Mid-East mar­ket forces

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY OR­LANDO RADICE

MAR­KET FORCES aren’t al­ways pretty. So it may come as no sur­prise — at least to those fa­mil­iar with an­ti­semitism in the Arab world — to learn that sev­eral of its air­lines are of­fer­ing a spot of anti-Zion­ism and Jew-hate as part of their in-flight cabin ser­vice.

What may ap­pear more odd to the trained eye is the fact that these are com­pa­nies owned or part owned by states which have ever-deep­en­ing, al­beit covert, se­cu­rity and diplo­matic ties to the Jewish state.

But no, do not ad­just your back-of-seat screen: there are more pow­er­ful forces at work here.

These gov­ern­ments’ po­lit­i­cal con­stituen­cies — which are largely iden­ti­cal to the wealth­ier Arabs who can af­ford to fly — are ex­posed to a rich seam of Jew-hate.

To ver­ify that state­ment, visit the Mid­dle East Me­dia Re­search In­sti­tute web­site (www.memri.org), which pro­vides a sober­ing daily up­date on the news bul­letins, soap opera ex­cerpts and news­pa­per columns pump­ing out an­ti­semitism of ev­ery flavour across the Arab world.

It’s what the peo­ple are com­fort­able with, and the air­lines, which are com­pet­ing to be the best fly­ing ho­tel, can­not of­fend their cus­tomers any more than any other player in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. If that means lit­er­ally re­mov­ing Is­rael from view, then so be it.

Is­rael’s very ex­is­tence has long been un­der­stood as a provo­ca­tion in the Mus­lim world; it is com­mon logic that since the Jewish state de­pends on the crush­ing the rights of its Pales­tinian Mus­lim neigh­bours, it must be de­nied the right to even the barest trap­pings of sovereignty.

As an ex­is­ten­tial op­pres­sor of Mus­lims, so the ar­gu­ment goes, Is­rael has a unique sta­tus and its wrongs have dif­fer­ent a moral sta­tus to those of other coun­tries.

With these ideas widely ac­cepted even among the ed­u­cated, po­lit­i­cally ac­tive classes, sin­gling out Is­rael has an im­por­tant po­lit­i­cal func­tion for Mid­dle East­ern lead­ers.

Pales­tinian suf­fer­ing, me­di­ated through gov­ern­ment departments and the me­dia, has over the years be­come a uni­fy­ing tool in a des­per­ately splin­tered Mid­dle East.

What you are see­ing on your in­flight map is not merely “con­sumer” an­ti­semitism but also a de­lib­er­ate po­lit­i­cal strat­egy.

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