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October 19, 2005

Why Do They Hate the West?

There are probably a variety of reasons why some in the Arab or Muslim world hate Israel (or the U.S., or the West, as it may be).

There is religiously inspired incitement against Jews and other "infidels," to be sure. Alternatively, Western values and cultural norms may be anathema to some.

A column in today's Philadelphia Inquirer highlights another reason: Lies hatched by governments, and the willingness of people to believe them.

Trudy Rubin—whose columns, ironically, often show disdain for Israel—helps explain hatred of the West and Israel with her column today about five Bulgarian nurses on death row in Libya. The nurses are accused of intentionally infecting Libyan children with the AIDS virus:

This story exemplifies the tendency in the Arab world to hatch wild conspiracy theories to explain difficult problems. The tendency is hardly unique to Arab societies, but they produce more elaborate theories more often than any other society I've encountered. ...

The nurses are clearly not guilty. They traveled to Libya in the 1990s to find work at a time when the Bulgarian economy was in tatters. In 1999, an AIDS epidemic infected around 420 Libyan children, and the Libyans conveniently arrested the foreign medical workers. The women were tortured in an effort to extract confessions.

International AIDS experts and a World Health Organization team that visited Libya concluded the AIDS virus was being spread by unsanitary hospital practices. The experts included Luc Montagnier, the doctor who discovered the AIDS virus, and who was invited to Libya by Gadhafi's son, Seif El-Islam (a more modern man than his father). Montagnier found some of the children were infected before the nurses even arrived.

So why were the nurses charged? Clearly Libyan officials were trying to deflect public outrage over the infecting of children.

To further rouse Libyans' wrath against the foreign medical workers, the indictment charged them with working for the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. That charge has been dropped. Perhaps it became an embarrassment after Libya concluded its deal with the Bush administration. But the charge probably still resonates with Arab audiences that believe Israeli agents carried out the World Trade Center bombings.

For more on incitement, click here.

Posted by GI at October 19, 2005 09:46 AM


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