Do Jews Really Hate Muslims?
I didn’t really want to go to the AJC event, I was pretty sure it would be another Muslim-bash session and who wants to go and get bashed in public?
- The Alarming Return of Anti-Semitism in Europe…by Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of AJC’s Transatlantic Institute, located in Brussels
Presented by the AJC at the Stroum Jewish Community Center.
Still, I told myself, it is unfair to judge the outcome of an event I haven’t even seen and isn’t it a bit on the biased side myself, to pre-judge negatively? Thus self-chastened, I decided I should go and see what the return of Anti-Semitism in Europe is all about.
The event itself was a bit anti-climactic, it was more of a fundraiser disguised as information for Jews. It was a litany of the great things AJC has done for Jews and a listing of the many world personalities who spoke before the AJC annual affairs and expressed their support for the AJC and of course, for Israel. We should all know that money is not raised by saying, “we need money“, all that gets you is a yawn and evasion. But the request for money has to be tied to something that will get people’s emotions up; high blood-pressure=open wallets. We also know that the easiest way to get people worked up is by fear. Today, Fear is the most lucrative industry in the history of this planet, it is generating literally, trillions of dollars to fight “The Threat to Our Way of Life“. That used to be Communism in the recent past, today it is Islam.
As I sat waiting for the show to start, I looked around but did not recognize anyone. The show began with an introduction to Daniel Schwammenthal (a German Jew, living in Brussels) and the great work the AJC is doing in the US and overseas, making connections with heads of states before they even become heads of states. The goal is to fight anti-Semitism and to defend Israel and Israeli interests and this is how we are doing it…stated more elegantly. Then Schwammenthal opened his presentation to show French extremists marching down some street shouting, “Jews! Jews! Jews! Jews, France is not yours!” and other, similar chants which were enhanced and looped as a backdrop while the marchers went along.
Within less than two minutes after Schwammenthal started, he zeroed-in on Muslims. The new threat which is growing and is greater than the existing threat to Jews, the new anti-Semitism is from “The Muslim Community of Europe“, he said.
These are really well-trained professionals, he did not use the crude form of language and say something like, “Muslims are the new threat“, he said, “The Muslim Community“, it almost does not seem like he is accusing Muslims of being anti-Semitic Neanderthals, just “The Muslim Community“; he wrapped us all into the same package without seeming to do so, but the message was firmly imbedded in all minds. Then he went on to say the anti-Semitism among Muslims is supposed to be rooted in the Israel-Palestinian issues, but in fact, it is far deeper than that and in fact, if the Palestinian issue were non-existent, “The Muslim Community” would still have the same sentiments towards Jews. He did not talk about Some Muslims or Many Muslims or even Most Muslims, he talked about ALL of us…”The Muslim Community“.
More evocative stuff followed showing how Muslims hate Jews across the world and Muslims outnumber Jews in Europe. It was superficial with high points suggestive of a monolithic Muslim “Community” that is simply programed to hate Jews, there were not real facts behind any of the few statements made about “the rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe”.
Then he gave an overview of some other issues and sat down for Q&A during which, he took questions ranging from concerns for Jews in the Ukraine to some other peripheral matters. Then someone asked if this anti-Semitism would disappear if there were a two-state solution to Israel to which Herr Schwammenthal responded by giving an example of how a certain Muslim was invited to speak at a European AJC event, who said Muslims hate Jews simply because that is what the Quran teaches them and no Israel-Palestinian resolution will ever remove this anti-Semitism.
More questions, call for money and other support for the AJC and the meeting was adjourned.
I did not want to hear such talk going on, but I did. As I exited, my mind was swimming, “Why do they hate us so much?” I asked myself and this was a question I longed to ask Herr Schwemmenthal as well, but I knew I would not get a straight or a cordial answer. As I thought it over, I believe I have an answer.
Jews have been beaten, bashed and killed for no reason other than the fact that they were Jews, for centuries. Even in this country, they were relegated to the lesser class of humanity, many towns and housing estates had clauses that did not allow sale of property to Black or Jews…as late as the 1970s. Wherever they lived, it was at the mercies and tolerance of the local populations, until they were no longer welcome and then they moved.
Then came the WWII Shoah and millions of Jews were slaughtered all over Europe. Today, almost every Jews is one family link from someone who was killed in a German Concentration Camp or, someone who survived the experience (very few did). Jewish organizations have been set up to make sure no more pogroms of Jews ever happen again and they are working extremely hard with lots of money being dedicated to this effort. These organizations work on the minds of the Jewish youth and they work on the minds of non-Jewish thought-leaders and political leaders, “Never Again!” is hammered into as many minds as possible. In order to make this work, the message broadens the scope to include any bigotry against any group…except that in real life, the greatest focus is against anti-Semitism and if Muslims are the victims…well, then…things get nuanced and the issue disappears.
The end of WWII created the state of Israel and Jews were greatly attracted to the idea that they would have a homeland that would be theirs and nobody could kick them around or, kick them out; “A land without people for a people without a land!” this was the great slogan for years. There was just a tiny problem with all this, there were actually people living there. The first problem faced by the incoming Jews was how to get these people out. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim and Christian Palestinians were systematically kicked out of Israel at the point of a gun, as late as the 1960’s, tens of thousands were killed and continue to be killed. A state-driven program was implemented that eradicated the identity and statehood of the Palestinians who were reduced to levels of animals and vermin; The new state had learnt well from its former persecutors.
Over the years, Israel and Jews started to demand that the world, especially the Muslim-majority countries, recognize Israel’s right to exist. As more and more nations came around to accepting Israel as a nation, the demand has changed to the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish nation. Over the years the term “Anti-Semitic”, has grown from simply being someone who is against Jews, to someone who is against the State of Israel for any reason, who does not support the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish nation or, who supports BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) Movement against Israel. This means, that we are all either blindly supportive of Israel or, we stand condemned as Anti-Semitic people; there is no middle position. This may account for most of the so-called, “rise in Anti-Semitism”.
Every Jew’s identity and existence has become tied by Jewish organizations, to Israel thus, any attempt to be even slightly negative towards Israel, means Jews are being attacked and their very existence is being undermined; it becomes an existential threat. Naturally, such a conclusion should and does, evoke a sharp response and it follows that the best defense for Israel, is promoted to be attacking Islam and Muslims everywhere.
No wonder so many (All? most? some?) Jewish organizations are so involved in promoting Islamophobia.
Jews and Jewish organizations should understand that when it becomes accepted to hate and fear some or, just one group of people, it also opens the door to acceptance of hate aimed at other groups and eventually, even towards Jews. Case in point is Jewish organizations demonizing some people (e.g. Saddam) as “Nazis” or, “worse than Hitler”. That works well to illustrate the point and to focus dislike for the person, but when others show similar hateful behavior they too, can and will be similarly Nazi-fied, which is why we now hear comparisons of what Israel is doing to Palestinians, as Nazism.
Jews and Jewish organizations don’t need more enemies, real or fanciful. Drop the unrealistic litmus tests and Muslims can be friends with Jews, even if we disagree on Israel.
AJC’s Bannerhead shows Rabbi Jim Mirel of Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, with Imam Mohammed Joban of Muslim association of Puget Sound (MAPS), smiling together.
I wonder how poor Imam Joban would feel if he knew this is the same Rabbi Mirel who is on the Board of Trustees of the Holocaust Center in Seattle and he did nothing when we protested that the Holocaust Center was honoring a director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a virulently anti-Muslim organization? In fact, Rabbi Mirel was loudly and strongly against doing anything about honoring the director.
How would a Jew feel as his friend’s organization honored an anti-Semitic organization’s leader?
How would a Black man feel if his friend’s organization was honoring a White Supremacist organization’s leader?
The rhetoric of fighting hate wherever it shows its ugly head, is absolutely spot-on, but it cannot have exceptions, not even against Muslims.