Sara is a Norwegian writer of Syrian origin. Her journey through life is one well worth reading about, and her ideas on freedom – on personal freedom and responsibilities – are of the kind that push boundaries:
Lifted from Aftenposten
The Muslim Jew Hate
Why is hatred of Muslims self-explanatory, while the hatred of Jews always can be explained away?
“We are being harassed and we are being physically attacked. There is no doubt about who is behind, namely people who have background from the Middle East.”This was the answer from the leader of the Jewish community in Malmö to a question from Aftenposten about why Jews fled the city. Swedish authorities have promised to address the problem, but instead, the number of police complaints of anti-Semitic violence has increased.
Many families have found it necessary to leave their birthplace to give children a safer environment at school grounds where “Jew” is not a frequently used term of abuse. The only rabbi in a small Malmö congregation of about seven hundred members, Shneur Kesselman, tells of harassment on the way to and from the Synagogue. In March, a car drove up on the sidewalk where he was walking with two congregants, to intimidate them.
Such is the situation now in neighboring Sweden, but the pattern is evident also in Norway. Vårt Land reports that there have been eleven anti-Semitic acts against members of the Jewish community only in the last month. When this affects a congregation of about one thousand individuals, and a hatred which is channeled through vandalism, harassment and intimidation directed against a Jewish minority of about two thousand individuals in the whole kingdom, it is strange that nobody shouts a loud warning.
Can part of the answer lie in the fact that much of this type of hate crime is committed by a large minority, Norwegian Muslims with roots in the Middle East and North Africa, against a smaller minority? Is this an uncomfortable truth for the politicians in their offices and a difficult one to manage in a civil society? Anti-Semitic hate crimes from a segment of the ethnic Norwegian population occurs, and may be involved in these latest figures. It is serious enough. However, classical anti-Semitism is thoroughly studied in the research institutions, well-communicated in the Norwegian public and widely condemned. Neo-Nazis and other anti-Semites are seen as carrying a twisted perception of reality and, rightly marginalized. When it comes to Muslim anti-Semitism, the picture is quite different.
Not tolerated by Muslims
Today, there is plenty of evidence that the Jewish religious and cultural presence is not tolerated in cities where there are Muslims. A group of young people who go with David Stars and scull cap on the street is perceived as provocative, and may risk being subjected to violent reactions. It is the Jewishness which is an offense in itself. But many Muslims, and philanthropists who only see one form of racism in our society - “Islam phobia” – have a different take on things.
If they are asked what the strong displeasure against the Jews is rooted in, we are first receiving a long lecture in political analysis of conflict in the Middle East. If you finally get to speak, and succeeded in forcing the discussion back to the domestic arena, one hears about an alleged link between Jews and right-wing extremist groups. In which way? one asks amazed. In the least conspiratorial version the argument is that Muslim hatred of Jews is used to justify hatred of Muslims. The conclusion is therefore that the Jew is “guilty”. Hatred of Muslims is self-explanatory, while the hatred of Jews can always be explained away. Why?
In March 2010, Vårt Land examined a book offered for sale at the Islamic Association Bookstore. The Trustee, Basim Ghozlan, was asked whether the book was going to be removed from the shelves, due to its gross anti-Semitic content, he said, among other things, that the book is about the conflict in the Middle East, not about Jews around the world. Ghozlan may not have noticed passages in the book like ” an evil and aggressive spirit is pumped out of their hearts and flows in their veins” and where “All countries shun Jews as the sick shun their illness. To expel them in the name of justice is a necessary action and a legitimate preventive measure “.
The “political” book is chock full of such quotes side by side with Quran verses and exhortations to holy war and martyrdom. But it is unfortunately not only this one book. Previous research on teaching materials that are used by Islamic mosques and educational centers in the UK has revealed alarming anti-Semitism. Do Muslim leaders not see the distinction between political analysis and dehumanization of people?
Learning the lessons
Tariq Ramadan appears to many as the face of moderate Islam. Reading of his latest article, one has to conclude that the problem runs deep, and reach high in the Islamic intellectual circles. The tragic deaths of three young Jewish school children and a father in the French city ofToulouse recently must, according to the Islamic scholar be seen “in the correct perspective”. The self-proclaimed Salafist Mohammed Merah, who had been on jihadist training camp in Pakistan and Afghanistan and who explained his macabre act as a political response to western and Jewish penetration of the Muslim countries is, in Ramadan’s eyes, a French citizen who had not found his place in society.
“Religion was not Mohammed Merah problem, nor was politics … let’s at least hope that France can learn a lesson,” writes Ramadan on his website. The big question this analysis raises, is when will Muslim communities in Norway and other Western countries learn the lesson and call hated that thrive in their midst by its real name.
A Test of Civility
Behind the bullying of Jewish school children, harassment of Jews and vandalism of their buildings and synagogues are ideas Muslims have to take a thorough reckoning with. As long as you close your eyes for it, you will continue to have a low score on the civility test. Muslims must understand that the requirement for respect for their religious and cultural existence and identity, both in the West and the Middle East, must be accompanied by a genuine appreciation of other minorities and people’s right to the same. To remove anti-Semitic literature from Muslim bookstores will be a good start.