In a recent article, New York Times critic Edward Rothstein used two newly published studies on anti-Semitism to list some of the points that are often brought up by people who feel that this is an issue that has not all that much relevance for our time.
Inevitably, the notion that critics of
There is a wildly exaggerated scale of condemnation, in which extremes of contempt confront a country caricatured as the world's worst enemy of peace; such attacks, and the use of Nazi analogies, are beyond evidence and beyond pragmatic political debate or protest.
Unfortunately, Rothstein is completely wrong to assert that there is a clear red line that separates what he calls "responsible criticisms of
Just a day after Rothstein's article was published, Mark Gardner of the British Community Security Trust (CST) reflected in a blog post on the "Drip, Drip, Drip of Criticism and Hatred" that is an everyday part of the British media coverage of
Under the title "Ayatollah Fadlallah: obituary of an anti-Semite," Rich pointed out that Hezbollah's praise for the deceased Fadlallah highlighted statements that clearly document his anti-Semitism and support for extremism and terrorism, whereas these issues were either ignored or glossed over in many of the obituaries published in the Western media. The second post on "The decency of antisemitism" focused on the commentary posted by the British ambassador to
Among the views espoused by Fadlallah was that
continues to extort
This is of course a view that is so widespread in the Arab and Muslim world as to be commonplace, and at least in part this view reflects the equally widespread refusal to acknowledge Arab and Muslim sympathies for Nazi-Germany that have been well-documented in several studies. One of these studies, Jeffrey Herf's "Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World", is also mentioned by Rothstein, who observes that:
Nazi ideology bears many resemblances to that of contemporary Islamic extremism, some the consequence of careful teaching. That teaching is still present in the Arab world, amplified by political leaders and imams, often annexed to denigrations of Jews taken from Islamic sources. The result [ ] has been one of the most historically noxious forms of anti-Semitic mythology, which has also fed into political debates in the West and cannot be overlooked or easily dismissed."
Again, however, Rothstein is unfortunately wrong when he asserts that the well-documented Nazi "inspiration"for some elements of Islamist ideology "cannot be overlooked or easily dismissed." An example of just how "easily" it can be done, even in the most respectable forums, is provided in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, where George Washington University Professor Marc Lynch attacks Paul Berman's recently published book The Flight of the Intellectuals. As Lynch puts it:
Many of the valuable debates that The Flight of the Intellectuals could have sparked are drowned out by Berman's ludicrous efforts to construct an intellectual and organizational genealogy linking Nazi
Lynch also seems to suggest that any debate about the question whether the concept of "Islamic fascism" is a valid one should be avoided because "virtually all Muslims consider it a profound insult to their faith and identity." Presumably, therefore, Lynch also wouldn't want to challenge the claim of Turkish prime minister Erdogan who declared: "It is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide."
The eagerness to avoid any offense to Muslim sensitivities that is illustrated by Lynch is clearly also a factor when it comes to the fashionable idea that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia should be regarded as similar phenomena. In his New York Times article, Rothstein notes one recent incident that occurred when Hannah Rosenthal, the
While Rothstein acknowledges that "cases of unwarranted discrimination are always similar", he emphasizes that "Islamophobia" is a rather recent concept. Rothstein also points out that "much of what is characterized as "Islamophobia" today arises out of taking seriously the impassioned claims of doctrinal allegiance made by Islamic terrorist groups and their supporters."
In this context, it is rather interesting to consider a recent news report about an initiative of Muslim states to demand action against
Presumably, this means it would be "slamophobic" to find anything wrong with the anti-Semitism expressed in the Hamas Charter.
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