BY: SEAN DURNS | CAMERA | May 21, 2024

One of the central tenets of antisemitism is the idea that Jews are responsible for all the evil in the world. Der Sturmer, the Nazi Party rag, summed this idea up: “the Jews are our misfortune.” Today that idea has been revamped for a more liberal era and more polite company. Now it is the Jewish state that is responsible for all the world’s ills. And the Washington Post, once a bastion of liberal thought and investigative journalism, is here to tell you why.

The lack of democracy in the Middle East? Well, that problem can be laid at the footsteps of the Jewish state and the United States, according to Post columnist Shadi Hamid (“How Israel and the United States suppress democracy in the Middle East,” May 13, 2024). The United States supports “repressive regimes, backed and armed with billions of dollars of U.S. economic and military aid.” Why do they do this? For Israel (of course).

Israel, Hamid writes, “stands at the center of the region that the United States helped form.” And “the decision to elevate Israel’s security interests above almost everything else, however well-intentioned, has distorted American policy.” The Jewish state “might be the region’s only established democracy, [but] Israel is a staunch opponent of democracy in the rest of the Middle East.”

According to Hamid, Arab populations tend to be anti-Israel so it follows that both Washington and Jerusalem have to back repressive authoritarian governments—“American client states” as he calls them—to prevent them from having a say. He adds: “That Israel prefers autocrats over democrats has been a source of tension with the United States.” Hamid states that “most of the more than 20 senior George W. Bush and Obama administration officials that I interviewed for my book ‘The Problem of Democracy’ recounted Israeli officials’ irritation whenever the United States would flirt with taking a more forthright pro-democracy stance in the region.”

One example that Hamid offers is the Egyptian regime of Gen. Abdel Fatah El-Sisi. And, for reasons that will be explained shortly, this is a very telling example for the Post columnist to give. But the gist of his argument is clear: the Jewish state is responsible for the lack of democracy in the Middle East. This is a common, if old and tired, argument for anti-Israel activists to make. The problem with it is simple: it overlooks the entire history of the Middle East. And it overstates Israel’s role and impact in the region. Other than that, it’s fine.

Israel was founded in 1948. It was, and is, a democracy. Prior to Israel’s founding, there were no major democracies in the region. Egypt, ruled by King Farouk and, before him, other descendants of Muhammad Ali, wasn’t a democracy. Nor was the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, known today as Jordan. Ditto for Iraq, then ruled by Hashemites, as well. And ditto for Syria, Lebanon, and various states in the Gulf and northern Africa. The modern nation of Turkey, founded by Atatürk and ruled at the time by his associates, was arguably the most Western-leaning and liberal Middle Eastern nation at the time. Yet, it too was repressive, imprisoning, and torturing dissidents and persecuting religious minorities. All these countries were ruled by dictatorships long before Israel was created. So too was the Ottoman Empire, which ruled over the region for centuries prior. Blaming the Jewish state for the lack of democracy in the Middle East is ahistorical. But it is very much on brand for the Washington Post of today.

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May 26, 2024 | 1 Comment »

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  1. The only good thing about this article is that we now know the nonsense the other side is telling their subscribers. Just as an example, it was the British and the French that Set up the Middle East.