I debated whether or not to write this post, because like presumably most who read the story about the Muslim protective ring around the Oslo synagogue, I got a case of the warm and fuzzies. It seemed to be a very nice gesture, and I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (unless it seems to be of the Trojan kind).
And for many of the Muslims involved, I believe there were no ulterior motives beyond opposing terrorism in their name and showing solidarity with the Jewish people.
For instance, I have it on good authority that the man pictured waving the Israeli flag in the photo is a Kurdish-Muslim who is a “gem of a human being.” And he is waving an Israeli flag!
So I think it is important to recognize the goodness.
At the same time – and this is where I deliberated on posting about this – there are some troubling elements with the event.
Elements like the apparent linking of antisemitism with “Islamophobia.”
Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.
As this PJ media writer posts:
When you fail to leave your own agenda at home, this isn’t about protecting victims, it’s about you grinding your “Islamophobia” narrative.
Then there’s the background of the organizers. Like Ali Chisti.
But some members of his community said the event was tainted because of anti-Semitic statements that one of its eight organizers made in 2008, and because he said this week that he dislikes people who support Israel.
Ali Chishti confirmed on Saturday in an interview with Verdens Gang, a highbrow Norwegian newspaper, that he delivered on March 22, 2008, in Oslo a speech on the alleged involvement of Jews in planning the 9/11 Twin Towers bombings in New York. The speech’s title was:”Therefore I Hate Jews and Gays,” the paper reported, though Chishti said he was not the one who came up with the title.
“There were several thousand Jews away from work in the World Trade Center, and why there were more Jews in Mumbai when Pakistani terrorists attacked than usual?” he said then, repeating the conspiracy theory that Jews knew in advance of the attack that killed thousands. “Jews are a small group, but everyone knows that they have a lot of power,” he said.
In Saturday interviews, he retracted his words. In an interview with the daily Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, he said they were “anti-Semitic” and “unacceptable.”
“I was angry,” he told Verdens Gang. “I have since changed my views.” But he also said he “dislikes” people who support “an occupying force that has been condemned in several United Nations resolutions.”
“I think it is important to distinguish between being critical of Israel and anti-Semitism,” he also told Verdens Gang.
Eric Argaman, a pro-Israel activist and member of Norway’s Jewish community, said Chishti’s involvement “stained the event, which now feels more like a spin, on our backs, than a gesture of good will.”
Ok, people can change, but Chisti is still clearly anti-Israel. And while he seems to post against the likes of ISIS, he also has posted this on his FB page, which seems to back Jihad.
There’s also Hajrah Arshad, another of the organizers, who similarly is no fan of Israel. In the following post, she is careful to explain it is important not to conflate hatred of Israel with hatred of Jews, and likens it to comparing Muslims with ISIS and other terrorists.
I thank you for all fine feedback I have received today!
I just want to clarify one thing to those who ask;
Yes, I am not particularly fond of the state of Israel because of the conflict between Palestine and Israel. I like simply no policy Israel leads. I have made clear earlier.
BUT, I have nothing against Jews and have never expressed it either. It is important to distinguish between these two. For remember, it’s Norwegian Jews who also deplore their policies.
We Muslims do not like when people generalizes us, combing us under the same comb and compares us with IS and other terrorists. Important that we Muslims do the same the same mistake, we know how hurtful it can be!
This all raises the question whether for at least some at the event, this show of solidarity was more strategic than altruistic.
It reminds me of the efforts of some in the Israel haters camp – like Ali “Abumination” Abunimah – who go to great lengths to distance themselves from antisemitism for strategic reasons.
So while I cannot read the minds of the participants in the Muslim protective ring outside that Oslo synagogue, I suspect at least for some, there was an agenda any self-respecting supporter of Israel and the Jewish people should not embrace.