisemitism were made consistently by the advocates
of anti-Americanism. Take, for example, the charge of greed
and materialism, so closely linked to hatred of the new socio-economic
system that replaced the traditional aristocratic-peasant dominated
centuries ago, the French traveler Perrin Du Lac complained
that to Americans, "A brook, were it worthy of the muse of
Virgil...is nothing to them but so much pure water, so of no
leading European defender of America, the French nobleman Alexis
De Tocqueville, claimed that Americans only "perceive the mighty
forests that surround them [when] they fall beneath the hatchet."
few decades later, it was the Germans' turn. The dramatist
Karl Gutzkow wrote, "It is unbelievable how easy the American
can change ideas into money." The
poet Heinrich Heine, sounding like his contemporary Karl Marx
talking about the Jews, explained, "Worldly utility is their
true religion and money is their God, their once all-powerful
Rulemann Eylert spoke of Americans' "lying, deception, and
unlimited greed" as "the natural and inescapable consequences
of the commercial spirit...that like a tidal wave inundates...American
society. Every harmless passion and all moral sentiments are
blunted in the daily pursuit of money."
basic cultural critique of America prevalent today was also
largely in place by the 1830s, long before the onset of mass
production, Hollywood, or television. The United States was
a mass culture based on the lowest common denominator. Instead
of standards being set by an aristocratic and privileged class
of intellectuals and artists, it society catered to the vulgar
mob, with low values, bad manners and a grubby materialistic
many European writers and thinkers, America represented everything
they detested in modern life, everything they feared about
the future, everything they detested in what was happening
to their own countries. In a sense, though it was rarely expressed
directly, the Jews represented the internal enemy and the United
States was the external threat in cultural and political terms.
Radicals and conservatives expressed this thought in different
ways. The left portrayed the Jews as capitalists and the United
States as a force for reaction and fascism; the right claimed
the Jews were dangerous revolutionaries and the United States
had much in common with the threat of communism and socialism.
this tendency should not be exaggerated, these were persistent,
continuous themes that influenced whole generations of Europeans
down to the present day. One can even find parallels to contemporary
Islamist movements among some right-wing Catholics, like Abbe
Henry Delassus, whose book, Americanism and the Anti-Christian
Conspiracy posited an American-Jewish alliance to destroy
Christianity and take over the world.
thus the loathing of America and of Israel carry with it this
theme of opposition to change, modernity, and dozens of things
feared and hated by people of diverse political viewpoints
in many different countries.
the end of the Cold War signifying both the disappearance of
the Communist/Soviet threat and the reality of the United States
as the world's sole superpower, traditional anti-American themes
have reemerged. The 200-year-old nightmare of America dominating
the world with its power, values, and culture now seems possible
for the first time in history. It is not surprising that there
should be such a resurgence of anti-Americanism, both directly
and couched in terms of "globalization."
America as a Jewish Front
Jewish immigrants became more numerous and influential in America
during the late nineteenth-century, modern ideological antisemitism
was developing in Europe. That movement's founder, the Frenchman
Arthur de Gobineau, described how Aryans were losing control
of America to immigrants who were "the most degraded kind of
were many others who believed this sort of thing and who increasingly
focused on the Jews as the most powerful, indeed all-powerful,
force in the United States. For example, the French conservative
leader Charles Maurras blamed the Jews for an alleged U.S.
policy of favoring Germany before and after World War One and
then opposing it during Hitler's regime. Just after World War
One, J.L. Chastanet wrote a best-selling book in France, Uncle
Shylock, attributing the war to a plot by Jewish-dominated
American plutocrats to enslave Europe in permanent debt. This
kind of thinking could be found across the French political
spectrum and had a lasting influence there.
course, the best-known thinking of this sort was found in Germany.
In 1927, Otto Bonhard wrote Jewish World Domination?,
theorizing that America was seeking to rule the world as a
front for the Jews. nother best-seller in the Weimar republic,
by Adolf Halfeld, posited that the Jews' qualities predestined
them to rule America since they embodied all that country's
became the official line during the Nazi era, but it had a
broader European quality, as expressed in the writings of the
right-wing Frenchman Robert Brasillach, in words that could
have been expressed at most recent anti-Iraq war demonstrations
in Europe. What separates us from America, he explained, is
its hypocrisy, its dollars, and the fact that it is the bastion
of Jewish power in the world.
of the time, such sentiments have been more often whispered
than shouted in Europe but they are now commonplace in the
Arab world and Iran. Indeed, Usama bin Ladin's decision to
target the United States for his global Islamist revolution
was partly due to the conclusion that this would be more popular
than attacking Arab regimes. Even at the height of the 1990s'
peace process, when the United States was directly and indirectly
the main source of financial aid for the Palestinian Authority,
that institution's official newspaper referred to the U.S.
Congress as the "Council of the Elders of Zion" of which the
White House is a hostage; its official religious leader called
on God to "destroy America for it is controlled by Zionist
Jews"; and its minister of justice insisted that "five Zionist
Jews are running" U.S. Middle East policy.
such notions are by no means the product of the 1990s. In the
earlier version it was more often Israel that was the puppet
of the United States. Still, this amounted to the same thing
in terms of the identity of antisemitism and anti-Americanism.
Typical of this era was Yasir Arafat leading a 1969 PLO student
convention in singing a song entitled, "America, The Head of
the Snake" or stating, in 1986, that the United States is "the
controlling force of neo-colonialism, imperialism and racism
[which] employs Israel to spearhead its strategy of domination
in the Middle East."
types of statements could be found daily in the official and
semi-official media of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and until
recently, Iraq. The latest version of this thesis, that the
United States and the Jews (or Israel) are essentially the
same enemy, have been the conspiracy theories attributing the
war against Iraq to a Jewish cabal that told American leaders
what to do. It
is a measure of the sophistication and courage of American
intellectuals to hold these views.
ideas have transcended marginal myths to attain great acceptance
in Europe and the Middle East. Whatever efforts or success
the United States may have in trying to resolve the Arab-Israeli
conflict will not--as past experience has shown--make this
demonology go away.
The Slander of Policy
is a common place to say that the United States and Israel
are hated in much of the world because of their "policy." But
this ignores the all-important question of how that policy
is presented. If the motives, doings, and goals of these countries
or peoples is presented as the embodiment of evil, it is not
surprising that hate is inspired. When the spin put on these
things is systematically unfair and based on outright lies,
the victim is those being smeared in this manner.
pioneer in this respect regarding anti-Americanism was the
Soviet Union. For the first time in history, beginning in the
1920s, a country and international movement became a state
sponsor of anti-Americanism. Misrepresentation was carried
out using a wide range of methods, ranging from the obvious
and ludicrous to the brilliant and subtle, disseminated worldwide
in all conceivable media.
claims and arguments had an enormous effect on the thinking
of the European left and most Third World intellectuals, already
predisposed to believe the worst. Of course, it can be argued
that the conclusion, for example, that the United States was
imperialist or greedy or aggressive was a direct result of
experience with its policies in the world. There is of course
much truth in such an assertion. But whatever the accuracy
of this point, the antagonism has been no doubt deepened and
broadened by the way U.S. policy or actions were defined by
its ideological and direct adversary. The same cycle exists
example, if the U.S. goal in attacking Iraq is explained by
a desire to seize that country's oil, destroy Islam, enslave
Muslims, and so on, then clearly the response would be anti-Americanism.
But if the intended goals are shown to be quite different,
anti-Americanism would not be the response, no matter how much
the realism or implementation of these goals might be criticized.
Critical analysis of motives, however, can never take place
through controlled media aand ideological institutions such
same point applies to Israel. If governments, intellectuals,
and media insist that Israel is racist, fascist, and genocidal,
uninterested in peace, deliberately seeking to kill Palestinians,
seeking to conquer the Arab world, and so on, the result is
far different from viewing any misdeeds as mistakes or excesses.
The a priori assumption of Israel's unrelenting evil
prevents an analysis of how means mesh with ends.
this context, too, should be seen the argument that anti-Americanism
in the Middle East is merely or mostly the result of U.S. support
of Israel. It is easy to show that this attitude was widespread
long before U.S. policy saw Israel as an ally as well as in
the periods of greatest U.S. efforts to pressure Israel and
to meet Arab demands. Anti-American propaganda in the Syrian
media, for example, was well-established by 1959 and was included
in children's programming by 1962. In 1965, a U.S. embassy
dispatch from Damascus on Syrian domestic politics was entitled, "When
you have a problem blame the United States."
Israel, the greatest upsurge of global anti-Israel (and antisemitic)
propaganda and sentiment occurred after Israel made the most
far-reaching and riskiest concessions in order to attain peace.
The fact that this was met with a rejection by the Palestinian
leadership and a war against Israel whose main instrument was
anti-civilian terrorism should have done more than anything
to discourage the idea that Israel was evil. Precisely the
opposite has occurred. Israel and the U.S. are seen more and
more as singularly, cosmically evil.
what is at work is not some sophisticated policy-based critique.
To say that the United States, or Israel, is hated because
of its policy is to ignore the fact that the policy has been
first so misrepresented as to make it seem hateful.
The Realpolitik of Hatred
who is responsible for this misrepresentation and why is it
now flourishing? The production of hatred against others has
long been one of the most effective techniques for mobilizing
support by those who wish to retain or seize power. This point
is made not to posit some anti-American or antisemitic conspiracy,
yet visibly large elements of this trend have been deliberately
produced for political profit.
though, the obvious yet incredibly neglected argument on this
point goes as follows. Regimes which are corrupt, repressive,
and incompetent, which lead their people into one disaster
after another, require an explanation for their sad state of
affairs. The same is true of movements which want to seize
power. Just as European governments and radical movements once
used antisemitism for political purposes, so do modern Middle
East regimes deploy hatred of the United States and Israel.
are told every day, in schools and places of worship, in all
the media, and from the lips of government officials and opposition
leaders, that America and Israel are the roots of all evil.
Is it surprising that most believe this? Virtually no alternative
argument is permitted and when it does get through can be dismissed
as the deception of bad-intentioned foreigners or local traitors.
This culture is created and reinforced daily, and over decades.
was true in nineteenth-century Europe, the very potential appeal
of American institutions, ideas, and culture--often because
of or in spite of their shortcomings--makes it all the more
necessary to discredit them. If the United States tries to
achieve compromise peace between the Arabs and Israel, as happened
in the 1990s, those seeking to block success have all the more
reason to slander the United States and Israel. For them, the
Arab-Israeli conflict is too valuable a political tool (and
excuse) to abandon. When the United States seeks to overthrow
a dictatorship in Iraq and replace it with a democracy, those
who wish to remain or become dictators and fight for anti-democratic
causes have all the more reason to foster anti-Americanism.
Europe, there is a parallel but somewhat different. On one
hand, traditional anti-American themes are very much alive
and have become reactivated at a time when American power on
both cultural and political planes is at its highest point
in history. If America has found its post-Cold War enemy and
threat with reference to Middle East dictatorships and terrorist
groups, many Europeans find that the United States fills the
same function for themselves.
the other hand, as it was once said that antisemitism was the
socialism of fools--something proven daily in the twenty-first
century--that may be even more true for contemporary anti-Americanism.
The collapse of Communism and of many of the accompanying ideas
has left the less moderate European political and intellectual
left without a cause. Anti-Americanism seems to be about the
best candidate to fill that vacuum.
is no intention here to oversimplify complex issues. Of course,
there are diverse perspectives, varying interests, reasonable
differences of opinion, and so on, between Europe and the United
States. Yet the question here is not why there are debates
or conflicting policies but why this fact has taken on a level
of hysteria, slander, and hatred that goes beyond a disagreement
based on mutual respect. At some point, the sincere sentiment
of many is influenced, mobilized, and radicalized by the self-profiting
efforts of others.
The Uneven Playing Field
hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, political
slander is the tribute dictatorships pay to democratic rivals.
Or, to put it another way, one can use a famous legal saying:
If the facts are on your side, pound the facts; if the law
is on your side, pound the law; if neither is on your side,
pound the table.
anti-Americanism and antisemitism is a very effective way for
those with poor cases to pound the table. It does far more
than distract people from thinking about their own problems.
Those using these tools also have the advantage of diverting
attention from the perpetrators who are their real problem.
Iraq war is a remarkable lesson about such matters, showing
how the world works in terms of informational battles, elite
opinion, and media behavior. One revelation form the experience
was the American discovery that things thought to be true because
they applied only to Israel were now shown to work almost equally
against the United States.
attributed to an Israeli weakness in international public relations
also hold true for the mighty American system. Attitudes attributable
to antisemitism are paralleled by the effects of anti-Americanism.
Large sectors of the European and Middle Eastern media--and
sometimes the American media--cover Israel.
was revealed so effectively were the deeper, systemic, problems
of how governments, media, and intellectuals function and view
the world that can strike against any well-intentioned democratic
state defending itself. In the context of the factors discussed
above are such matters as the following:
a democracy battling a dictatorship earns you little or no
special credit and can be an outright disadvantage. The assumption
of the dominant sector in the intellectual class--which runs
much of academic, the media, and all verbal, opinion-forming
sectors of society--is that democracies lie about as much as
dictatorships, especially if the dictatorship claims "progressive" credentials.
All "truths" are equal, and some more equal than others.
its own intellectuals and media to voice a single line makes
the dictatorship sound popular abroad. Since all Iraqis or
Palestinians say the same thing it must be true. In contrast,
a democracy's dissenting voices about its real or imagined
shortcomings can be used to undermine its assertions. To make
matters worse, these are the claims of a "people" versus those
of a "government." You can imagine what the opinion-making
class is more likely to believe, and the populist credentials
of the dictatorships are artificially amplified.
addition, since no critical information comes out of the dictatorship,
the only way we know it does anything wrong is by its enemies'
assertions. And all these data, no matter how well-documented--from
Israel on Arafat's backing of terrorism; from the United States
on Saddam's repression and concealment of weapons--can be dismissed
there is the fair-minded "neutrality" of those who shape opinion
in the media, academia, and elsewhere. "Patriotism" is identified
as a right-wing belief and is replaced by its opposite: to
doubt, criticize, slander, or at least avoid agreeing with
your country's position,n seems political courageous and morally
noble. "Why should we assume the United States is telling the
truth? Let's give equal weight to Saddam Hussein's version."
a result, if a democratic state makes a mistake--an Israel
or U.S. attack that inadvertently killed civilians--they are
denounced as something close to war criminals. But if their
adversaries torture people to death, employ terrorism, and
do a dozen other things, the response is "Well, how do we really
know this happened?"
any rate, the democratic states must meet a higher standard.
Their mistakes matter and they are held accountable for each
and every one. Dictatorships, however, are given the benefit
of the doubt or in effect forgiven by the racism of low expectations.
consider some parallels:
the United States and Israel are headed by internationally
unpopular leaders against whom virtually any slander can
both cases the bystanders ridicule the existence of very
real threats. Thus, their defensive actions can be judged
as unnecessary and aggressive.
enemies are judged with excessive apologetics. Even if
the individual leaders of these parties are judged harshly,
their actions are excused--and those of the United States
and Israel held in contempt--because of what is seen as
sympathy for their peoples. Yet it is precisely their own
leadership which so impoverishes and endangers those peoples.
in talking about the U.S. and British or the Israeli army,
there are many who will not hesitate to tell any lie and
make any exaggeration. And they will find more innocent,
but quite willing, ears to believe them.
fact that their adversaries lose every battle is taken
to prove that the United States and Israel are bullies.
The differences between the two sides' casualty figures
are viewed not as showing the foolhardiness of the provocations
offered by the weaker side but its victimization.
the Arab world, though, the losers are simultaneously victims
and heroes, whose victory is proclaimed up to the moment
of total, undeniable defeat.
Europe, there are many who wrongly believe that hating
the United States and Israel will make the Arabs love them,
do business with them, and not kill them.
informational battle is unwinnable not because ineptness but
because Arab and many European governments, all of the Arab
and much of the European media, and a large part of the world's
intellectual class will not give you a fair chance. They will
quickly declare your intentions bad, your leaders dishonorable,
your plans unworkable, and your efforts unsuccessful. Whether
terrorism in Europe will change or strengthen these attitudes
remains to be seen.
what is most important here is that the outcome of history
is determined not by the wars of words but on the battlefields
and in the material sphere of achievement. The army of lies
never surrenders but it is actively forced back from trench
in the first postwar days of U.S. control of Iraq it was already
facing the kind of frustrating and bad publicity producing
situations as Israel had long experienced. These showed that
one did not have to be at fault to be blamed. Consider two
incidents. In the first, U.S. forces were attacked by pro-Saddam
holdouts. During the fighting, a captured Iraqi ammunition
dump exploded killing six Iraqi bystanders. The result was
an angry demonstration in which fist-waving men shouted, "No
Saddam! No Bush! Yes to Islam!" Furious residents pelted US
troops with stones as they tried to take some of the wounded
to a military hospital. 
weeks later, U.S. troops killed and wounded a number of Iraqis
after some gunmen in a large peacefully demonstrating pro-Saddam
crowd fired at them in the town of Falluja. It is possible
though that the men were shooting in the air. Said a senior
American officer present, "There were a lot of people who were
armed and who were throwing rocks. How is a U.S. soldier to
tell the difference between a rock and a grenade?"
 Durrand Echeverria, Mirage in the West: A History of the
French Image of American. Society to 1815, (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1957), p. 252, and Antonello
Gerbi, The Dispute of the New World: The History of
a Polemic, 1750-1900, (trans. Jeremy Moyle. University
of Pittsburgh Press, 1973), p. 342.
 Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 2,
 J.W. Schulte Nordholt, "Anti-Americanism in European Culture:
Its Early Manifestations," in R. Kroes and M. van Rossem,
eds, Anti-Americanism in Europe, (Amsterdam, Free
University Press), 1986) p. 9.
 Wolfang Wagner, "The Europeans' Image of America," in Karl Kaiser
and Hans- Peter Schwarz, eds. America and Western Europe,
(Lexington, MA, Lexington Books 1979), p. 24.
 G.T. Hollyday, Anti-Americanism in the German Novel, 1841-1861,
(Berne, Peter Lang, 1977), p. 27.
Brasillach, Journal d'un homme occupe* (Paris, 1955),
p. 438, 445.
 Robert J. Lieber, "The Neoconservative-Conspiracy
Theory: Pure Myth," Chronicle of Higher Education,
May 2, 2003.
 Reuters, April 29, 2003.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in
International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle
East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal,
and editor of Covenant, A Global Jewish Magazine.
His many books include Assimilation and its Discontents (1995),
and with Judith Colp Rubin, Hating America: A History (2004),
and Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography (2003),
both published by Oxford University Press.
- Global Jewish Magazine 2006