It is surely high time for Diaspora leaders to stop living in denial and get their act together. Instead of competing with each other in oozing political correctness, they should display some backbone and call a spade a spade.
We are currently witnessing the greatest revival of global anti-Semitism since the Middle Ages. This permeates all classes of society, and, ranging from academics to illiterates and European leaders who retain office despite making unabashed neo-Nazi remarks about Jews to mobs at anti-Israeli demonstrations carrying placards “gas the Jews.”
It encompasses the entire political spectrum, but is spearheaded by liberals and Muslims. Muslim radicals relate to Israel in a manner reminiscent of the Church’s medieval attitude toward the Jews. They promote popular TV programs depicting the blood of Muslim children being used for baking matzot, and have revived The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a best-seller. They certainly compare favorably with the worst Nazi Jew baiting, with imams quoting genocidal religious texts to the faithful, inciting them to murder Jews, “the descendants of apes and pigs.”
It is macabre to observe the alliance between liberals and jihadists who represent the antithesis of everything the Left purports to represent. The extremist Islamists are the most reactionary elements in the world. They reject fundamental human rights, proscribe freedom of expression and religion, promote the degradation of women and, to this day, implement barbaric laws including stoning of adulterers and homosexuals and the amputation of limbs for petty crimes. More than 50 Muslim countries deny Judaism or Christianity equal standing with Islam.
WHAT MAKES this situation even more bizarre is that over the past months, there has been a concerted campaign claiming that Islamophobia represents the greatest threat to human rights in the world! In the US the controversy over the mosque at Ground Zero, where 3,000 Americans were murdered in the name of Islam, has been twisted into an attempt to deny Muslims equal rights as distinct from not violating the sensitivities of the bereaved families. Not a single mainstream conservative politician has ever denied the right of Muslims to build mosques throughout the US.
This is taking place at a time when the Muslims have the audacity to promote legislation at the UN and elsewhere which would make any criticism of Islam a criminal offense. The response of the Obama administration has been to reiterate the ludicrous mantra introduced by president George W. Bush describing Islam as “the religion of peace” and blatantly deny the reality that present-day terrorism is essentially a Muslim phenomenon, even though that does not mean all Muslims are terrorists.
Taking political correctness to the ultimate extreme, US counter-terrorism director John Brennan described jihad as “a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam intended to purify oneself or one’s community,” and urged that those indulging in terrorist acts never be described in “religious terms” despite the fact that all recent terrorist acts in the US were perpetrated by Muslim extremists. Administration officials initially described perpetrators as demented people rather than Islamic terrorists. This even applied to the Fort Hood killer, who had been influenced by an American-born Yemeni imam and was shrieking “Allahu akbar” while massacring unarmed American servicemen.
Alas, Jews who exaggerate the presence of Islamophobia become leading proponents of the campaign to sanitize and understate Islamic extremism. This is especially bizarre, given that Jews, especially in Europe, but also increasingly in the US, are facing far greater threats of violence than Muslims. It is also synagogues, rather than mosques, which are continuously being desecrated and vandalized, in many cases by Islamists.
In that context, the relative tranquility which Muslims experience in Western societies is a great tribute to tolerance – a tolerance unlikely to have been extended to Jews in similar circumstances. Imagine the response if Israel had a track record like some of the Arab states, or if Jews in Western countries were blowing up their neighbors.
While genuine interfaith relations are to be commended, many Jews persist in engaging in “dialogue” with Muslim organizations that refuse to dissociate themselves from hard-line Islamic attitudes. Some of the leading Saudi groups promoting international interfaith conferences are directly engaged in the promotion of anti-Semitism, yet Jews participating in these bogus meetings naively babble on about love and coexistence and ignore realities. By doing so, Jews undermine the few moderate Muslims courageous enough to speak up.
All religions incorporate texts and concepts which encourage violence and aggression, but it is the interpretation by religious leaders that determines actual behavior. Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism today are overwhelmingly supportive of peace, and seek coexistence while condemning extremists.
IN CONTRAST, only a few Islamic moderates have the courage to criticize extremism within their own circles. Those brave enough to do so are marginalized, condemned by their kinsmen, and their lives are frequently endangered. The overwhelming majority remains silent or defends the Islamic excesses of Islamic regimes.
On the other hand, when a lunatic American pastor threatens to burn a Koran, President Barack Obama personally intervenes and warns of global violence and mayhem. This the first time that an American president has called on the nation not to “endanger our troops” in order to placate extremists threatening violence in response to the acts of a solitary American eccentric.
Of course, burning a Koran or any religious book is a barbaric act. But in these times anything likely to offend Muslims, including cartoons or criticism, is condemned out of fear of violent Islamic responses. This contrasts with an absence of Islamic respect for other religions. When some years ago, the National Endowment for the Arts contributed an outrageously insensitive, blasphemous image of a crucifix in urine to a New York exhibition titled “Piss Christ,” outraged Christians did not threaten to go on killing sprees.
An example of the insane levels generated by fear of Muslim violence is reflected in the case of Molly Norris, a Seattle weekly newspaper cartoonist who was forced to adopt a new identity at the urging of the FBI because she had become a prime target for assassination after having drawn a satirical cartoon of the Muslim prophet in her local newspaper. This resulted in a fatwa being issued against her, stating that “bombings and acts of arson were appropriate responses to acts of blasphemy.”
Yet Obama, champion of the First Amendment for Muslims, remained silent about Norris’s ordeal.
There is indeed a desperate need to encourage moderate Muslims. But appeasing the extremists and groveling to Muslim bullies merely emboldens them. There is not a single instance in history in which appeasing religious fanatics of any faith has brought about progress. If we allow ourselves to be intimidated or fail to confront Islamist jihadists, they will succeed in destroying the very tenets of our civilization.
This is an area in which Jews, who have the most to lose, must surely stand up and be counted.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post