Islamic anti-Semitism is of a “scale and scope” that most people in the West do not understand and is therefore all the more insidious, the controversial critic of the Muslim religion, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, told a capacity audience at the Jewish Public Library (JPL) in Montreal on May 13.
The Somali-born Ali, 49, grew up being told that Jews were evil and reflexively hated them, even though she had never met one. In her teens, she joined the Muslim Brotherhood, in which she was indoctrinated to believe that Jews were a sub-human enemy and that their state occupies Muslim lands and must be destroyed.
After fleeing to avoid a forced marriage, Ali found refuge in the Netherlands, where her views were transformed. She became an activist for Muslim women’s rights and was elected to the Dutch parliament.
She wrote the short, but incendiary, 2004 film Submission, a critique of Islam’s subjugation of women, whose director, Theo van Gogh, was murdered by a Muslim fundamentalist.
Ali’s 2007 memoir is called Infidel and her most recent book is Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.
Today, she lives in the United States, is married to British historian Niall Ferguson and is a fellow of the Washington, D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute.
She was introduced at the JPL as living with constant security, due to the threats against her. No photos were allowed at the event.
Ali described “Islamist-driven anti-Semitism as the reigning anti-Semitism of the day,” and said that it’s distinct from the “classic” European variety, or today’s white supremacy movement.
“Little attention is paid (to it) and that is a pity because it is the most zealous, most potent Jew hatred,” she said. “It both condemns Jews wholesale and seeks to destroy the State of Israel.”
She described Islamists as a “subset” of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, but a growing one. Refugee camps are “fertile soil” for implanting Islamism, she said, opining that Somali-born Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar may have been influenced while she was living in one.
Islamist anti-Semitism, despite its violent nature, is “couched in the social justice narrative” that appeals to people in the West, she said. Islamists are adept at using marketing techniques that play on the “oppressor versus oppressed story.”
Islamists know how to use the “woke” concept that’s prevalent on campuses today, which she termed, “The newest insanity … that everyone is oppressed except white men.”
They have the motivation, organization and resources to pursue their agenda, she said. Meanwhile, the majority of Muslims have not learned “to think for themselves” and are fearful of disagreeing with what the Prophet Muhammad said, she claimed.
The Democrats’ response to Omar’s comments about Jews – passing a resolution denouncing anti-Semitism, among many other hatreds – plays right into the hands of the Islamists, according to Ali.
“What they are saying is they are against all hatreds … there’s nothing exceptional about anti-Semitism,” she said. “This has allowed Omar and another Palestinian activist congresswoman from Michigan to say this is the first time the United States passed a resolution against Islamophobia.”
Ali claimed that U.S. President Donald Trump and the Republicans are “better for the Jews,” noting the recognition of Jerusalem and America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.
She also expressed admiration for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who she thinks should get the Nobel Prize for his effectiveness in defending his people.
Her advice to Israel was: “Stop acting like a battered wife” and trying to please those who attack you. “Speak the language of power, otherwise there’s no point in creating a state of your own.… Tell the world to suck it up.”
Asked during the question period about the wearing of religious symbols in the public sphere, she said the debate is being used by Islamists to bolster their message that the West is “decadent … and can’t defend its own history.” She argued that banning all religious symbols is not the solution, because those associated with the “Judeo-Christian” tradition represent what the West stands for.