Mid-East market forces
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.