What Jews Can Learn from Muslims

January 13, 2015

In Blog News

What Jews can learn from Muslim

A man waves an Israeli flag during Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Paris on 12 January 2015.
A man waves an Israeli flag during Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Paris on 12 January 2015. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

Jonathan Freedland (First they came for the cartoonists, then they came for the Jews, 10 January), claims that Jews are targeted simply as “a kind of ultimate symbol of the west”, as a result of “a curious kink in the ultra-Islamist mindset”, or as the traditional scapegoat of European fascists.

But the Israeli government, with its new bill proposing to make Israel the nation-state of all the Jews in the world, and Jewish organisations such as the Board of Deputies, with their claim that the majority of Jews support Israel’s oppressive policies, contribute to the conflation of Jews with Israel and the subsequent rise in antisemitism and attacks on Jews.

To point this out is not of course to justify the conflation of Jews with Israel, just as it is wrong and unjustifiable to identify jihadis with Muslims. But the recent massacre in France of 17 people was purportedly carried out in the name of Islam; and the swift and powerful condemnation issued by Muslim groups all over the world will help to reduce anti-Muslim feeling and deter young Muslims from joining the jihadis.

This condemnation by Muslims contrasts strongly with the support given by most Jewish communal associations around the world to Israel’s massacre last summer of over 1,400 civilians, including over 500 children, in Gaza.

If world Jewish organisations were to learn from their Muslim counterparts and say loud and clear in response to Israeli atrocities “not in my name”, this could help to reduce antisemitism and make the recruitment of young Muslims by jihadis more difficult. Despite Freedland’s claim that Jews have “no control” over Israeli policies, such condemnation could also exert strong pressure on the Israeli government to stop its atrocities and enter into genuine peace negotiations with the Palestinian unity government.
Deborah Maccoby
Executive, Jews for Justice for Palestinians

• This letter was amended on 13 January 2014. An earlier version referred to 16 people where 17 people was meant.