The Triple Threat Facing Jews in Europe: Islamism

A while ago I started a series of posts on the triple-threat facing Europe’s Jews. I first looked at various data, which makes for grim reading. I then introduced each form of anti-Semitism, from the Far-Left, Far-Right and the Islamists. My second post considered the anti-Semitism on today’s Far-Right, how it is similar to the past, and how it has been adapted to and twisted to suit today’s world. This was followed by the anti-Semitism found on the Left. This anti-Semitism is now rife in Britain’s Labour Party, with many otherwise seemingly respectable Labour members and supporters either buying into various conspiracy theories about the sources of the various scandals or ignoring them as much as possible, persisting on in a state of denial borne of security. The third source of anti-Semitism to consider is the Islamist variety. In some ways, this is the most sensitive of the three, as European Muslims are themselves subject to prejudice and bigotry and lack of opportunity. However, the facts are undeniable.

We must not give in to alarmism or excuse anti-Muslim bigotry, but it is undeniable that Islamism is a serious threat in Europe, as is obvious from the number of terror attacks over the last three years. These are the most visible aspects of a deeper problem, however, with tens of thousands of Islamists of concern to security services across Western Europe. The problem is that the Left’s refusal to seriously address the issue of Islamist terrorism, as with the issue of immigration, provides yet more material for the Far-right narrative that white Christendom is under attack from a conspiracy of Jews using these attacks alongside multiculturalism to destroy Europe. This, in turn, feeds back into the Islamist narrative that Islam is under attack, further entrenching ethnic and religious tribalism. Meanwhile, the Left excuses or turns a blind eye to support for regressive cultural attitudes towards women and homosexuality as well as virulent anti-Israel attitudes among Muslim communities, and does nothing to calm the situation, thereby feeding the divisions in society. Because of this, Maajid Nawaz has dubbed those Leftists who excuse such beliefs and behaviour as the ‘Regressive Left’, now called the Ctrl-Left mirroring the Alt-Right.

The threat to Jews from Islamist anti-Semitism is growing and has become deadly. The threat to Jews is worst in France and Sweden. On April 18, 250 French public figures from across the political spectrum and from all three Abrahamic religions, denounced the “new anti-Semitism” arising from “Islamic radicalization,” declaring in a manifesto: “We demand that the fight against this democratic failure that is anti-Semitism becomes a national cause before it’s too late. Before France is no longer France.” Their warning comes after years of anti-Jewish attacks and abuse. In 2012, Mohamed Merah attacked pupils at the Ozar Hatorah in Toulouse, killing two boys aged 3 and 6, and their 30 year old rabbi father, as well as 8 year old Myriam Monsonego, the daughter of Yaacov Monsonego, the school’s headmaster.

In Sarcelles, France in 2014 there were anti-Jewish riots, excused as a reaction against the war in Gaza. The most infamous case was the murder of Ilan Halimi in 2006. In March this year Mirielle Knoll, an 85-year-old survivor of the Holocaust was stabbed to death by her Muslim neighbour in Paris. Last year, Jewish schoolteacher Sarah Halimi was beaten by a Muslim man and then thrown to her death from her apartment window to cries of ‘allahu akbar.’ In January, a Jewish schoolgirl was slashed in the face with a knife in the Paris suburbs, later that month a boy was beaten for wearing his kippah, and in February two Jewish men were attacked with a hacksaw. Then, there was the ISIS attack on the Kosher supermarket in January 2015 in Paris where 4 people were killed, and the attack on Copenhagen’s Great Synagogue in Krystalgade where a bar mitzvah celebration was underway. The perpetrator was Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein.

Synagogues have been attacked elsewhere, often firebombed. This happened in Gothenburg, Sweden last December at the beginning of Hanukah, when a gang of 20 masked men threw petrol bombs at the synagogue. This forced the young people inside to hide in the basement. Three have since been sentenced; one was a ‘stateless Palestinian, the other two Syrian refugees. An Amsterdam Kosher restaurant was also attacked in December, and Holland’s Chief Rabbi has said that being called a ‘dirty Jew’ on Holland’s streets is now perfectly normal.

In Sweden, Malmo is ground-zero for Islamist anti-Semitism, with the rapidly dwindling Jewish community subject to persecution from the large Middle-Eastern community there. It got so bad that Jews had to be walked to work by non-Jewish members of the public, while Jewish schoolchildren had to be escorted to school. The Simon Weisenthel Centre warned against travelling in southern Sweden because of the danger in 2010. The Jewish kindergarten in Malmo has bulletproof glass. As in Germany, Jewish schoolchildren are abused and harassed by their classmates, often those from immigrant backgrounds. Chants of ‘kill the Jews’ are frequently heard. Jews throughout Western European cities are increasingly likely to hide their Jewish identity on the streets for fear of attack, mostly from immigrants of a Muslim background. A 2013 survey on anti-Semitism in Sweden by the Kantor Centre replicated the findings of the 2017 survey; 51% of anti-Semitic attacks were committed by someone of a Muslim background, while 25% were committed by Left-wing extremists and only 5% by Right-wing extremists. Over half the anti-Semitic attacks in Sweden were committed by those who represent only 8% of the population as of 2016 according to Pew Research.

This disproportionate threat is repeated in France, Britain, the Netherlands and elsewhere. In Britain, a 2017 survey by the CST and Institute for Jewish Policy Research found disproportionate levels of anti-Semitism among the British Muslim community. Even when stripping Islamists from the samples, British Muslims still held higher levels of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views than the general population. As the report says, it is important not to be alarmist or use these results as a club to beat all British Muslims over the head; that is anti-Muslim bigotry and is intrinsically wrong. However, this issue cannot be denied or ignored. To his credit Mehdi Hasan raised this issue in 2013, and there are other Muslims like Maajid Nawaz who regularly call anti-Semitism out from the British Muslim community.

The hatred of Jews in the Middle East, and now among Muslim communities in Europe, partly stems from Islamic texts but was augmented by modern European anti-Semitism during World War II. As Jeffrey Herf has shown in Nazi Propaganda and the Arab World, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Final Solution and was instrumental in propagandising for the Nazis to Muslims in the Middle-East and in the Balkans through radio broadcasts and printed leaflets supplied by the Nazis. Hitler intended to liquidate the Arab world’s Jews, and Husseini was keen to be an instrumental part of it. Indeed, he called for his listeners to “kill the Jews” in 1942. Husseini helped recruit imams who preached to the tens of thousands of Muslims who fought with the Wehrmacht; there was a Waffen SS unit composed of Balkan Muslims.

Husseini hated Jews, Judaism and regularly ranted against Zionism and its plans for the Middle-East. As Herf argues, the conspiracies “for which Husseini became famous in the 1940s have continued to play a far too prominent role in the Palestinian political culture ever since. He did incite others to murder Jews. He did spread ridiculous conspiracy theories comparable to those of the Nazis. He did all that he could to help the Nazis in a failing effort to spread the Holocaust to the Middle East and to win the war in Europe. He left behind a legacy of hatred, paranoia, religious fanaticism and celebration of terror so long as it was aimed at Jews and Israelis.”

This legacy can be seen in attitudes across today’s Middle East and in Europe, where Muslim communities can receive their news from TV stations like Al-Jazeera and others which routinely host anti-Semitic preachers, clips of which are easily found on YouTube. As a result, hallucinatory conspiracies about Jews’ inherent bloodlust for non-Jews, using children for sacrifice, harvesting organs etc. are common. Israel is the focus-point of anti-Jewish hatred from Muslims and their Left-wing allies. George Galloway, the Respect Party MP and useful idiot for Saddam Hussein and other Middle Eastern despots, called Bradford in England an “Israel free zone”, and refused to speak alongside a Jewish speaker at Oxford University. For both those on the Far-Left and their Islamist allies, Israel has become the national representation of the demonic Jew, subject to the same slurs and calumnies that Jews have faced for centuries. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and other terror groups, along with large numbers of Middle Eastern Muslims, cannot accept Israel’s existence within any border. In Europe, increasing numbers of Jews feel that their existence is also as unacceptable to Islamists and those on the Far-left, Far-right. Far from being alarmist, their concerns are well founded and are legitimate.

As noted above, those on the Left one would expect to defend Jews for being persecuted from Islamist anti-Semitism, now seem to find it increasingly difficult to speak up when one group in the victim hierarchy (Muslims) is attacking another (Jews). This is the reality of identity politics, and presents a problem as it has been unclear where Jews and Muslims fit into this oppression pyramid hierarchy. As noted previously, Jews are increasingly stripped of any recourse to victim status at any point, more often than not accused of exploiting their victimhood when they raise the aggression against them. The idea that Jews are complicit in their predicament, that they keep the memory of the Holocaust alive for their own gain, displays the cultural and moral relativism and confusion that grips large parts of the modern Left, leaving them unable to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and differences between cultures and religions. This leaves them either unable to stand up to those like the Islamists who hate their entire value set, or they engage in behaviour like George Galloway and ally with those whom they view as partners in the fight to destroy the Western capitalist system. Of course, all can leads to Jews being surrounded by hatred.

As Alain Finkelkraut said to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg in the context of the January 2015 Kosher supermarket attack in Paris, “People don’t defend the Jews as we expected to be defended… It would be easier for the left to defend the Jews if the attackers were white and rightists.” This unwillingness of large parts of the Left to speak out unequivocally against Islamist violence against Jews and the rest of society only emboldens the Islamists themselves, and the Far-right who are enabled in providing a source of opposition to this threat. This situation is dangerous for everyone, most of all for Jews. Given current circumstances, it is overly optimistic to expect that this situation might change in any meaningful way anytime soon.

About the Author
Henry George is from Buckinghamshire in the UK. He is currently a freelance writer and is a graduate of King's College London, where he studied for an MA in War Studies.
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