General Antisemitism

Media celebrate woman’s ‘peace selfie’ at anti-Muslim protest…and then this happened


The Telegraph, BBC and Metro were among the many news outlets which published reports on a feel good story last week about a Muslim woman, Zakia Belkhiri, defiantly standing up to supporters of a racist political party in Belgium.  Belkhiri took this now iconic selfie – which went viral on social media – in front of protesters who held signs reading “No headscarves,” “No mosques,” and “Stop Islam.” 

zakia-belkhiri-anti-islam-2_5602675The 22-year old told the BBC, in response to the attention she received because of the photo, that she just wanted “to share joy and peace” and “to show that things can be different…and that we can live together, not next to each other but with each other”.

A pro-peace, anti-racist response to right-wing extremists – what’s not to like?

However, evidence soon emerged definitively contradicting the media narrative.  In 2012, it was revealed, Belkhiri tweeted the following:

“Hitler didn’t kill all the Jews, he left some,” read one. “So we [would] know why he was killing them.”

A 2014 Facebook post attributed to Belkhiri said:

“F—ing Jews, I hate them so much.”

Belkhiri responded with a bizarre explanation for the comments, suggesting that she was referring to “Zionists”, not Jews.

Since these antisemitic social media comments by Belkhiri and her subsequent reply were revealed, several news outlets based in the UK either updated their stories or published new reports noting what BBC Trending characterized as the “not so pleasant postscript”.

However, notable was the manner in which Vox – an online news site founded by liberal commentator Ezra Klein – updated its original story (written by ), titled ‘This young Muslim woman brilliantly countered an anti-Muslim woman with selfies’, with several new paragraphs:

Here’s the first paragraph of Crockett’s update:

But of course, with virality comes increased scrutiny. Within days, screenshots of an offensive tweet Belkhiri apparently sent in 2012 (reading “Hitler didn’t kill all the jews, he left some. So we [would] know why he was killing them”) began circulating, and getting coverage particularly from right-wing and anti-Muslim media sources.

However, as we noted in a tweet to the Vox reporter, news of the virulent antisemitic comments were reported by many mainstream and left-wing news outlets as well – including BBC and Haaretz.  Moreover, why does the Vox reporter think that it’s important to note coverage to the revelations of Belkhiri’s antisemitism in the right-wing and anti-Muslim media? Instances of anti-Jewish racism would, by definition, certainly seem to represent topics of interest to left-wing, anti-racist and self-described ‘progressive’ media outlets.

Crockett continues:

Belkhiri, who had already been tweeting about wanting to be left alone by the media before her tweet resurfaced, briefly deactivated her Twitter account. Then she reactivated it to tweet an apology: “my opinion many years ago was meant on the zionist back then, that spread hate instead of love so to all the other jews peace be upon you!” Later, she tweeted an image in English and Dutch of a more detailed, multi-paragraph apology to the Jewish community, before deactivating her account again.

However, characterizing Belkhiri’s response – alleging she was expressing hatred towards ‘just’ Zionists, and not Jews – an “apology” (Crockett originally called it a “heartfelt” apology, before removing that term in a subsequent revision) strains credulity.  Are we really to believe that when Belkhiri wrote “Hitler didn’t kill all the Jews, he left some…so we [would] know why he was killing them”, she really meant “Hitler didn’t kill all the Zionists, he left some…so we [would] know why he was killing them”?  And, when she wrote “”F—ing Jews, I hate them so much”, she meant to write “F—ing Zionists, I hate them so much”?  

Further, does Belkhiri – or anyone sympathetic to her “apology” – really believe that it’s somehow acceptable to ‘merely’ hate “Zionists” (rather than “Jews”) and to praise the mass murder of “Zionists” (rather than “Jews”)? 

Crockett concludes:

Her apology probably wouldn’t be enough for everyone. Still, some used the incident as an opportunity to spout even more of the Islamophobic hatred that Belkhiri was protesting in the first place.

Note here how the Vox reporter actually seems more concerned with the potential “Islamophobic” impact of reports on Belkhiri’s comments, rather than the antisemitic impact of Belkhiri’s messages praising Hitler and expressing hatred towards Jews.

Crockett’s contextualization avoids reaching the natural conclusion that Belkhiri is clearly not an ‘anti-racist’ as such, and her “peace-selfie” was certainly not motivated by anything resembling truly progressive principles.  

Revelations about Belkhiri’s extreme antisemitism shouldn’t merely represent a ‘postscript’ to original accounts of her ‘brave anti-racism activism’. They change the entire story.

18 replies »

  1. Perhaps it’s time to start a campaign to appropriate the word Islamophobia by breaking down its component parts. “Islam” means “submission” in Arabic and “phobia” means “fear of” in Greek. So, Islamophobia actually means “fear of submission” and that sounds pretty righteous.

  2. Is it the case now that anyone who criticises anything that their electronic media output is trawled through to see if there’s anything that can be dredged up and used against them? I fear it is. This incident is just a woman Tweeting not open voiced on the street hate speech or physical aggression. Sure a stupid dumb thing to write but the internet is full of hateful talk.The smack down of this selfie woman looks desperate really. I hope you’re taking a similar critical line to Israel’s new defence minister?🙂

    • “… just a woman Tweeting not open voiced on the street hate speech …”

      So tweeting racist hate speech is OK as long as you don’t read it out loud? Sounds like somebody’s running out of arguments to defend the indefensible.

    • In one sentence – don’t use against critics of israel their anti-semitism, bigotry, racism, murderous intents – they are voicing all of these in private. A good short summary of the moral level of the so called “Israel-critics”.

    • Steve Brown,
      Just in case you hadn’t noticed, the article concerns itself with the media’s treatment of the subject rather than just one little racist antisemitic anti-zionist for its own sake.

      Don’t you just hate antisemitic anti-zionists for spreading all that hate?

  3. As usual, the collectivists push through legislation making speech of ill-defined kinds into a crime; hate speech, for goodness’ sake, no normal society would have entertained such creating a law against what people say or think. But as usual, too, the collectivists get all agitated when their pet legislation is applied against one of their own.

  4. The Islamofascists pray for the genocide of Jews (not Zionists – Jews) on a daily basis, but to bring that up is ‘Islamophobic’.

    Their racism is excused for a non-existent phobia

  5. “Further, does Belkhiri – or anyone sympathetic to her “apology” – really believe that it’s somehow acceptable to ‘merely’ hate “Zionists” (rather than “Jews”) and to praise the mass murder of “Zionists” (rather than “Jews”)? ”

    Now we’re getting to the heart of it.

  6. The problem is not Islam or islamophobia; the problem is Islamization of the Western world.

  7. Why is it, that it’s racist to be anti-Islamic, yet Muslims are not racist when they commit terror against anyone who isn’t Islamic or is a Westerner?
    Why is it, that Jews are hated in England, particularly by the BBC, yet it’s Muslims that have committed terror in London?
    Why does the Labour Party hate Jews, what have Jews done to them?
    Why does Livingstone hate Jews, what have they done to him?
    Why is it, that to be anti-Islamic is to be Rightwing?
    Why is the BBC, particularly it’s World Service, nothing more than a propaganda outlet for Islam?