May 19, 2014

In Blog


The ADL’s strange view of anti-Semitism around the world – and in Hebron

Why didn’t the pollsters ask: How many people do you know whose land was stolen by Jews – people whom the Jews removed from their homes?

By Amira Hass | May 19, 2014 | 2:00 AM |  2
Clashes in Hebron, February 21, 2014

Palestinian protesters confront an Israeli soldier during clashes at a demonstration against the closure of Shuhada street to Palestinians, Hebron, February 21, 2014. Photo by Reuters
The Anti-Defamation League and the company that conducts surveys for it consider it appropriate to ask a Polish person, a Chinese person and a Palestinian person the same 11 questions to measure anti-Semitism around the world.

The pollers provided 11 statements reflecting anti-Jewish stereotypes. Anyone who said that six or more of the statements were true was defined as anti-Semitic. News reports on the survey pretty much shouted with glee that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were the most anti-Semitic of all.

Last Tuesday afternoon, Israeli websites published their stories about this enormous survey (there were 53,000 respondents, which tells us something about the ADL’s financial resources).

At about 10:30 P.M. that night, army troops broke into the home of the Saddam Abu Sneineh family in Hebron’s Old City, which is dominated by a couple of thousand Jews – settlers and soldiers.

Only on Wednesday morning did I see a text message I had received about the break-in. As soon as I saw it, I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. Two weeks earlier, when the incident involving Nahal soldier David Adamov went viral, army troops arrested – under false pretense – Abu Sneineh, one of two Hebron residents whom Adamov had threatened with a cocked rifle.

At first, Abu Sneineh, 20, didn’t want to talk about the 24 hours he spent in detention and the abuse he suffered. He feared that it would only provoke the soldiers, Adamov’s friends, to attack him again. Several young Palestinians and I tried to persuade him that the publication of articles about the ordeal was a form of protection.

The Israel Defense Forces Spokesman’s Office chose not to comment on my questions about Abu Sneineh’s false arrest and the soldiers’ abuse of him. And now, four days after my article on him was published (on May 9), soldiers appeared at his home.

I was told they had come to arrest him again. The soldiers beat him, members of his family tried to prevent his arrest, the soldiers beat them also, and they arrested Jibril, Saddam’s 30-year-old brother.

I asked the IDF Spokesman’s Office immediately on Wednesday morning to comment on the information I had received and the conclusion (also mine) that the arrest was an act of retaliation by Adamov’s fellow soldiers. A few hours later I got the news that Jibril Abu Sneineh had been taken to the police for questioning, released and admitted to a Palestinian hospital. A response to me from the IDF Spokesman’s Office arrived only Thursday morning:

“During a routine operation by army troops, who were searching for weapons in Hebron, a conflict broke out between area residents and soldiers when a Palestinian man tried to attack the troops using cold weapons,” the IDF said, referring to weapons other than guns. “The troops arrested the attacker, who was transferred to the Israel Police and released.”

How does a home turn into an “area”? Why was there no denial of the family’s statement that the soldiers had come to arrest Saddam again and beat him again? How was it that the police immediately released a Palestinian man who had tried to attack a soldier? The answer is known only to the commanders and military legal advisers who needed 24 hours to come up with a response.

Comparing Iceland to Gaza

But we’re talking about the ADL’s survey on anti-Semitism. In one of its tables, the names of countries in which the number of Jews is fairly large (at least 10,000) received an asterisk. Respondents from those countries were asked a few more questions. There was an asterisk for Poland. There wasn’t one for China, and there wasn’t one for the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

In other words, the ADL had freed the West Bank from the distressing, arrogant and aggressive presence of roughly 550,000 Jewish settlers. The ADL also believes that the same rules that apply to Iceland and Laos apply to the Gaza Strip: In all three, familiarity with the concept “Jew” is abstract because few Jews live there.

Army invasions (by Jews) almost every day, thousands of people killed by Jews, almost 40 years of settlements, 40 years of Jewish bosses (bad ones and good ones), tens of thousands of Gazans’ searing memories of Jews who expelled them from their villages and homes – none of that is relevant to the people who conducted the ADL’s survey.

They asked people in Reykjavik, Vientiane and the Jabalya refugee camp the same questions. They didn’t ask any of them: How many times have you been beaten by a Jew? How many people do you know whose land was stolen by Jews – people whom the Jews removed from their homes?

Which reminds me. When my father was a child in Romania, he learned that it was better to keep the shutters closed on Sundays, when the local townspeople were leaving church. His CV also includes expulsion from home with thousands of others and three years in a ghetto. In other words, he was no stranger to anti-Semitism.

Fortunately, he died in 1997, without seeing how far the Jewish-Israeli occupation had gone. But as early as 1991, when I came back from Gaza with reports on how the occupation was squeezing money out of the Palestinians, he said with a sigh of bitterness and pain, in his typically Yiddish-type way of exaggerating: “Israel is retroactively justifying what anti-Semites have been saying about us for 2,000 years.”

One of the 11 statements in the survey – which was asked in Ukraine, Lebanon and Hebron – was: “People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave.” This best indicates the survey’s essentialist approach. According to it, there is no link between the opinions and the social and historical context of the place in question. The interaction between a Jew and non-Jew in Riga is identical to that in Jenin.

If the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which have been under continued Jewish occupation, were not included in the survey, its findings might have been a basis for discussion. Including the occupied Palestinian territories in the survey turns it into a cheap and dangerous propaganda tool.