Australia/Israel Review


The Last Word: Why Blame the Victims?

Dec 20, 2011 | Jeremy Jones

The Last Word: Why Blame the Victims?
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Jeremy Jones

Sydney is a vibrant multicultural metropolis, built by people from many nationalities, ethnicities, cultures and religions.

In the main street of Lakemba, for example, South, West and East Asian, and Anglo-Celtic sounds and sights are part of the rich communal tapestry.

Amongst restaurants, gift shops, welfare agencies, banks and newsagencies, are bookshops which serve Muslims and those interested in Islam and Muslims’ opinions.

I visited the two largest of these in mid-December, in the wake of curious, contentious comments on antisemitism from Muslims made by Howard Gutman, the US Ambassador to Belgium.

At the first shop, in a section which included exposés of the alleged deceitful behaviour of Christians, Henry Ford’s notorious The International Jew was displayed prominently.
Amongst titles such as Answers to Non-Muslims’ Common Questions, a series of booklets which made overtly disparaging comments about Judaism as a religion, as well as some which sought simply to explain why Islam is innately superior, were both plentiful and inexpensive.

At the larger store, recommended titles included a 958-page Malaysian-published version of The International Jew, complete with introductions by two of the most notorious racists in the history of the US, Gerald L. K. Smith, and Elizabeth Dilling.

The introductions alleged the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is a proof-text for Jewish behaviour – which was probably unnecessary as the 900 pages which followed made the same case.

Other texts on sale argued Jews should always be held under suspicion, never trusted, were always plotting against Islam etc., with a small sample referring to modern Israel or Zionism.

Indeed, the most prominently displayed work on that subject, “The Islamic Ruling on the Peace Process” began with the chapter “The Jews have been the enemies of the Islamic ‘Ummah since the Messenger of Allah, began his call to Allah; and their hostility to this ‘Ummah will continue till the Day of Resurrection.”

A professionally produced book “Islam and the Problem of Israel”, published in Malaysia, instructs readers that they should not be misled into thinking the issues are Israel or its behaviour, but it is the existence of any Jewish autonomy, let alone a state, which is the crux of the matter.

For children, the Indian-published Emergence of Dajjal, the Jewish King, warned of an “anti-Christ” figure spreading mayhem, with the “happy ending” to the story including “The Annihilation of the Jews.”

This book sources a well-known Hadith [saying attributed to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad], here translated as “The doomsday will not come till the Muslims will fight against the Jews. The Muslims will kill them. Even the stones and trees will cry out that a Jew is hiding behind me …”

This will be familiar to those following contemporary Middle East affairs, as media outlets paying serious attention to events in Egypt and beyond have observed the nasty anti-Jewish taint of rallies, demonstrations and public pronouncements.

Veteran journalist Eldad Beck, who holds a degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the Sorbonne, reported that a rally in Cairo hosted by the largest political force there, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the al-Azhar Mosque on November 25 emphasised this Hadith. Those videoed quoting it including a number of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau and a professor at al-Azhar and the head of the Islamic Law Society.

As noted Middle East scholar Martin Kramer commented, “The hadith predates the State of Israel by well over a millennium, so it certainly can’t be attributed to Israeli provocation. Those who invoke it – the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Bin Laden – root their hatred of Israel in a much deeper stratum of Islamic animosity toward the Jews. Those who downplay that sort of Judeophobia just help to perpetuate it.”

I know many Muslims, including scholars and communal leaders, have no animus towards Jews and are inspired by their faith to develop positive relationships with Jews and to fight prejudice in general.

Providing apologia for antisemitism does no service to them, but to the contrary strengthens and empowers the forces of bigotry.

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