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BRITISH ZIONISTS RUNNING SCARED OF ISLAM'S INCREASING CLOUT

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  • islamiccommunitynet
    Assalamu aleikum. *** WARNING: The following article and url are from an Islamophobic anti-Muslim zionist hatesite. As always, take necessary safety
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 14, 2005
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      Assalamu aleikum.


      ***
      WARNING:

      The following article and url are from an Islamophobic anti-Muslim
      zionist hatesite.

      As always, take necessary safety precautions if visiting ANY zionist
      site.
      ***


      EVALUATING MUSLIM-JEWISH RELATIONS IN BRITAIN
      Ben Cohen
      Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
      February 1-15, 2005
      http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp527.htm

      British Muslim organizations are becoming far more vocal on foreign
      policy matters. Two positions would appear to be axiomatic:
      opposition to the Iraq war and Britain's continued involvement in
      Iraq, and a resolute anti-Zionism which both delegitimizes the State
      of Israel and scorns Jewish anxieties when it comes to anti-
      Semitism.

      Prior to the furor over Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses,
      national origin was the principal component of Muslim immigrant
      identity in Britain. The Rushdie Affair introduced an overarching
      Muslim identity over these distinct communities. By the end of 1988,
      a UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs (UKACIA) had been formed to
      coordinate protests against Rushdie. By January 1989, Muslims in the
      northern English city of Bradford were burning copies of the book in
      public.

      It can be argued that alleviating the social plight of British
      Muslims does not necessarily require legislation which characterizes
      the policy focus as a problem of discrimination against a religious
      minority. Moreover, a number of studies have questioned the
      assumption of an organic link between deprivation and Islamist
      politics. More sensitive social policies and better employment
      prospects will not, by themselves, dilute the appeal of the radical
      Islamist agenda.

      A November 2004 poll conducted by The Guardian demonstrates that it
      is political and religious issues, rather than economic and social
      ones, which energize Muslim activism in the UK. According to the
      poll, 88 percent of Muslims want to see schools and workplaces
      incorporate Muslim prayer times as part of their working day - a
      demand all but unknown among other religious groups.

      The key issue which divides the British Jewish and Muslim
      communities is the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
      Jews are confronted with a rigid Islamist standpoint which concedes
      no legitimacy to the State of Israel and which justifies terrorist
      violence against Jews in the name of Palestine, regardless of
      whether the victims carry Israeli passports.

      The separation of the secular and religious domains is a
      prerequisite for both successful Muslim participation in the
      institutions of Europe and for reform of the Muslim world itself. At
      the present time, Britain and other EU states are trying to reach a
      modus vivendi with an Islamic communal infrastructure that does not
      accept this separation.

      Perceptions of British Muslims

      Anyone studying the dynamics of the Muslim community in the United
      Kingdom is confronted with three distinct images. There is the image
      of the Muslim as fanatic: Islamist clerics indulging in toxic anti-
      Western and anti-Semitic rhetoric and endorsing the path of violent
      jihad in front of cheering crowds of youthful supporters. There is
      the image of the Muslim as victim: highly vulnerable, particularly
      in the aftermath of the 9/11 atrocities, to physical abuse, verbal
      insults, and the vandalism of mosques and community centers, and
      disproportionately exposed to poverty and discrimination. Finally,
      there is the image of Muslim as citizen: advancing communal
      interests and concerns through the established channels of British
      political life and forging an identity which harmonizes a devotion
      to Islamic beliefs with a commitment to the country in which 45
      percent of the community was born.

      Given these distinct perceptions, it is helpful to be cognizant of
      the different trends which are at play within the Muslim community.
      That there are, among non-Muslims, radically different readings of
      what Muslims in Britain represent testifies to the difficulty of
      forging a cogent British Muslim identity. In tandem, there is a
      prevailing view among many politicians and commentators that, in
      relation to other minorities, attempts to foster a greater sense of
      belonging to Britain among Muslims have been comparatively less
      successful.1

      There are a number of reasons for this. British Muslims are, in
      ethnic terms, far more heterogeneous than other religious
      minorities. In addition to native-born Muslims, there are large
      communities originating from South Asia, the Middle East, and
      Southeastern Europe. This alone complicates the nature of British
      Muslim identity. Moreover, the combination of social disadvantage
      along with the penetration of anti-Western beliefs and values into
      many Muslim communities has served as a brake on greater integration.

      Nevertheless, Britain remains confident of its image as a tolerant
      nation able to integrate different groups. Politicians of all
      stripes are keen to demonstrate that minorities can advance
      themselves in what Home Office Minister Fiona McTaggart has
      described as a "fantastically diverse society." Indeed, Michael
      Howard, the first Jewish leader of the Conservative Party since
      Benjamin Disraeli, eulogized Britain's openness during a keynote
      speech to the party's 2004 conference.2 Born in Wales to Romanian
      Jewish immigrant parents, Howard related that his grandmother had
      perished in a Nazi concentration camp. If not for Winston Churchill
      and for Britain, he mused, he too would have shared his
      grandmother's fate. Howard concluded that he - literally - owed
      Britain his life; his goal now was to give the country "just a tiny
      bit back of what Britain has given me."

      While some Muslim leaders have made clear their desire to contribute
      positively to Britain, they are also adamant that a greater sense of
      belonging cannot be achieved unless certain Muslim demands are met.
      A notable current demand, which has the support of the government,
      seeks to outlaw "religious discrimination." This expands existing
      race relations legislation by making it an offense to target someone
      because of their religious beliefs. Consequently, there are
      concerns, which the government has denied have any basis, that the
      measures will impact negatively on freedom of speech. Previous
      legislation covered only Jews and Sikhs, as they are defined as
      racial as well as religious groups; the new laws seek to close a
      perceived loophole by offering protection to religious groups,
      foremost among them Muslims, who are multi-racial in composition. A
      number of critics, such as the Labour Peer Lord Desai, have
      repeatedly said that new legislation is unnecessary, since existing
      laws already provide a robust defense for an individual
      discriminated against on racial or religious grounds.3

      More broadly, Muslim organizations are seeking greater backing for
      Islamic education in the state sector. They are calling for the
      introduction of courts, based on shari'a law, to deal with divorce,
      inheritance, child custody and similar status issues.4 In addition -
      and this is of particular relevance to relations with the Jewish
      community - Muslim organizations are becoming far more vocal on
      foreign policy matters. Much of the focus is on the Middle East and
      two positions would appear to be axiomatic: firstly, opposition to
      the Iraq war and Britain's continued involvement in Iraq; and
      secondly, a resolute anti-Zionism which both delegitimizes the State
      of Israel and scorns Jewish anxieties when it comes to anti-
      Semitism. Underscoring all of this is a determination by Muslim
      communal organizations to group legitimate political criticism with
      illegitimate racial and religious slurs: all amount to expressions
      of Islamophobia.

      A serious examination of the state of Muslim-Jewish relations in
      Britain needs to recognize that the emergence of a Muslim political
      consciousness is a critical element of the narrative; for those
      Muslims under the age of 25 especially (a massive 70 percent of the
      total population), an Islamic political and cultural identity
      exercises a powerful attraction. Therefore, we will first examine
      the development of Muslim consciousness in Britain and its current
      manifestations before considering the implications for relations
      with British Jews.

      The Emergence of Muslim Political Consciousness in Britain

      While there has been a discernible Muslim presence in the United
      Kingdom since the beginning of the nineteenth century, the mass
      immigration of Muslims to the UK coincided with the dismantling of
      the British Empire. Muslims, as well as Hindus and Sikhs, arrived in
      large numbers from India and Pakistan from the late 1940s onwards.
      Like immigrants from the West Indies, they mainly found work in the
      public sector, in factories, in transport and similar fields. A
      large number also started small businesses, such as shops and
      restaurants. Racism and discrimination were an ugly fact of life
      from the beginning. The 1970s was a particularly unpleasant period,
      due to an upsurge in agitation by the neo-Nazi National Front
      following an influx of Asian refugees expelled by Idi Amin's regime
      in Uganda.

      Among those immigrants to the UK of the Muslim faith, there was a
      gradual process of institution-building. During the 1960s and 1970s,
      student societies, educational trusts, and welfare bodies were
      formed, and a Muslim journal, Impact, began publication. But it was
      not until the late 1980s that a definably Muslim political
      consciousness emerged in Britain. The catalyst for this was what
      became known as the "Rushdie Affair."

      Prior to the furor over Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses,
      national origin was the principal component of Muslim immigrant
      identity. Of course, to uninformed or prejudiced outsiders, there
      was not much difference between a Pakistani and a Bangladeshi with
      British citizenship. However, a host of factors - linguistic,
      cultural, historical, and religious - demarcated the identity of a
      British Muslim whose roots were traceable to Karachi in Pakistan
      from the identity of a British Muslim who originated from Sylhet in
      Bangladesh. That Bangladesh had fought a bitter struggle for
      independence from Pakistan in 1971, during which up to one million
      Bengali civilians were murdered by rampaging Pakistani troops, only
      shored up this particular divide. It should also be noted that these
      divisions are still intact. Commenting on the internal splits among
      British Muslims, Humayun Ansari observes that "tensions persist
      between belief in the unity of the Muslim umma" - the global Muslim
      community - "and the conflicting ties that distinguish these
      communities."5

      The Rushdie Affair effectively introduced - some might say imposed -
      an overarching Muslim identity over these distinct communities.
      Rushdie's novel challenged the very foundations of Islam by
      questioning the divine origins of the Qu'ran and the authority of
      the Prophet Mohammed. What was regarded by many Muslims as a work of
      blasphemy galvanized the Muslim communal bodies, which had been
      developing over the previous three decades, into action. By the end
      of 1988, a UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs (UKACIA) had been
      formed to coordinate protests against Rushdie. Three main demands
      were directed at Rushdie's publishers, Penguin Books: first, that
      all copies of the book be pulped; second, that an unqualified public
      apology be offered to the "world Muslim community"; and third, that
      damages be paid equal to the returns on copies of the book which had
      already been sold.

      By January 1989, Muslims in the northern English city of Bradford
      were burning copies of the book in public. The following month,
      Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa from Tehran exhorting
      Muslims to kill Rushdie. With the fatwa now in play, the British
      government observed developments in the Muslim community with
      growing alarm. In a letter to UKACIA's Iqbal Sacranie, now the
      Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the then
      Home Affairs Minister, John Patten, pointed out that the same
      liberty which permitted Muslims to protest guaranteed Rushdie's
      right to freedom of expression. UKACIA's reply anticipated the
      current religious discrimination legislation by asserting that there
      was no "right to commit sacrilege and insult and abuse the deeply
      held sanctities of other people."6

      Still, UKACIA committed itself to working within the law, through
      lobbying and forging political alliances, though this approach was
      not universally adopted. Some prominent Muslim radicals, such as the
      late Kalim Siddiqui of the Muslim Institute in London, openly
      endorsed Khomeini's fatwa, with the result that Rushdie was forced
      to live with a 24-hour guard. Buoyed by the campaign against
      Rushdie, Siddiqui then launched the so-called "Muslim Parliament of
      Great Britain." The basic concept behind the Parliament was what
      Siddiqui called a "non-territorial Islamic state"; effectively, the
      provision of Islamic education and community services to enable
      Muslims to survive within what Siddiqui and his supporters regarded
      as an inherently hostile environment which would eventually give way
      to an Islamic state.7

      UKACIA and the Muslim Parliament represented two different schools
      of thought with regard to Muslim political activity in Britain.
      UKACIA argued that Muslim interests were best served by working
      within, rather than against, the system - an approach continued by
      the umbrella group which it spawned, the MCB. The Muslim Parliament,
      on the other hand, was far more oriented towards the Islamist
      political currents in the Middle East and Pakistan. Even though the
      Parliament dissolved shortly after Siddiqui's death in 1996, its
      political legacy survives through the radical Muslim organizations
      which are present on the current British scene. Importantly, these
      two approaches do not face off as adversaries; while there are
      differences and disagreements, the Muslim mainstream in Britain
      cooperates with the radical tendencies on both an institutional and
      political level, as will be demonstrated.

      British Muslims: Ethnic Composition, Social Position, and Political
      Orientation

      The most recent UK national census, conducted in 2001, determined
      that there are 1.6 million Muslims in Britain.8 According to the
      census, 43 percent are of Pakistani origin, 17 percent are
      Bangladeshi, and another 9 percent originate from India.
      Additionally, 4 percent are British converts, while 6 percent are
      from African or Caribbean backgrounds. The remaining 21 percent
      include Arabs, Iranians, Turks, and Kurds from the Middle East and
      North Africa; East Africans; Balkan Muslims from Bosnia-Herzegovina,
      Albania, and Kosovo; and Muslims from other Asian countries. As well
      as exhibiting a strong degree of ethnic diversity, British Muslims
      are also comparatively young. Indeed, out of all the country's
      religious groups, British Muslims have the youngest age profile: one-
      third are under sixteen, compared to one-fifth for the population as
      a whole.

      A recent report by the Open Society Institute examines "the
      deprivation, disadvantage and discrimination that many UK Muslims
      experience in their daily lives."9 While the report does not
      conceive of British Muslims as anything other than social victims,
      and while it uncritically endorses many of the proposals of British
      Muslim leaders (for example, the religious discrimination
      legislation), the raw data gathered by the OSI in itself suggests
      why the British government is now anxious to seize the policy
      initiative, particularly as it observes worsening relations with
      Muslims in other EU countries like France and The Netherlands. For
      example, unemployment is proportionately much higher among British
      Muslims, standing at 38 percent. Substandard housing is another
      problem, with 42 percent living in overcrowded accommodations,
      compared with 12 percent for the population as a whole. The report
      also cites a survey conducted by Muslim community groups in which 80
      percent of respondents said they had been subjected
      to "Islamophobia," which encompasses the full range of verbal and
      practical discrimination.10

      Yet it can be argued that alleviating the social plight of British
      Muslims does not necessarily require legislation which characterizes
      the policy focus as a problem of discrimination against a religious
      minority. Moreover, a number of studies have questioned the
      assumption of an organic link between deprivation and Islamist
      politics.11 More sensitive social policies and better employment
      prospects will not, by themselves, dilute the appeal of the radical
      Islamist agenda.

      In that sense, it is worth examining how British Muslims perceive
      their own position and their attitudes towards the wider British
      society. A November 2004 poll conducted by The Guardian newspaper
      demonstrates that it is political and religious issues, rather than
      economic and social ones, which energize Muslim activism in the
      UK.12 According to the poll, 88 percent of Muslims want to see
      schools and workplaces incorporate Muslim prayer times as part of
      their working day - a demand all but unknown among other religious
      groups. In a related area, 61 percent of Muslims want the
      introduction of shari'a courts to decide civil issues within their
      own communities. Notwithstanding the caveat that such courts should
      not contradict British law, such a measure would certainly
      strengthen the conservative, theocratic elements among British
      Muslims.

      While 40 percent of British Muslims feel they need to do more
      to "integrate" into British society, how this is to be achieved is
      not specified. In terms of political affiliations, the poll
      reinforces the impression that judgments of Muslim voters are
      principally made on the basis of perceived anti-Muslim bias in
      British government policy; considerations unrelated to direct Muslim
      concerns do not seem to register. This has impacted strongly on the
      ruling Labour Party. In 2001, 75 percent of Muslims voted for Labour
      as it won a second term in office. By the reckoning of The Guardian
      poll, this support has collapsed to 32 percent as a result of the
      conflict in Iraq and Prime Minister Tony Blair's continued backing
      for the war on terror.

      Support for the Conservatives has also slipped among Muslims, from
      25 percent to 16 percent. This has occurred despite Michael Howard's
      attempts to distance himself from the Iraq war - on the grounds that
      Blair allegedly manipulated intelligence regarding the threat posed
      by Saddam Hussein - as well as his support for conservative moral
      values and his denunciation of Islamophobia. A full 41 percent of
      Muslim voters now identify with the Liberal Democrats, who are now
      situated as the left-wing opposition in Britain. In September 2003,
      the party's candidate won the election for the Brent East
      parliamentary constituency in North-West London, overturning a
      Labour majority of 13,000, due largely to Muslim voters who make up
      12 percent of the electorate. In a triumphant post-election
      declaration, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) - a body
      which Jewish community officials view with great concern because of
      its incendiary attacks upon "Zionists"13 - urged Muslim activists to
      leave the Labour Party and join with the Liberal Democrats, which
      had "actively been encouraging Muslims as parliamentary candidates."

      Smaller parties also make a showing. The Respect Party, so far the
      foremost political expression of the burgeoning alliance between the
      British far left and the Muslim Association of Britain (the British
      branch of the Muslim Brotherhood), commands the support of 4 percent
      of Muslims. Formed by Scottish MP George Galloway after he was
      expelled from the Labour Party because of his association with
      Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, Respect has made every effort to
      conform to the Islamist agenda - even denying that it is a secular
      organization after a delegate to its 2004 conference claimed that
      such a designation would be "Islamophobic."14 The notoriously anti-
      Zionist Galloway - boosted by his victory in a libel case against
      the Daily Telegraph, which had accused him of receiving funds from
      Saddam Hussein - will contest Bethnal Green and Bow in East London
      in the 2005 general election, a constituency with more Muslim voters
      than any other in the country. Galloway is building his campaign by
      pointing out that the sitting Labour MP, Oona King, supported the
      war in Iraq. For her part, King has attempted to mollify Muslim
      anger by comparing the situation of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip
      to Jews facing the Nazi onslaught in the Warsaw Ghetto.15

      Humayun Ansari writes that there is a growing awareness among
      British Muslims of their electoral clout, "especially in
      constituencies where they have the potential to alter the balance of
      power."16 In both the 1997 and 2001 elections, communal leaders
      exhorted Muslims to vote and disseminated information on candidates
      in the forty or so constituencies with a significant Muslim vote.
      The 2005 election is certain to see this trend repeated. Thus,
      despite their concerns about Islamophobia, Muslim leaders are well
      aware that their community now enjoys unprecedented political
      influence.

      Muslim Organizations in Britain: A Profile

      During the 1980s and 1990s, a number of domestic and international
      issues - including the Rushdie Affair, the Gulf War of 1991, the
      Bosnian war of 1992-95, the ongoing calls for state support for
      Muslim education, and growing concern about Islamophobia -
      underscored the need, as far as Muslim leaders were concerned, for a
      Muslim representative body in Britain. Accordingly, the Muslim
      Council of Britain (MCB) was created in 1996. A cursory examination
      of the MCB's structure reveals that it is quite similar to the main
      Jewish representative organization in Britain, the Board of Deputies
      of British Jews. A member of the Board has confirmed that the Jewish
      body provided some guidance to the MCB, mainly on constitutional
      matters, during the initial stages of its formation.

      The MCB's Aims and Objectives stress that the body seeks to promote
      Muslim unity in Britain and a "more enlightened" appreciation of
      Islam. In the wake of major reports on Islamophobia in 1997, 2001,
      and 2004, all of which endorsed calls for legal sanctions against
      religious discrimination, the campaign against Islamophobia remains
      central.17 Currently, the MCB has around 380 affiliates, comprising
      mosques, community and professional organizations, and cultural
      associations. However, the emphasis placed on cordial relations with
      the British government has meant that the MCB is viewed with
      suspicion by some Islamist groups. Other groups, such as the Saudi-
      backed World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY), do not place overt
      political involvement at the center of their activities, focusing
      instead upon the religious dimension. Still, many of MCB's
      affiliates, such as the Federation of Student Islamic Societies
      (FOSIS), echo the core belief that Muslim interests are best served
      through political participation.

      One organization affiliated with MCB which has achieved a major
      public profile is the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB). Although
      it is an Islamist organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, MAB
      has played a major role in both the movement against the Iraq war
      and the Respect party. This participation reflects a tendency in
      Islamic political thought which regards Europe as part of the Dar al
      Sulh (the domain of truce) rather than, as the jihadists would have
      it, the Dar al Harb (the domain of war).18 Hence, MAB, like the MCB,
      believes that British Muslims have a duty to engage politically;
      however, MAB does not regard existing British political institutions
      as having any inherent legitimacy. Political participation is simply
      one means of carrying out the fundamental duty of dawa, or
      proselytizing the Muslim faith. Yet it would be a mistake to regard
      dawa as mere outreach; underlying it as a concept, as Alyssa Lappen
      points out, is the view that other faiths are inferior to Islam.19
      For its part, MAB has said that those who abandon the Islamic faith
      are deserving of the death penalty.20

      One of MAB's leading figures is Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian who
      heads the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London. A Hamas
      sympathizer, Tamimi served as an advisor to Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the
      Hamas leader successfully targeted in Gaza in 2004 by Israeli forces
      in an anti-terrorist operation. In an interview with the BBC, Tamimi
      declared that, given the opportunity, he would become a homicide
      bomber.21 Such sentiments are fervently endorsed by MAB, which
      actively praises Islamists like Yassin and the late Sayid Qutb of
      the Muslim Brotherhood, who expressed his sympathy for Hitler's
      efforts to exterminate the Jews of Europe. The MCB, which is always
      quick to dissociate itself from terrorism, and which unambiguously
      condemned the 9/11 atrocities, has neither remarked on MAB's
      enthusiasm for radical Islamists nor condemned Tamimi's announcement
      on the BBC, despite the fact that MAB is an affiliate.

      Therefore, it is no exaggeration to conclude that Islamist politics
      have pierced the heart of the Muslim communal infrastructure in
      Britain. In many ways, this is hardly suprising. As Gilles Kepel
      points out, London - or "Londonistan," as some Islamists have called
      it - has been "a sanctuary for global Islamist extremism beginning
      in the 1980s."22

      Muslim-Jewish Relations in Britain

      Since the onset of the second intifada in September 2000, relations
      between the Jewish and Muslim communities in Britain have been
      disfigured by tension and mistrust, much to the chagrin of Jewish
      leaders.23 As a member of the Board of Deputies explained, "our
      position was that the problems of the Middle East should remain in
      the Middle East." This perspective was not shared by the Muslim
      communal organizations. By allowing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
      to cloud their relations with British Jews, Muslim leaders were
      kowtowing to the Islamist notion that the Palestinian cause is the
      principal rallying point for the umma. Thus, while British Jewish
      leaders recognize that there are different theological and political
      viewpoints running through the Muslim community, on the key issue
      which divides them - the conflict between Israel and the
      Palestinians - Jews are confronted with a rigid Islamist standpoint
      which concedes no legitimacy to the State of Israel and which
      justifies terrorist violence against Jews in the name of Palestine,
      regardless of whether the victims carry Israeli passports.

      Indeed, the issue of Palestine is at the core of the confusion
      regarding British Muslim organizations and terrorism. The mainstream
      organizations, notably the MCB, have all been vocal in their
      condemnation of terrorist outrages, whether perpetrated in Iraq or
      elsewhere. When British engineer Kenneth Bigley was kidnapped by
      terrorists in Iraq in September 2004, an MCB delegation went to
      Baghdad to try and secure his release. Although Bigley was
      eventually decapitated, the MCB was able to portray its initiative
      as an exercise in responsible citizenship. Moreover, they were
      boosted by frequent media interviews with Paul Bigley, Kenneth's
      brother, who insisted that President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and
      the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip were the real
      culprits behind Kenneth's grim fate.

      Such condemnation does not, however, extend to those acts of
      terrorism committed against Jews and Israelis. For example, no
      British Muslim organization condemned the November 2003 attacks on
      Jewish targets in Istanbul; by contrast, two bombings against
      British targets in the city a few days later, one of which claimed
      the life of the British consul-general, were denounced. Attacks
      against Jewish civilians in Israel, meanwhile, generally tend to be
      justified as acts of resistance. The logic is transparent: since
      Palestine has been usurped by Zionists, civilian Israelis can never
      be victims of terrorism in the manner of citizens of other states.
      Moreover, Israel alone is responsible for the bloodshed in the
      region. As an MCB press release stated: "Israel's unlawful
      occupation of Palestine has for decades spread seeds of hatred in
      the Middle East, hatred which has extended into the world far
      beyond."24 This last phrase - "world far beyond" - is particularly
      ominous, implying that the hatred which would lead to an attack on a
      Jew outside Israel is the responsibility not of the perpetrator but
      of the Jewish state.

      Such attacks have already manifested in Britain. Data gathered by
      the Community Security Trust (CST), the Jewish community's security
      organization, shows a definitive correlation between the number of
      anti-Jewish incidents in the UK and the renewed conflict in the
      Middle East. In 2003, 609 incidents were reported, including
      physical assault, abusive behavior, and desecration of holy
      places.25 According to the CST, there is a recognition among police
      specialists at Scotland Yard who are researching anti-Semitic crimes
      that, while not all incidents are confined to Muslim or Arab
      perpetrators, tension in the Middle East directly influences the
      troughs and peaks of violence against Jewish targets.

      In terms of anti-Semitic or Judeophobic statements and outbursts,
      the incitement against Jews which prevails in the Arab and Muslim
      world, especially in the media, has impacted upon Muslim-Jewish
      relations in Britain. The MCB, as well as groups like MPAC and the
      Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), have accused Israel of
      committing genocide and have spoken darkly about the "Zionist
      lobby." Criticism of "neoconservatives" - meaning those Jews working
      in foreign policy for the Bush Administration - is routine. Jewish
      complaints that such language and imagery are redolent of anti-
      Semitic conspiracy theories fall upon deaf ears, both among British
      Muslims and, to a great extent, in the liberal media.

      A favored tactic among Muslim activists is to call for a boycott of
      Israeli goods and institutions. The boycott has a long pedigree in
      the Muslim world, having first been introduced by the Arab League in
      1945 against "Jewish products and manufactured goods." Thus, despite
      frequent protests from contemporary advocates of the boycott that
      their target is the State of Israel, and not the Jewish people, the
      historical origins of the boycott reveal it to be an unambiguously
      anti-Jewish measure introduced three years before Israel's creation.

      Of special note is the ongoing campaign for an academic boycott of
      Israel. As in other countries, the drive to boycott Israeli
      universities and academics has been enthusiastically seized upon by
      leftist academics in Britain, among them biologists Steven and
      Hilary Rose, philosopher Ted Honderich, and others. The MCB was an
      early and enthusiastic supporter of the boycott. In July 2002, Iqbal
      Sacranie was quoted by the Iranian news agency, IRNA, as saying that
      the academic boycott "is a clear message to Israel that it is
      committing moral outrage."26 Israel is singled out by British Muslim
      leaders as a target for a boycott because they subscribe to the
      Islamist dogma that, since Jews have no right to a state of their
      own, the State of Israel lacks legitimacy.

      Two episodes in 2004 reveal the extent to which Jewish-Muslim
      relations have deteriorated as the result of the adoption of
      Islamist positions on Palestine by the British Muslim leadership. In
      June, an Interfaith Prize awarded to Iqbal Sacranie by Sir Sigmund
      Sternberg, a noted Jewish advocate of interreligious dialogue, was
      abruptly withdrawn following Sacranie's accusation that Israel was
      engaged in "ethnic cleansing" and "creeping genocide" against the
      Palestinians. Statements issued by both the MCB and MAB supporting
      Sacranie's decision not to retract his original remarks maintained
      that it was unreasonable for Jewish concerns over anti-Zionism to
      influence interfaith dialogue - a clear example of how Muslim
      organizations delegitimize not just Israel, but Jewish
      identification with Israel.

      The July visit to the UK by the Qatar-based Islamist Sheikh Yusuf al
      Qaradawi further poisoned Muslim relations with Jews and other
      groups, including Hindus, Sikhs, and lesbian and gay activists.
      Protests from all these communities regarding Qaradawi's xenophobic
      and anti-Semitic views - he has declared, for example, that there
      can be no dialogue with Jews "except by the sword and the rifle" -
      were greeted with uniform anger by Muslim organizations. The MCB
      declared that "the smear campaign against Dr. al Qaradawi is being
      orchestrated by the Zionist lobby who are evidently angered by Dr.
      al Qaradawi's staunch opposition to Israeli state brutality against
      the Palestinian people." This position was backed by Ken
      Livingstone, the left-wing Mayor of London, who publicly embraced
      Qaradawi and denounced a coalition of groups opposing the visit
      as "Islamophobic."27

      As Reuven Paz has demonstrated, Qaradawi has emerged as a leading
      Islamic authority for Muslim Brotherhood groups.28 In 2003, he
      founded the World Council of Muslim Clerics, headquartered in
      Dublin. At a meeting in November 2004 in Beirut, the Council adopted
      a 14-point declaration which backed the insurgency in Iraq and
      underlined the centrality of Palestine by claiming that it is "the
      duty of all Muslims to support the Palestinians by all means of
      Jihad, by finance, propaganda and self-sacrifice." Such radicalism,
      Paz observes, should be taken as a "warning sign by the West." A
      first step towards such recognition might be to question
      the "moderation" of those Muslim communal organizations which
      endorse Qaradawi's views and denounce his critics in the most
      fearsome terms.

      In such an environment, are there any reasonable prospects for a
      meaningful dialogue between Muslims and Jews in Britain? Jewish
      leaders note that there is continued dialogue about issues of mutual
      religious concern, such as circumcision and kashrut/halal, the
      latter issue having been targeted by Britain's vocal animal rights
      lobby. For example, in 2003, Muslims and Jews jointly worked against
      demands for the pre-stunning of animals, which would violate the
      requirements of both kashrut and halal slaughter. There are also
      exercises in mutual understanding undertaken by such bodies as the
      Maimonides Foundation, Three Faiths Forum, and Alif/Aleph. According
      to one of the leaders of Alif/Aleph, there is plenty of informal
      contact and discussion, particularly on university campuses, places
      better known as key centers of anti-Zionist activism led by Muslim
      and leftist students.

      Conclusion: Separation or Integration?

      Among both Jewish leaders and analysts of Muslim politics, there is
      an understanding that the British Muslim community cannot be reduced
      to its jihadist elements, in the form of clerics such as Omar Bakri
      Mohammed and Abu Hamza al Masri, or groups such as Hizb ut Tahrir
      and the (currently dormant) Al Muhajiroun. There is also a
      recognition that British Muslim identity is complex and malleable.
      Yet the political orientation of the British Muslim mainstream
      remains a source of strong concern.

      In Britain and much of Western Europe, it is increasingly
      acknowledged that the multiculturalist model has failed. What is
      needed - as the Commission for Racial Equality, for one, has pointed
      out - is a model which encourages integration rather than communal
      separation under the rubric of shared values, such as democracy
      and "the common currency of the English language."29 Yet Britain
      appears to be heading in the other direction; one of the potential
      problems of the religious discrimination legislation is that, while
      providing extra protection from crude Islamophobic actions, it may
      end up as a gateway for further demands which actually encourage
      greater separation and the strengthening of Islamist positions. The
      call for shari'a courts, for example, is a key demand of Qaradawi
      and his acolytes. For any British government to concede on this and
      other points would be a grave mistake, leading to further social
      fragmentation.

      Initial indications are that the British government, mindful of the
      collapse in its status among Muslims, is doing its utmost to
      accommodate the political agenda of the Muslim leadership. In an
      article for the Muslim Weekly,30 Mike O'Brien, the Energy Minister,
      launched an attack on Michael Howard and Dr. Evan Harris MP, a
      Jewish Liberal Democrat who has opposed the religious discrimination
      legislation, for not standing up for the rights of Muslims. "Ask
      yourself," O'Brien wrote, "what will Michael Howard do for British
      Muslims? Will his foreign policy aim to help Palestine?" That
      O'Brien, by placing it at the top of the list, acknowledges that
      Palestine is the main priority for Muslim political activists, is
      telling indeed. What is also telling is that the two politicians
      criticized by O'Brien are both Jews. Harris himself wondered aloud
      whether O'Brien had named him specifically because he is the only
      Jewish Liberal Democrat MP, resulting in an indignant denial of anti-
      Semitism from O'Brien.31

      In the same article, O'Brien handed the credit for the religious
      discrimination legislation to the successful lobbying of the
      MCB. "The Muslim Council of Britain has been at the forefront of
      lobbying the Government on issues to help Muslims," he
      said. "Recently Iqbal Sacranie, the General Secretary of the
      Council, asked Tony Blair to declare that the Government would
      introduce a new law banning religious discrimination. Two weeks
      later, in the middle of his speech to the Labour Party Conference,
      Tony Blair promised that the next Labour Government would ban
      religious discrimination. It was a major victory for the Muslim
      community in Britain." It would not be fanciful to assume that
      similar "victories" lie on the horizon. Responding to O'Brien's
      article, MPAC stated that the minister would continue to be
      regarded "as a friend of the Muslims so long as he refuses to break
      under the zionist (sic) pressure for an apology."32

      As Gilles Kepel has argued, the separation of the secular and
      religious domains is a prerequisite for both successful Muslim
      participation in the institutions of Europe and for reform of the
      Muslim world itself.33 At the present time, Britain and other EU
      states are trying to reach a modus vivendi with an Islamic communal
      infrastructure that does not accept this separation. As long as that
      remains the case, rigid Islamist thinking will continue to be a
      powerful current within the Muslim community, with the result that
      Jews will be regarded as dhimmis,34 and not as fellow citizens.

      * * *

      Notes
      1. See, for example, David Pryce-Jones, "The Islamization of
      Europe," Commentary, December 2004.
      2. Philippe Naughton, "Howard goes right with crime, EU and
      immigration pledges," The Times, 5 October 2004.
      3. In an interview with The Times, Lord Desai said: "Religion is not
      a defined thing. How can you decide what counts as a religion?
      Should we extend protection to scientology? If one Muslim insults
      another from a different sect, we would have a lot of problems. And
      how do you protect freedom of speech? How do you decide when
      criticism is reasonable and when it becomes incitement to hatred?"
      See Jack Shamash, "Start of Ramadan signals move for tolerance," The
      Times, 16 October 2004.
      4. See "UK Muslims Want Civil Cases Resolved by Sharia: Poll," FAIR
      Daily News Digest, 1 December 2004;
      http://www.fairuk.org/dnd/2004/12/DND20041201Wed.htm#1
      5. Humayun Ansari, The Infidel Within: Muslims in Britain since 1800
      (London: Hurst and Co., 2004), p. 4.
      6. The exchange is available at
      http://www.salaam.co.uk/themeofthemonth/september03_index.php?l=1
      7. See http://www.islamicthought.org/mp-is1.html. See also Ansari,
      op. cit., p. 205.
      8. Detailed breakdowns are available at
      http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/
      9. See "Muslims in the UK: Policies for Engaged Citizens," Open
      Society Institute, Budapest and New York, 2004.
      10. A report issued in January 2005 by the Crown Prosecution Service
      determined that, out of 44 religiously-motivated hate crimes
      prosecuted in the year to April 2004, 22 involved Muslims and 5
      Jews. Given the relative proportion of these communities to the
      overall population, one can conclude that Jews are just as
      vulnerable to such crimes as Muslims. Yet the entire focus of the
      report has been on Muslim fears. See
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4184931.stm
      11. See, for example, Daniel Pipes, "God and Mammon: Does Poverty
      Cause Militant Islam?" National Interest, Winter 2002.
      12. Alan Travis and Madeleine Bunting, "British Muslims want Islamic
      law and prayers at work," The Guardian, 30 November 2004.
      13. MPAC publishes a list of prominent Jews in the media at
      http://www.mpacuk.org/content/view/176/34/
      14. See "Anti-war Catholic MP to court Muslim voters," FAIR Daily
      News Digest, 6 December 2004;
      http://www.fairuk.org/dnd/2004/12/DND20041206Mon.htm#4
      15. King made the comparison in her article, "Israel can halt this
      now," The Guardian, 12 June 2003, which ended with a call to boycott
      Israeli products.
      16. Ansari, op. cit., p. 244.
      17. See "Islamophobia: A Challenge for us all," published by The
      Runnymede Trust in1997 and launched by then Home Secretary Jack
      Straw, and the two reports on Islamophobia issued by the Commission
      on British Muslims and Islamophobia in 2001 and 2004.
      18. Gilles Kepel, The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and The West
      (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004), p. 255.
      19. Alyssa A. Lappen, "The Dawning of Dawa," FrontPageMagazine.com,
      15 July 2003.
      20. See Nick Cohen, "Muslim is not a dirty word: Why do we define so
      many minorities by one faith?" New Statesman, 4 October 2004.
      21. A partial transcript of the interview is available on Professor
      Martin Kramer's weblog, "Sandstorm." See
      http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/2004_11_04.htm
      22. Kepel, op. cit., p. 242.
      23. See Ben Cohen, "British Jews Keep Wary Eye on Future," Jewish
      Week, 7 January 2005.
      24. The press release is available at
      http://www.mcb.org.uk/mcbdirect/searchresult.php?ann_id=324
      25. See "Annual Review: Antisemitism and Jewish Communal Security in
      Britain in 2003," The Community Security Trust.
      26. "UK Muslims Call For Widening of Academic Boycott Against
      Israel," Tehran Times, 13 July 2002.
      27. Twelve prominent individuals, including representatives of the
      Hindu and Jewish communities, signed the initial letter of protest
      to Livingstone. See http://www.londoncommunitycoalition.org/
      28. Reuven Paz, "Qaradawi and the World Association of Muslim
      Clerics: The New Platform of the Muslim Brotherhood," Project for
      the Research of Islamist Movements (PRISM), Occasional Papers, Vol.
      2, No. 4, November 2004.
      29. Kepel, op. cit., p. 245.
      30. Mike O'Brien, "Labour and British Muslims: can we dream the same
      dream?" Muslim Weekly, No. 61, 7-13 January 2005.
      31. See Melissa Kite and Tony Freinberg, "Minister denies anti-
      Semitism after attack on Howard," Daily Telegraph, 9 January 2005.
      32. See http://www.mpacuk.org/content/view/256/26/
      33. Kepel, op. cit., p. 295.
      34. The term "dhimmi" derives from Islamic law and enshrines the
      subordinate but tolerated status of Jews and Christians living under
      Muslim rule. See Bat Ye'or, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under
      Islam (London: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1985). I use
      the term here more loosely, to describe the haughty, dismissive, and
      scornful attitude towards Jewish aspirations and concerns which is
      prevalent among many Muslim leaders.

      * * *
      Ben Cohen is a British Jewish writer and broadcaster based in New
      York. A former producer and reporter with the BBC, he now works as a
      freelance journalist and analyst for several newspapers and
      broadcasters. His article, "The Persistence of Anti-Semitism on the
      British Left," was published in the Fall 5765/2004 issue of the
      Jewish Political Studies Review.



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