Again not a major revelation, but something that isn’t widely addressed by an uncomfortable media. As a Muslim, it’s something that Mehdi Hasan can and does talk about. (Fair warning. The original source is a New Statesman article.)
It pains me to have to admit this but anti-Semitism isn’t just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it’s routine and commonplace. Any Muslims reading this article – if they are honest with themselves – will know instantly what I am referring to. It’s our dirty little secret. You could call it the banality of Muslim anti-Semitism.
I can’t keep count of the number of Muslims I have come across – from close friends and relatives to perfect strangers – for whom weird and wacky anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are the default explanation for a range of national and international events. Who killed Diana and Dodi? The Mossad, say many Muslims. They didn’t want the British heir to the throne having an Arab stepfather. What about 9/11? Definitely those damn Yehudis. I mean, why else were 4,000 Jews in New York told to stay home from work on the morning of 11 September 2001? How about the financial crisis? Er, Jewish bankers. Obviously. Oh, and the Holocaust? Don’t be silly. Never happened.
Growing up, I always assumed that this obsession with “the Jews” was a hallmark of the “first-generation” immigrants from the subcontinent. In recent years, I’ve been depressed to discover that there are plenty of “second-generation” Muslim youths, born and bred in multiracial Britain, who have drunk the anti-Semitic Kool-Aid. I’m often attacked by them for working in the “Jewish owned media”.
The truth is that the virus of anti-Semitism has infected members of the British Muslim community, both young and old. No, the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict hasn’t helped matters. But this goes beyond the Middle East. How else to explain why British Pakistanis are so often the most ardent advocates of anti-Semitic conspiracies, even though there are so few Jews living in Pakistan?
It is sheer hypocrisy for Muslims to complain of Islamophobia in every nook and cranny of British public life, to denounce the newspapers for running Muslim-baiting headlines, and yet ignore the rampant anti-Semitism in our own backyard. We cannot credibly fight Islamophobia while making excuses for Judaeophobia.
Especially since fighting Islamophobia often involves large quantities of Judaeophobia. But Mehdi’s mistake is that he acts as if the virus infected the British Muslim community, when to be honest it was brought over. British Muslims didn’t learn to hate Jews in the UK. They learned it back home in Pakistan, as Mehdi partly admits.
Anti-Semitism is there in Muslim teachings and has been for a very long time. It’s not something that suddenly emerged and it’s not a new phenomenon. When Muslims chant “Khaybar, Khaybar o Jews, the army of Muhammad will return”, they are referring to one of the earliest Muslim massacres of Jews over a thousand years ago. And when that chant is heard in the UK, it isn’t a new bigotry, but a very old one.
The student who appeared to shout “Slaughter the Jews” at Israeli minister Danny Ayalon has claimed the Deputy Foreign minister misunderstood his Arabic.
Mr Rashid claimed that he had in fact shouted “Khaybar ya Yahod”, a classic Arabic battle cry referring to a seventh-century attack by Mohammed on the Jewish community in Khaybar where the Jews were conquered and made to pay half of their income to the Muslim population.
They were finally expelled by a successive Muslim ruler, Caliph Omar.
This isn’t a new antisemitism, but a very old one.