CAMBRIDGE DIARIST
Declarations

by Martin Peretz

Last week, Palestinian terrorists attacked a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Gaza, killing three American security contractors attached to our embassy in Tel Aviv. Some Palestinian officials panicked, lest this latest atrocity further alienate them from the Bush administration (which, after all, provides part of the Palestinian Authority's funding). So the P.A. denounced the attack with unusual vehemence. Even Islamic Jihad and Hamas suddenly discovered scruples and proclaimed that their killings are aimed at Israelis only.  

Of course, murdering Israelis, and Jews more generally, but exempting Americans, hardly changes the terrorists' moral status. But, as it happens, as Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby has detailed with names and numbers, the exemption is a fiction anyway. Indeed, as anyone who watches Palestinian media on the Web surely knows, the United States is the declared enemy of each and every armed militia in the territories that our government so desperately wishes will soon become Palestine. The difference between the Palestinian militias and Al Qaeda is merely one of scope and public relations. It is time we stop pleading with the P.A. to clamp down on terrorism. They won't. 

What were the American emissaries, whom these three murdered men were supposedly protecting, doing in Gaza anyway? They were en route to interview Palestinian candidates for Fulbright fellowships to the United States. How sweet! And how credulous! Are we so sure that these students would have internalized the tolerance that defines the American academy and brought it back home? Or would they simply have grown more hostile toward a West they neither understood nor respected, as did many of the September 11 hijackers during their sojourns in Europe and the United States?

The American visitors to Gaza had informed the P.A. of their convoy's route, schedule, composition, and markings. The territory on which it was journeying was completely controlled by the Palestinians. Presumably, they assumed, the entourage would be protected. But, to the contrary, as John F. Burns (who does not, as it happens, much like Israel) reported in The New York Times on October 16, the bombing "showed every mark of a carefully planned operation." The effort to safeguard the visitors actually provided the killers with the data they needed. In one way or another, this was an inside job. At the site of the bombing, with "debris, blood and human tissue spread over a wide area," Burns notes, "feelings ran high." Against the bombers? No. The gathering crowd stoned the Western investigators and journalists who had come to survey the carnage. 

Henry Ford was an anti-Semite, and he spent a good deal of his money facilitating the mass production of hate against Jews. A recent book by Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews (PublicAffairs), tells the intriguing story that Ford's decent and honorable descendants have finally lived down. The Ford Foundation, as it happens, no longer has ties to the Fords themselves. But the foundation carries on the patriarch's legacy nonetheless.  

The foundation, it turns out, has spent millions bankrolling dozens of Palestinian groups that have been in the forefront of the anti-Jewish and antiIsrael campaign now spreading around the world. Edwin Black of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (jta.org/ford.asp), in meticulous articles in the Forward and The New York Sun, reveals that the Ford Foundation has funded Palestinian nongovernmental organizations that helped turn the anti-racism conference in Durban in 2001 into an orgy of Jew-hatred. What's more, the foundation has also given money to organizations with ties to terrorists. Under duress from the Treasury Department, which requires that funders know how their money is actually spent, Ford (and other donors) commissioned an audit by Ernst & Young of one grantee that revealed improprieties so great that nobody could reasonably tell whether it had been buying bombs or books. The Ford Foundation has long been reckless in its U.S. grants. Now, its reckless generosity is empowering foreign haters and apologists for killers.  

"The Jews rule the world." So said Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia, at the opening of the assembly of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference on October 16. "We are up against a people who think," he said with grudging admiration of the Jews. "They survived two thousand years of pogroms not by hitting back but by thinking. They invented socialism, communism, human rights, and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. With these, they have now gained control of the most powerful countries, and they, this tiny community, have become a world power."

There is more: "We need guns and rockets, bombs and warplanes, tanks and warships for our defense. But, because we are discouraged from learning of science and mathematics as giving no merit for the afterlife, today we have no capacity to produce our own weapons for our defense." There is a kernel of truth in this last sentence, but it is surrounded by a thick layer of paranoia and envy. None of which precluded the foreign minister of Egypt, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah, and high-profile delegates from many other Muslim countries from endorsing the comments. Even President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan applauded Mahathir's nutty view of history.  

The European Union was about to insert into its 19-page overall summit document two sentences criticizing the speech: "[Mahathir's] unacceptable comments hinder all our efforts to further interethnic and religious harmony, and have no place in a decent world. Such false and anti-Semitic remarks are as offensive to Muslims as they are to others." Not quite true, these last words, sadly. Still, we get the intention. But the EU only speaks in unison, and President Jacques Chirac objected that there was no place in an EU declaration for a statement of this kind. The prime minister of Greece also objected. So the EU, which scrutinizes and criticizes Israel's every official word and deed, is now silent about a primitive and ugly declaration that won the plaudits of nearly every Muslim government in the world. Tell me that the French government--or the Greek, for that matter--does not encourage Jew-hatred.

Martin Peretz is editor-in-chief of TNR.