Friday, 4 August 2017

Dave Rich on antisemitism and Islamophobia, the parallels

Dave Rich’s scholarly approach to these topics means it is always prudent to read his words and think about the wider meaning. I heartily recommend his book, The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism.
In a 2017 paper Rich identified an issue, how some forms of “anti-antisemitism” mimic “the egregious behaviour of some of” [their] “opponents.”
It can be seen across social media daily and is brought into focus with Steve Lennon’s latest activities.
“One unwelcome phenomenon that has crept into the “anti-antisemitism” world is that of mimicking the egregious behaviour of some of our opponents. Joel Fishman’s sweeping assertion that “Nazism and Islam have a true affinity” is bad enough; that he relies on Hajj Amin al-Husseini, a vicious antisemite and Nazi collaborator, as an “authoritative source” for this claim is startling (p. 101). Nor is there any value in complaining, as Millière does, that the Palestinians are an artificial people “invented” as a “weapon of war against Israelis and even Jews.” (p. 276). Anti-Zionists play the same game by claiming that the Jewish people were invented and that few modern Jews have a genetic link to ancient Israel. The only question that arises from this argument is: so what? All nations and peoples are invented to varying degrees and at different points in history, and sometimes they disappear too; but just as Shlomo Sand cannot persuade millions of Jews that they are not really Jews, so Millière will fail to persuade millions of Palestinians that they are not really Palestinians. Trying to argue a self-conscious nation out of existence is at best futile, at worst sinister.
The doyenne of this particular school is Bat Ye’or, whose essay here is devoted to her Eurabia thesis. According to Ye’or, a coterie of ex-Nazis and their former collaborators, in contact with Nazi war criminals in the Middle East, have colluded with Arab states to Islamize Europe through mass Muslim immigration, multiculturalism, the erosion of national identities, and the promotion of anti-Zionism and antisemitism. The outcome, according to Ye’or, is that “Europe has been Palestinized just as it had been Nazified some seventy years ago” (p. 36). Why Europe’s far right would promote immigration and multiculturalism — two policies that are contrary to their political agenda — and in so doing undermine national identity is not explained, but then conspiracy theories rarely make much sense. Ye’or’s thesis is not just nonsense; it is offensive nonsense that debases this mostly serious book.
Rather than feeding the prejudices of Europe’s Islamophobic far right, it would be better for those who dedicate their time to researching and combating antisemitism to heed the warning set out by Robert Wistrich in the book’s final essay. “European Jews, especially in France,” he cautions, “find themselves caught between the Islamist wave and the rise of far-right populist-nationalists.” Marine Le Pen’s efforts to distance herself from her father’s overt antisemitism should not distract us from the “ultra-nationalists, racists, and fundamentalist Catholics” in the Front National’s ranks, nor from the FN’s innate hostility to organized Jewish political activism (p. 298). It is better to rely on Jewish empowerment, both in Israel and in the Diaspora, in confronting this latest incarnation of an old hatred.” [My emphasis.]

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