Is Islamophobia The New Anti-Semitism?

Although Anti-Semitism still exists, the situation of Jews has greatly improved compared to what it was like in previous centuries, and that is a great thing. But there is also a problem, and that is that society doesn’t seem to have noticed this yet. In fact, Anti-Semitism is still a very hot topic that receives attention time and time again, as if nothing has changed in the past 70 years. To some extent, that is good, because we should always remain aware of discrimination (especially since Anti-Semitism still exists), but perhaps the sympathy that exists for the Jewish community has gone too far: not because they do not deserve that sympathy, because everyone does, but because it goes at the cost of groups who need that sympathy a whole lot more right now.

Last week, news websites from all over the world reported on a recent study performed by the Anti-Defamation League, which tested Anti-Semitic attitudes from all over the world. Their findings? 26% of people around the world are Anti-Semitic, something they blamed mainly on Islamic countries, 35% had never even heard of the Holocaust and 32% believe that the Holocaust is either a myth or that it has been greatly exaggerated, something they once again attribute for the greatest part to the Middle East and North Africa. Not much more was needed to convince the world that Anti-Semitism is still a major issue and that Islamic countries are to blame.

What the international news didn’t report on, though, was how flawed this study truly was. Commissioned by an organisation that greatly benefits from making the world believe that Anti-Semitism is still as common as ever (as well as making us believe that Islam is evil), it asked leading and vague questions that could turn anyone into an “Anti-Semitic”. For instance, for questions such as “Do Jews think they are better than other people?” and “Do Jews have too much power in the business world?”, there was no option that said “neither.” The only two options are “probably true” or “probably false”, and as Jewish rabbi Jay Michaelson illustrated, among those two options “probably true” is most likely the only correct answer. Oh, and the Holocaust? It was a worldwide survey. How much do you know about the Igbo genocide in the 1960s?

That isn’t the real problem with this survey, though. Things like these are done by charities all the time, because it’s the best way to attract donations. No, the real problem is that false statistics like these hurt other people. Muslims, in this case, a religious group that  still does suffer from constant discrimination and who are in desperate need of help. They are accused across the media of being the perpetrators here, while in reality their “Anti-Semitic attitudes” are caused by an ongoing war in Israel. It’s like asking a Frenchman in 1916 what he thinks of the Germans: of course they’re going to be critical, but in the end, both sides are equally wrong.

The sad thing is that people don’t realise this. We apparently still feel so guilty for something that happened over 70 years ago, the perpetrators of which are now well in their 80s, that we cannot think rationally any longer. We turn everything into Anti-Semitism and blatantly ignore Islamophobia, a term that doesn’t even officially exist yet. My spell-check puts a red line underneath, and whereas the Wikipedia page of “Anti-Semitism” states clearly that it is a form of racism and discrimination, the page of “Islamophobia” claims that it is debatable whether it is a form of racism at all, and to make matters worse, it even goes as far as to say that the term “marginalises criticism of variants of Islam.” Imagine that being said about similar terms: the term “homophobia” marginalises that some men have sex with little boys, “racism” marginalises that some of those darn immigrants keep committing crimes and “Anti-Semitism” marginalises that some of those Jews keep all the money to themselves. Oh, and the term sexism? Does that then marginalise the fact that some women really aren’t fit to do a man’s job?

If those statements are unacceptable, then the same goes for what is said about Islamophobia. But we cannot see that, because we are scared. Because some people use Islam as an excuse for violence, and that makes us abandon all rationality. It leads us to kill more innocent people in the war against terror than the amount of people actually killed by the terror itself. It leads us to shun Muslims and to see them as dangerous, alien and even evil. The discrimination against Muslims runs so deep that we cannot even acknowledge that it exists. People are growing up in societies in which they didn’t know there ever was anything to hate about Jews at all, but in which hatred and fear of Muslims is so common that none can avoid it.

So… you want a conclusion for this post? Sure, I’ll keep it short. Change starts with you. As an individual. You can share the message, you can tell your friends, and you can be the exception. But in the end, there is only one conclusion possible: it’s about time we start learning from history, because right now, we’re a pathetic bunch of people.

~

To leave you on a slightly more uplifting note, have a look at this. It restored a lot of my hope in humanity. Also, I want to stress that this post is in no way a criticism of Jews, as they are of course no more to blame than anyone else. It isn’t about Jews against Muslims: it’s about people discriminating people, regardless of who those people might be. In fact, I fully agree with Jay Michaelson, because as much as the ADL has made a grave, damaging mistake here, they do a lot of good things as well, because the fight against Anti-Semitism does still continue, as does the fight against Islamophobia. What is important is that we don’t pick a side in a conflict that is too complex to divide in right and wrong. 

Anyway, as usual, don’t forget to rate/share/like this post, and if you have any thoughts of your own, please do leave them in the comments! And if you’re new here? Feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates, or try having a look at the list of most popular posts!

See you next Monday!

More on this topic from Dean Richards:

The West: Where You’re Innocent Until Proven Guilty Unless You’re A Muslim

Things You Shouldn’t Think You Know About Islam

Western Authority Might Always Keep Us Ignorant of Islam

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About Dean Richards

A young student with a passion for writing. Aspiring author and human rights activist, but I write about anything. "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree!" New blog post every Monday!
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5 Responses to Is Islamophobia The New Anti-Semitism?

  1. Some more facts I couldn’t put in the post for fear of it becoming too long:

    -There is a huge Wikipedia page about Islam and Anti-Semitism:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_antisemitism#The_Quran_on_Jews_in_its_historical_setting
    No such page exists in the opposite direction.

    -Advertisements like these are apparently legal:
    http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201405201448-0023749
    Imagine the opposite happening.

    -Contrary to popular belief and to what the media might tell you, both the Quran and Prophet Muhammad were often very positive about Jews, or at the very least about tolerating other (monotheistic) religions. Whereas Christianity had things such as the Inquisition, Jews and Christians often lived among Muslims without being in danger.

    -There are many, many Anti-Islam organisations around the world. The same happened to the Jews in the 1930s. See this Der Spiegel article as a good example:
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/islamophobic-hate-groups-become-more-prominent-in-germany-a-956801.html

    In the end, the reality is that there is a war on in Israel and Palestine, one that doesn’t have easy answers. Both sides of the argument are both right and wrong, and both have a reason to believe that they are entitled to the land there. Yet for some reason, many people in the West have picked a side, and THAT is the problem. I am not arguing that Muslims are better than Jews and that they are more entitled to win the conflict in that region. Instead, I am arguing, and this is going to sound really weird, that they should be EQUAL. No religion is better than any other, and we have to realise that, because what is happening now is no different from what happened in Germany in the 1930s, when Hitler began to gain power, except with a different victim. Sure, it’s not the Germany of the 1940s yet, but if we keep going like this, that might only be a matter of time.

  2. Floor says:

    Great post, as always. Definetely food for thought. Thanks for keeping us critical!

  3. Alice Tesla says:

    As always, I really like the time you take with your posts, Dean. I enjoy your perspective and critical voice. And regularly blogging is great discipline for writers!

    As for this post, I think that, in terms of the anxieties about the future that many Europeans project onto Muslim immigrants, your comparison is quite apt. I have been living in Germany for the past year and have picked up on such feelings. As an American, I also know the tensions about Islam born after 9/11.

    However, I think the point about Jews being ‘better off’ misses the mark. If Jews are ‘better off’ here (Germany, or Europe in general), it’s only because they are so few in number as to be politically irrelevant. No one can scapegoat Jews the way Hitler did, because there is no more European Jewry to scapegoat. That fatal lightning cannot strike twice. And even if Muslims do occupy the place of fear once occupied by Jews, I do not think that even rising levels of ‘nationalism,’ as xenophobia is strangely called, will lead to a repeat of anything like Hitler’s rise. People may still be able to hate like they did before, but the economic and political interconnections are so different in today’s Europe that the kind of policies hate produces are not sustainable.

    (BTW, I wanted to write to you to ask you to write up a summary of the EU elections completed yesterday. Consider yourself asked!)

    • Thank you so much for the kind words, I really appreciate it!

      And actually, you’re right: the fact that things have improved can for a great part be attributed to the fact that not many Jews are left, compared to the situation a few decades ago. That is a sad conclusion, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

      As to the idea that Hitler’s rise cannot repeat itself: I actually agree with that as well. I personally don’t think that such a thing is possible either, just because we live in such different times, but not only have people been proven wrong about similar things (people are very good at ignoring parallels in history), that doesn’t make it any less of a problem (although I know that’s not what you’re suggesting, of course!). In the end, as much as far-right, anti-Islam politicians will not be able to become as “successful” as Hitler was, they can still gain enormous power and the public can take their views. That, in turn, will lead to discrimination, conflict and perhaps even worse, as it doesn’t take much for people to become truly irrational.

      It won’t lead to a genocide, perhaps, but there are some awfully terrible gradations below that which seem a whole lot more plausible…

      As to your final comment… I really appreciate you asking me this, and I think it’s a brilliant idea that I would definitely want to follow up on, but… I am currently in my final week of exams, and because I took on WAY too many responsibilities in the past semester, I’m kind of drowning in my to-do list… If I find time I’ll try to get it done on Friday, but that might already be a bit late seeing as the results came out yesterday, and I don’t think I can really 100% promise that either 😦

      • Alice Tesla says:

        Thanks for your reply. It is as you say: we may not be in danger of the crimes of the Nazi era, but many wrongs can be done short of that, and we shouldn’t be satisfied merely with “never again”—as important, of course, as never again is.

        Good luck on your exams, and I hope you have time to give us a run-down of the European elections. Even if you only get to it a few weeks from now, I’d still be interested to hear your POV on it.

        -Alice

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