Saturday, May 24, 2014

Islamophobia Unmasked

Last week, I delved into the scourge of anti-Semitism.  This week, I had hoped to talk about something completely different.  And then this happened:      Yup, these disgusting ads will now be adorning the public buses in my beloved city and nation’s capital.  We have something called the First Amendment in this country, and it allows us to publicly spew all sorts of vile statements.  These particular ads certainly set a fairly high bar when it comes to communicating in a manner that is not only misleading but guaranteed to further rip asunder an already fragile social fabric.  

“Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Quran,” is the ad’s most prominent statement.    A half-truth?  It’s not even a quarter truth.   The Qur’an honors the Jewish people in so many passages that it is impossible for any objective Jewish reader not to feel honored by the faith of Islam.   Of course, it is also true that Muhammad had his run-ins with different groups – Jews as well as Arabs – and the Qur’an did not shy away from using strong words of rebuke in certain circumstances.  But to conclude from this that the Muslim Scriptures disrespect Jews as a people or Judaism as a religion is an absurdity.  If anything, the Qur’an places Judaism on a pedestal that is not fair to the worthy religions of the East, which are not treated with nearly as much respect as the faiths of Abraham.

The second most prominent statement in the ad is not verbal.   It’s a picture of the one-and-only Adolf Hitler sitting down with an Arab.  The caption beneath it reads “Adolf Hitler and his staunch ally, the leader of the Muslim world, Haj Amin al-Husseini.”  There is no denying that at the time the Nazis were in power, al-Husseini had the title of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and that he sought out any and all allies in the fight against Zionism, including the evil creature who massacred most of my family in Eastern Europe.  But Muslim leaders were hardly the only ones who went to bed with Hitler and turned their backs on the plight of the Jews.  Even here in the good old US of A, Franklin Delano Roosevelt felt no compunction against sending a boatload of Jews back to Europe, where these would-be Americans would instead be graced with the pleasures of Zyklon B gas and perverted dental experiments.   How dare anyone single out the Muslims for their role in the Holocaust without even making a passing reference to the aiding and abetting that went on in so-called “Christian” Europe and throughout the world.    

Last week, this blog reported the results of the Anti-Defamation League’s survey on world anti-Semitism.  That survey demonstrated beyond question that anti-Semitism is at its height among Muslim communities, including those that are thousands of miles away from any significant Jewish population.   This is a point that should not be lost among any of us, and especially not among Muslims.  Nor should anyone fool themselves into believing the canard that, historically, Jews living in Muslim-ruled countries have generally enjoyed complete equality and freedom.   This is one of the many reasons why we Jews deserve our own homeland: we haven’t tended to do so well when living as minorities, notwithstanding the efforts of the hard left to whitewash the injustices that have befallen Jews over the centuries and obsessively single out Jews for their acts of oppression.   But to take these simple facts, work yourself up into a lather, and suggest that the religion of Islam is inherently anti-Semitic or that the Jews have historically been treated as badly by Muslims as they’ve been treated by Christians epitomizes intellectual dishonesty at its height.  

When I saw pictures of those bus ads only a week after I saw the ADL survey on world anti-Semitism, I couldn’t help but ask myself a simple question:  what percentage of adults in the world are neither Islamophobic nor anti-Semitic?   If you want to add “anti-Christian” to the mix, feel free.  But you probably don’t have to, because the first two monikers alone probably bring the number down to well below 50%.  Folks, is there any wonder why we are burning up our environment if we can’t even reconcile with one another?   Indeed, is it an exaggeration to say that the degree of distrust between groups – and I’m including domestic political enemies every bit as much as different faiths and nationalities --  has reached epidemic proportions, and that the epidemic shows no signs of being controllable even in theory, let alone in practice?

Obviously, those of us who vehemently oppose the kind of rank bigotry that is destroying our species, not to mention our ability to come together to protect our planet, must take action when we can.   And I for one am committed to joining with a group of other local leaders to figure out what type of response can be made to these disgusting Islamophobic ads.   But allow me, for just a moment, to put aside all the inter-group hatred we’re experiencing and leave you with a glimmer of hope, or at least a ray of sunshine.   It is an article that was written about the reaction in parts of the Arab world after a former Israeli prime minister was held accountable for acts of corruption.  And it points out that even among so-called “enemies,” there are folks who are willing to look across the aisle and find admiration and enlightenment in what they see, just as I have done when given the privilege to read the Qur’an.   The article is entitled:   “Arabs: We Want Democracy – Like Israel,” and it is written by a man named Khaled Abu Toameh.  Here it is:    

May that article remind us all that at bottom, none of us are enemies.  We are all family.  Once that is realized, stupid ads on buses will come across as nothing more than children pitching temper tantrums.  Every family has them.   It’s our job as adults to take control.

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