There is so much talk these days about Islamophobia and anti-Muslim discrimination, yet worldwide statistics demonstrate convincingly that, despite all the atrocities committed by Muslim extremists, antisemitism is actually growing much faster than anti-Muslim fervor, especially in Europe.
This is a rather fascinating observation, considering that Jews in Europe never threatened the lives of others, never proselytized their religion and never wanted to change their host countries’ governances. Radical Islam openly threatens innocent lives on a daily basis and openly proclaims its goal of upending Western society and democratic government structures in favor of Islamic Sharia law. This is no longer only a desire of radical Islam; the Muslim Brotherhood, considered by much of the European Union and the Obama administration to represent moderate Islam, is openly committed to governance under Sharia.
Threats no longer come from just the radical sectors of Muslim countries. The same ideology expressed by longtime radicals is now expressed by recently-radicalized Muslims living in Western societies, where they (or their parents) had settled to supposedly improve their lives over what they had left behind. Now, they paradoxically attempt to convert their host nations to the same 16th century-style governance that they (or their parents) fled before receiving sanctuary in the West.
Yet despite increasing fear of radical Islam, statistics in European countries and the U.S. persistently record significantly more antisemitic than Islamophobic hate crimes. The reasons are unclear but, at least in Europe, growing Muslim populations, characterized by overt societal antisemitism, are widely suspected as a principal cause of this.
Dictionaries define the term “antisemitism” as discrimination, prejudice or hostility toward Jews for no other reason but their Jewish heritage. Islamophobia is similarly described as discrimination, prejudice and hostility being unjustly directed at Muslims.
Superficially, these definitions are almost identical. Closer examinations of their meanings, however, reveals very obvious differences: While antisemitism is directed at a peaceful religion and a well-integrated ethnic minority, to many that are full participants in their local societies, Islamophobia represents a different phenomena, and is a far more urgent concern.
First of all, it is didactically misleading since phobias are irrational, psycho-socially abnormal behavior patterns, and concerns about radical Islam are neither irrational nor psychologically abnormal behavior. The term, therefore, is factually incorrect because, in contrast to Judaism and all other major world religions, Islam is not only a religion but also a political movement with its own distinct anti-democratic political ideology.
If one were to discriminate or express prejudice and hostility toward Muslims because of their religion, such activity would be labeled as antisemitism. To publically express opposition to the political ideology of Islam, which is anti-democratic and contradictory to constitutions of practically all Western democracies, cannot, however, be labeled as discriminatory, prejudicial or hostile to a religion. The protection of a democratic constitution against undemocratic dictatorial forces is, indeed, the sworn duty of every citizen in Western democracies.
Nobody would be considered a religious bigot just because he opposes Communism, Fascism or other dictatorial ideological movements. Yet, criticism of Islamic political ideology immediately conjures the b-word, and raises the specter of Islamophobia. If the Muslim Brotherhood (widely present in most U.S. mosques, and representing most of the organized Muslim political power structure in the U.S.) were to restrict itself only to representation of Islam as a religion, it would be viewed as are representatives of any other major religion. But by actively propagating the introduction of Sharia in their many mosques, the Brotherhood becomes a political organization whose goals are incompatible with the U.S. constitution.
Paradoxically, it is exactly the political ideology of Islam that explains the strong association that the political left in Western democracies has forged with Muslims over the last few decades. On first impression, such a coalition would appear unlikely since the political left has, traditionally, been secular. Yet, despite the obvious religiosity of Islam, its religiously motivated anti-democratic tendencies, its radical discrimination of women and the ideological overlaps between Islam and the third-world, anti-imperialistic socialist ideology (including anti-colonialism, anti-Judeo-Christian morality and strong, third-world, underclass affinities with people of color) have established a strong emotional as well as a political alliance between the political left and Islam.
This coalition has been developing since the mid-1960s, and came together for the first time following the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War in 1967, in which Israel annihilated the combined armies of the Muslim Arab world and conquered all of the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. Suddenly, the prior underdog, Israel, morphed in the eyes of the political left into a White European Colonial outpost in the Muslim Middle East, obviously overlooking the fact that almost half of Israel’s Jewish population were not of European descent but actually refugees from African and Muslim countries. Picking up the argument of the Muslim world, the political left concurred that the Crusaders had returned and conquered Jerusalem again: but that this time, the Crusaders were not Christians but ‘The Jews.’
History demonstrates that antisemitism was religious at times over the past centuries, and at other times economic; but it always was used as a political tool of governing classes, whether during the monarchies in England, Spain or Russia; the Catholic church in her fiefdoms in Italy; rightist political parties in Fin-de-Ciecle Vienna at the end of the 19th century; Nazism in Hitler’s Germany or Communism in Russia (and later in the Soviet Bloc under Stalin and his successors).
In other words, antisemitism has over centuries been used as a political tool by both the political right as well as the political left. We now appear to have entered another historical period of political antisemitism on the political left.
It wasn’t always like that: Israel was founded on socialist principles in 1948. Her political leaders were among the founders of the Socialist International: the social-democratic leadership forum of social democratic political parties that were established after WWII. But everything changed with the 1967 war. Though widely recognized as a war of defense for Israel, the subsequent occupation of Arab lands branded the country as a neo-colonialist power in the eyes of the left. Even today, almost 50 years later, it is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East. But the majority of the Socialist International continues to view Israel with political distain. Through becoming a dominant military and economic power in the Middle East, Israel, like the U.S., is seen as a vestige of unmitigated capitalism and economic as well as military colonialism: little Satan and big Satan, as the Islamic Republic of Iran likes to call both countries.
Until the Obama administration came to power, following their Judeo-Christian believe systems, Israel and the U.S. shared most definitions of political rights and wrongs. The political left, however, believes that this view leads to neo-colonialism, and that it is reactionary in its rejection of the political relativism of the left.
This political relativism of the left allows and even encourages those considered to be suppressed by colonialism to revolt. Under the believe system of political relativism, the “oppressed” can practically do no wrong, and are even in the right when committing acts of terror, kidnappings, mass murder, abuses of civilian populations and initiating wars if it is in the name of freedom and social justice. So naturally, Hamas (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) and Hezbollah (a vassal of Iran) are considered moderate political organizations to the political left. It is almost surprising that the left has not embraced ISIS.
Threatened since its creation by the United Nations in 1948 with extinction, the country of Israel, despite its founder’s socialist traditions, could not afford to go along with the moral relativism of the political left, which increasingly sided with those who openly sought her destruction. The country, along with over 200 member states of the United Nations, is the only that is openly threatened with extinction by other member states (Iran and others). Yet no resolution ever condemned such threats. Indeed, over 90 percent of resolutions of condemnation in the various bodies of the United Nations are directed at Israel every year. Though it is the only parliamentary democracy in the Middle East, Israel cannot even get nominated as a member of the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission. In the meantime, human rights pariahs like Iran, Libya and Saudi Arabia are routinely elected.
So, the history of recurrent political antisemitism appears to repeat itself: the world needs a bogeyman, and nobody is better suited for this role than ’The Jew,’ – this time in the form of the Jewish state of Israel, which, objectively, is one of the world’s great national success stories.
Even the U.S. political system is proof of the connection between anti-Israel polemics and unadulterated antisemitism. One just has to listen to some of the sermons of President Obama’s longtime pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and of his ideological twin, the Nation of Islam’s Minister Louis Farrakhan. Both are well-known Afro-centric racists and antisemites who discovered their Jewish bogeyman!
Like many politicians of the political left in Europe before them, members of President Obama’s foreign relations team have expressed the opinion that the creation of Israel was a political mistake. This is not a new opinion in this country’s foreign policy establishment. Indeed, when President Truman ordered a United Nations vote in favor of Israel’s creation in 1948, he overruled his own Secretary of State. Such opinions voiced by the current administration, however, deserve attention, since the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel has been clearly influenced by the administration’s leftish ideology. So it should not surprise that we have witnessed a clear turn away from the traditional support of Israel, and more alignment with antagonistic policies toward Israel from the European Union.
Economic and academic boycott movements against Israel started in the UK and Scandinavian countries (mostly Norway and Sweden). They were initiated by leftish fringe groups but appropriated over time by social democratic politicians all over Europe, and became official policy of some social democratic political parties and governments led by those parties in Sweden and Norway. Boycott movement have also crossed the Atlantic and are now present on most college campuses in the U.S., once again demonstrating the common cause of the political left fringe and Muslim groups.
Outright anti-Israel stances are still rare in U.S. politics but, as noted before, the U.S.–Israel relationship has changed decisively under President Obama. Moreover, it was surprising to see how much political support Israel has lost from the left in Congress, when even prominent Jewish politicians in the Democratic Party publically supported President Obama’s Iran deal, which was considered an existential threat to Israel. It was also interesting to note that, desperate to secure votes to prevent the override of a potential Obama veto, the administration did not hesitate to subtly raise concerns about Jewish dual loyalty, an argument that has fed anti-Semitic prosecutions of Jews for centuries.
Though he describes himself as “Israel’s best friend in the White House,” he is a politician brought up on the extreme Marxist left, with a Muslim Marxist father dedicated to fighting British Colonialism (for details see The Canary’s earlier biographical series on President Obama). Obama’s psychological affinities to leftist ideologies render him sympathetic to the European Socialist view on Israel. Socialist ideology has dominated his presidency from the beginning, whether in domestic or foreign policy. In one of his first acts as President, he actually removed Winston Churchill’s bust from the Oval Office because he did not, unlike most Americans, see him as a WWII hero but as the villain of British colonialism between the two World Wars. Considering Obama’s foreign policy toward Israel, his very public support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Muslim Brotherhood offshoots in the U.S., is no wonder that President Obama’s relationship to ‘The Jews’ has been questioned. Some media outlets have publically questioned whether President Obama should be considered anti-Semitic.
Once his White House tapes became public, President Richard R. Nixon did not mince words in his conversations with Kissinger, which could be viewed as antisemitic. But he likely saved Israel after the surprise attack by Egyptian and Syrian armies when he expedited weapon deliveries during the Yom Kippur War. President Lyndon B. Johnson was also known to have uttered anti-Semitic remarks at times. But a few such remarks do not yet make an anti-Semite.
While nobody reported President Obama to have made an antisemitic remark, his intimate 20-year relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a flaming antisemite with violently anti-Israeli view points, suggests that future presidential historians will have to pay close attention to this question when assessing Obama’s presidency. Such a close assessments of the administration’s attitude toward Islam will not be required because no other population, African Americans included, has received as much positive attention from the Obama Administration. But who would have expected anything else from the most socialist administration in decades?