How the left gives cover to Muslim anti-Semitism

Idiotic leftists have lent Islamists a cloak of victimhood.

Alaa al-Ameri

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‘Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism’ has become an increasingly common refrain in public discourse. Something that was once said largely in fringe political meetings and late-night dorm-room debates is now said in parliament and regularly heard on national news and discussion programmes. Whether or not you agree with that statement, it is undebatable that criticism of Israel is at least a convenient place for anti-Semites to hide.

Many people confidently insist that Donald Trump must be a racist because a tiny number of his supporters are white nationalists. The same people will argue that leaving the EU is a racist enterprise because, as Will Self claimed, ‘every racist and anti-Semite’ voted to leave. Yet this logic is effortlessly suspended when critics of Israel are asked to consider who their fellow travellers might be.

Witness the nonchalance of Jeremy Corbyn and his allies whenever a new photograph or video emerges to illustrate his decades-long support for groups that are not only committed to the destruction of Israel but also, in some cases, the murder of Jews.

What’s more, those who are most vocal about the right to criticise Israel tend to be equally keen to stifle the open discussion of Islamism, labelling such conversations as ‘Islamophobic’.

They must be free, they insist, to criticise and to mobilise against policies of the Israeli government, its military, the settlers, or the notion of Jewish statehood itself, regardless of whether or not their criticism is proportional, consistent or historically accurate.

Yet any effort to pick apart the central working tenets of Islamism – ie, the establishment of pan-national Muslim statehood through violent global revolution against secular Muslims, non-Muslims and especially Jews – is condemned as a danger to the safety of Muslims.

This instinct is not only confined to the Corbynista fringe, either. As can be seen in the report on ‘Islamophobia’ recently produced by the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. It argued that ‘anti-Islamism is not the same as anti-Muslimism, but the two are intimately connected and both can be considered constitutive parts of Islamophobia’.

There is also a deliberate reluctance to accept that Islam has its own distinct history of anti-Semitism, and that this history has always been deeply embedded in the Arab conflict with Israel, whether in its secular or Islamist incarnations. In seeking to protect Muslims using the misnomer of ‘Islamophobia’, we are often protecting the ability of Islamists to mainstream their worldview, including anti-Semitism.

We saw this process at work in March this year, when members of the US Congress attempted to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism. The resolution was in reaction to repeated anti-Semitic comments by congresswoman Ilhan Omar. But progressives pushed for it to be broadened to include anti-Muslim bigotry. What’s more, the resolution seemed to define anti-Semitism as the sole preserve of white nationalists.

This points to an increasingly common trick, by which white-nationalist anti-Semitism is used to distract from Islamist anti-Semitism. Because white nationalists have no more love for Muslims than for Jews, people with Islamist-inspired anti-Semitic views and sympathies can hide among the victims, often with a handy list of ‘intersectional’ identity tags to bolster their credibility.

Given the woke worldview of the modern left, these identity tags are all that is required to mobilise support from non-Muslim leftists, who reliably come to the aid of Muslim anti-Semites with cries of ‘Islamophobia’. Ilhan Omar made comments invoking anti-Semitic tropes of dual loyalty and Jewish money controlling politics, but she was still given cover by her supporters.

The popularisation of the term ‘Islamophobia’ – which started gaining traction in the 1990s, and has now gained official acceptance – is itself part of a strategy to give cover to Islamist political rhetoric. The narrative perfectly suits the interests of both sides. The left is eager to present Islamist extremism (along with every other problem in the world) as the result of Western imperialism, and Islamists, unsurprisingly, are eager to take them up on the offer.

The double standards of the left in this area were also illustrated by a headline earlier this month, warning of a ‘right-wing push’ to silence criticism of Israel on US campuses. The Guardian, which regularly publishes apologetics for campus censorship from the left, seemed unusually concerned about free speech on campus when that speech entailed the criticism of Israel.

Of course, any attempt to censor speech, on or off campus, is wrongheaded and protects no one. Indeed, it is the de facto censorship by the left of critics of Islamism that has allowed Islamists to mainstream their anti-Semitism. But it is noteworthy that many of those who spend so much time supporting the effort to police speech in public life, and who are enthusiastic purveyors of the term ‘Islamophobia’, should have a blind spot on one single area of controversial speech – criticism of Israel.

Criticism of Israel is in itself a perfectly legitimate pursuit. Many people in Israel and Jews across the world criticise Israel all the time. But it has also become one of the key ways in which Islamists get to hide in plain sight, and present themselves as part of the modern left. In turn, this has fuelled the left’s own problem with anti-Semitism, and made the left an increasingly hostile place for Jews.

The answer to all this, of course, is not censorship, but the removal of impediments to free speech – whether legal or de facto. We need to end this curious process by which the discussion of Islamism has been made radioactive but the discussion of Israel is deemed so moral and urgent that it can lead some to give cover to anti-Semites.

Alaa al-Ameri is the penname of a British-Libyan writer.

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

Hugo van der Meer

1st November 2019 at 7:16 pm

Anything and everything must be open for debate or criticism. For too long a vast swathe of people have been ostracised or vilified for simply giving voice to an opinion. Being called racist whether voting for Brexit or criticising a religion, clearly note racist. Too much credence being given to fringe groups too much left leaning violence towards any one mildly interested in national pride or sovereignty. This has to stop. When one side is attempting to shut those who disagree down by name calling then we all have a very serious problem.

Marvin Jones

30th October 2019 at 5:04 pm

Why do so many people think that Islamophobia is not the same as hatred for Moslems. Moslems follow every word of their book, and have allegiance to only one god. Not to the country they settle and prosper in, it’s flag or it’s laws and cultures but their one god. SO! a question I have asked so many times but have never got a answer to. Why have they fled their own land for the land of the infidel.

Skeptic 1972

30th October 2019 at 8:09 am

I am an Israeli and all I hear from these antisemites is that “they’ve got nothing against Jews”, except for those racist, nationalistic, fascist Jews like me who need to go back to Europe where they came from.

Well, my grandfather came to Israel (then the British Mandate of Palestine) in the 30s because these antisemites’ grandparents told him “they’ve got nothing against Jews” except for those parasitical, weak, communist Jews who need to go back where they came from, Palestine.

P.S.

A good way to know what somebody really believes is to ignore everything he says after “BUT”.
“I have nothing against Jews, BUT…” – you hate Jews.
“I am in favor of free speech, BUT…” – you want censorship.
“I respect democracy, BUT…” – you’re an anti-democrtatic wannabe dictator.
“Of course communism didn’t work, BUT…” – you’re a communist.

Etc.

Mark Lambert

4th November 2019 at 11:35 am

How about Theresa May?
A few years back she was asked in PMQs about the case of Louis Smith, the British gymnast. A video of him and his mates had got onto social media. It was at a wedding where a friend put a mat on the floor and imitated the Muslim prayer position. Smith got death threats and was vilified on television.

The question from Charles Walker was, “What is going on in this country, because I no longer understand the rules”

Theresa May answered the question by saying how freedom of speech is import, and then did the big “BUT”, as in “……..but we have to be tolerant. We have to find a balance”.

I knew then, that she had no intention of stopping the hatred which arises from claims of blasphemy against Islam. I can only hope that Boris will be tougher in that respect, but I pretty much know how Jezza would approach it.

Amin Readh

29th October 2019 at 10:16 pm

…or Corbyn is about to do better than expected in the GE. Clearly something got up Sp!ked arse.

Linda Payne

29th October 2019 at 2:13 pm

The left have never forgiven Israel for aligning itself with capitalism rather than the USSR. Quite frankly the problem could have been sorted out soon after Israel existed with an almost 50/50 split of territory. The arabs are being encouraged by the western left to hate anything Israel and anything jewish

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