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Anti-Semitism = Islamophobia

(cross-posted from The Accidental Theologist)

by: Lesley Hazleton

This past weekend, I spoke to a Hadassah meeting – the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.  The subject, of my choosing, was “What’s a ‘nice Jewish girl’ doing writing so much about Islam?”

The easy answer to the question I’d self-imposed was “Why not?”  A perfectly reasonable answer, perhaps, but not with bigots like Peter King about to begin his witch hunt this week in the form of congressional hearings on the alleged “radicalization” of American Muslims.

The real answer is that it’s precisely because I’m Jewish that I find myself writing so much about Islam these days.  Because as a Jew, I know the dangers of prejudice.  And I can smell it a mile off.  When I hear someone talk about “the Jewish mentality,” I know I’m listening to an anti-Semite.  How else stereotype millions of people that way?   Just as when I read someone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali talking about “the Muslim mentality,” I know — no matter how pretty she is, how soft-spoken, and how compelling her life story – that I am listening to an Islamophobe.

And I recognize that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are two sides of the exact same coin:  the stereotyping of millions of people by the actions of a few.  That is, prejudice.

So it’s particularly painful, let alone absurd and self-defeating and dumb, to see that some Islamophobes are Jewish.  And equally painful – and absurd and self-defeating and dumb – to see that some Muslims are anti-Semitic.

I have no statistics to say what proportion of Jews are Islamophobic or what proportion of Muslims are anti-Semitic (though I could doubtless make some up and throw them out there with such an air of authority that they’d be repeated ad infinitum until they achieve the status of “fact”).   But the Muslim Brotherhood, for all the changes it has undergone, still distributes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  And while anti-Zionism does not necessarily mean anti-Semitism, there is a clear overlap, with a venemous hatred finding its outlet in what is now the more acceptable form of anti-Zionism.

So we need to be clear.  We badly need it.

“Islam” did not attack the US on 9/11;  eighteen people with a particularly twisted and distorted idea of Islam did.  “The Jews” do not shoot Palestinian farmers in the West Bank;   Bible-spouting settlers with a particularly twisted and distorted idea of Judaism do.

The Quran is no more violent or misogynistic than the Bible.  In fact it’s less so.  If you insist, as Islamophobes do, on highlighting certain phrases, then you should turn around and do the same with the Bible, which you will find ten times worse, with repeated calls for the destruction of whole peoples.  Only the dumbest, most literal, hate-filled fundamentalist, Jewish or Muslim, takes the rules of ancient warfare as a guide to 21st-century life.

We have to stop this stereotyping.  Now.  All of us.

We have to recognize prejudice not only in others, but in ourselves, Jewish or Muslim.

We have to be able to see that the anti-Semitic trope of “the Jews” trying to take over the world is exactly the same as the Islamophobic one of “the Muslims” trying to take over the world.

We have to acknowledge that an Islamophobic Jew is thinking exactly like an anti-Semite.  And that an anti-Semitic Muslim is thinking exactly like an Islamophobe.

We have to realize that American Jews need to stand up with Muslims against Islamophobia just as American Muslims need to stand up with Jews against anti-Semitism.

Because Islamophobia is, in essence, another form of anti-Semitism, and vice versa.  And it’s in the direct interest of both Jews and Muslims — of all of us — to stand up and confront both forms of prejudice.

In the famous words of an anti-Nazi Protestant pastor during World War II:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

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  • Just Stopping By

    @Wandering Jew: As noted, there are many instances on LW of Muslims speaking out against anti-Semitism. There are also many Muslim organizations that have done so as well. For example, http://www.isna.net/articles/News-Briefs/Anti-Semitism-Has-no-Place-in-Islam.aspx, is an article by the Islamic Society of North America, one of the most well-known Muslim organizations, from earlier this year. You can read the title in the link.

    @Jack Cope: I look forward to your series. Just let me know if I should correct the errors before or after you publish it. 😉

  • http://www.bandofstrangers.org Jack Cope

    I have done for a long time Wandering Jew and I’ve got an article series on the topic that I want to launch next year. I find, in a nutshell, that ‘antisemitism’ amongst Muslims is directly related to Isreal et all. It’s also part of a sad legacy we inherited from ‘Christianity’; nearly all the antisemitism you find amongst Muslims can be traced to ‘Christian’ documents that were translated into Arabic. This happened, I feel, as part of Mr Hitler’s grand plan to eliminate Jews by shipping them off to what we now call Israel, fully armed, while at the same time mixing the pot amongst the local Arabs while also arming them. Sadly, we still have that evil man’s legacy…

    It’s why you’ll find that most of the antisemitic arguments all have ‘Christian’ parallels or even are identical. I’ve never really seen a Muslim use any Islamic thought or theory for their antisemitism, it’s either about Israel or something taken from Christianity. But something we must do more to fight though, no excuses.

    Jack

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32) Warning Contains Irony

    I would suggest you search this site, Wandering jew, as there are lots of examples on other threads

  • Wandering Jew

    When I see a Jew speaking out against islamophobia, I feel proud to be Jewish. When will the muslim community start speaking out against anti-semitism?

  • Pingback: Frontpage Muslim-bashing Authority Can’t Do a Two Second Google Search | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper()

  • Fahad

    So we need to be clear. We badly need it.

    “Islam” did not attack the US on 9/11; eighteen people with a particularly twisted and distorted idea of Islam did. “The Jews” do not shoot Palestinian farmers in the West Bank; Bible-spouting settlers with a particularly twisted and distorted idea of Judaism do
    ————————————————————————-

    What does it take to be a good Citizen? Some fourteen hundred years ago, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) followed three simple principles to become great and a humane being to be truthful, trust worthy and the peacemaker; indeed he was called Al-Amin, a summation of the three qualities. He was trusted by all the tribes, even those at odds with each other, they could count on him to always be truthful. Much before the advent of Islam, once the sacred black corner stone called Aswad fell off the wall of the Kaaba, the sacred center of Mecca. The infighting among the tribes began as to who would be privileged to place the stone back in its place, as the conflict grew, they called upon Muhammad (the truthful and just) to find the solution.

    If any Muslim follows the teachings of Prophet Mohammed(PBUH) closely i think this world would be much much better place atleast from Muslim side.

    Great Article, As a Muslim I stand against bigotry and ignorance with everyone irrespective of their Creed.

  • George Carty

    @Nur Alia

    In “Prelude to War“, the first of Frank Capra’s “Why We Fight” series of American WWII propaganda films, “Mankind is One Community” is quoted from the Qur’an (it’s 5 minutes 10 seconds into the YouTube clip) as an example of one of the values which the Allies are fighting for (and which was obviously rejected by the Nazis and the Japanese militarists).

    Pity they didn’t use a proper surah/verse reference though — was there only one English translation of the Qur’an in common use in 1942? However IIRC this appears more than once in the Qur’an (2:213 and also 10:19).

  • Reynardine

    The Inquisition targeted Muslims, Jews, dissident Christians, and women who didn’t “stay in their place” with equal viciousness, and given another chance, it will again.
    Love ya, Lesley.

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