Monday, December 07, 2009

Don’t be fooled by Islamophobia

From the Blog of CST, the British Jewish Community Security organisation, November 30th, 2009:

A small Islamophobic group, called Stop Islamisation Of Europe (SIOE), has called for 1,000 Jews to attend its forthcoming demonstration at Harrow mosque; and for each Jew to bring an Israeli flag.

This is strikingly similar to appeals that have also been made in recent months by the English Defence League (EDL). It is also essentially the same as opportunistic attempts by British National Party ....

...A demonstration against Harrow mosque under the banner “Stop the Islamisation of Europe”, is as stupid and offensive as a demonstration against Harrow synagogue, under the banner “Stop the Zionisation of Europe”.

This has nothing to do with the necessary and legitimate work to counter extremism and antisemitism wherever and whenever it genuinely occurs. CST has raised awareness of the activities of extreme Islamist groups in the UK for many years. But to demonise an entire community, every Muslim and every mosque, in the way that SIOE does, shows exactly the kind of bigotry from which Jews have suffered so often in our history. For SIOE to appeal to Jews to support them shows a complete ignorance of the Jewish experience of being on the receiving end of exactly this type of politics.

It is ludicrous to imagine that one form of racism can be fought by employing another form of racism. Take, for example, the unprecedented wave of antisemitic incidents that British Jews experienced during Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza and Southern Israel in January 2009. Here we had Israel being accused of racist bloodshed – by people who were themselves committing racist attacks against British Jews. Similarly, whatever differences of opinion British Jews and British Muslims may have over Israel/Palestine, and however alarmed Jews are – quite rightly – at the antisemitic agitation of groups like al-Muhajiroun or Hizb ut-Tahrir, nobody should be fooled into supporting SIOE’s incitement against all Muslims.

This is by no means the first occasion on which CST has stressed why Jews should not be fooled by anti-Muslim bigotry, even when it dresses itself up in pro-Jewish guise. As we stated previously:

…this is the politics of hatred and division, which has nothing positive to offer any part of society. The fact that Muslims are the current target simply means that it is Muslims who should be the recipients of anti-racist solidarity.

Hatred, division, cycles of inter-communal violence, intimidation and polarisation feed the extremists on every side. They encourage social division and leave all minorities vulnerable. Anti-Muslim bigotry is a vital recruiting sergeant for both the far right, and its Islamist extremist counterparts. It generates votes for the BNP and, at the furthest ends of this political spectrum, it even provides the fuel for terrorism. British Jews should have no part of it.
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