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By Barry Rubin

The chairman of Finland’s branch of Amnesty International, Frank Johansson, wrote in his blog at a Finnish newspaper that Israel is a “scum state.” It makes me recall a French ambassador who used a nastier word at a dinner party a couple of years back. And I’ve heard from several diplomats equivalent things over the years.

Isn’t it something that in this day of Political Correctness and multiculturalism and humanitarian kindness that there is only one people and one country in the world that supposedly respectable Europeans don’t hesitate to insult in the most vicious language? There is still one people to whom the alleged rules of non-stereotyping and anti-racism doesn’t apply in many quarters.

Of course they would not dare to speak in this way of Iran or Sudan, Saudi Arabia or Syria, Venezuela or North Korea, Zimbabwe or Cuba, or for that matter Hamas or Hizballah, or other terrorists, torturers, murderers, and thieves in power. Greed? Fear? Support for repressive dictatorships that brandish populist and anti-Western rhetoric? Indeed, if such a person were to so criticize any other country in the world–from Albania through Zanzibar–he would be forced to resign immediately.

Might such people have some sense that this is just some new version of historic antisemitism? Well, one can only quote what Theodor Herzl wrote well over a century ago. As the twentieth century was about to begin,  Herzl noted something amazing. 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.

That 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 called civilized.”

Now, here we are at the onset of the twenty-first century, the cycle is being repeated, and groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN’s human rights commission are in the vanguard.

Shame on them all.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center 
Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

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