On Facebook Melanie Phillips has this to say:
It is hard to exaggerate the stupidity of the UK Jewish Board of Deputies in what it has just done. It has signed a joint statement with the Muslim Council of Britain condemning antisemitism and Islamophobia and urging that the Middle East conflict should not prevent good community relations in Britain. Apart from the false equivalence between antisemitism and Islamophobia, which equates a metaphysical global derangement – the cause of centuries of pogroms and genocide against the Jews – with a spurious thought-crime invented to silence legitimate criticism of Islam, these were unexceptionable pieties.
The editor of the Jewish Chronicle, the official voice of British Jewry, Stephen Pollard, writes the following too:
On one level, it is entirely admirable that the Board of Deputies (the representative body of British Jews) and the Muslim Council of Britain have agreed a joint statement, released today. They condemn Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. And they urge followers of their respective faiths not to import the battles of the Middle East into Britain.
As the statement puts it: “In spite of the situation in the Middle East, we must continue to work hard for good community relations in the UK. We must not import conflict. We must export peace instead.”
No one but a bigot or fanatic could object to that.
OK, well I’m going to be a bigot or fanatic then because I’m convinced that Jews shouldn’t be engaging in this kind of duplicitous interfaith dialogue. It is believed by Muslims that a number of times in his life, Muhammad engaged in dialog with infidels to buy himself time to grow strong enough to attack them. But that’s somewhat of a side issue in our world today where “multi-faith dialogue” is seen as the ultimate answer to all the world’s problems.
As well as being admirable in many ways, the statement also reveals just how naive – not to say incompetent – some of Anglo Jewry’s leaders really are. Because there is a sentence in the statement that is so downright bizarre that it beggars belief any serious communal leader could ever have imagined it would survive a moment’s scrutiny.
Here’s the passage:
The death of every civilian is a tragedy, and every effort should be taken to minimise such losses. The targeting of civilians is completely unacceptable and against our religious traditions.”
Had they left it at the first sentence then the sentiments would have been echoed across the two faiths. The death of civilians, Israeli or Palestinian – or indeed of any nationality, anywhere – is certainly a tragedy.
But it’s the next sentence which is so utterly inept – to put it kindly.
Stephen then points out that he called the Muslim Council of Britain up to ask what they meant and confirmed they believe the second sentence of that JOINT statement indicates the Israeli Defence Forces were “targeting of civilians” and that “is completely unacceptable”.
Except of course the IDF does not TARGET CIVILIANS! So the Jewish Board of Deputies has signed a statement condemning the IDF for something it categorically does not do. To wit, the IDF is even more careful about not targeting civilians than any other army.
But, and this is why I object to the whole enterprise of trying to find common ground here, not just with the fact that the Muslim Council of Britain represents some groups that are as close to Hamas as it’s legal to be in the UK. Melanie Phillips goes into some detail on the past crimes of the MCB in her Facebook post and remember, these are the same kinds of people who objected to the cancelling of a venue for the Jewish film festival with a kind of craven “don’t punish London’s Jews” where the unwritten extra is “Israeli crimes”.
It’s about the word “civilians”. I do not think this word means, for the MCB, what it means for the Jews.
Hamas and other Arab and Islamic terrorists have a long and distinguished history of regarding all Israelis as illegitimate colonial settlers in all of Israel and as such none are civilians.
Every single Israeli is a valid target for Islamic terror in their eyes just as every Muslim killed (even by Islamic terrorists) is a martyr or shahid.
So yes I’m a bigot or a fanatic because this whole business of talking to Islam’s representatives won’t go well if you don’t understand Islam. I believe even the first statement will be read by very many of the people the MCB represents as not including myself and my children living in Tel Aviv today:
The death of every civilian is a tragedy, and every effort should be taken to minimise such losses.
It should never have been signed by Jews without defining civilians to include ALL Jews including those living in Efrat or Oranit or Ariel or any other large Israeli town in the heartland of the Jewish state. Because if they’re not civilians and I’m not a civilian, what’s the point of this statement?
Jews lose when these idiots sit down at the table with evil people like the Muslim Council of Britain.
And I have a direct question to Stephen Pollard: how about calling the MCB again and asking what definition of civilian they had in mind. Are residents of Jerusalem (all of it) civilians? Are residents of Haifa civilians? Are residents of Gush Etzion civilians? What about residents of Herzliyah who happen to be waiting for a lift while standing in the hills of Judea or Samaria?