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Hey Bill O’Reilly, Where are the Moderate Jews?
Amer Zahr
by Amer Zahr
October 26th, 2012 (19 Comments)
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Where is Bill O’Reilly when you need him?

This week, Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a survey that contained some shocking findings.  According to journalist Gideon Levy, who penned the article for Haaretz, “The survey indicates that a third to half of Jewish Israelis want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens. An even larger majority wants to live in an apartheid state if Israel annexes the territories.”

Bill, are you listening?  You’re famous for speaking of a “Muslim dilemma.”  You and many other commentators have pleaded for reasonable, moderate Muslims to make their voices heard in the face of Islamic extremism and movements that devalue the lives and status of non-Muslims.

Moderate, peace-loving Muslims have populated your show and many others, usually bombarded by your insistence that they denounce extremism.  They always do.  Arab and Muslim groups always send out condemning press releases distancing themselves whenever an extremist group or individual does something crazy.

Well, now we have a nation—one that claims to speak for the entire Jewish people—that has unmasked its beliefs in a pretty extreme fashion.

Israeli study: 59% of Israeli Jews favor preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to government jobs.

Bill, where are the moderate Jewish voices?

Israeli study: 49% of Israeli Jews want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones.

Bill, aren’t you outraged?

Israeli study: 42% of Israeli Jews don’t want to live in the same building as Arabs.

Well, this is ridiculous, right? I know the smell of garlic from the kitchen can be overwhelming, but on the bright side, you’ll get invited to dinner at least 3 times a week.

Israeli study: 42% of Israeli Jews don’t want their kids in the same classroom as Arabs.

Bill, we Americans outlawed segregation in schools a long time ago.  Remember?  These backwards Israelis are revolting.  Now, Israel already funds Jewish schools three times more than it funds Arab schools.  But that’s ok, we invented algebra and chemistry, so we can do without education.

Israeli study: 74% of Israeli Jews favor separate roads for Jews and Arabs in the West Bank.

OK, I have driven alongside Arabs in the Middle East, and I would rather skydive without a parachute.  So I totally understand this one.

Israeli study: 33% of Israeli Jews would support a law banning Israeli Arab citizens from voting.

Bill, this one even makes the KKK jealous.

Mr. O’Reilly, shouldn’t reasonable, moderate Jews speak up?!  Bring me on the show.  Let’s talk about it!

No Jewish-American group, to my knowledge, has made any public statement about this troubling study.  When Muslim and Arab American groups fail to denounce extremist views and acts, we are labeled as “complicit.”  Bill, it’s safe to assume that American Jews concur with these racist views prevalent in Israeli society, right?  If not, where are the moderate voices?

Of course, the sad irony is that American Jews, who have honorably been at the forefront civil rights struggles here, are usually all too silent when it comes to Israel.

To a Palestinian, the results of this survey are not too surprising.  As Arab Knesset member Jamal Zahalka noted, “We're talking about racism, pure and simple.  The Israeli regime isn't a carbon copy of South Africa’s apartheid, but it is certainly from the same family.”  We have long lived in a world where we know the Israeli state is built upon the notion that Jews are simply better than Arabs.  In that world, Jews are human beings worthy of rights; Arabs are not.  Separate roads, separate schools, and institutionalized racism are not memories of an ugly past. They are realities of an ugly present.

Mr. O’Reilly, you once asserted, “For every Muslim in the world who wants democracy and human rights, there’s one who doesn’t.”  That would be a scary ratio.  But there are no studies to prove that.  Who would have ever thought you could have said the same about Israelis and been exactly right?

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Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of “The Civil Arab.”

Comments (19)
  1. khaled khalefe ... October 26th, 2012 - 13:58

    “The survey indicates that a third to half of Jewish Israelis want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens. An even larger majority wants to live in an apartheid state if Israel annexes the territories.”interesting finding Amer my friend, you have to catch -up with news coming just now from Israel and the new integration between the most two notorious right wing Israeli parties the Netanyahu’s party and the Lieberman’s party in the upcoming election. currently the Americans are busy with the election, I am sure that without the American support Israel will never conduct such a domestic regional and international aggressive policies .it’s America matter and not only O’Reilly the demagogue.

  2. I read with interest Mr. Zahr’s article asking or rather wondering where are the “moderate” Jews when Israel and/or the Israeli people espouse views that he finds deeply offensive. While I very much share Mr. Zahr’s abhorrence of racist views whether expressed by Israeli Jews or others, I’m equally appalled that he seems to think that just because Israel in some form or another does give from time to time the impression that they speak on behalf of world Jewry, why in heaven’s name does he buy into that. I’d like to ask Mr. Zahr that when the United States commits war crimes and crimes against humanity (Vietnam war just one example and war in Iraq a more recent one), does he give consent to the American administration whichever is in power to speak in his name? Why should Jews be treated any differently? Has he not met enough Jews whose views may in fact be radically different than what the Israeli government espouses from time to time? Or for that matter what our government espouses? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that it’s simply ignorance on his part rather than accuse him of harboring some anti-Jewish feelings.

    Thank you for allowing me to express my view.

    Shifra Stern

    • P.S. Mr. Zahr, one final note. For heaven’s sake, Abe Foxman nor any of his co-horts within the ADL or for that matter any other American Jewish organization does not speak on behalf of American Jewry. Their silence on this matter, as abhorrent as it in fact is, particularly the ADL which professes to uphold civil rights, does not in any way shape or form express acquiescence on the part of American Jewry.

      • Hi Shifra,

        Thanks for reading and commenting.
        I definitely know that many (maybe most) American Jews do not support the kind of racist findings the survey exposed. I was talking about the whole “moderate Jew” concept to show how ridiculous it is when American journalists, politicians, and commentators ask for “moderate Muslims.” Because if this survey had been from an Arab/Islamic country, immediately every Arab/Muslim group in America would have distanced itself. Every pro-Israel organization has stayed silent.

        I believe in a one-sate binational solution. In order for this to happen, Jews in Israel and elsewhere need to see Palestinians as human beings worthy of rights. My fear is the current Israeli society does not.

        Hearing some American Jewish voices on TV say that the results of the survey are troubling, counterproductive, and not indicative of American Jews would be awesome. I doubt we will see that. In fact, the survey will get no press at all.

    • I agree with you. There are many, many American Jews who are not aligned with the racist state of Israel and they do speak up (however, never given the platform afforded to pro Isral/Zionists). I have many friends who fall into that category. I would also say that there are many Israelis who do not align with this racist policy. Unfortuantely, they seldom have the opportunity to present their views in the mainstream media platforms. Amer’s point, I believe, was to say that just because I am an Arab/Muslim, that does not put me in the same bucket as Osama or the other lunies out there. But that would be asking too much of Bill. American Right Wingers need an enemey and we, Arabs/Muslims, fit the bill.

  3. Well done my friend. Here is one American Jew who continues to be disgusted by the Israeli inability to get their heads out of the bucket of sh*t that they continue to smell, turn their noses and then tell me to smell it.

  4. This is very well written and makes a great point. There has been an expectation since 9/11 that moderate Arabs/Muslims have to apologize for extremists. I have always felt that action in and of itself is an admission that there is some kind of tie between someone like myself and the Taliban for example, when there is none. If Jews were held to that same standard there would be outrage. Your point is very well made. And I find the study sad and disturbing. Sad because it’s not surprising, and disturbing for the irony. Love the articles – keep them coming!

  5. Thanks to all of you for your comments. If its of any interest to you, both of my parents were in the Nazi concentration camps. I’d like to believe or at least I hope that I have come away from that experience (a) a more decent human being and (b) maybe even a more “sensitive” Jew particularly when the crimes are committed by Jews (Israel) “in the name of the Jewish people.”

    Before I continue, let me preface this by saying that my motive is not that I should be perceived as a “better” or more “sensitive” human being and Jew as the next one, but rather to point out, that while I can only speak for myself, and am always careful never to present myself as speaking on behalf of the majority of Jews, be they Israeli or American, I am confident nevertheless that there are Jews out there who share my sentiments. Indeed, I have come across a number of children of Holocaust survivors, in particular, who are absolutely appalled at the crimes committed supposedly in the name of “world Jewry.”

    When Israel in its invasion of Lebanon beginning in March of 1996 (“Operation Grapes of Wrath”) you may recall that they attacked a UN compound in Qana on April 18, 1996 where at least 500 civilians (not Hezbollah fighters) were seeking refuge and in the process killed approximately 108 people and injured many. The United Nations investigated, followed by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, including Israel’s B’Tselem and they all concluded that the attack was not an “accident” or some sort of “miscalculation” or “misfiring” but rather quite “deliberate”. I don’t mean to insult anyone’s intelligence but it’s important that it’s absolutely clear to you all: “Deliberately” targeting any compound where you know civilians are seeking refuge is a “war crime” and a “crime against humanity.” I followed the events very closely, in the American media, European, Australian, and Israeli and was so appalled and enraged that I decided that while I’m simply an “ordinary” American without power or access to powerful people, to do a dossier on the entire Operation Grapes of Wrath operation. I sent the dossier to a journalist in the UK where in fact he called and interviewed me for his newspaper. It was followed by a TV interview in the UK as well. I also made a very real effort to get it exposed in the American media. I sent the dossier to major American media including to Anthony Lewis of the New York Times. After all, Lewis you may recall, was considered “liberal” so to speak, someone who from time to time even dared criticize Israel. So I thought I had a chance. I followed it up by calling and speaking with him. To my regret I didn’t take notes so I can only share what I recall from that conversation. Despite the fact that “mainstream”, you know, “respectable” human rights organizations concluded that it was “deliberate” and thus a war crime, not some “crazy leftist organizations” his attitude was that “war crime” is merely “my” opinion, to which I’m entitled to, of course, but I’m totally wrong, misinformed, etc. He also wanted me to believe that I’m merely interested in beating up on the poor IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). Interesting. I should have asked him, now what would be my motive to simply want to beat up on the IDF? I don’t know what he would have responded since he probably was a bit too sophisticated to call me a “self-loathing Jew”. As we all know, while writers for the New York Times such as Lewis, may be critical of our government policy from time to time or even an ally such as Israel, it seems that calling an action done by Israel a “war crime” was “crossing a red line.” In other words, too liberal.

    My point is that despite a genuine effort and not an inconsiderable cost to me (at that time I was only a legal secretary) I couldn’t get even one American media to do their own investigation or follow up. The story quickly died.

    Again, I didn’t write all this to show how “noble” I am, but rather to point out that I’m quite confident that I’m not some unique Jewish American woman who is appalled by war crimes, especially those that are committed supposedly in my name. (I have no doubt that the Israeli government would prefer that Jews like me convert to Christianity thereby being able to dismiss us as self-loathing Jews.)

    While I got the point of Mr. Zahr’s article and all your comments, and while I’m very angry that Israel propagates the myth that they do and speak on behalf of world Jewry, I’m equally appalled why people are buying into it. Or that somehow so called major Jewish organizations speak in my name. Every time say Abe Foxman exposes himself as an utter hypocrite am I really obligated to start calling media and say Mr. Foxman doesn’t speak on my behalf? Did American Jews vote that he and others like him should speak for us?

    So yes, it is utterly preposterous that every time some Muslim commits a crime some distinguished Muslim leader is obligated to denounce it.

    A final thought: We all know that for the most part the banking industry is owned/run by White Protestants. You might find a Jew here and there in the banking industry or maybe even an African-American but for the most part its run by WASPS. Now, maybe it did happen and am unaware of it, but did one distinguished WASP gentlemen or woman write an article or announce on TV how revolted and appalling it is that this industry defrauded the American people in the billions of dollars? Did he say you should all know that these WASPS don’t speak for me? Again, I’m not aware of it. But feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

  6. One final point which is important. It is irrefutable that prior to the attack on the compound at Qana the IDF was fully aware that 500 civilians (not armed men) were seeking refuge there. They knew that at least 24 hours prior to the attack.

  7. One other thing just occurred to me. I think O’Reilly is not the problem. Every American with an IQ over 60 knows that O’Reilly and all of Fox News is a branch of the Republican right wing party. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, must be beating himself in his grave why he did such a poor job at propaganda. He should have taken lessons from Fox News and its distinguished journalists.

    The point is it’s not the O’Reilly’s we should pay attention to but rather the “liberal” or “unbiased” “respectable” press. The lies/distortions/subterfuges, and, most importantly, censoring news “not fit to print” in the New York Times, for example, is by far more harmful than anything coming out of the mouth of a right wing demagogue.

  8. If you took the same type of poll in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or anywhere else in the Middle East, it would show that 99.5% favor discriminating, if not outright killing, Jews. Try comparing apples to apples next time.

    • Really Tim? Do you know that there are about 22 Arab countries? And if we’re not combining Arabs and Muslims, this is In addition to several Muslim non-Arab countries sucha s Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, etc. Remember, not every Arab is a Muslim and not every Muslim is an Arab. Each and every single one of them has a distinct history and culture and differing religious and political ideologies. In fact if you went to each and every single one of them, you wouldn’t know how to communicate with anyone since most have their own languages and/or dialects.

      Having said that, are you so stupid that you actually believe that 99.5% of all of these coutnries favor discriminating or “outright killing” Jews?

      In fact, Two of the countries you mentioned, Egypt and Jordan, actually have normalized relationships with Israel. So unless you took a tour of the Middle East, Africa, Central and South East Asia…oh and let’s not forget Eastern Europe where many of the former Soviet countries have Muslim populations, and took a pole of every single Arab and every single Muslim, which you clearly didn’t, I’m inclined to think that you’re just full of sh*t.

      Then again, you were just talking about the Middle East, so let’s go back to those 22 countries. Now let’s say that they’re….oh, I don’t know…members of the United Nations…and members of the Arab League. If they were favoring “outright killing” of the Jews, why did the Arab League on several occasions try to encourage Israel and Palestine to resolve the conflict in exchange for normalized relations with all 22 countries? Now imagine if Israel took that deal. No conflict, no war, no bombings, nothing….and on top of that they now have open economic trade with 22 neighboring arab countries, including the Gulf states which are oil soaked and very rich. Why would Israel turn down that deal?

      It seems to me that the shoe is on the other foot. Israelis are in favor of discriminating against Arabs to continue their unilateral annexation of occupied lands. Seems like a dumb trade-off, huh? We should also create a distinction between Jews and Israelis. After all, not every Jew is an Israeli and not every Israeli is a Jew (although Netanyahu would have you think that).

      • They turn it down because its a bad deal. There are absolutely no guarantees of safety. Israel forcibly removed all of its citizens from gaza and what did they get? Hamas? Ask yourself why there is such a large discrepancy between Gaza and West Bank, and perhaps you will begin to understand that the situation with the Arab nations is not as simply as you make it seem.

  9. Tim, even if I were to take what you’re saying at face value, that the number of people living in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc. who’d support at least discriminating against Jews would be 99.5 percent, I see a stark difference. While certainly those results would be disgraceful, and not exactly defensible, nonetheless people living in Israel have been living since its creation in a democratic (democratic at least for Jews)society and the overwhelming majority received a secular education. You’d think part of that education would indeed include a sense of values and respect for peoples of all color and religions, similar to the education the average American receives in our public schools. Surely you’d expect their education to be vastly different than in countries such as Saudi Arabia who gave us most of the 9/11 terrorists. So your comparison is not quite valid.

  10. Shifra, why do people in Arab/Muslim countries get a pass? Are they incapable of being tolerant? Is intolerance part of their inherent nature? And if that’s what you think, isn’t that racist? To complain about Jews in Israel about their attitudes while expecting Arabs/Muslims to be hateful and intolerant is racist if you think about it a little.

    • Tim, forgive me, but it’s almost as if we are not conversing in the same language. First, I hardly gave them a pass. And I certainly did not say they are intolerant because of their “inherent nature”. There’s no such thing as a specific “inherent nature” or “human nature”.

      If you read Jewish history you’ll learn that antisemitism in fact was by far less egregious in Muslim nations as opposed to Christian nations. It didn’t even come close. The Arabs did not give us the Holocaust, the Germans, overwhelmingly Christians, did. Was it because there was something in the “inherent nature” of the German people that allowed Hitler to come to power? While some distinguished historian may say yes, it is preposterous. Without going into the details of the Holocaust, why it started in Germany, etc., suffice it to say that it happened there because of a combination of factors, one of which included German education under the Nazi regime and the entire propaganda industry under Goebbels. They educated them to “hate”, Jews in particular, creating the necessary conditions where most Germans, at best, turned a blind eye, and some, at worst acquiesced.

      Perhaps had you conducted the same survey in this country prior to the Civil Rights movement, it’s not unthinkable that a very significant number of white Americans, particularly Southerners, would have not only supported open discrimination of Blacks but supported sending them all back to Africa. And perhaps more than a handful would have supported killing them.

      My point is that education plays a significant role in the kind of attitudes people in any society develop toward another people. An education supposedly based on the values of the “enlightenment”, such as in Israel, as one would expect or would have thought, creates a different mentality (or should have but apparently failed) in the people than an education received at the hands of either mullahs or even secular dictatorships.

      You are entitled to disagree and to your opinion and am not particularly interested in changing it. But please do not misrepresent and try not to misinterpret what I’m saying.

      • Shifra, let’s also not forget that when we’re speaking of Semites, we’re also speaking of most of the Arab countries of the MENA region which are among the semitic tribes. Sadly the term has been hijacked by the Israeli zionist propoganda machine to only refer to Jews. The people of Yemen are semites. When someone is racist against them, why isn’t that called “anti-semitism” too?

  11. Shifra, you are right, that in medieval times, Jews in Muslim nations were given dhimmi status. But again, forgive me if I don’t give muslims a standing ovation here. Dhimmi status meant you can live here, in this separate neighborhood, and pay a “you get to stay alive” fee. No pay? No more living. How nice of them. Again, this is an example of lowering the bar for muslims/arabs.

  12. This entire survey is fundamentally flawed because its talking about Jews and Arabs when in fact there are quite a large number of Arab Jews. Did they only ask European Jews their opinions? If so, were they giving their opinions on all Arabs or only non-Jewish Arabs?


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