Anti-Semitism Can Be Self-serving

The rallying cry of the right: "The Arabs want Netanya, so what is the use of leaving Adura?" has been joined by a new-old slogan - "The whole world is against us not for being occupiers but for being Jews."

The rallying cry of the right: "The Arabs want Netanya, so what is the use of leaving Adura?" has been joined by a new-old slogan - "The whole world is against us not for being occupiers but for being Jews."

Every government that criticizes the occupation is automatically branded anti-Semitic. Every European newspaper that publishes accounts of civil rights violations is automatically added to the list of Jew haters.

Abba Eban used to say anti-Semitism is the problem of the goyim. Now it turns out that it can also come in handy for the Jews too. If the whole world is against us, what's the use of dismantling settlements and withdrawing from the territories?

Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora must do everything to confront anti-Semitism and lop off its head. But we must not allow it to be commandeered by opponents of compromise who masquerade as patriots. Jew haters in Egypt, the United States and Europe know how to put political and economic interests ahead of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments.

President Anwar Sadat's anti-Semitic past did not prevent him from coming to Jerusalem. Archival documents recently made public in the United States show that Richard Nixon was an inveterate Jew hater. But he did not let this get the better of him when the defense and welfare of Israel was also in America's best interests.

When George Bush senior agreed to help Israel finance immigration absorption only on condition that settlement building was halted, the Israeli right said we were stuck with a typical anti-Semitic southern clan. When George Bush junior calls Ariel Sharon a "man of peace" and turns a blind eye to new settlements, the Bush family is suddenly "friends of Israel."

It is worth noting that the anti-Semitic leanings of Christian Evangelist preachers have never stopped the Israeli right, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, from enlisting these people to fight our battles in Congress and White House.

Our experience in Europe actually proves anti-Semitism is not decreed from above. Israel's Association Agreement with the European Union in 1995 clearly demonstrated that Israel's own behavior determines if it is treated warmly or coldly.

This agreement, which granted Israel a special foothold in the markets of 15 EU countries was a loud and clear reward for the Oslo accords. Then the policies of the Netanyahu government led the parliaments of France and Belgium to postpone endorsing this agreement. They signed it in 2000 - impressed by the peace efforts of the Barak government.

Now the parties in Jerusalem are calling Belgians anti-Semites for lobbying the EU to cancel this agreement following civil and humanitarian rights violations in the territories. The Belgian government's criticism of Israel is actually a more moderate version of a paid advertisement recently published in Le Soir by Jewish leftists in Brussels - much to the dismay of Israel's ambassador to the EU.

The link between Israel's peace policies and its relations with Europe can also be seen in Israel's inclusion in a research and development agreement. This opens the door for Israeli universities and industries to take part in hundreds of science and technology projects.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has emphasized that this agreement, which was signed under Netanyahu, would never have seen the light of day if Shimon Peres, then a member of the opposition, didn't have so many friends in European socialist parties. Today, Foreign Minister Peres is having a tough time finding these friends so he can plead with them not to endorse those seeking to sour Israeli-European relations.

Obviously no one is saying Israel should surrender vital interests to appease the governments of Europe, or anywhere else. However, let us not lose sight of the fact that anti-Semites also have strategic, political and economic interests. With neighbor Cyprus on the way to joining the EU, the Middle East and Europe move ever closer.

Sharon is entitled to lump Netzarim and Tel Aviv in the same basket, but he cannot expect Europeans to believe that flowers from Gush Katif in their living rooms will improve stability in their back yard. Let the sleeping dog of anti-Semitism lie - it's too dangerous to be used as a political weapon.