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Anti-Arabism

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Anti-Arab prejudice is hostility or violence towards Arabs and, in the USA, Arab Americans. Anti-Arab sentiment may be expressed in negative stereotypes. In particular, Arabs are deindividualized and are often portrayed as intolerant or backward, while positive aspects of Arab culture are seldom given attention. There are other stereotypes regarding clothing, or cliché notions about Middle Eastern culture.

Although neither so established, virulent, nor institutionalized as Anti-Semitism, Anti-Arab sentiment is not uncommon. Some Arabs would claim that they currently suffer discrimination in the Western world on a far greater scale than Jews.

After the end of the Cold War, American films began to feature Arab villains disproportionately. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center there were reports of assaults on individuals simply because they were perceived to be Arab. These reports were generally each given national prominence in the US media, and President Bush issued a strong statement condemning the incidents.

Anti-Arab feelings are complicated by issues of Middle Eastern politics. As in the case of Anti-Semitism, prejudice against Arabs should be distinguished from opposition to the policies of Arab states or of certain Arab populations (specifically the Palestinian). Equally, as in the case of Anti-Semitism, such opposition can be the result of hatred towards Arabs.

The fight against discrimination

There are a number of Arab American groups in the USA and Europe that work to protect the civil rights of Arabs, and fight against anti-Arab discrimination, such as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) (http://www.adc.org/)

Many Jewish groups have committed themselves to rejecting Anti-Arab prejudice.

  • The Central Conference of American Rabbis[?] (Reform Judaism) states that "Our commitment to the State {of Israel} also implies a commitment to helping it realize values which we as liberal Jews hold dear; peace with her neighbors and full civil, human and religious rights for all citizens, Jews, Muslims, Christians and others. Whether or not we or those dear to us are living there, our commitment to the State should impel us to work with those in and outside the Land to achieve the vision of a society in which Reform Jewish values and practices can help create a better life for all. Peace, of course, does not merely mean the signing of peace treaties, as much as we have longed for that, but for the establishment of political, economic and cultural relations with Israel's neighbors which can create a peace which will enhance the lives of all the citizens of the region."
Commentary to the Pittsburgh Principles of Reform Judaism (http://ccarnet.org/platforms/commentary)

  • The Israel organization Rabbis for Human Rights is dedicated to promoting peace, and ending what it sees as anti-Arab discrimination in Israel.
Rabbis for Human Rights (http://www.rhr.israel.net/)

  • The Anti-Defamation League, dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, gave this response shortly after the terrorist attacks on 9-11. "We are disturbed that a number of Arab Americans and Islamic institutions have been targets of anger and hatred in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. At this time of profound anger and anxiety, no group in this country should be singled out for hatred, prejudice or blame based on their ethnicity or religion. Threats, harassment or acts of hate-motivated violence against members of a group are un-American and must be forcefully condemned. In laying blame on an entire people, we undermine our nation's core values of equality and respect for the individual."
ADL statement against Anti-Arab prejudice (http://www.adl.org/PresRele/dirab_41/3919_41.asp).

  • The American Jewish Committee issued similar responses.
AJC statement on avoiding stereotyping or scapegoating (http://www.ajc.org/Terrorism/StatementsDetail.asp?did=223&pid=757)
AJC deplores slander against Palestinian Arabs (http://www.ajc.org/InTheMedia/PressReleases.asp?did=76)

There are many organizations working to end Anti-Arab bias among Israelis, as well as to end Anti-Semitic bias among Arabs. See the entry on projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs.

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