It is chilling to read the writings of the popular and influential Arab columnist Jihad el-Khazen: on the one hand, he claims to “accept” a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but on the other hand, he relentlessly demonizes Israel in language that would not be acceptable in any self-respecting mainstream publication in the West. As one critic observed:
Unfortunately, these inflammatory statements do not spring from the fevered imagination of an Arab blogger, or the anonymous ravings of an Arabic chatroom denizen. Jihad el-Khazen is an influential writer [for] a Middle Eastern magazine listed as one of the world’s 100 most influential Arabs. El Khazen’s screed appeared in al-Hayat, a Saudi financed London based publication, which the New York Times describes as “regarded as by far and away the best and most intensely read Arab newspaper.”
A report by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism from 2006 noted:
Accusing Israel and Zionism of Nazism and racism is associated in the Arab discourse with Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. This was a recurring theme in many of Jihad al-Khazin’s columns in the London-based liberal paper al-Hayat. Attacking European and American decisions to suspend financial aid to the PA, following the Hamas victory in the PA parliamentary elections in January, al-Khazin labeled Israeli government members on 9 March “Nazi war criminals,” accusing them of being part of one of the most barbaric and terrorist movements in the modern age with its “Nazi army.” On 19 April, following Israeli retaliation for a Palestinian suicide attack in Jerusalem, he repeated his allegation, asserting that since many members of the government and the army were descendants of Holocaust victims or survivors, “they can exploit their knowledge of Nazi expertise in order to apply ‘the final solution’ to the Palestinian problem.”
A crticial survey of Khazen’s writings in 2007 noted:
Jihad al-Khazen is an anti-Israel, anti-American, anti-Semitic columnist for the London-based al-Hayat, one of the leading newspapers in the Arabic Diaspora. Though al-Hayat is somewhat pro-West on some issues, al-Khazen’s ink poisons the editorial page. In a recent column, the Lebanese columnist openly admits, “Throughout my journalistic career I have mainly focused on criticizing the United States and on attacking Israel.” His blatant lies and vitriol, in the last month alone, are worth recounting.
On September 19, he wrote a column attempting to explain how American demonstrations against the Darfur genocide are actually a pro-Israeli (a thinly-veiled euphemism for “Jewish”) plot.
“Efforts are made by pro-Israeli groups,” he wrote, “to divert attention from the crimes Israel has perpetrated against the Palestinians by focusing on Darfur.”
He continues by saying that the, “American-Israeli evil cabal is focusing on Darfur to divert attention from American war crimes perpetrated against Iraq.”
The prolific but delusional al-Khazen also asserts that Washington’s alarm over Iran’s nuclear program is a plot hatched by Jews. He claims that the possibility of armed conflict with Iran, which continues to develop nuclear weapons against the wishes of the international community, has been orchestrated by the same cabal.
Since then, there are plenty of examples illustrating that Khazen has continued his vulgar and vicious expressions of hate in his columns.
In September 2009, Khazen suggested that “the Palestinian cause can only be resolved through war” and he accused Israel of sustaining “a Nazi criminal occupation,” claiming that Palestinian “prisoners are being treated by Israeli Jews in the same manner as the Nazis treated the German Jews.”
A month later, he described Israeli soldiers as “nothing but occupation soldiers” and asserted that therefore, “killing them is not only justified, but also a warranted duty.” He also claimed that the “rate of Palestinians killed at the hands of the Israelis is a Nazi rate par excellence.” Commenting on efforts to negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit, Khazen wrote: “Those who cry for a captive soldier are thus no better than the war criminals, since they are accomplices and hidden agitators to the degree of being complicit to the continuing crime. May God curse them all.”
In December 2009, Khazen used the publication of Shlomo Sand’s spurious book on “The Invention of the Jewish People” to repeat his own frequent denials of Jewish history, asserting: “What quintessentially is a work of fiction that is not based on any historical evidence however, are the biblical myths that speak of the ancient Jewish kingdom, the Israelite prophets, as well as Judea and Samaria, while this kingdom never existed and the Israelite prophets never lived.”
Khazen also insisted “that the temple itself was never built, simply because the biblical figures of Solomon and David before him never existed, nor did the kingdom mentioned in the first and second books of Samuel, as well as the first and second books of Kings.”
More recently, in September 2011, Khazen wrote a column under the title “I Tell the Terrorist and His Government That All of the Land Belongs to Palestine.” Apparently, Khazen watched the UN speech of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the company of Lebanon’s UN Ambassador Nawaf Salam, who then served as President of the Security Council, and according to Khazen, both he himself and Lebanon’s ambassador were moved to tears.
Lashing out against Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, Khazen claimed he “came across as a liar and an international terrorist;” Khazen also referred to Netanyahu as “a Khazari immigrant who changed his family name […] because he is a mongrel like every Israeli Prime Minister before him.” Khazen then proclaimed: “I say to the terrorist impostor and his government and the settler rabbis that all of the land belongs to Palestine, from the Sea to the River, and they are nothing but murderers and thieves.”
He concluded by stating: “Israel has no one in the world to defend it except for the Obama administration […] and his country that once was the hope of the world as a pioneer of human rights, and ended up with a fascist occupation state running its foreign policy.”
In his most recent column of January 11, Khazen – obviously a fan of Walt and Mearsheimer’s “Israel Lobby” – blames the weakening of US influence and the rise of Islamism in the Middle East on “U.S. foreign policy, run by Israel and the treasonous American neocons and Likudniks.”
Khazen concludes his column with what he calls “a positive note”: “President Barack Obama loathes and despises Netanyahu, and his policies will change radically should he win a second term, and I believe that a Palestinian State will be attainable after 2013 if Obama remains in the White House.”
If this is meant as some kind of endorsement for Obama, it should be one of the most unwelcome expressions of support imaginable. But given Khazen’s standing and popularity, I’m afraid that there is plenty of reason to conclude that many Arabs will hope for a second Obama term based on the hate-filled views expressed by Jihad el-Khazen.
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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.