Jewish and Muslim: A tale of two treatments

The serial mayhem and murder visited upon American facilities and staff is meant to coerce the free world into censorship out of respect, perversely for a religion that respects and tolerates no other.

From the time the riots broke out on the anniversary of 9/11, Muslim leaders took  no pains to hide that coercive goal. The Turkish president called for any criticism of Islam to be made a crime against humanity. Muslim Brotherhood chief, Qaradawi, insisted that America follow Europe’s example and outlaw criticism of Islam. Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah warned Americans to “understand that they will face very dangerous repercussions around the world.” And to be quite certain that everyone got the intended message, Iranian leaders upped the bounty to $3.3 million for the head of Mohammed– bashing novelist Salman Rushdie.

Meanwhile calumnies about a nation with no right to exist have poured without interruption from the Muslim world. In the name of Allah Israel is to be annihilated and the Jewish people exterminated. And from this world come demands that we amend our values to accommodate a religion which accommodates not a Jew on the planet.

The free world’s media by and large have not waited to be told to fall in line. For many a year they have delivered news in deliberately Muslim -neutral and inoffensive terms, even more when it’s news out of Israel. “Police described the explosion as a ‘terrorist attack’ — Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike.” How grotesquely Reuters conveys a story of a bomb targeted by Muslims at Jews waiting to catch a bus. But this is the whole point, or one of several. No Muslim could possibly be offended by news in such wrung out shape and form.

Opinion editors have done their own bit. Article submissions in any way critical of Muslims are routinely rejected, more so if religion comes into them. And TV documentaries are summarily shelved. Ask Tom Holland, who had his ‘Islam: The Untold Story,’ pulled after the BBC was threatened.

Falling in line is one thing, but emulating and platforming the Muslim world’s antagonism is a different case. Even the most venerable media titles treat Jews as fair game. They repeat calumnies of the worst kind, or quote sources from heavily vested interests.

For media stakeholders the commercial case for Jew-bashing is compelling. There really is no business like one that offers high return at no risk. A hoax killing of a Palestinian boy is a guaranteed seller; rumours of organ harvesting pull in readers and advertisers; claims of Israeli war crimes are the stuff to glue audiences to any channel. Without a daily feed of Israel demonisation media stakeholders would be much the poorer.

And so to a case in real time. At this moment the Human Rights Commission of South Africa is handling a complaint over a Cape Town daily and the author of an article. It allowed the article to describe Jewish behaviour (the standard codeword was ‘Zionist’) as abusive and thuggish. The complaint is not over the expressions in themselves. The principle of free speech cannot bow even to bias and prejudice. The complaint is over the application of different and discriminatory standards.

Would the newspaper run an article that referred to “Murderous Islamists” or, for that matter, to “Muslim terrorists?” Even less, would it publish an article that was no more than mildly critical of Muslims? The answer to that is no of course. For Muslims different rules come into play. The paper would never allow anything on its pages remotely insulting to them. Yet it allowed Jews to be called something thoroughly nasty. A thug, remember, is a tough and violent individual, especially a criminal.

Now if an editor will not allow ‘murderous’ or ‘terrorist,’ or ‘violent’ or ‘racist’ to be attributed to Muslim acts, but will allow Jews to be called thugs, is he not guilty of discrimination, pure and simple?  Is the editor not singling out Jews for special bad treatment? Is he not employing different editorial standards depending on the religion of people on the receiving end?

Two religions, two forms of media treatment.  If Jews can be fair game while Muslims have to be trod around on tiptoe, what is that but naked discrimination?

About the Author
The writer is a prolific author of novels and non-fiction, essayist and commentator on ‘Enemies of Zion’ which happens also to be the title of his latest book. His works are The Paymaster, 1998; Hadrian’s Echo, 2012; Contributor to ‘War by other means: Israel and its detractors’, 2012; Enemies of Zion, (for publication 2017); and Balaam’s curse ( a novel in progress)