the Disillusioned kid: In The Papers...
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Monday, September 04, 2006

In The Papers...

BRITISH Jews are facing a wave of anti-Semitic attacks prompted by Israel’s conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Synagogues have been daubed with graffiti, Jewish leaders have had hate-mail and ordinary people have been subjected to insults and vandalism.


Mark Gardner, of the Community Security Trust, said: “In July, when the conflict in Lebanon began, we received reports of 92 incidents, which was the third-worst month since records began in 1984.” In 2000 the monthly average was between 10 and 30 incidents.
FAR-RIGHT extremists have adopted the tactics of Islamic jihadists by posting videos on the internet in which they threaten to behead British Muslims.

The films show balaclava-clad white British men brandishing guns, knives and clubs, calling on all Muslims to leave the United Kingdom or be killed. One appears to be a soldier who has served in the Gulf.


The release of the videos on YouTube, an American-based open-access website, coincides with reports of a rise in the number of attacks on mosques.
I've suggested previously that Islamophobia (and/or anti-Muslim sentiment) and anti-Semitism (or Judeophobia if you're so inclined) are more closely linked than discussions about either would normally suggest. The two articles above, which appeared in the Times on succesive days, got me onto thinking about these connections.

One of the favourite cliches of the commentariat is that the Muslim community should do more to "root out extremism," but, the babbling obeisant mass, would no doubt react with outrage were anybody to insist upon comparable requirements for the Jewish community, vis-a-vis Israeli aggression. (Let us ignore, for a moment, the fact that the bulk of the commentariat are enthusiastic cheerleaders for this aggression.) Such suggestions typically receive short shrift, usually being dismissed as anti-Semitic. The hypocrisy here is instructive, but should not blind us to the fact that assigning collective guilt to an entire racial group (I'm using the term here in its very loosest sense) is surely one of the fundamental bases of racism.

Few people would dream of suggesting that I or "the white community" were in any sense "responsible" for the handful of Hitler-wannabe-needledicks who produced the aforementioned moving pictures. Yet we seem happy to make comparable suggestions about other groups. By expecting "them" to follow a stricter standard than we would contemplate for ourselves we are surely advocating a racially discriminatory standard. All of which is to say nothing of the dubious assumption which would seem to underlie both assertions, that all Jews support Israeli aggression (which is demonstrably untrue) or that all Muslims support people blowing themselves up on the tube (ditto).

This is not to deny the obvious: Israel's policy in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank will inevitably fuel anti-Semitism while every terrorist act commited in the name of Islam will fuel the flames of Islamophobia. The key point is that the thinking which leads people from one conclusion (blowing people up isn't very friendly) to another (the Muslims/Jews/Amish are all responsible for this exploding malarkey) is just plain wrong and should be combated.

The anti-war movement has in recent years been very good at challenging the anti-Muslim sentiments which arose in the aftermath of September 11 and has made extensive efforts to solidarise with Muslim communities. If there is a need for similar solidarity with Jewish communities than we should offer it. In the meantime we should do what we can to combat anti-Semitism within the Palestinian solidarity movement. While I don't believe that it is endemic, there is no question that it's there. Allowing it to fester can only strengthen the hands of those who stand to benefit from ethnic strife and more immediately weakens the movement by playing into the hands of those who allege that opposition to Israeli actions is by definition anti-Semitic.

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