Anti-Semitism Envy and the Myth of Islamophobia

Sept. 13 2017

The term “Islamophobia” conflates “the persecution of believers, which is a crime,” with “the critique of religion, which is a right,” argues the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner. As such, the word serves to “impose silence on Westerners” and as “a weapon of enforcement against liberal Muslims.” To make matters worse, Bruckner writes, leftists in Europe and America have subsumed “Islamophobia” into the broader rubric of racism, thus performing a “transubstantiation of religion into race.” And then there is the idea that Islamophobia has somehow supplanted anti-Semitism:

Already in 1994, in Grenoble, France, young Muslims, marching to protest the government ban of the Islamic headscarf, wore armbands featuring a yellow Islamic crescent—an allusion to the yellow star that French Jews were made to wear during the [German] occupation—against a black background and the line: “When will it be our turn?” . . . And it was the fundamentalist preacher Tarik Ramadan, for a time an adviser to the British prime minister Tony Blair, who explained that the situation of Muslims in Europe was like that of Jews in the 1930s. The implication is clear: to criticize Islam is to prepare nothing less than a new Holocaust.

Why this Islamic desire to be considered Jewish? The answer is clear: to achieve pariah status. But the analogy is doubly false. First, anti-Semitism was never about the Jewish religion as such but rather about the existence of Jews as a people. Even an unbelieving Jew was detested by anti-Semites, due to his family name and his group identity. And second, at the end of the 1940s, there were no groups of extremist Jews slitting the throats of priests in churches, as happened at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in France in July 2016, the deed of two young jihadists; there were no Jews throwing bombs in train stations, shopping malls, or airports, or driving trucks into crowds.

There is thus a third anti-Semitism that, since 1945, must be added to [anti-Semitism’s] two classic forms, Christian and nationalist: the envy of the Jew as victim, the paragon of the disaster of the Shoah. This Jew thus becomes both model and obstacle for the Islamist; he is seen as usurping a position that by right belongs to Africans, Palestinians, and Muslims. To make oneself the object of a new Holocaust, however imaginary, is to grab hold of the maximal misfortune and to put oneself in the most desirable place—that of the victim who escapes all criticism.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at City Journal

More about: Anti-Semitism, European Islam, History & Ideas, Islamophobia

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror