Why Anti-Semitism is so dangerous for Muslims

An open letter to my friends in Afghanistan, Pakistan and  India.

For a change, I want to talk about what’s going on presently in my hometown, Paris.

A few days ago, I chanced upon a virulent anti-semitic weekly called Rivarol on sale in the book stand of one of Paris’s leading supermarkets belonging to the Monoprix chain (part of the Casino group).

Using social media to the utmost, mailing all and sundry, including the main anti-racist organizations, yours truly managed to get the publication removed from the country-wide chain of stores, not without a struggle. Obviously, the owners were moved less by the human rights issues than the potential loss of customers- to judge the irate mails on the Monoprix Facebook page, with calls to boycott. Keeping not just the customer satisfied, but the customer is the issue for shareholders these days. In the meantime, I have been treated to a full page insulting article naming me by at least three fascist/National Front magazines, in print and online.

My reaction was motivated by two things, mainly. First how did such a blatantly fascist magazine brandishing pure 1930s rhetoric get published in the first place  despite the French law explicitly forbidding what is called ‘incitation to hatred’. Second – even worse to my mind, what happened along the chain of command running such a huge supermarket concern that allows this kind of thing to get actually sold next to “Elle” and “Le Figaro”.

Anti-Semitism is definitely on the rise in France and Europe generally. And a confusing brand at that, which confuses anti-Zionism with crude racism targeted against people of Jewish faith and culture. This conflation is nourished by the most unlikely mix of people, a certain class of anti-globalists, taken both from the extreme left and the extreme right, fervent Islamists, alienated youths born into second and third immigrant families, and a part of the self-styled Parisian intelligenzia

This trend coincides with the rise of every other kind racism or anti-Otherism in France which includes Islamophobia, racism, opposition to human rights, especially those so painfully acquired by women. The present Minister of Justice, who hails from French Guiana was recently described as monkey by another far-right weekly, Minute. A long-awaited but meek approach to Gender Studies in school books has been ballasted by French Catholic neo-Cons, groups of Islamists as well as the Fascist publication mentioned above.

One of the main apologists for currently trendy Anti-Semitism is one Dieudonné M’bala M’bala a stand-up comedian who makes fun of the Holocaust, inviting known Fascists and Holocaust deniers on stage to goof around with him. The state has made a great show in having his shows stopped (and his overdue taxes paid) and this has endeared him further to a category of fans of all skin colour who feel comforted by the thought of a shared enemy, a commonality of hatred against the classic enemy of all time, the Jew- not just the Zionist fighting against Palestinians, but the eternal Shylock, rather worse for wear. A cross between the ideology of the famous forged Tsarist pamphlet known as ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ (available in Arabic in every “good” bookshop in Cairo and elsewhere in the Arab world and, alas, parts of Paris), shades of ‘Mein Kampf’ . Add to this mix some kind of twisted anticolonialist rhetoric that purports to support the sufferings of the Palestinian people by wearing a checked ‘keffieh’ and blaming Jews worldwide (total population c13 million) for everything that is happening (or not) in Israel (Jewish population c.5 million). Ideology here is shaky, logic is lacking to say the least…To these figures, I have not added the possible extra 11 million Pashtuns and Pathans who, in the days before Islamic Fundamentalists, used to claim that they were Beni Israel, descendants of Hebrews who had been expelled Palestine by Cyrus and had wandered into Afghanistan. Up till about 2005, it was still possible to talk about this privately in Kabul with learned Pashtuns, but nowadays, Islamist revisionism rules and history is censured…

However this senseless conflation between Jewish and Zionist issues may be considered from an altogether  different angle. Pakistan and Israel were founded practically at the same time (1947 and 1948 respectively) as a homeland for a religious community under threat. In the first case, it was feared that in an India independent from British rule, Muslims would constitute an endangered minority. In the second case this was to be a  homeland to save Jews from ongoing persecution the world over. Each constitution presents a peculiar mix of theocracy and secularism: Allah may be the supreme reference i in Pakistan, and the rock of Israel and its prophets meant to guide the Jerusalem government, confusion rules in Islamabad and Jerusalem alike.  Historically there are a number of challenging similarities in these countries that both broke free from British colonialism at the same period. For a start, long-standing local inhabitants of a different religion were often brutally expelled by the new occupiers of these lands. Even though the extreme degree of violence, murder and systematic rape that occurred during Partition is not comparable to the Naqbah, the fact is that persecution did take place and whole populations ruthlessly displaced. In fact, the two countries, share a number of other aspects (prevalence of military, power of secret services (ISI/Mossad), US support, much else- but that’s another subject all together). Both countries share religious extremist parties which dominate whole sectors of society and advocate gender segregation (who in Muslim countries knows that men and women are separated in buses in Jerusalem, are not allowed to pray together at the Wailing Wall and are even separated in some cemeteries ?). The Haredim in Israel and the MMA (Muttahida-Majlis-e-Amal) in Pakistan would agree on practically everything, this is truly a marriage made in heaven!

It could be argued that both states have, to a large extent, failed. Israel did not attract the totality of the Jewish population – quite on the contrary, the vast majority of Jews live abroad. Some, may pay lip service to aspects of Zionism (certainly prompted by the hostility they encounter as Jews),  but most have no desire whatsoever to leave their present country or be associated with the state of Israel. Likewise for Pakistan: the Muslim population of the Indian subcontinent for whom the ‘Country of the Pure’ was devised is considerably more numerous outside Pakistan than inside and it seems unlikely that even those of Pakistani origin will chose to return, preferring to support the country financially from a safe distance. Neither Pakistan nor Israel  constitute the safe haven each promised to be, quite the contrary. In the meantime, Pakistan likes to call Israel a racist state, and Israel considers Pakistan anti-semitic.

Where does one go from here?

Consider this: blaming Jews worldwide for Israeli oppressive politics is rather like blaming Muslims from the Indian subcontinent, from Bradford to Brisbane, for every suicide bomber, terrorist attack or even ‘honour’ killing that takes place in Pakistan. Muslims living in the US experienced hostility after 9/11 and much of Islamophobia is about Muslims globally taking the blame for the activities of minority terrorist groups linked to Al Qaeda based anywhere from Pakistan to Somalia. The blatant injustice of such argumentation is often acknowledged by the very individuals who cheerfully- and vindictively blame Jews each time a new Israeli settlement is built on Palestinian territory.

When you examine the rise of racist propaganda today in Europe, it becomes obvious that all forms of exclusionary politics and racial hatred are linked and manipulated by powerful political entities linked to the neo-Fascist parties in France, Hungary, Greece, Serbia, Russia to name just some of the largest, all supported by big business and in some cases the church. Muslim youth in the West who naively think they can work out a compromise with these guys through shared anti-Jewish opinions and demonstrations are fooling themselves dangerously, as are their contemporaries elsewhere

Which is why it is time for Muslims worldwide to take the present escalating wave of Anti-Semitism in Europe extremely seriously, because it concerns them as well. And more urgently than they presently imagine.

5 Responses to “Why Anti-Semitism is so dangerous for Muslims”

  1. on 02 Feb 2014 at 6:02 pmFazal ur Rehman Afridi

    Your article is very thought provoking and need a deep analysis. But, I would like to disagree with your analysis regarding the similarity between Pakistan and Israel.
    Pakistan is a state supporter of terrorism, where jihadists are trained to commit terrorists acts around the world. On the other hand, Israel is a state which react in its defence to the terrorist onslaught from Hamas and Hizbullah.

    In Israel the Palestinians have more rights as compared to those living in Jordan, Iraq, Lebenon and other Arab states.

    The radical elements (if it is true) in Israel are figting for their ideology through democratic means without taking arms while the Talibans in Pakistan and Afghanistan have destroyed the whole system, our society and civilisation.

    Pakistan has invented nothing in its history except a nuclear bomb while Israeli Scientists are making inventions on daily basis to the betterment of humanity.
    So, for me it is an injustice to compare Israel with Pakistan.
    For the rest, I totally agree with you that the Muslims of Europe will be the ultimate target of neo fascists in Europe if the propaganda against Jews is not stopped. So, the Muslims should not camp them with these European fanatics.

  2. on 02 Feb 2014 at 7:11 pmadmin

    Thank-you for the important points you make and that are all the more important that you, from Pakistan are making them. I have never heard someone from your part of the world be so critical and actually find something positive about Israel. What I meant was that originally the two countries shared a lot, but it is certain that for all sorts of reasons, differences have grown…The debate is open…

  3. on 02 Feb 2014 at 7:22 pmFazal ur Rehman Afridi

    Truth is always bitter. We Muslims have to accept the truth and have the courage to talk the truth. Otherwise, there is no light at the end of the tunnel!

  4. on 03 Feb 2014 at 8:01 amKhalid Khan

    i am happy to read an article written by French (Western woman) in favor of Muslims. though i am very weak in history but know many Pakhtuns with the names of Israel Khan in my locality. But after rising influences of Wahabism (Saudi Arab and other Arab countries) in Pakistan and Pakhtunkhwa Israel is now more a respected or common name in Pukhtuns areas and those who want to go to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or for other purposes have to change their name (Israel Khan) in their later age. Well done Carol

  5. on 28 Nov 2015 at 5:27 amParviz

    The newevidance which mushrooms out and says that pushtoon tribes of both side of Durand line (border between (Afg&Pakist) are Anglo Israeli tribes came to live in these lands thousand years ago.
    Mr Afridi who I diffinately can say is an Israeli setting in Televiv promoting this idea.needs to know that the pashtoon tribes are one of the most ignorent,fight minded,betrayer, Islamic fundamentalist people in this world. If Israel want to take them in |they| will distroy the plastic broken boat of them very soon.

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