When Antisemitism Is Inevitable
1 May 2015
One of Britain’s leading Islamist sites, MEMO (Middle East Monitor), has published an article entitled “Antisemitism Is Not Inevitable”. The article is clearly heartfelt, and it is welcome and unusual that an Islamist site would carry such unequivocal rejections of antisemitism, e.g. “we [Europeans] should be ashamed that even a modicum of anti-Jewish hatred remains. Something must be done”.
Despite this, the article is deeply flawed, due to its author’s anxiety to disprove Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for French Jews to emigrate to Israel. In trying to prove why Antisemitism Is Not Inevitable, the author, Alistair Sloan, makes serious factual omissions that he, but more especially his Islamist audience, need to hear.
In what may well be a first for MEMO or similar sites, Sloan begins by decently acknowledging the inclusive nature of Jewish-led Holocaust commemoration. He notes how this remembrance coincides with “fears of a resurgence of European anti-Semitism. It comes as Zionism becomes an increasingly unpopular and perhaps discredited ideology. The confluence of both phenomena is complex, not totally understood and highly politicised”.
This grossly undersells the demonisation of Zionism that dominates within MEMO and the wider Islamist hinterland, including Hamas, with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its charter: but it is Benjamin Netanyahu, not extreme anti-Zionists, whom Sloan is arguing with here.
Contemporary extreme “anti-Zionism” in its diverse Islamist, far Left, far Right and New Age settings coalesce in mirroring pre-Holocaust antisemitic motifs about Jews. This reflects old antisemitism and fuels new antisemitism, fulfilling the same psychological and scapegoat function for its adherents.
Where Jews ran the media, now it is Zionists - ditto for controlling national Governments, especially foreign policies, conflicts and wars. The power is concealed, driven by Jews (now Zionists) conspiring together regardless of their superficial nationalities. Money underpins the power; and Jews (now Zionists and Israel) personify what must first be defeated, so as humanity may reach its higher purpose.
Even if we optimistically assume these continuities are mere coincidence, the simple fact is that most Jews are indeed Zionists in the real, basic sense of the word. It is inevitable that Jews will be the primary or sole victims of anti-Zionist rhetoric and rage: both in terms of who is actually attacked, and in terms of who feels under attack.
So, whilst Sloan may sincerely believe that Antisemitism Is Not Inevitable, the sad fact is that it simply is inevitable, for so long as hysterical anti-Zionism persists. (All of this without an equally serious analysis of attitudes to Jews within Islamist and Muslim thought, including the impact of Jews' original and ongoing rejection of Mohammed; and their ordained position as lesser citizens who are to be protected so long as they stick to their subservient status.)
Next, there is Sloan’s almost inevitable quibble about whether or not antisemitism is “actually increasing”. This argument, citing JPR, is a straw man with a red herring in his pocket.
The red herring is its evading the JPR data of how Jews actually feel, and how this arises from the post 2000 trajectories of high profile antisemitic violence; serious sudden escalations of antisemitic incidents; the singling out of Israel for unique hatreds (such as boycotts, Nazi equivalence claims, and public display of swastikas within demonstrations); and the studied indifference to all of this, from those who prefer hating Israel to defending the many European Jews who simply cannot lead a normative Jewish life.
The straw man is Sloan’s mention of JPR saying now is not the 1930s. He could have cited CST to make the same point (see here), but it is ridiculous to even risk implying that antisemitism ought to be judged by whether or not a Holocaust is lurking around the corner. None would argue that instances of anti-Black racism in America are not serious, simply because slavery is not about to be reintroduced.
Next, Sloan impressively details the murderous history of 16th Century Portuguese antisemitism: but he does so as supposed proof that “if you take the long view”, the deepest Jew-hatred can diminish, so that by the 19th Century “hatred of Jews had faded away” in Portugal. It is highly questionable if this analysis is even accurate, but it crucially omits that Portugal had practically no more Jews to hate: they were murdered, forcibly converted or fled (such as to Britain, where they introduced fried battered fish).
Furthermore, Sloan quotes an unnamed (but remarkably modern sounding) mid-19th century observer, talking of “marginalised racist anti-Semitism” in Portugal, saying that “intellectuals, liberals and Freemasons” are “the new enemies”. Sloan appears blissfully unaware that Jews were associated with precisely such categories (and others) in 19th Century antisemitism. The linkage can be seen throughout the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with the Masonic strand remaining especially strong to this day.
For example, a Times poll of British Muslims in 2006 found that 46% (sic) of respondents “thought that the Jewish community were in league with the freemasons to control the media and politics”.
The same poll found that 37% of British Muslims believed British Jews to be “legitimate targets as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East”.
So long as such thinking persists, it makes antisemitism inevitable. Sadly, its current prevalence renders the ending of Sloan’s article particularly fanciful:
“ [Antisemitism] can be fought, and it will be beaten, especially in Europe, a continent in which, aside from a handful of despicable extremists, really should know better”.
Finally, for numerous examples of MEMO’s own role in the promotion of extreme anti-Zionism containing antisemitic themes see here. Alternatively, note their use of this graphic, in an article entitled, “Exposed: the influence of the pro-Israeli lobby in British politics and media”: