Who are the real “New Jews”?
Standpoint magazine is a recently-launched magazine published by the Social Affairs Unit, and appears to be an attempt at a serious political and cultural magazine for the centre right (and one must admit, there is nothing of the sort in the UK - the Spectator is a terrible bore nowadays). Murray is an inveterate Islamophobe, and a few examples of his rhetoric can be found here. He also runs the so-called Centre for Social Cohesion, which published last Sunday’s report on the attitudes of 600 Muslim students. The article is yet another attack on Peter Oborne’s documentary, It Shouldn’t Happen to a Muslim, and takes apart the common theme that the Muslims of Europe are the “New Jews”.
His position is that, what with all the attacks on Jews going on and all that, the “New Jews” are the same as the old Jews. The magazine also contains two separate articles on the beleaguered Jewish community in the West and in Israel, by Julie Burchill and one by Rabbi Sidney Brichto. Brichto alleges that Jews who don’t support Israel are basically traitors, that supporting a “one-state solution” removes the Jewish majority and is thus anti-Semitic (as if there aren’t many other national groups which have no state) and also argues that Jews who do support Israel should stop calling themselves Zionists, and expose the anti-Semitism which supposedly masquerades as anti-Zionism.
Back to Murray, he refers to a couple of the stories taken apart by Oborne in It Shouldn’t Happen:
The central argument of Oborne’s programme was that many stories in the press about Muslims are not true and that those that are don’t portray Muslims in a positive enough light. It’s hard to know how you would report most of these stories in a positive light. But put that aside for a moment and let’s just look at the evidence that many stories about Muslims in Britain are made up.
Channel 4 showed that a claim by The Sun that a Muslim gang attacked a soldier’s house in Windsor was almost certainly baseless. What is not baseless is that in January four Muslim men pleaded guilty to attempting to kidnap a British Muslim soldier in Birmingham and behead him “like a pig”.
Channel 4 showed that a February 2008 Sun allegation that some Muslim medical students were refusing to scrub properly was baseless. What is not baseless is that in September last year Dr Omer Butt was admonished by the General Dental Council for refusing to treat a Muslim patient unless she wore a headscarf. For sure, certain stories have been under-sourced and over-hyped and I’m surprised that a hack could be surprised at such a trend in hackery. But for every such dubious story many true and resonant stories exist.What is happening here is a deliberate and damaging shift. There is now a concerted effort to delegitimise factual analysis and reporting of Islam and ignore the justifications for their actions that some of its adherents actually explain. It centres on a single word.
One might notice that Murray responded to the fact that a story about a mob of Muslims was false with a story about a small group of Muslims, and to one about a general trend among Muslim doctors with a story about an individual Muslim dentist. One remembers the saying of Anne Frank, that the misdeeds of individual Jews were used as evidence against all Jews, when the misdeeds of individuals of other races were not. This is exactly what Murray is doing with Muslims here. Oborne did not deny, or trivialise, the problem of terrorism by Muslims; it is, however, fair to say that the actions of a small minority should not legitimise media vilification campaigns against the entire community, which is what these stories are - the promotion of trivial incidents (or alleged incidents) of such things as councils not calling Christmas by its name to avoid offending Muslims to the front page, for example. Media vilification campaigns are a common precursor to mass murder; we need not go as far back as Nazi Germany to find an example, only to the late 1980s or early 1990s in some parts of the world.
In the words of the folk singer, John Gorka, “they’re a little more subtle now than the ‘house painter’ man” (yes, I know he was an artist, not a house painter); they don’t say “kill the Muslim cockroaches”, but the drip-drip of inflammatory, exaggerated stories about things which often do not involve Muslims at all contributes to communal hostility and, in the right conditions, may provoke violence.
His last three paragraphs take issue with the word “Islamophobia”; a phobia is an irrational fear, while fear of “some - though certainly not all - aspects and versions of Islam” is “eminently rational”. Islamophobia is an invented term, probably derived from “homophobia”, for anti-Muslim prejudice. Whether it is genuine fear or not, rather than simple hate or hostility, does not matter. It may be true that “exaggerated and faked stories abound in journalism”, but this is a succession of such stories, prominently featured, which incite hostility towards one community. Perhaps there is a rational motive behind it - to make money - but Murray dismisses complaints about it with a classic example of the old prejudice against a new “enemy”. Phobic or not, he is a bigot.
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- Expel Keith Vaz
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