by Gary Fouse
For several years now I have been writing about the worldwide resurgence in anti-semitism. Aside from the Middle East, where the hatred is at its rawest, but where Jews are (relatively) safe in Israel, the worst cases are in Europe thanks to the presence of millions of Muslims who have brought old hatreds with them to their new countries of residence. Jews cannot walk the streets in European cities wearing distinctive garb lest they be assaulted, not by neo-Nazis or skin heads, but by Muslim immigrants. Thus, European Jews, especially in France and Sweden, are leaving in droves.
Here in the US, the problem is less severe, but it is growing. The central point for this growth is on our university campuses, thanks to the pro-Palestinian crowd (both students and faculty) who have succeeded in making the Israel-Palestinian conflict into arguably the most emotional issue on their respective campuses. Having taught part-time at the University of California at Irvine for 18 years, I have watched the problem up close and personal. I have seen and heard the anti-semitism, not only at UCI, but at other campuses as well. The principal actors are the various chapters of the Muslim Student Association and their mirror organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, a bunch of Brown Shirt bullies who engage in tactics of bullying and intimidation against Jewish students who support Israel. The only difference is that SJP is open to non-Muslim members including misfit Jews who, due to their left-wing bent, have decided that Israel is worthy of their opposition. Opposing the policies of Israel is one thing and can be perfectly legitimate. All too often, however, speech against Israel has crossed over into speech against Jews as people dragging up the old tropes about how Jews control everything from the banks to our government. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not an excuse for Jew hatred.
Yet there are many leading Jewish figures in the US including certain rabbis who cannot bring themselves to admit that the leading source of anti-semitism comes from Muslim quarters. Rabbis who participate in inter-faith events with their Muslim counterparts are especially guilty of this. They would rather pretend that anti-semitism comes from the alt-right, neo-Nazis, skinheads, or Trump supporters.
It is a terrible lie.
Recently, I attended an event at the Temple Baht Yahm in Newport Beach, California. The topic was the issue of (anti-semitic/Islamophobic) hate since the election. And who was responsible for this problem? The above-named Trump supporters and alt-right. Not one word was uttered about Islamic anti-semitism, let along the numerous hateful references to Jews (and Christians) in the Koran, the hadith and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad. As for questions from the audience, we had to write them on cards to be passed up to the front to be screened. My question was simple: “Who is responsible for anti-semitism on the UC Irvine campus?” The (Jewish) lady who collected my card looked at it and told me she didn’t want to get into that. Thus, my question was ignored. (She was one of the organizers of the meeting.)
We heard a lot about President Trump that evening. The vice chancellor of UCI, Thomas Parham, told the audience that Trump “had the moral courage of a cockroach” and that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a “racist from Alabama”. Also present representing the Muslim community was Imam Muzammil Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Orange County and past president of the Muslim Brotherhood front organization, the Islamic Society of North America. In 1992, this great peaceful “bridge-builder” as he is known locally, hosted the “Blind Sheikh”, Omar Abdel Rahman, at his mosque and allowed him to give a sermon, which he (Siddiqi) translated into English.
Last week, UCI hosted a follow-up to that meeting, in which many of the same speakers again appeared and gave a lot of empty talk about love, understanding and tolerance. One of them was Siddiqi. Since one of the rabbis made reference to the annual May week of events at UCI dedicated to demonizing Israel, I raised the issue during the q and a. I informed the audience that in recent years, Siddiqi’s mosque had allowed the MSU/SJP to use their grounds to assemble the so-called “Apartheid Wall” (representing Israel’s security barrier), a mock wall containing many inflammatory phrases and images. I asked Siddiqi if he thought that was helpful to Muslim-Jewish relations and if he was going to allow his mosque to be used for such purposes this year. (The anti-Israel week is on-going at UCI as I write.) As every flower in the room died, Siddiqi mumbled a non-response about “coming here with his Jewish friends”, and that the Palestinians had their point of view, but that we must all engage in dialogue. At one point a man in the back said, “Answer the question”. Siddiqi never did. He had no answer. There were two rabbis on that panel who were watching Siddiqi as he evaded the question. What they have or have not said to him since I do not know.
The problem is not limited to California, as out of whack as things are out here. Take Boston, for example. The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and its sister mosque in Cambridge have spawned a number of terrorists and radical leaders, from Yusuf al Qaradawi, who served on their board, to the Tsarnaev brothers, who attended the latter mosque and bombed the Boston Marathon. Yet, local Jewish leaders have for years been engaged with this center in holding inter-faith events. Charles Jacobs, of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, has tried for years to inform the local Jewish community about the radicals who have been involved in this mosque to no avail. For his efforts, he has been castigated within the Jewish community by local rabbis.
We are ill-served by our political and religious leaders who refuse to recognize the Islamic threat to both Christians and Jews. It is bad enough to say that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance that has been hijacked by extremists for their own purposes (a premise I disagree with). It is worse when we attribute anti-semitism in its most modern form to those (including some “Christians”) who make up a slight minority of anti-semites. This is not to deny past forms of anti-semitism which are well documented by history. This is not to deny the existence of neo-Nazis and the KKK. However, the biggest threat to Jews today, not only in the Middle East, but in Europe and North America as well, is from Muslims-not all Muslims- but Muslims nonetheless. It is time we stop pointing the finger of blame at the wrong people.