Islamophobia and antisemitism: What is, and what isn’t, bigoted?
April 27, 2016
There's currently a great deal of talk about Islamophobia and anti-semitism in the UK press. You won't be surprised to hear me say I am very firmly against both forms of prejudice. However, I suspect many would consider me guilty of one or other. I suspect many Muslims or Muslim-supporters would consider me Islamophobic because, say, I consider the religion of Islam one root cause of much contemporary terrorism. On the other hand, I don't doubt some Jews or Israeli-supporters would consider me anti-semitic because, say, I think the attacks on Gaza were disproportionate and unjustified, or because I am broadly sympathetic to non-violent methods of Palestinian resistance, such as their BDS campaign - Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. It may well be that I'm just mistaken about what is and isn't Islamophobic/anti-semitic, and I genuinely want to be guilty of neither, so I thought I would arrange various claims according to whether I consider them Islamophobic or not and anti-semitic or not, to get your feedback.
I DO consider the following claims Islamophobic:
All Muslims should be forcibly removed to Arab countries (e.g. from the U.S. or from Israel)
Muslims all want to take over the world (and place it under sharia)
The Muslims are secretly plotting to take over the world (and place it under sharia)
Muslims are cockroaches and rats
Muslims are a source of moral depravity
Muslims are bigots (homophobic, racist, sexist, etc.)
I DO consider the following claims anti-semitic:
All Jews should be forcibly removed to the USA (e.g. from Israel)
Jews all want to take over the world (and place it under Zionist control)
The Jews are secretly plotting to take over the world (and place it under Zionist control)
Jews are cockroaches and rats
Jews are a source of moral depravity
Jews are bigots (Islamophobic, gentile-phobic, etc.)
However, I DO NOT consider the following claims Islamophobic (that is NOT to say I agree with them all, or consider them all unobjectionable, please note!)
It would have been better had Islam never existed
Islam is a major cause of terrorist attacks and atrocities
Islam is a poisonous and destructive religion
Many Muslims are horribly bigoted against Jews, women, and gays.
There should be a boycott/sanctions against countries like Saudi Arabia that engage in such violent attacks in Yemen (and spread violent wahabist ideology).
The pro-Saudi lobby has had an undue and damaging influence on Western foreign policy.
Similarly, I DO NOT consider the following claims anti-semitic (that is NOT to say I agree with them all, or consider them all unobjectionable, please note!)
It would have been better had Israel never existed.
Israel is a major cause of terrorist attacks and atrocities
Israel is a poisonous and destructive state
Many Jews are horribly bigoted against Palestinians.
There should be a boycott/sanctions against countries like Israel that engage in such violent attacks in Gaza.
The pro-Israel lobby has had an undue and damaging influence on Western foreign policy.
Of course I acknowledge anti-semites might well say such (I think) non-anti-semitic things. But what I do currently deny is that their saying such things automatically qualifies them as anti-semites.
Similarly, I acknowledge many Islamophobes say similar things about Muslims. But that does not automatically make them Islamophobes.
But am I right? I am offering this as a platform for discussion. For example, many consider the Palestinian BDS campaign against Israel intrinsically antisemitic, whereas I do not. Nor do I consider the claim that it would have been better if Islam had never existed, or that Israel had never existed, Islamophobic/antisemitic. That might suprise some of you. If you think I'm mistaken, why am I mistaken?
P.S. Notice I understand Islamopohobia to be a prejudice against Muslims as people, not mere criticism of Islamic belief, in the same way as I understand anti-semitism to be prejudice against Jews as people, not mere criticism of Jewish religious belief or the State of Israel.