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.
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See you next Monday!
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