General Antisemitism

When ‘militant Zionist’ just means Jew


Cross posted from the blog of the CST 

Antisemitism comes in lots of different guises. It can be blatant, subtle or hidden. It can invent new antisemitic charges, or rely on a reservoir of old antisemitic language and images. Or, sometimes, it just swaps the word “Zionist” for “Jew”, in the naïve hope that doing so will change an antisemitic statement into a political one.

This is what appears to have happened in an online campaign against Tell MAMA, an organisation that works to combat anti-Muslim hatred. CST’s relationship with Tell MAMA is no secret. We advised its Director, Fiyaz Mughal, before and after he set it up and CST’s former Chief Executive, Richard Benson, is now one of its two co-chairs.

We are proud of this cooperation with Tell MAMA, which means that Muslim victims of hate crime benefit indirectly from CST’s experience tackling antisemitism.

It is also a positive example of Muslims and Jews working together to reduce prejudice rather than being divided by it.

Some people, though, seem to dislike this approach to anti-racism. One of them is Muhammad Dilwar Hussain (better known as Dilly Hussain) of the Islamist blog, 5 Pillars. Hussain is angry because Fiyaz Mughal criticised the use of the racially-loaded phrases “Uncle Tom” and “House Muslim” by another Muslim journalist, Channel 4’s Assed Baig.

As part of his public criticism of Fiyaz Mughal, Hussain has tweeted that Tell MAMA is, in his words, “run by Zionists who support murder of children” and that it supposedly has “militant Zionist patrons and trustees”.

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Hussain has written a longer Facebook post in which he attacks Tell MAMA because he believes “their board of trustees and patrons are infested with hardcore Zionists.”

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Yesterday Hussain’s 5 Pillars blog posted an article that was even more specific, saying “Tell MAMA’s co-chair is the pro-Israeli Richard Benson.” (This link is to the Google cache version; the original appears to have been taken down). The article was taken from another Islamist blog called Coolness of Hind.

To be clear, CST is a British organisation that works to combat antisemitism and anti-Jewish terrorism in the UK. We work across the religious and political spectrum of the Jewish community. We do not advocate or lobby on behalf of Israel, nor do we require that CST staff have any particular political views about Israel. Most British Jews do feel a fundamental, emotional connection to Israel while having widely varying views about its politics.

Richard Benson’s leadership of Tell MAMA draws on his experience in communal security and combating hate crime. The idea that this work makes him a “militant Zionist” or a “hardcore Zionist” makes no sense.

This is not the first time that Tell MAMA has been attacked for working with CST. The Muslim lobbying group MEND did so previously. Their Chief Executive at the time, Sufyan Ismail, also swapped the word “Zionist” for “Jewish”, warning a Muslim audience in Greater Manchester not to work with Tell MAMA because they had a “pro-Zionist pretty much heading it”. Ismail also said that the “Israeli lobby” had lost a vote in Parliament for the first time in 300 years. Again, this only made sense if he meant “Israeli” as a synonym for “Jew”.

No surprise that MEND’s Azad Ali has tweeted a link to this latest attack on Tell MAMA.

This language reflects a more serious problem with antisemitic conspiracy theories in parts of British Muslim life. A new opinion poll by ICM shows that antisemitic attitudes are much more common amongst British Muslims than in the population as a whole.

For example, 35% of Muslim respondents agreed that “Jewish people have too much power in Britain”, compared to 9% of the population as a whole. 39% of Muslim respondents agreed that “Jewish people have too much power over the media”, compared to 10% of the population as a whole. 26% of Muslim respondents agreed that “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars”, compared to 6% of the population as a whole. Several other questions produced similar responses.

Antisemitism is bad for Jews, obviously, but it is also bad for antisemites. It renders them stupid, impotent and unable to overcome their real problems. Arguing that Muslims working to reduce anti-Muslim hatred should not cooperate with Jews who have experience in tackling antisemitism is a perfect example.

In this atmosphere, it is more important than ever for Jews and Muslims to work together to reduce prejudice, suspicion and fear between our communities. Happily, there is a great deal of interfaith and inter-communal activity across Muslim and Jewish life which provides an encouraging model of Jewish-Muslim relationships.

CST will continue to work with Tell MAMA as our contribution to this effort. We hope that in doing so we can help to combat anti-Muslim hatred and counter antisemitic attitudes at the same time.

13 replies »

  1. Why should the CST waste its limited resources upon the issue of Islamophobia? Have Muslim organisations diligently and prominently spent resources on reducing anti-Semitism?

    • Because they think it makes them look good in the eyes of the public; because they get a pat on the head for doing so from HMG; and because it allows politicians to say that something is being done without actually having to do it themselves. Dhimmi-ism writ large.

    • No time spent on cutting down prejudice is ever wasted. The fact that many – but happily not all – Muslim organisations spend time sneering at Jews doesn’t mean that Jews should not spend time trying to create bridges. I myself am more or less Jewish, and I spend much of my working life in the company of Muslims – we share tea and baclava, ideas and photographs. I know they are Muslim, they know I am Jewish – we get on fine. This is in Spain, where Jews and Muslims mixed for hundreds of years – sometimes as enemies, sometimes as friends. Then the Christians threw them all out. Now we come back again, little by little.

    • CST has limited resources ? You are having a laugh right ?

      Because it gives them cover. Mark Gardner says it is important they have links with Muslims. Unfortunately the Muslims with any credibility won’t touch CST with a barge pole because they see it is a shill for The State of Israel.So they made their own Muslim and cast him in their own image. The hustler Mughal fitted the bill perfectly. He’s a good Muslim because that is where the money is. Ooops sorry didn’t see you there Maajid.

  2. “Antisemitism is bad for Jews, obviously, but it is also bad for antisemites. It renders them stupid, impotent and unable to overcome their real problems” –
    – Nonsense. You’ve got cause and effect back to front.

  3. Antisemitism is bad for antisemites? Yes, because it limits their world, limits the opportunities, limits the possibilities of exploring. And from a practical point of view, it has often been said that if Hitler hadn’t murdered all those clever Jews, he might well have won WWII.

    • I agree with the thrust of that. Unfortunately, antisemitism has been exploited politically by neoZionists and hence become a loaded term. The visceral power it once had has thus diminished over time to the detriment of the silent majority of fair minded Jews who are able to see the wood from the trees by recognising the fascist nature of the “Jewish State”. Many neoZionists are not actually Jewish but neoliberal fundamentalist Christian’s.

      However both neoZionist Jews and their fundamentalist Christian counterparts long for the Second Coming and the way they envisage themselves getting there is by way of the political process. Others are not religious at all and cynically exploit for political reasons the concept of the Biblical imperative predicated on the notion that God is somehow a real estate agent in the Heavens who has ascribed Palestinian land and property to Jews.

      It’s this latter narrative that is the main ideological force that drives neoZionism on. In other words, the theft of land is deemed to be justified by these fascists by recourse to ancient religious texts. I live in London. If somebody from Italy attempted to steal my land and property based on the premise that at some point in ancient history the Romans populated Londoninium, then I would do my best to resist (with violence if necessary) to defend against such attacks. Exactly the same logic applies to the Israeli/Palestinian scenario today.

  4. I don’t know the situation over enough to comment except maybe to note that appears that Dilly Boy is a bigot.