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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Moral Equivelancy: Is "Islamophobia" the equal to anti-Semitism?


I'm a big fan of Phyllis Chesler. I first heard of her when my mother did a report in one of her classes (my Mom went back to finish college when I was in my teens). I knew her then as a feminist, but I'm not sure if I knew she was Jewish.

My next encounter with her was on a list about Women's Tefilla (Prayer) groups. The list is basically a Jewish feminist list and I read most of her posts with interest. In one post, she talked about her experiences in feminist (general feminist, not specifically Jewish feminist) circles, how she was applauded when she spoke about women's issues, but when she was asked how she felt about Israel, the only country in the Middle East that respects women (she supports Israel), she was booed off the stage.

I just read a wonderful article she wrote called Equating Anti-Semitism with 'Islamophobia' where she explains, quite deftly, how Anti-Semitism and 'Islamophobia' are two totally different phenomena.

Anti-Semitism is a long entrenched hatred based on nothing. Jews don't get up at conferences, on videos, in articles or in our places of worship and preach hatred and murder. We don't strap bombs to our bodies and blow ourselves up to kill people. We don't attempt to convert "non-believers" by guile or physical threats (in actuality, we only want converts who truly want to be Jewish and belief is not even the essence of Judaism; Deeds are. Non-Jews are just as capable of being righteous as Jews).

Adherents of Islam, however, DO attempt to convert "non-believers" by guile and physical threats. They demonize "non-believers", particularly Jews (who were targeted for conversion by Muhammed, who was so incensed when we wouldn't convert to his new religion en masse that he proceeded to murder Jews and demonize us and our existence), they target our children, our mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, our youth and our aged and all those in between. When demonizing Jews isn't enough, they demonize our only land, our religious, cultural, ethnic home. They rewrite our history, as has Abbas (see Sarah Honig's blog), our supposed "partner in peace".

Abbas has totally rewritten history. I was reading some of the excerpts and I felt as though I were a prisoner in George Orwell's book "1984" (If you haven't read "1984" I think you should. It's amazing how prophetic Orwell was). To start with, he has Abel killing Cain. Huh???? He claims "War began when Joseph the Dreamer emerged from his Egyptian pit leading the Hebrew slave-masters [how he could be a slave-master in a pit is beyond me, but I digress] with whom he stormed the tower that his uncle Esau the Pacifist [Esau was a pacifist? I must have missed that among all the hatred and war he was spreading] built in Babel [the last I checked, Esau's grandfather Abraham wasn't even born when the tower went up] so that he, Joseph the warmonger [it's amazing how he can take someone who saved a society by stockpiling food a "warmonger"], could enjoy that turret's shield and shade in the arms of Potiphar's wife [whose advances he spurned]." He also claims World War II began when Finland (of all countries) attacked Russia (another huge Huh????) and Liechtenstein invaded Germany (yes, "poor defenseless Nazi Germany" was attacked by that "big bully" Liechtenstein). He also says WWII ended with the "Elders of Zion" emerging from Europe's rubble (obviously, this holocaust denier wouldn't say the rubble of the concentration camps) and successfully planting their flag atop the Kremlin, the White House, the Chrysler Building and the moon (REALLY???? There are just no words to describe this nonsense), from there (the moon??) they descended on Mecca, Medina, Gaza and Al-Kuds (their name for Yerushalayim, since the world is theirs, they have to prove we have no connection to our own land, tiny as it is they don't even want us to have it). Really? If we did that, how come I didn't get my "cut"?

So, while anti-Semitism (that is, anti-Jewish sentiment, nowadays often masquerading as anti-Israel sentiment -- masked so well that often Jews themselves fall prey to it) is a pernicious, visceral hatred of a people who only want to live in peace, a people whose only desire (as a people) is to bring goodness and morality to the world, "Islamophobia" is a real fear, a fear of a people who (as a people) want to spread their hatred and draconian laws (known as Sharia) to the entire world, a people who learn from birth that "others" are evil, that women are second-class (and are beholding to their fathers or husbands or they bring disgrace upon their families), that it is ok to lie for their version of G-d. They threaten and kill those who oppose them, those who even say they are evil. They threaten and kill those who even criticize them. And people don't understand why we are afraid of them? Strangely enough, most people do not want to be murdered, tortured, imprisoned, forced to live as virtual slaves (as women do in these societies). And, with education that mirrors Abbas's version of history, the downtrodden of their own people are afraid of "others" too, and work hard to please their despotic leaders (who they think are protecting them from these "evil others").

Unfortunately, well-meaning, caring people can often get sucked into the void because they don't know (or don't want to know) where the true evil that is oppressing these people (and our world) is coming from. It is easier for them to believe the lie of "Zionist Occupation", the lie that puts the blame on the victim, couching the true villains (Islamist leadership) in an angelic aura and demonizing the "other".

I do see some promising signs. I see more Muslims, more non-Jews, and more people in general, coming out and casting the blame where it belongs. But the voices are few and they usually get drowned out by the "respected" anti-Israel voices of academe (like Columbia University and other Ivy League "brother" universities) and the media (like the New York Times). I pray G-d will help us all find a solution, a solution that helps good people stand up (and defeat) the evil. We won't win this war of propaganda by ignoring the enemy. Only shining a bare bulb on the lies and a limelight on the truth can we ever hope to vanquish our oppressors.