The outpouring of support by for the victims of the Christchurch New Zealand mosque shooting should put to rest the fallacy of Islamophobia. There was universal condemnation of the shooter, books were pulled off shelves, speakers were disinvited, where there was even the slightest hint of Islamic critique, the shooter’s manifesto was combed over for “clues” as if the ravings of a lunatic could lead to any coherent understanding of his act. Laws were passed prohibiting the downloading of his manifesto and distribution of same would be met with a 14-year-prison sentence. Stricter gun laws were swiftly enacted, and well-wishers reached out to Muslim communities to offer support, with some western women donning hijabs in solidarity against this heinous act. Barely a week later a prominent New Zealand mosque leader claimed Mossad and “Zionist business” funded the killer. So much for pluralism, inclusivity, and brotherhood. It was back to blaming the Jews. This is what we mean by anti-Semitism.
Newly elected U.S. congresswoman Ilhan Omar represents one of the neediest districts in Minnesota, with a mostly immigrant, largely Somali population. Ignoring the pressing needs of her own constituents, she has wasted no time in getting down to the real business – slamming Jews and Israel. Starting with her 2012 tweet claiming “Israel has hypnotized the world” to her most recent attacks on AIPAC that “ it is all about the Benjamins, baby”, in reference to Jewish influence on American foreign policy through political bribery, and further that she should not be expected to to a foreign country ( Israel) in order to serve her own country or sit on the Foreign Relations Committee. These obvious anti-Semitic tropes were explained away by her supporters, many Jewish, as a simple misunderstanding. Suddenly Omar was the victim of Islamophobia, racism and misogyny, as if she were a newly arrived teen Somali refugee, and not the 37-year-old seasoned politician she is, with a just signed US$250,000 book contract. Meanwhile, across town, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, also first time elected Muslim, was photographed at a event with a pro-Hamas Palestine activist. Again, Tlaib didn’t apologise, telling her critics via Twitter that, yes, she is a Palestinian and a Muslim and to “get over it.”
Are we also supposed to “get over” her removing the state of Israel from a map of the world in her office. She also wrapped herself in the Palestinian flag at her swearing-in. No dual loyalty here. Both are proud backers of the BDS movement; they argue that economic boycotts are protected by the constitutional right to free speech. Wrong. You are “free” to hate others, you just can’t discriminate against them in business or services. Imagine the outcry if we were talking about boycotting any other minority group. But we are just talking about Israelis, who also happen to be Jews.
The newly ratified International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism (ratified by over 32 states but not the EU) includes the singling out of Israel alone for criticism, denying its legitimacy as a state, accusing Jews of dual loyalty, comparing Israelis to Nazis, and most importantly, holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the State of Israel. Perhaps our Jewish friends on the left should think twice before sneering “What about the Occupation? ” at their Diaspora co-brethren. Or foregoing Passover seders because not enough attention has been paid to the story of Palestinian suffering whilst our own people were too preoccupied fleeing the Egyptians. The Jews are a people who after 2,000 years of exile have finally returned to their indigenous homeland. You cannot separate the Zionist from the Jew without denying the validity of both.
Our enemies would have us think otherwise; that you can hate Israel but still love Jews. The Jewish secular left has bought into this canard for decades, in an effort to be accepted by their social justice peers, and in so doing have largely abandoned the precepts of the Torah for the more inclusive concept of Tikkun Olam. It sounds cooler, but has left our youth confused and woefully unprepared for the hostility they receive on campus from BDS activists, should they dare voice any support for Israel.
Each Passover we retell the story of our Exodus to our children, not so much that they should remember, but that we should not forget. Pittsburgh was the Kristallnacht of the 21st century. Anti-Semitism has gone mainstream, first in the British Labour Party, and now in the U.S. But unlike the German Jews of 1938 who had nowhere to turn, we have the State of Israel. It is not perfect. But it is ours, ready to jump to our defence as needed. In these uncertain times you don’t get to choose you enemies. But you do get to choose your friends. Choose wisely.