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Richard Landes on "Muslim anti-Semitism"

Richard Landes on "Muslim anti-Semitism"

Categories: Latest News

Friday December 02 2011

Richard Landes in Telegraph blogs returns to a theme of which he is particularly enamoured, “…the ability of Muslims to tolerate criticism from outsiders”.

In a blog article titled, “Muslim anti-Semitism, Israel and the dynamics of self-destructive scapegoating,” Landes writes of anti-Semitic tropes employed in Arab discourses. These “explosive and virulent hatreds of the Muslim world for Israel and the Jews” he argues, prevents the Muslim world from engaging in introspection and self-criticism, preferring to see their every calamity as a “Zionist conspiracy”.

Widespread ignorance of “Muslim ant-Semitism” Landes claims is a result of “powerful intimidation that pervades journalism in the Palestinian territories” and “a particularly dangerous form of political correctness, in which speaking badly of Muslims is the new form of anti-Semitism”.

Landes writes:

“As a result, the ferocious strain of anti-Semitism in Palestinian irredentism, from the Mufti – who visited Hitler in Berlin 70 years ago today, discussed his contribution to the “final solution,” and pumped the Arab world with Nazi propaganda – to the escaped Nazis who fled to Egypt and Syria to continue their work, to Arafat and his pseudo-secular patter of “national liberation,” to Hamas’ apocalyptic paranoia, has gone largely undocumented and unknown to the average observer of the Middle East conflict. Nor is this merely a quirk of journalism, but a widespread practice of the “post-colonial” field of Middle East studies in the wake of Edward Said’s masterpiece of cognitive warfare forbidding Westerners from “othering” Muslims.

“And yet, what are we to make of crowds rallied by the Obama administration-designated, “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood chant, “One day we will kill all Jews”? Since 2000, Arab and Muslim news media have been awash with gory video depictions of the Elders of Zion carrying out their blood sacrifices of innocent Muslim youth. Specialists disagree over whether this is primarily an import from the worst of European hate-mongering, especially the Nazis, or an indigenous growth with roots in the Koran. European anti-Zionists may like their fantasy that their attitude is not anti-Semitic, but in the case of the Arab and Muslim world, the slide from opposing Israel to ranting about “al Yahud” everywhere is effortless.”


Labouring the point that “Muslim anti-Semitism” is not a function of Israel’s aggressions against the Palestinians but an endemic trait, Landes writes, “…every time Israel engages in anti-imperialist activities – withdrawing from most of the West Bank (1994-2000), southern Lebanon (2000) and Gaza (2005) – the result was more aggression.”

It’s interesting that Landes chooses to ignore the ongoing imperialist activities of Israel, with checkpoints that rob Palestinians of the freedom of movement, to the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. If Landes laments the escalation in aggression despite Israel’s withdrawal from Occupied Territory, perhaps the answer lies in manifestations of persisting, and expanding, imperialist activities?

Landes then turns his attention to ““Islamophobia is the new Anti-Semitism,” in which speaking of Muslim anti-Semitism becomes a new form of anti-Semitism.”

For Landes, there can be no equivalence between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and he dismisses the thoughts of a Parisian colleague who argues that “The experience of the Muslims in Europe today is exactly the same as the Jews a century ago.”

He concludes:

“It’s the conspiracy thinking that blames every problem on the “other”: Muslims attack Copts? It’s the Jews. Arab Spring turning into Islamist Winter? It’s the Jews (or, if you’re on the BBC, “outside forces”). How can one possibly inaugurate, foster, and sustain a democratic culture of freedom, one that, in words of Isaiah Berlin, considers it “shameful not to grant to others the freedom one wants to exercise oneself,” without an ability to self-criticise?

“Anti-Semitism is everyone’s problem, especially the Muslims’. And the sooner the “progressives” who want to help them, stop feeding their anti-Semitic vulnerabilities by joining them in demonising Israel, and help them learn some self-criticism, the sooner we are likely to see a real Arab Spring, one that benevolent people the world over can sincerely cheer.”


With the Jewish Chronicle this week reporting that the Board of Deputies has asked the Foreign Office to intervene to remove material on the website of the UK Palestinian Mission, and the case of Sheikh Raed Salah revealing the extent to which the Community Security Trust has been involved in the measures to exclude from entry into the UK, might Landes usefully offer advice to pro-Israelis to “help them learn some self-criticism” too?

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