Playing the anti-semitism card
by Rabbi Avi Shafran
Am Echad Resources
March 4, 2002
When Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson recently asserted that Islam "is
not a peaceful religion that wants to coexist" and that Muslims only "want
to coexist until they can control, dominate and then, if need be, destroy,"
he was accused of wielding an excessively broad brush.
There are many hundreds of millions of Muslims in the world, it was argued,
and it is hardly fair to assume that they all were sympathetic to the
September 11 terrorists or support those who have murdered innocents in the
name of Islam in Israel, India, the Philippines or any of a number of other
But Hussein Ibish, a spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee went somewhat further. He charged that Mr. Robertson's "rhetoric
is exactly the same as traditional anti-Semitism."
"All you can do," he claimed, "is change the word 'Jew' to 'Arab' or 'Muslim
That statement, at first glance an innocent plea for tolerance, on closer
inspection takes on a less attractive color. Its equation of Jew-hatred with
fear of Islamist terror is not only misleading, it is offensive.
When Jews have been accused of seeking world-domination or of killing
innocents, the charges were outright lies, fabrications born of nothing but
a devil's brew of fantasy and hatred. There are no malevolent elders of
Zion (reportage to the contrary in much of the Arab press notwithstanding),
no Jews who kill children to use their blood for Passover matzos (ditto),
and no Jewish plots to coerce others to accept Judaism; Jews are in fact
enjoined by their faith from proslytizing. There are no Jews who kill in
the name of Judaism or who have exploded bombs in public places; there are
no calls from synagogue pulpits to kill infidels. When, nearly a decade
ago, an individual Jew acting entirely on his own killed innocent Arabs in
Hebron, every Jewish religious leader of note condemned the Jewishly
outrageous act without reservation.
In stark contrast, whether the Islamic world's malicious haters express a
perversion of Islam or are inherently characteristic of it, they certainly
cannot be dismissed as insignificant aberrations. And violence in the name
of Islam is regularly "explained" and justified, if not embraced outright,
by an assortment of leading Islamic religious leaders. Imagine if those
leaders - or Mr. Ibish - reacted to every Muslim murder of an "infidel" like
Jewish leaders unhesitatingly reacted to the isolated act of Boruch
The same day The New York Times carried Mr. Robertson's and Mr. Ibish's
remarks, it also reported that some words and the death of Daniel Pearl, the
Wall St. Journal reporter abducted by Muslim extremists in Pakistan had been
preserved by his murderers on videotape, a sort of radical Islamic home
movie. Whether of his own volition or by coercion, Mr. Pearl identified
himself as a Jew before his throat was slit and his head cut off.
The reporter had harmed no one. His only crime was that of the thousands
killed on September 11: being an American. And, in his case - like Kobi
Mandel, the 14-year-old Israeli boy beaten and stabbed to death while hiking
with a friend, or Shalhevet Pass, the infant targeted by an Arab sniper, or
the hundreds of others murdered or maimed over recent months - being a Jew.
Mr. Ibish would do well to consider the vicious hatred behind all those
murders, and what they all have in common: the invocation of Islam. And
then he might consider further whether he knows of any Jews who cut off
innocent people's heads, stab children to death or aim powerful rifles at
babies. And why there are no Jewish camps where young men are trained to
murder innocents, and why no Jewish children are taught to hate and shoot
How refreshing it would have been had the Muslim spokesman responded to Mr.
Robertson with an acknowledgment that there is indeed, regrettably, an evil
and hateful element within the Islamic world. How hopeful it would have
been had he offered a clear and unqualified condemnation of that stream, and
a straightforward denouncement of the Arab world's ongoing demonization of
Jews and Americans - instead of a subtle but snide insinuation that anyone
who dares condemn that stream is no different from an anti-Semite.
AM ECHAD RESOURCES
[Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of
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