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Until not so long ago, it would have been possible to excuse Mahathir Mohamad's outrageous declaration as "constructive anti-Semitism." The Arab belief that the Jews rule the world has become one of Israel's most important deterrent factors, no less so than its military strength. The lunatic idea that six million Jews dictate the policies of a superpower with 280 million inhabitants has contributed greatly to the decisions by Arab and Palestinian leaders, and even to that of the Arab League (in spring 2002), to accept, albeit with gritted teeth, the existence of the Jewish state. When Anwar Sadat and King Hussein came to Jerusalem, they had at least one eye fixed on Washington.

Unfortunately, over the last few years, and especially since September 11, 2001, the constructive element of Muslim and Arab anti-Semitism has been waning. The grievances raised by Mahathir - backing for Israel's aggressive policies in the territories and America's forgiving attitude toward the continuation of the occupation - have nothing whatsoever to do with friendship toward Israel.

On the contrary, the United States, by both commission and omission, is knowingly supporting a government that is leading the Zionist idea down the wrong path. After all, President George Bush's vision declares that two states living side by side in peace is both an Israeli and a Palestinian interest. And he himself claims that the new settlement outposts, the expansion of existing settlements and the intrusive fence undermine the chances of establishing a Palestinian state. Thus, according to Bush, his blind support for the rightist government's actions undercuts Israel's interest in reaching an agreement with its neighbors and maintaining its Jewish and democratic character.

In the best case, Bush's policy can be considered a demonstration of friendship for Ariel Sharon. However, relations between leaders, like those between states, are not a matter of emotions. The Bush administration's attitude toward the Israeli government is a complex stew made up of America's strategic interests in the Middle East and the president's political interests. The relationship between these two ingredients is not fixed. When the administration wants to sell weapons to the Arabs, it ignores Jewish pressure. But the closer the presidential election of November 2004 comes, the more domestic politics push foreign policy aside. Election season is also the peak period for lobbies, interest groups and business magnates. It is the favorite season of the Jewish organizations that act on behalf of the government of Israel.

The enormous power of pro-Israel lobbies such as AIPAC is what outraged Mahathir. Instead of internalizing the fact that interest groups are an inseparable part of the democratic game, Muslim leaders invent anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Israel and American Jews. It is easier for them to let racist genies out of the bottle than to admit that more than a billion Muslims worldwide do not do a fraction for their Palestinian brethren of what six million American Jews do for Israel. American Jews would not have allowed tens of thousands of their fellow Jews to languish in refugee camps for more than 50 years. While the Muslims devote their energy and money to internal strife, American Jews devote the bulk of their resources to mobilizing political support for the government of Israel.

The Israeli "peace camp" has also demonstrated weakness in the face of "Jewish power." In its arrogant attitude toward everything that smacks of the Diaspora, the left has conceded one of the strongest pressure groups in the world - and now it complains that the right controls the arena. Instead of cultivating a moderate Jewish leadership, the left stood by and watched as Jewish organizations in Washington and New York turned into branches of the Likud and representatives of the settlers in recent years. Support for a government that is leading the Jewish state to destruction, in the security, demographic, economic and social realms, is not proof that Jews control the world. Such a claim is proof that anti-Semitism causes people to lose their minds.