Conspiracy theories in Islamophobia & anti-semitism


by Sunny
23rd July, 2008 at 2:59 pm    

I got this in an email a while back and I should have posted it but didn’t get around to it. Its worth reading though. At ignoblus, the blogger highlights a comment I made earlier:

Furthermore, I find it amusing that when Muslims are associated with conspiracy theories to Islamicise Britain (as Melanie Phillips is frequently liable to claim) or ‘Eurabia’, we don’t see that level of condemnation [as we see of antisemitic conspiracism].

He says in reply:

Firstly, if you feel that the sort of conspiracy theories directed at Muslims are not sufficiently critiqued, it would certainly be appropriate to say so. I’ve noticed them and wondered about them, but my perspective is different from yours.

Perhaps more importantly, though, I’m concerned that you might be missing something essential about antisemitic conspiracism. It’s dependent upon a view of Jews as too much assimilated. While (many) Muslims are visibly Other, Jews are (to make use of an illustrative but fortunately historical extreme) shapeshifters. Jews, mistakenly perceived in the West as white when not all are, live in the uncanny valley. The more assimilated and successful Jews become, the greater the threat we represent to antisemites.

To the best of my knowledge, conspiracism in Islamophobia arises through an Orientalist history that views both Jews and other ‘Orientals’ as superficially clever, but it does not have the same history in Islamophobia as it does in antisemitism. Because of the rules of evidence employed by conspiracists, always returning to disgraced and discarded ideas like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the disgrace proving the “danger” and hence relevance of the text, conspiracism is heavily dependent on its own antisemitic history. While many Islamophobes view Muslims as conspiring to infiltrate the West, those with the most extreme conspiracist worldviews unanimously view Muslims as (racially inferior to whites) victims of Jewish supremacism. And because the Otherness of Muslims is visually marked, I’m not sure it could change targets even if it that history could be overcome.

Instead, I think it’s more likely that the successful assimilation of Muslims will be viewed as a Jewish plot –as affirmative action, multiculturalism, the UN, and progressive immigration policies here in the US already are.

That last sentence, as it deals with white supremacists’ desire to rank minorities, risks a comparison that I hope I can back away from. I have no desire to pit Jews against Muslims in “the Oppression Olympics.” Islamophobia is certainly an important topic these days, and I have no desire to stand in the way of the fight against it. I have no doubt that it has the potential to become actively genocidal in any one of a great many Western nations. I have no doubt that it has informed the current wars that have killed so many people already. I have no desire to stand in the way of the important job of accurately and effectively critiquing Islamophobia. But I do very much doubt that Islamophobia will ever follow an antisemitic logic rather than an Islamophobic one.

This is a really intelligent point, and one I hadn’t considered earlier.

Its certainly true that bigotry towards Muslims is primarily couched in terms of ‘they’re different to us and will destroy our lifestyle‘, while anti-semitism towards Jews is much more about how they’ve infiltrated the ruling classes.

So the last point – that the logic behind anti-semitism is different to the logic behind hatred of Muslims – looks like a good point to make.

But you can also see how hatred of Muslims has also changed. It started back in the days with how the Middle Eastern governments were all backwards and had to be controlled, then kicked off recently with how these people are all terrorists, and rapidly morphed into a general hysteria about how British Muslims were going to destroy this country’s values.

The statistics game, where people try to predict how the demographic growth of Muslim children, is the latest re-incarnation.

You could also argue that Michael Gove MP’s assertion – women wearing veils are Islamists (or potential terrorists) is part of the same narrative: keep on defining them as a threat to our society. Keep on looking down on them, and if they look down on us then get outraged.

Anyway, I’m glad he made the point because its interesting to think about.


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  1. marvin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 3:36 pm  

    And from theories to facts; Omar Khyam, Anthony Garcia, Jawad Akbar, Waheed Mahmood and Salahuddin Amin, who planned to target nightclubs or a major shopping centre near London have lost their appeal.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7521024.stm

    I’m sure their only motivation was the incredible Islamophobia and oppression they faced day in and day fuelled by The Daily Mail/Express 3rd Reich axis….

  2. Matt — on 23rd July, 2008 at 4:02 pm  

    Sunny, thanks for posting this. That was a while ago, and my thinking on the subject has changed just a bit. Today, I would add that I think there are lessons in the history of antisemitism that can inform the fight against Islamophobia. Namely, that strategies heavily based on assimilation (keeping your head down) are dangerous.

    I’m coming to think that a pressure to assimilate is particularly important (and neglected) for understanding antisemitism. (See on the personal cost of assimilation and on the way pressure toward assimilation blunts anti-antisemitism.) Thinking of it that way, there are some striking similarities. Some Muslims aren’t Arabs, and they have the option of saying “We’re not like those other Muslims.” And Some Arabs can pass for white in the way they look. (See here, for a discussion of Ralph Nader at an anti-racist website.) This is like how a lot of antisemitism developed in contexts of well-assimilated versus newly immigrant Jews (German Ashkenazi versus Easter European Ostjuden in Germany, eg). Also there are stereotypes of rich oil sheiks. And, while antisemites often talk about crypto-Jews (who often aren’t Jewish at all), many Islamophobes do talk about about Western liberals as “dhimmis,” which absolutely undercuts some of what I said about Muslim immigration necessarily being seen as a Jewish plot.

    So I do think there’s might be a future danger to this kind of “Eurabia” talk, and maybe it should be addressed more directly today. But, in doing that, I hope people will take effort not to pit Jews against Muslims or to appropriate the history of antisemitism in the fight against Islamophobia – both things which already happen too much. These were the reasons I sent the email in the first place, and I think they’re still relevant concerns and reasons to distinguish between the histories.

  3. Hermes123 — on 23rd July, 2008 at 4:05 pm  

    Marvin, their motivation was the incredible sex they were going to get once they reached heaven…nothing changes really. All motivattion is driven by greed or fear.

  4. marvin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 4:33 pm  

    Hahaha. Yes you may be right Hermes123. Maybe Sigmund Freud was on to something after all…

  5. marvin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 5:35 pm  

    Heh.. just found this quote “Better we go fight for Allah maybe at least we go Jannah (heaven or paradise)… Over there we have good wives, everything.”

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hpU78Fwu6-swpC3MuWomEA9WYcCQD920O9800

    Sigh.

  6. bananabrain — on 23rd July, 2008 at 5:37 pm  

    an interesting point. the idea that “the more we start to look like them, the more they’ll [secretly] hate us” is sometimes even used by intra-jewish outreach groups as a reason that we all have to show our judaism outwardly and dress like C16th polish noblemen….er…..

    on the other hand, it might be possible to show examples of the “fear of the assimilated muslim” coming through already; look at the “is obama a secret muslim?” discussion – and i wonder if it relates to the current furore over tarique ghaffur?

    actually, the point at which jew-hatred became bona fide anti-semitism was when, during the enlightenment, it becaume possible for jews to become full citizens of secular states. when that happened, the jew-haters still needed to find a way to mark us out; thus developed the perversion of science which characterised us as a “different race” – and we all know how that ended up.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  7. marvin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 6:09 pm  

    The inherent problem with Sunny’s progressive Jihad against “Islamophobia” is that Islamophobia is a word that describes a fear of Islam, which is perfectly natural if you are a non-Muslim living under Sharia law, or if you are familiar with people being blown up in the name of Islam. It’s a natural phenomenon for quite a scary religion (in the eyes of layman non-muslims).

    People find Islam scary. There, I said it. So Sunny is launching his new positive-war narrative by attacking those who fear Islam … What could possibly go wrong with such a strategy?!

    Why is Labour in such a terrible state? Why is the BNP gaining?

    This is well worth reading

    http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/index.php?link=template&story=233

    The fact’s remain that on asking 1,000 Muslims for Channel 4′s What Muslims Want, 68% think that British people should be arrested and prosecute for insulting Islam.

    http://www.imaginate.uk.com/MCC01_SURVEY/Site%20Download.pdf

    If that 68% is taken to be roughly representative, then with 1.6 million Muslims in the UK, surely your new Jihad against intolerance should be directed at your these people too, rather than this lop-sided approach against “Islamophobia”? There’s racism against Muslims, as there is racism against blacks, whites, asians, Jews. There’s some intolerance everywhere! And statistically Muslims really are not the biggest victims here!

    How can you be taken seriously when you have such an unbalanced approach? You used to have, a mediocum, of balance. Now you’ve lurched over to the communist (i.e. Bob Pitt) and Islamist narrative of Islamophobia obsession. Are you trying to send Ken a message, that he was right all along, all is forgiven?!

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you started attacking the newspapers for being racist against blacks for printing pictures of those involved in knife and gun crime in the cities!

  8. Refresh — on 23rd July, 2008 at 6:13 pm  

    Ken was right all along! Get over it.

    Marvin, why are you expending so much energy trying to convince Sunny that he has strayed from the true path?

  9. Refresh — on 23rd July, 2008 at 6:17 pm  

    Sunny, you’ve found that last piece of the jigsaw. Now is the time to plan the relaunch of New Generation Network. I may even consider signing up this time.

  10. BenSix — on 23rd July, 2008 at 6:23 pm  

    How the hell are warnings of Islamaphobia part of a ‘communist narrative’? I was going to say cum hoc ergo propter hoc, but that wouldn’t quite do justice to my incredulity.

    Ben

  11. Refresh — on 23rd July, 2008 at 6:24 pm  

    ‘People find Islam scary. There, I said it.’

    That’s exactly what some people want. And you are hardly being brave.

    Once the fear is instilled, then it becomes multi-purpose. Which I believe is what Sunny has alluded to with his post upthread.

    However I have faith in the public, they will see it for what it is. But of course not before we go through a period of pain as the economy worsens.

  12. Ms_Xtreme — on 23rd July, 2008 at 6:35 pm  

    People only find Islam scary because they haven’t a clue what its about.

    Its not that difficult to open up a Quran without prior assumptions and read what it says. If you go LOOKING for scary things – you’ll find them.

  13. marvin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 6:40 pm  

    BenSix, see http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/
    It’s run by communist Bob Pitt. Until recently, we had a united RESPECT party that had this islamophobia narrative as a means to power through communalism. There’s a kind of white-paper for the thinking here

    Once the fear is instilled

    You don’t need to read newspaper comment piece to be fearful of things. Pictures and footage of 7/7, and the Glasgow attackers will have sent a strong message to the layman far stronger than some editorial ran in The Mail on the 32nd of October whenever.

  14. BenSix — on 23rd July, 2008 at 6:43 pm  

    “BenSix, see http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/
    It’s run by communist Bob Pitt. Until recently, we had a united RESPECT party that had this islamophobia narrative as a means to power through communalism.”

    Well, I’ll have to revert back to my intended statement: cum hoc ergo propter hoc. Is the Daily Mail columnist Peter Oborne taking part in this communist narrative?

  15. marvin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 6:44 pm  

    People only find Islam scary because they haven’t a clue what its about.

    Conversely, some people will find Islam scary because they have read the Quran. Let’s not go back to the old Islam is Peace meme. It’s more like a mirror. Mohammed was a fantastic military leader and a warrior. His recantations included vile cruel things for enemies, and some really quite insightful and smart things for humanity too.

  16. persephone — on 23rd July, 2008 at 7:12 pm  

    @ 15 ” Mohammed was a fantastic military leader and a warrior. His recantations included vile cruel things for enemies, and some really quite insightful and smart things for humanity too.”

    I believe that Mohammed also had sex with an underage girl (12/13 yrs old) – his reason was that God had told him to do so. That is scary in such a leading religious leader/prophet.

  17. marvin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 7:45 pm  

    Err I think the consensus is 9 years old, certainly the age of marriage (and therefore sex) was dropped from 18 under the Shah, to 9 in the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

    There’s lots of scary things. Which many people are in deniable about. Yes there’s good stuff too! Woohoo!

    Criminal attacks should be investigated by the police. If anybody, Muslim, Jew, White, Brown, gay gets attacked the should feel the force of the law. If there is an epidemic, which there is not, then it should be looked at and tackled.

    We need to foster a culture of tolerance, moderation, respect, freedom of speech, and responsibility in ALL people living in the UK.

    Banging on about victimisation is not going to help. This is the language of the BNP too, let’s not forget. If there’s cases of attacks they should be reported every time.

    Church of England and the Catholic Church have all been fair game for decades. Mocking of Christians perfectly accepted – “no holds barred” the “usual rules of engagement suspended”. Mocking of Muslims or Islam… err… Major Problemo!

    Ah forget it. Put those kid gloves back on.

  18. persephone — on 23rd July, 2008 at 8:13 pm  

    Thanks Marvin. As long as it was legal and as long as a Shah decreed it, it must be OK then …..

  19. Tu S. Tin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 8:20 pm  

    “So the last point – that the logic behind anti-semitism is different to the logic behind hatred of Muslims – looks like a good point to make.”

    Care to explain the logic behind all the anti american posts and comments on this blog and in the MSM associated with conspiracy theories and what not?

  20. Ms_Xtreme — on 23rd July, 2008 at 8:54 pm  

    His recantations included vile cruel things for enemies, and some really quite insightful and smart things for humanity too.

    I’m not denying the contradictions or vulgarity of some of verses within the Hadith. However, seeing as the Hadith were written over 200 years after the old Prophet’s death – there are questionable aspects to it.

    I was referring to the Quran and its teachings. Please do point out the cruelties towards enemies within that source. This is the the primary source for Muslims – not the Hadith.

    I believe that Mohammed also had sex with an underage girl (12/13 yrs old) – his reason was that God had told him to do so. That is scary in such a leading religious leader/prophet.

    You’ve taken that whole thing out of context didn’t you? I see what you did there. So I will not react. =)

  21. persephone — on 23rd July, 2008 at 9:01 pm  

    “You’ve taken that whole thing out of context didn’t you? I see what you did there.So I will not react. =) ”

    What context should it be in? It may be that you are reading something into what is not there. I do not have the full context, which is why I said I BELIEVE that … etc.

  22. Roger — on 23rd July, 2008 at 9:07 pm  

    ” Muslims are associated with conspiracy theories to Islamicise Britain ”
    Well, this isn’t actually a conspiracy theory: muslims are supposed to bring the benfits of islam and muslim rule to the places where they live- in short islam is a conspiracy if carried out according to the basics. Go to the loopier and/or more enthusiastic muslim sites and you’ll find people imminently expecting an islamic state of Britain. It isn’t a conspiracy that is very likely to succeed, of course, but it’s still a conspiracy, as is any religion that aspires to universality.

    “But you can also see how hatred of Muslims has also changed. It started back in the days with how the Middle Eastern governments were all backwards”
    On the contrary: fear and hatred of islam and muslims began when Middle Eastern- and European- muslim governments were very advanced and it looked like there was a pretty strong chance that “the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mohamet.”
    Add the practice of piracy and slave- raiding, justified on religious grounds, in places not ruled, threatened with or with memories of muslim rule and there were pretty sound reasons for hostility to islam and muslims.
    The reasons- or excuses- for hostility to muslims and jews have varied over time, of course, but it is foolish to suppose that they have always been irrational and unjustified.

  23. Roger — on 23rd July, 2008 at 9:11 pm  

    “I was referring to the Quran and its teachings. Please do point out the cruelties towards enemies within that source. This is the the primary source for Muslims – not the Hadith.”

    Well, the doctrine of eternal torture for so-called wrong-doers- and of eternal rewards for the supposedly good, for that matter- is unjust.

  24. Tu S. Tin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 9:15 pm  

    You’ve taken that whole thing out of context didn’t you? I see what you did there. So I will not react. =)

    I’m not sure what you mean with that sentence…
    as far as what else you said I agree…
    but you dont need to explain that to the non muslims … you need to tell it to the muslims who ARE taking every word literally and wish to remain living in what ever century it came from .

  25. marvin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 9:20 pm  

    Please do point out the cruelties towards enemies within that source. This is the the primary source for Muslims – not the Hadith.

    Really? There’s over well over a hundred verses that Jihadists use, out of context of course, to justify their acts. Can I ask are you yourself Muslim? Well here’s two.

    http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/009.qmt.html#009.005
    http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/008.qmt.html#008.012

    Like somebody said before though, you’ll find what you are looking for. He said some good sheet too

    http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/002.qmt.html#002.256
    (Unfortunately the next verse says the unbelievers will burn in hell, but that’s par for the course in the three Abrahamic religions)

    Tu S Tin, anti-americanism is one of the few things that is widely accepted as normal in this country, and really does fester on the left. Reminds me of this article http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4881474.stm

    Ms Cox, 29, says she has been called, among other things, “terrorist”, “scum”, “low life”, and feels that she is constantly being held to account for the actions of President Bush and for US foreign policy.

    Must have been “peace activists” :P

    So have any Muslims here experienced bad stuff from people in this country recently? Would be interesting to hear.

  26. Sunny — on 23rd July, 2008 at 9:34 pm  

    Marvin – your attempts to ‘convince me’ fall on deaf ears, and are actually really boring and off topic. Some of us are trying to have an intelligent discussion here? Go somewhere else. cheers.

    I’ll respond to the other points once I’ve had some food.

  27. Ms_Xtreme — on 23rd July, 2008 at 9:46 pm  

    What context should it be in? It may be that you are reading something into what is not there. I do not have the full context, which is why I said I BELIEVE that …

    Uh uh, what’d mum say about assuming stuff without researching it?

    Well, the doctrine of eternal torture for so-called wrong-doers- and of eternal rewards for the supposedly good, for that matter- is unjust.

    True. But it doesn’t advocate for HUMANS to be the judge or deliverer of such torture. Its only a consequence to not following the guidelines within the doctrine. We can go back and forth about what’s right, wrong, and the ugly in various religions – so to each his own.

    Tinman – sure enough. I blame my own culture and its people for the their own demise. But I find it ironic that youse think this is a Muslim only problem.

  28. Ms_Xtreme — on 23rd July, 2008 at 9:53 pm  

    Starving Marvin – Oops, you did it again. You pointed out Verse 09 – but neglected Verse 08 which clearly states the reason to fight the Pagans (they broke a sacred treaty with the Muslims during their pilgrimage and killed several of them after swearing allegiance).

    So there you have it. You looked for bad, found it, used it to your advantage in this here debate – without seeing as to WHY it happened.

    Tell me something – what happens when one country betrays another in today’s day and age? Retaliation in the form of war – right?

    So why is that time any different from today?

    Anyways – I’ll let youse figure it out. Need not worry what I am, just see me as words behind a screen.

  29. BenSix — on 23rd July, 2008 at 10:03 pm  

    “So have any Muslims here experienced bad stuff from people in this country recently? Would be interesting to hear.”

    Last week, a vague – and admittedly unpleasant – associate declared that Muslims should be shipped off to an island. However, I don’t believe, as you appear to, that anecdotal evidence is necessarily representative.

    Ben

  30. persephone — on 23rd July, 2008 at 10:11 pm  

    REf “Uh uh, what’d mum say about assuming stuff without researching it? ”

    By all means give me the wisdon of your research then

  31. persephone — on 23rd July, 2008 at 10:16 pm  

    ” Anyways – I’ll let youse figure it out. Need not worry what I am, just see me as words behind a screen.”

    Shall we assume then?

  32. Roger — on 23rd July, 2008 at 10:24 pm  

    “True. But it doesn’t advocate for HUMANS to be the judge or deliverer of such torture. Its only a consequence to not following the guidelines within the doctrine. We can go back and forth about what’s right, wrong, and the ugly in various religions – so to each his own.”
    So, if an all-powerful, all-knowing being decides to torture people for ever for arbitrary reasons, that’s all right then, M Xtreme? The theory is that everyone is that beings own and will be [mis]treated accordingly.

  33. marvin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 11:00 pm  

    Ms_Xtreme

    I am glad you can explain all of the verses in context and it makes sense for you. It’s shame the radicalised don’t get it like you do. I do understand it as a story, and it’s in the context of very tough times. Just so you know.

  34. Ms_Xtreme — on 23rd July, 2008 at 11:06 pm  

    So, if an all-powerful, all-knowing being decides to torture people for ever for arbitrary reasons, that’s all right then, M Xtreme?

    All religions believe so. The concept of “The One” is within age old Hinduism too. It was part of the Indus Valley Hindu Civilization beliefs – the oldest religion known to man. To reject this concept is free to all man – nobody is telling anyone to accept this. However – from what I know and have read in different religious doctrines – the authority to punish lies with The One. Not with us. Its clearly identified within the Abrahamic Religions.

    Starvin’ Marvin – u mocking me? I don’t know nearly as much as I’d like to. Trust I’m not perfect. So thanks.

  35. Avi Cohen — on 23rd July, 2008 at 11:19 pm  

    “Furthermore, I find it amusing that when Muslims are associated with conspiracy theories to Islamicise Britain (as Melanie Phillips is frequently liable to claim) or ‘Eurabia’, we don’t see that level of condemnation [as we see of antisemitic conspiracism].”

    Because people find it acceptable. Because even here you see the normal rubbish uttered by people about how Muslim religious text is disturbing. But similar passages exist in other texts and it is nonsense to pretend they don’t.

    The concept of God’s instructions we are told drove Bush to war. So is that any worse than Muslim text?

    Religion can be falsely used to justify anything and we see that acutely in the Middle East.

    The fact is that it suits the agenda of other faiths to portray Muslims negatively and keep them out of politics and project them as a danger in order to further their own interest. As Muslim numbers grow and they get organised then their influence can only be diminshed if they are viewed as a threat and portrayed as such.

    It is part of a long term right wing objective and it is shameful that when a few couragous religous leaders spoke out to defend Muslims there was mass hysteria.

    Then we get some people who sit by and watch this and they do a bit of interfaith work and we can then say how pleasant we are being to Muslims and thus deny that we turn a blind eye and allow this prejudice and bigatory to go unchecked.

    So are the values of the Judeo-Christian West as good as they ought to be?

  36. Avi Cohen — on 23rd July, 2008 at 11:19 pm  

    Another excellent and insightful post in a series – PP is back to its best.

  37. ac256 — on 24th July, 2008 at 12:40 am  

    Persephone 16:

    @ 15 ” Mohammed was a fantastic military leader and a warrior. His recantations included vile cruel things for enemies, and some really quite insightful and smart things for humanity too.”

    I believe that Mohammed also had sex with an underage girl (12/13 yrs old) – his reason was that God had told him to do so. That is scary in such a leading religious leader/prophet.

    Therein lies the rub with this anti-Islamophobia line.

    There are deep issues within Islam which no Muslim- moderate or otherwise- has even begun to explain to a curious wider world.

    Mohammed had 16 (recorded) wives, and estimates for the age of Ayesha at the time he had sex with her range from 9 upwards, hence Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s contention that he was a paedophile.

    All this before you reach the explicit anti-semitism of the koran.

    These things are not a matter of phobic hysteria, but a matter of recorded historical fact, and any anti-islamophobe worth their salt needs to square these issues away convincingly before they can expect any traction in the real world.

    Best of British luck with that!

  38. Avi Cohen — on 24th July, 2008 at 1:26 am  

    Try looking at the historical reality of the time. Biblical Prophets had multiple wives and concubines which people readily accept but then won’t accept the same reality for Arabs at a later time.

    In addition marriage at a young age was common even in Europe until relatively recently.

    In fact in parts of Africa and Asia marriage of young girls is still common. As soon as they hit puberty then people look to marry them off.

    So why is it so odd when in fact the practise still goes on in parts of the world today.

    In fact I think regarding Henry VIII the Pope said that the bible obligated he marry his brothers wife and that wasn’t so long ago.

    Thus marriage customs we are used to today have varied over the centuries so setting your standards and trying to apply them to events from over 1000 years ago is fairly naive.

    Child marriage is still common today in rural parts of the 3rd World and that despite legislation.

  39. Sunny — on 24th July, 2008 at 5:07 am  

    These things are not a matter of phobic hysteria, but a matter of recorded historical fact, and any anti-islamophobe worth their salt needs to square these issues away convincingly before they can expect any traction in the real world.

    This really is typical of your stupid thinking.

    If anyone asked you to convert to Islam – by all means ask away your questions. But frankly, the only thing required of you is to be nice to other people depending on how they behave towards you, not what YOUR interpretations are of their holy book.

    Like, frankly, I don’t give a flying fuck about what’s in the Quran providing Muslims (like other religious people) are law abiding citizens. After that it comes down to personal relationships and I have close Muslim friends and people who I think are tossers.

    What you think about what needs to be “squared” – perhaps for your benefit – is of relevance only to you. Who cares what you think?

    The anti-Islamophobia line is about demonising a group of people just because they happen to call themselves Muslims, regardless of how they behave in real life. If you want to find dodgy quotes or historical references, go and find them in the Old and New Testament too. There’s plenty. As there is in the Vedas etc. And what? Your ignorance is your own problem, not anyone else’s.

    Eeedjat.

  40. Roger — on 24th July, 2008 at 5:07 am  

    “So, if an all-powerful, all-knowing being decides to torture people for ever for arbitrary reasons, that’s all right then, M Xtreme?

    All religions believe so. The concept of “The One” is within age old Hinduism too.”
    No they don’t. Neither the Greek nor Norse polytheists- nor other polytheists- believed so, for example. Furthermore, the concept of “The One” is irrelevant to the injustice and cruelty of the concept of eternal punishment. “It was part of the Indus Valley Hindu Civilization beliefs – the oldest religion known to man. To reject this concept is free to all man – nobody is telling anyone to accept this. However – from what I know and have read in different religious doctrines – the authority to punish lies with The One. Not with us. Its clearly identified within the Abrahamic Religions.”
    You confuse the ability to punish or reward and the right to punish or reward- a confusion- as you say- “clearly identified within the Abrahamic Religions” but not eith other religions and not with common sense and logic.

    “The concept of God’s instructions we are told drove Bush to war. So is that any worse than Muslim text?”
    Well, Avi Cohen, we agree that muslim texts are on a comparable level of wisdom and godliness with the opinions of George Bush.

    “Try looking at the historical reality of the time. ”
    Exactly. The opinions of an arab 1400 years ago, no matter how wise he was and no matter how sure he was that god shared those opinions should not be used as a model for behaviour now.

    “The anti-Islamophobia line is about demonising a group of people just because they happen to call themselves Muslims, regardless of how they behave in real life. ”
    Certainly, Sunny, and it would be wiser and more honest if those who don’t actually believe or follow the more absurd or cruel bits of islam recognised as much and stopped claiming to be muslims to themselves and others.

  41. Sunny — on 24th July, 2008 at 5:10 am  

    Now, back to the matter at hand.

    Matt, you say: Some Muslims aren’t Arabs, and they have the option of saying “We’re not like those other Muslims.” And Some Arabs can pass for white in the way they look.

    Yup, agreed. And there are other examples – for example when brown Sikhs / Hindus say that they’re not Muslims, and its them who should be harassed. This has been long discussed amongst Asians, especially after 9/11. There have been attempts by fundamentalst Sikh/hindu groups to actively drive a wedge so as to say – “look, we don’t want to be associated with that terrorist community” etc. Some lobbied to drop the word “Asian” so they couldn’t all be put in the same category.

  42. Boyo — on 24th July, 2008 at 7:43 am  

    Um, what’s wrong with Muslims conspiring to Islamise Britain? It’s a proselytising religion and they are perfectly in their rights to do so. I’m sure the Socialist Workers are conspiring AS WE SPEAK, along with the Jehovah Witnesses and assorted nuts and bolts.

    The point is the UK is a soft touch for any kind of religious group wanting to push their agenda. It’s not their fault, it’s what they do – but if we want to live in a liberal, secular society, then it is beholden on “us” (if you are a liberal secularist) to push back. Because they ARE conspiring, all of them, and so should we. It’s how society is formed, or rather constantly in a process of forming.

  43. persephone — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:03 am  

    @ 41 ” There have been attempts by fundamentalst Sikh/hindu groups to actively drive a wedge – look, we don’t want to be associated with that terrorist community etc.”

    Why is it driving a wedge to say you do not want to be associated with a terrorist group? Is it not akin to wanting to being seen as leftist and not wanting to be associated with the right?

    And this talk of 3rd world countries etc who still legally allow marriage at a young age is not adequate defence nor rationale. Sometimes allowing children to marry, albeit legally, is due to poverty & not best for the child. Essentially marriage at an age where the child is not emotionally(and sometimes physically) ready is not humane – it is aganist a childs human rights.

  44. Sid — on 24th July, 2008 at 12:12 pm  

    “The anti-Islamophobia line is about demonising a group of people just because they happen to call themselves Muslims, regardless of how they behave in real life. ”
    Certainly, Sunny, and it would be wiser and more honest if those who don’t actually believe or follow the more absurd or cruel bits of islam recognised as much and stopped claiming to be muslims to themselves and others.

    You would think that this were the case. But In actual fact, it’s complete bollocks.

    Take me for example. I’m a cultural Muslim and I come from a Muslim background. My real name is instantly recognised as a Muslim name (derived from Arabic) . However, in religious terms I’m not a practising believer of Islam nor do I believe in a personal god in any sense or form. In fact I believe all religions are nothing more than man-made belief systems, in Management terms: classic organisational units. In particular, I believe that the “Divine Law” of legalistic monotheisms are nothing more than the products of the minds of frenzied, over-litigious prophet-lawyers. In other words, not only do I not believe in the “cruel bits of Islam”, I do not believe in *any* of it’s bits nor the cruel bits of any of the other religions either, in the spiritual “saving leap of faith” sense. I have an interest in religion and religious identity and I’m floored by the religious art of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism but that’s about it.

    This is my personal non-belief. I’m not an Ibn Warraq who will make it my business to try and disabuse believers of the utter waste of time of their beliefs.

    Now, does that make me any less of a Muslim to non-Muslim outsiders? Does the fact that I don’t believe in the religious mandates of Mohammed, Jesus or Abraham make me less of a Muslim to, say, Immigration officials in US Airports or government jobsworths who are itching to place me in their league-tables religious demographics, or to journalists like Melanie Phillips or Trevor Kavanagh?

    Very unlikely.

    The idea that my personal non-belief will suddenly save me from exposure to religious intolerance or prejudice is bogus. So I will fight against institutionalised religious prejudice in whatever form it takes.

  45. Sid — on 24th July, 2008 at 12:29 pm  

    And this talk of 3rd world countries etc who still legally allow marriage at a young age is not adequate defence nor rationale. Sometimes allowing children to marry, albeit legally, is due to poverty & not best for the child. Essentially marriage at an age where the child is not emotionally(and sometimes physically) ready is not humane – it is aganist a childs human rights.

    This is true. Child brides are still happening in India to this day and the transgressors don’t usually belong to the Islamic tradition either.

    I wonder how many people who are “outraged” by the Prophet’s nine year old bride of 1400 years ago, to the point of obsession, are equally obsessed with trying to stamp out real incidences of child brides that are happening in the world today. People are free to assign me with the guilt of association of the marriage of Ayesha to Mohammed, but don’t the child brides, incest, slavery, concubinage and the “sex crimes” of the prophets of the Judeo-Christian traditions also cause them the same concern? Or is this just a Muslim thing. Again. :)

  46. Avi Cohen — on 24th July, 2008 at 3:53 pm  

    Sid – You’ll find is that such things were acceptable even in the UK until recently.

    In France in the 18th Century Marie Antionette married whilst still a teenager (just over 200 years ago) and it was accepted and still isn’t queried today. In fact Europeans rarely ever question their own history from less than a few hunred years ago when the same things were happeneing. But if you happen to be from the East and do this then they’ll go back hundreds of years to criticise.

    In biblical terms Soloman had many wives and concubines and that is something that was acceptable during that period and later periods. It isn’t queried today but the neocons then attack the founder of Islam for having a far far far smaller number of wives to instill fear.

    The issue of marriages in early Islamic history is a tool which is used to attack Muslims and Muslim Belief without looking at the prevailing conditions of the time. Such customs would have been similar for other faiths and not just Muslims.

    Also with respect to child marriages you have to remember that life span in many such countries is short, much shorter than Europe and thus parents want to get children settled soon as they may not be around to do it later.

    Europeans have trouble grasping the fact that these things are done for a number of reasons including financial, social etc.

    We may not approve but the reality in the 3rd world is different.

    Also interesting is the fact that so many Europeans go abroad for illegal underage sex and when caught then apparently the 3rd World isn’t equipped to be fair in seeking justice!

    So basically until recently Europe turned a blind eye to their own white people doing this but such traditions for brown people are to be used to attack them.

    No doubt saying this will lead to questioning of my Jewishness ;-)

  47. Bob the communist — on 24th July, 2008 at 3:59 pm  

    Marvin: “Church of England and the Catholic Church have all been fair game for decades. Mocking of Christians perfectly accepted – ‘no holds barred’ the ‘usual rules of engagement suspended’. Mocking of Muslims or Islam… err… Major Problemo!”

    Try rewriting this as follows: “Church of England and the Catholic Church have all been fair game for decades. Mocking of Christians perfectly accepted – ‘no holds barred’ the ‘usual rules of engagement suspended’. Mocking of Jews or Judaism… err… Major Problemo!”

    The mocking of Jews and Judaism is a problem because the Jewish community is a minority who have been, and still are, victims of racism on the part of the non-Jewish majority of the population. Consequently, it is difficult for non-Jews to criticise or ridicule Jews and their religion without the exercise tipping over into antisemitism, or giving legitimacy to the views of antisemites.

    The same considerations obviously do not apply in the case of Christianity (although I’m opposed to those militant atheists who abuse and insult Christians because they hold religious beliefs – I think it’s just rude and arrogant).

    Marvin appears to be a sympathiser of Searchlight, who have a long record of opposing antisemitism, so I would have thought he would be receptive to this argument.

    Unfortunately, that sensitivity goes out the window when the minority threatened with racism are Muslims rather than Jews.

  48. Sunny — on 24th July, 2008 at 4:18 pm  

    Certainly, Sunny, and it would be wiser and more honest if those who don’t actually believe or follow the more absurd or cruel bits of islam recognised as much and stopped claiming to be muslims to themselves and others.

    Hold on a sec. Individuals are and should be responsible for their own actions. I would love for the nutcases of all religions to listen to the more moderate elements, but they’re nutcases for a reason.

    Why you seem to think Muslims should self-police themselves, but then wouldn’t use that line against a Christian fundamentalists and tarring all Christians with the same brush, is beyond me.

  49. Matt — on 24th July, 2008 at 4:26 pm  

    Unfortunately, that sensitivity goes out the window when the minority threatened with racism are Muslims rather than Jews.

    Actually, if it’s not always the same people tolerating both forms of oppression, people in general are awfully tolerant of both antisemitism and Islamophobia.

  50. Ravi Naik — on 24th July, 2008 at 4:39 pm  

    but don’t the child brides, incest, slavery, concubinage and the “sex crimes” of the prophets of the Judeo-Christian traditions also cause them the same concern?

    Which prophets are you referring to?

  51. Ravi Naik — on 24th July, 2008 at 4:45 pm  

    The point is the UK is a soft touch for any kind of religious group wanting to push their agenda. It’s not their fault, it’s what they do – but if we want to live in a liberal, secular society, then it is beholden on “us”

    You are confusing ‘secular society’ with ‘atheist society’. Rookie mistake. Certainly a liberal secular democracy includes freedom of religion.

  52. Katy Newton — on 24th July, 2008 at 5:20 pm  

    Sid @44 pretty much sums up my feelings about being Jewish. In many ways “nothing” would be a far more accurate description of my religion than “Jewish”, but the fact is that when a homicidal maniac decides that you are Jewish it doesn’t really matter whether you agree with them or not. The only thing that matters is whether you can survive them. By way of example, the Jews of Nazi Germany were considered to be the most assimilated Jews in Europe; many of them barely remembered that they were Jewish at all and all of them considered themselves first German and then Jewish, but when push came to shove what they thought they were just didn’t count.

  53. Bob the communist — on 24th July, 2008 at 5:55 pm  

    Matt: “Actually, if it’s not always the same people tolerating both forms of oppression, people in general are awfully tolerant of both antisemitism and Islamophobia.”

    But, thankfully, less tolerant of antisemitism now than in the past.

    For example, if the Daily Express published an article “exposing” the existence of Beth Din courts under the screaming front page headline “Now Jews Get Their Own Laws”, claiming that the Jewish community poses a threat to the British legal system, there would be a furore.

    But the Express can publish an article attacking sharia councils that play a similar arbitration role in family and civil matters under the headline “Now Muslims Get Their Own Laws” and hardly anyone bats an eyelid.

    It’s also worth noting that the BNP have now almost completely abandoned public displays of antisemitism on the grounds that there is far less political mileage in that than in whipping up hatred against the Muslim communities.

    Griffin talks about the party riding the wave of Islamophobia in the media. He doesn’t talk about riding a wave of media antisemitism – for the simple reason that there isn’t one.

    On the specific issue of antisemitic and Islamophobic conspiracy theories, I think there is more similarity than you might think, given that Muslims are one of the poorest and most marginalised communities, which makes it difficult to pin the accusation on them that they exercise a malign influence at the highest levels of society – which is at the centre of classic antisemitic conspiracy theories.

    One way round this is proposed by Bat Ye’or, of “Eurabia” notoriety. As she recently explained to the Jerusalem Post, the European elites have capitulated to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (who play the role of the Learned Elders of Zion in her conspiracy theory) and consequently “Muslim politics are conducted in Europe by Europeans themselves, based on the interests of Muslim lobbyists”.

    She also claimed that “European universities – like those in America – are totally controlled by the Arab-Islamic lobby, as are the schools”. But from her standpoint this “Arab-Islamic lobby” presumably doesn’t consist predominantly of actual Arabs and Muslims but rather of “dhimmis” who have sold out to the Arabs and Muslims.

    Of course, other conspiracy theorists don’t bother with this more sophisticated approach and simply repeat the traditional stuff about Jewish control of the media, for example, but with that role now attributed directly to Muslims.

    Over at the Centre for Social Cohesion site yesterday Douglas Murray attacked the BBC for reporting the activities of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, which he claims is led by unrepresentative extremists. His views were endorsed by a supporter who wrote: “Absolutely shocking. All part of the stealth jihad of course. The BBC has been infiltrated by muslim extremists right up to the highest level.”

    And of course the use of bogus demographic data features heavily in Islamophobic conspiracy theories. Muslims are supposedly outbreeding the “indigenous” white population of Europe and while they may not control society now, they will do so in the near future by sheer weight of numbers.

    All in all, I think the similarities between antisemitic and Islamophobic conspiracy theories are more striking than the differences.

  54. Bob the communist — on 24th July, 2008 at 7:23 pm  

    Just to add that the demographic argument is of course an essential part of the “Eurabia” thesis. In order to do down the United States and Israel the European elites supposedly came to an agreement with the Arab/Muslim world, central to which was the acceptance of unrestricted Muslim immigration into Europe.

    At the moment the Muslims exercise their secret control over society indirectly through these proxies in the European elites – rather than directly, as the Jews do in classic antisemitic theory.

    However, as the number of Muslims grows while the white population declines, they will soon reach the point where they can dispense with their dhimmi collaborators and exercise control directly and openly.

  55. Avi Cohen — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:26 pm  

    At the end of the day the fact that Melanie and co are growing in terms of media time and column width indicates a growing acceptance of their freedom to push their agenda.

    The fact that there is no distancing from the likes of the ADL, Chief Rabbi, Church etc. means that this disgraceful portrayal is going by unchecked. The fact that those same institutions are quick to highlight similar issues in the Muslim world, which is perfectly right for them to highlight indicates a double standard.

    No doubt the Jewish Police will now ask for my ip address. I wonder if the Judaism Police have considered working for the Chief Rabbi to define acceptable conversion but they must be too busy doing a bit of interfaith work and writing articles in Jewish publications but could be a useful career opportunity to question people’s adherance to faith.

  56. Avi Cohen — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:30 pm  

    Katy @52 – Just curious about why you feel that way. Would you for example only marry a Jewish person or anyone?

    Sid @44 – I’m confused but a while back you said that you believed in the spiritual aspect and individual aspect. Does that still apply?

    Sorry to ask both of you but I always find it fascinating why people continue to associate and write about a faith when they no longer believe the central tenants of that faith.

  57. Roger — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:39 pm  

    “Take me for example. I’m a cultural Muslim …
    This is my personal non-belief….
    Now, does that make me any less of a Muslim to non-Muslim outsiders?”
    Well, yes, Sid, it does to me. As far as I’m concerned a muslim is someone who- among other things- thinks homosexuals should be killed and would like to live in a society where that would happen. It should make a comparable difference for others and I thimk it’s an important enough distinction to be worth emphasising. The fact that many muslims are the equivalent of “anglostics” or “angleists” isn’t as well-known as it should be.

    “The idea that my personal non-belief will suddenly save me from exposure to religious intolerance or prejudice is bogus. So I will fight against institutionalised religious prejudice in whatever form it takes.”
    Agreed. However, the knowledge that there are many other muslims like you might make people less hostile to islam or muslims, however defined. You could argue that people like that aren’t hostile for rational reasons so your attempt to lessen the hostility would do no good and you wouldn’t want to treat people like that on their own terms anyway. Even so, just on the practical bases of treating people in general without prejudice and with respect and finding and deterring genuine terrorists it would be better if everyone knew that the term “muslim” covers a very wide range of opinions and behaviours.

  58. MixTogether — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:44 pm  

    Sunny:

    39) “This really is typical of your stupid thinking.

    …And what? Your ignorance is your own problem, not anyone else’s.

    Eeedjat.”

    This is a very typical sort of response from you, I’m coming to learn.

    For someone with such high aspirations as ‘forging a new liberal left alliance’ and taking on the might of the political commentariat, it doesn’t take much to call you out as just a mouthy playground rudeboy.

    Not the stuff of high office really. Fairly gutter, even for one of your blogs.

  59. douglas clark — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:48 pm  

    Sid,

    The idea that my personal non-belief will suddenly save me from exposure to religious intolerance or prejudice is bogus. So I will fight against institutionalised religious prejudice in whatever form it takes.

    That is surely the point, is it not? I would agree with everything you had to say in 44, and subscribe to fighting religious prejudice. Although, I’d like Dawkins to shut the fuck up. That is not a particularily helpful point of view, IMVHO. It makes us look as ridiculous as the fundies…

    And we are better than that.

  60. Avi Cohen — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:24 pm  

    Douglas – Why does Dawkins needs to shut the f up? Religions has had people like Dawkins down the ages and should be able to deal with that and respond to it. But people need not be afraid of Dawkins if their own personal belif is strong enough.

    Roger – In terms of Abrahamic religions then the death penalties to which you refer actually only apply when homosexuality is practised in the open and the same applies to sex outside marriage. I think people automatically assume that these puishments apply but they apply only in set circumstances.

    The media in their potrayal list them as matter of fact when they are not.

    Religion is a moral guide and some people find comfort in that.

  61. Roger — on 25th July, 2008 at 6:13 am  

    “In terms of Abrahamic religions then the death penalties to which you refer actually only apply when homosexuality is practised in the open and the same applies to sex outside marriage. I think people automatically assume that these puishments apply but they apply only in set circumstances.”
    So you think that’s all right then? In fact they apply- as do the penalties for any “crime”- when people are caught and convicted of the “crime”.

    “Religion is a moral guide and some people find comfort in that.”
    Religion claims to be a moral guide. If people find comfort in imposing religious instructions on themselves, well and good. Unfortunately, the Abrahamic religions especially find comfort in trying to impose their moral guidance on everyone else.

  62. Sid — on 25th July, 2008 at 11:02 am  

    douglas #59

    I agree with you about Dawkins. His whole approach to atheism is based on the same Christian impulses that he likes to think he eschews. Also disconcerting how similar is how easily his faith-based evangelism of science moves into fundamentalist territory. I flee from that kind of thing.

    Katy #52

    So like Jonathan Miller, you’re “More Jew-ish than Jewish”.
    I wish there was a Muslim version of that line.
    “More Muslim-ish than Muslimish” doesn’t have the same ring to it but that’s pretty much my position as well. In any case, my ideas and beliefs have more in common with Jew-ish people than Muslim people.

    #57

    Roger

    Even so, just on the practical bases of treating people in general without prejudice and with respect and finding and deterring genuine terrorists it would be better if everyone knew that the term “muslim” covers a very wide range of opinions and behaviours.

    Agreed, but believe me when I tell you that Islamists hate people like me more than they hate you.

  63. Avi Cohen — on 25th July, 2008 at 11:10 am  

    Roger “So you think that’s all right then? In fact they apply- as do the penalties for any “crime”- when people are caught and convicted of the “crime”.”

    I didn’t say it was right or wrong I simply said that the punishment is applied in certain circumstances and not generally as was being implied.

    “Unfortunately, the Abrahamic religions especially find comfort in trying to impose their moral guidance on everyone else.”
    Agreed and again the aim of religion is to tell people about the faith and not impose it. However through time people get overly zealous and rather than tell people they impose.

  64. Avi Cohen — on 25th July, 2008 at 11:13 am  

    Sid – “Agreed, but believe me when I tell you that Islamists hate people like me more than they hate you.”

    Which highlights their own stupidity. The reason is because they lack any ability to convey their point and articulate their belief so the only way they can feel better about their position is to adopt a crass approach to other people.

  65. Leon — on 25th July, 2008 at 3:52 pm  

    This is a very typical sort of response from you, I’m coming to learn.

    For someone with such high aspirations as ‘forging a new liberal left alliance’ and taking on the might of the political commentariat, it doesn’t take much to call you out as just a mouthy playground rudeboy.

    You aint much better mate; you’re known now for being a bit of a bully, obnoxious to the extreme and with the above like to stick your oar in for no good reason.

    For someone that’s running a organisation such as yours, a worthy one too, you’re actions are less than impressive.

  66. douglas clark — on 25th July, 2008 at 10:36 pm  

    For Sid,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY-ZrwFwLQg

    Now that is the right attitude, I think ;-)

  67. persephone — on 26th July, 2008 at 12:02 pm  

    Sid @ 45

    Any objection was the aspect of a prophet being made to look very herioic/put on a pedestal, not necessarily because they are muslim. It was also surprising to learn that Gandhi’s wife was not given any antibiotics/other prescribed medicine when she was ill due to his beliefs & she died of her illness. When Gandhi was later ill he took the prescribed medicine

  68. Muhamad [peace be upon me] — on 26th July, 2008 at 1:30 pm  

    If Islam is “scary” so too is Christianity and Judaism, and other mumbojumbo imposition on an individual.

  69. Desi Italiana — on 26th July, 2008 at 7:11 pm  

    Muhamad [peace be upon you]:

    “If Islam is “scary” so too is Christianity and Judaism, and other mumbojumbo imposition on an individual.”

    Wise words, my man.

  70. Desi Italiana — on 26th July, 2008 at 7:20 pm  

    “Unfortunately, the Abrahamic religions especially find comfort in trying to impose their moral guidance on everyone else.”

    I disagree that it’s especially the Abrahamic religions. I do think that these religions are more explicit about their own uniqueness and specialness, and the conversion aspect of it– particularly in certain brands of Christianity, like the Mormons, Baptists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses who have hassled everyone and their mama. But you cannot seriously tell say that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are the only ones who do this. The right wing Hindus in India are trying to ‘reconvert’ people (esp. the tribals [whose beliefs are different from the Hinduism these Hindutvavadis advocate] and Christians).

    And in terms of ‘imposing their moral guidance on everyone else,” nothing beats the brahminical caste system –an unequal and unjust institution that has survived since before the times of Christ– that has been laid on everyone else to grid them in as well.

  71. Roger — on 26th July, 2008 at 8:13 pm  

    Judaism doesn’t try to convert others, Desi Italiana. In fact, it goes to a lot of bother to deter people from converting, but both christianity and islam and most of their variants and off-shoots say that it is their duty to impose their moral codes on the world and to bring the benefit of those codes to everyone, whether they want it or not.
    I don’t know much about hinduism or its variants, but isn’t it supposedly restricted to Indians and/or former hindus with no universalist aspirations? Or are these limitations merely practically based- if that’s the right term- and only the first stage in its ambitions? I agree about the evil of caste, but what concerned me above was the univeralism of islam and christianity and the consequent effects on the mind-sets of their followers. Indeed, how far is the organisation of hinduism into a formal religion with an organised theology rather than a variety of interconnected mythologies and customs a response to the pressure of islam and christianity?

  72. Desi Italiana — on 26th July, 2008 at 9:43 pm  

    Roger,

    I don’t quite follow what exactly your argument is, especially since your comment seems to have a fixation on Islam and Christianity (and hence, selectively bringing up points that you think are valid), and you place an undue emphasis on the concept of ‘organized’ religion.

    “Judaism doesn’t try to convert others, Desi Italiana.”

    That is why I said particularly the Christian strands.

    “but both christianity and islam and most of their variants and off-shoots say that it is their duty to impose their moral codes on the world and to bring the benefit of those codes to everyone, whether they want it or not.”

    There are some adherents of Judaism who, in the name of religion, are imposing certain kinds of ideologies geographically, ethnically, religiously, and politically. Religion– whether Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, whatever– is practiced and used by others (whether scripturally acceptable or not) in various ways.

    “Indeed, how far is the organisation of hinduism into a formal religion with an organised theology rather than a variety of interconnected mythologies and customs a response to the pressure of islam and christianity?”

    First of all, there ARE standards and organization WITHIN the sects of Hinduism, and they are quite rigid.

    Secondly, do you really need a formally organized religion or theology to do the things that right wing followers of Hinduism have done? And in fact, wouldn’t the lack of over-arching standardized boundaries make adherents of Hinduism more susceptible to coming up with whatever they wanted to, which could possibly have detrimental effects on others?

    And I disagree with you about your selective reading of the evolution of Hinduism and that the customs are a ‘pressure’ to Islam and Christianity. Every single religion is a response to the pressures of other religions or customs around them, not only Islam and Christianity. And Hinduism is no different from Islam and Christianity themselves in being a response to other beliefs and traditions.

    BTW, despite the fact that Muslims, Jews, and Christians each respectively have a singular book that supposedly every follower has read or been familiar with (and hence, this idea that it is ‘organized’ and has a ‘standard theology’ in contrast to Hinduism), Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are themselves disorganized. That is why you have a thing called “sects”, and regional differences between the ways that these religions come to be practiced.

  73. Sunny — on 27th July, 2008 at 3:46 am  

    As far as I’m concerned a muslim is someone who- among other things- thinks homosexuals should be killed and would like to live in a society where that would happen.

    Erm, this is really, really crap. I know a whole load of practicing Muslims who do not think that.

  74. Roger — on 27th July, 2008 at 5:29 am  

    Then, logically, Sunny, they ought to think very carefully about whether they actually are still believing muslims.

    Sorry, Desi Italiana: in brief, my argument is that in their claims for absolute universality of truth and their dependence on “revealed” writings supposedly inspired or dictated by god, christianity and islam and their offshoots differ in kind to to other religions. Obviously humans can behave horribly without these inspirations but I think that they give people more reason to be cruel, and to think they’re being good while they’re at it.

  75. Avi Cohen — on 27th July, 2008 at 8:57 am  

    Roger – There are many Muslims, Christians and Jews who may not agree with all that they are told about their faith but that doesn’t make them any less believing.

    The punishment for homosexuality is the same across all 3 faiths and your attempt here to paint Muslims as different is shocking.

    There are Rabbis who are complaining about the same issue in Judaism and Priests who are complaining about the same in Christianity so maybe if you listened a bit louder you’d know.

    In addition all religion tries to convert that is how they spread. Even in Judaism now there is a trend towards allowing people to convert to become Jewish. Further there is a small but growing voice that due to the small numbers of Jews think that there should be a move to bring people to the faith. One of the leading Reform Rabbi’s is agreeing with this though not openly calling for this yet. So even here there is a move towards calling people to the faith.

    If religion didn’t seek to convert them it wouldn’t ever gain a foothold now would it beyond its founder. Each religion would therefore only survive the lifetime of its founder.

    All religion is based upon the concept of converting people. The fact that Judaism hasn’t for an extended period of time is due to the factors and situations faced by Jews in terms of persecution etc. It isn’t because of the laws of faith and trying to proclaim it is, is nonsense.

    Similarly Jewish law regarding homosexuality is the same as Christian and Islamic law. Just after the destruction of the temple the Rabbi’s took a decision that due to the circumstances faced by Jews that the capital punishments in the Bible wouldn’t be enacted anymore. Equally nothing is stopping this returning – though it is highly unlikely.

    Christianity is now trying to appeal to everyone thus largely ignores those laws, but this is causing a massive split within the churches.

    BananaPoliceman – You are very slow at answering questions – are you finding it hard! I managed to answer your questions in a few hours. So come on!!

  76. Desi Italiana — on 27th July, 2008 at 9:15 am  

    Roger:

    “Sorry, Desi Italiana: in brief, my argument is that in their claims for absolute universality of truth and their dependence on “revealed” writings supposedly inspired or dictated by god, christianity and islam and their offshoots differ in kind to to other religions.”

    Thanks for clarifying.

    Now, “revealed truths”? You think that Christianity and Islam are the only ones who have that? What the hell do you think the Vedas are? And why do you not include Judaism in your little exegesis on “revealed” truths? Interesting you leave Judaism out.

  77. Desi Italiana — on 27th July, 2008 at 9:17 am  

    Avi:

    “BananaPoliceman – You are very slow at answering questions – are you finding it hard! I managed to answer your questions in a few hours. So come on!!”

    I have no clue who BananaPoliceman is, but yaar, people have lives. Maybe he/she is out partying, drinking, or hanging out with family. Not everyone lives according to the Pickled Politics timeline where they anxiously refresh every 5 minutes to see who has responded to them and then answer back.

  78. Desi Italiana — on 27th July, 2008 at 9:24 am  

    Roger:

    “Then, logically, Sunny, they ought to think very carefully about whether they actually are still believing muslims.”

    I think you are not aware of the diversity of beliefs and practices within certain communities, if we can even say that there ARE communities of believers.

    Basically, what I am trying to say is that you should meet people rather than reading religious books, and assuming that everyone who calls him/herself an adherent of X religion believes they need to abide to whatever scriptures in order to feel the X religious identity. The truth is that the vast majority of people around the globe (Muslims included) do lots of things that are not written in the Koran.

    Also, you might want to start looking into South Asian Islam, which is different from Indonesian Islam and Islam in various Arab countries. Especially because:

    South Asia has more Muslims than the Arab world does.

    Indonesia has the largest numbers of Muslims.

    Even in the Arab World, Islam comes to be practiced in different ways, like the Berber influences in Morocco, etc.

    Islam and Christianity are not as monolithic as you make them out to be.

  79. Avi Cohen — on 28th July, 2008 at 11:56 am  

    Desi Italiana – BananaPoliceman is Bananabrain who has taken on the task of checking and verifying whether people are Jewish abnd thus able to give opinions regarding Israel.

    If you dare to disagree with a few Israeli policies then he questions if you are Jewish. If you dare to do this long term he starts asking for ip addresses.

    Thus I’ve given him a bit of a test to check his knowledge and so far he hasn’t come back with answers to two questuions. One extremely difficuly and one easy.

    Accepted he may be a bit busy but it was more tongue in cheek to let of a bit of steam following his appalling and heavy handed approach following my criticism of Israel.

  80. Matt — on 28th July, 2008 at 3:59 pm  

    But, thankfully, less tolerant of antisemitism now than in the past.

    Why even make that comparison? The effect is to dampen criticism of contemporary antisemitism. “It’s not so bad, really. No Holocaust.” Well, thank, God, it’s no Holocaust, but that says nothing about the necessity of fighting against it. Antisemitism is still bad enough. It’s not over.

    And that’s one of the reasons I often find it offensive when people try to use the example of antisemitism in the fight against Islamophobia. There are legitimate comparisons, but there are also illegitimate uses. I’m in favor of fighting both, but we should strive not to pit Jews and Muslims against each other in the Oppression Olympics. It’s a disservice to both groups, and I’m afraid it seems to be your main tactic here, Bob.

    given that Muslims are one of the poorest and most marginalised communities, which makes it difficult to pin the accusation on them that they exercise a malign influence at the highest levels of society

    Recall that The Protocols were first published in 1903 in Russia. Do you think Jews were not “one of the poorest and most marginalised communities” then? Yet people had no problem pinning such a charge on Jews.

  81. Roger — on 28th July, 2008 at 5:26 pm  

    Brief replies to a few points:
    “There are many Muslims, Christians and Jews who may not agree with all that they are told about their faith but that doesn’t make them any less believing.”
    No, Avi Cohen, but it does mean that what they believe isn’t actually part of their faith. The term is heresy. As I said to Sunny above, I think it better if people say they believe what they actually do believe, rather than assumng that their beliefs fit in with an already-existing belief system.

    “The punishment for homosexuality is the same across all 3 faiths and your attempt here to paint Muslims as different is shocking.”
    The punishment for homosexuality is not the same across all 3 faiths because they each interpret the way in which their sacred books are “the word of god” differently. Nearly all christians and jews interpret their writings as the word of god expressed and communicated through man, whereas the muslim theory is that it is the exact and literal word of god to be obeyed absolutely. Some christians and jews think the proscription of homosexuality in Leviticus still applies- unlike nearly every other proscription there. Many do not. Nearly all think that they do not have the right o impose their religiously-based opinions through the power of the state. What is shocking about that?

    “Now, “revealed truths”? You think that Christianity and Islam are the only ones who have that? What the hell do you think the Vedas are? And why do you not include Judaism in your little exegesis on “revealed” truths? Interesting you leave Judaism out.”
    What exactly are the Vedas, DI? Are they supposed to be the word of god as revealed to man as the Abrahamic religions claim their sacred books are, in one way or another? This isn’t a rhetorical question, by the way; i’m genuinely curious. I’d always assumed the vedas were like the Greek or Norse myths rather than supposedly direct revelation.
    I leave out judaism because judaism doesn’t claim to be universally true or universally applicable and doesn’t aspire to worldwide dominance as chridtianity and islam do. In fact, I wonder whether judaism as a religious construct- a belief system- was a response to christianity’s adaptation of judaism to form a universal belief-system. After all, if you believe there’s only one god you’ve got to explain why he’s so concerned with only one small group of people, whwereas Jahweh began as only one specifically tribal god and got bigger.

    “I think you are not aware of the diversity of beliefs and practices within certain communities, if we can even say that there ARE communities of believers.”
    Certainly; however, what surprised me is how many people can disregard core beliefs of the belief-system and still claim to be believers. In fact, it was meeting believers who didn’t actually believe what they claimed to believe that made me wonder about it. Most believers are much nicer than their beliefs; the only problem is that they still claim to have beliefs they don’t actually have and sometimes feel obliged to impose them on other people..

  82. sonia — on 29th July, 2008 at 8:42 am  

    perhaps Islamophobia should be renamed Muslimophobia? clearly what people are talking about are the problems of xenophobia and the many guises it comes in. maybe that would make life easier for those of us who wish to critique a set of ideologies without being lumped in and confused as ‘islamophobic’. Organized Religion can and should be critiqued , if you believe in something and you should critique it all the more.

    I find it interesting that too often any criticism of Islamic theology or any other religious thinking is swept aside by claims that people ‘don’t know what they are talking about’. In many cases yes that is certainly true. But not necessarily all. It is defensive to assume that because someone does not accept the Truths one accepts, they must not be in the ‘know’. Everyone has very different views of religion, that much is certainly clear.

    but to go back to the point about xenophobic thinking, yes that is a big problem certainly, for some reason there is a lot of focus on “Islamophobia” when as far as i can see, the main problem with society and the ‘group’ thing is that it feeds xenophobic thinking. the fixation to marry within one’s “own” group is highly xenophobic and perpetuates the ‘group’ as the group would like to be.

  83. sonia — on 29th July, 2008 at 8:55 am  

    if anyone is going around saying ‘oh you’re no muslim if you don’t believe in punishment of homosexuals its the “eye on queer muslims” lot who seem to think they are in the know, and that the rest of us should listen to them. certainly that’s what they said about fatiha and irshad manji! and no ‘innovation’ is allowed remember, so differences happen, but are not to be ‘tolerated’! not if you want to go to heaven anyway. :-)

    Anyway, at the end of the day we know full well ( or we ought to by now) that very few people actually pay heed to so-called core beliefs of religions, not many people care really, its all about paying lip service to an ideology your folks believe and then pitting ourselves into ‘whose side are you on anyway?’ some are more honest about this than others, there are a few sweet idealistic souls around who think their co-religionists think like they do. as far as i am concerned, its just an extension of the usual group/nation-state thing. the ‘god’ thing is really a sideshow as far as i can see, just a ‘king’ in the sky rather than earth. who would flatter themselves that a ‘god’ would bother writing ‘books’ to humans? i mean really, what anthropocentric arrogance. As if. (Surely god if it exists would find some more advanced form of communicating, you’d think anyway. At least a computer~! Or the internet or SOMETHING) Ha ha, still if it comforts people to think there is a cosmic being out there patting their heads and writing notes to them via old men in the middle eastern desert ( or the indian subcontinent etc.) i guess that’s their right. why should we deprive people of their comfort fantasies eh, given its such a miserable world and we are all drowning in existential angst…

  84. bananabrain — on 29th July, 2008 at 6:09 pm  

    The fact is that it suits the agenda of other faiths to portray Muslims negatively and keep them out of politics and project them as a danger in order to further their own interest.

    now we’re *really* into the conspiracy theories. perhaps you’d like to give examples of how there is a “jewish” agenda to portray muslims negatively and keep them out of politics? and what is the “own interest” that you’ve identified? i only ask because you seem to have a very clear idea about this stuff and i feel i would have at least noticed it in the community before now.

    The point is the UK is a soft touch for any kind of religious group wanting to push their agenda. It’s not their fault, it’s what they do – but if we want to live in a liberal, secular society, then it is beholden on “us” (if you are a liberal secularist) to push back.

    this is why it must be possible to cause offence and not have this prevented in the name of “respect”. goodness knows people seem to be able to cause offence to jews without it being outlawed – look at ken livingstone’s “concentration camp guard” comment; he managed to avoid sanctions – if not censure – over it.

    don’t the child brides, incest, slavery, concubinage and the “sex crimes” of the prophets of the Judeo-Christian traditions also cause them the same concern? Or is this just a Muslim thing. Again.

    polygamy was outlawed in judaism (at least in christendom) in the C13th (the famous “ban of rabbenu gershom”) because it was felt it gave rise to even worse feeling than was already the case. it continued in some parts of the islamic world up until the C20th (although most people couldn’t afford it) when the remaining eastern and sephardi communities signed up to the C13th ban. incest and other sex crimes have always been a problem, of course, which is fully reflected in the legal and other discussions around those parts of the tradigion. concubinage continued up until the rise of christianity and then gradually died out, although there have been periodic attempts to resuscitate it, nachmanides for instance was quite keen on the idea as he felt it might be a solution to the problem of sex outside marriage. concubines have, in jewish law, a set of enforceable rights somewhat akin to “palimony”; in this respect it has always been somewhat more advanced than modern secular law. so, no, it’s not just a muslim thing – but it needs to be addressed if it hasn’t previously been.

    as for child marriage, you become halakhically an adult at the moment you have “two [pubic] hairs”. so, consequently, if you are sexually mature, those laws apply to you. now, obviously there are young people who are not sexually active at this time and that is all to the good. jewish law has to abide by the law of the land in any case, so if child marriage is illegal here, it’s illegal halakhically. i think any point i may make here may be a little too general, so if someone would mind pointing me to a specific biblical example, i can describe how it might work in practice. i think the point is that, as with the islamic position, it really does depend – blanket condemnations are hardly going to be accurate or helpful.

    In biblical terms Soloman had many wives and concubines and that is something that was acceptable during that period and later periods.

    no it wasn’t. he was acting in direct contravention of the Torah law which says a king isn’t allowed loads of wives (or horses, or palaces) and, moreover, these politically convenient marriages involved the wives concerned bringing their idolatrous religions with them and the Tanakh is highly, highly displeased with this. in fact, it is one of the reasons that there is a discussion about whether solomon thereby forfeited his place in the World to Come or not.

    Why you seem to think Muslims should self-police themselves, but then wouldn’t use that line against a Christian fundamentalists and tarring all Christians with the same brush, is beyond me.

    i think christians should self-police too (and they kind of are, look at the furore going on over GAFCON) and i think jews, too, should self-police. i think to a certain extent that does go on, but in many cases doesn’t go far enough. we do tend to excuse our own extremists, which i personally often (although not always) see as a failure of nerve and morality – there, avi, you see, you haven’t understood my position at all.

    the Jews of Nazi Germany were considered to be the most assimilated Jews in Europe; many of them barely remembered that they were Jewish at all and all of them considered themselves first German and then Jewish, but when push came to shove what they thought they were just didn’t count.

    precisely.

    But the Express can publish an article attacking sharia councils that play a similar arbitration role in family and civil matters under the headline “Now Muslims Get Their Own Laws” and hardly anyone bats an eyelid.

    this should certainly be discussed – as should the jewish batei din – but obviously there’s a sensible way to do it and a hysterical way to do it. i am for the sensible way.

    “Absolutely shocking. All part of the stealth jihad of course. The BBC has been infiltrated by muslim extremists right up to the highest level.”

    this i find highly ridiculous and nonsensical. the accusation of “dhimmitude” i think has a certain truth to it sometimes, particularly as regards left-wingers (the respect party leaps to mind here) but i would hardly say it is par for the course, it’s just one piece of a very complicated puzzle.

    At the end of the day the fact that Melanie and co are growing in terms of media time and column width indicates a growing acceptance of their freedom to push their agenda.

    er…. i don’t see leftie commentators being restricted from pushing *theirs*. and both pale beside the amount of media time and column width given, say, to the public meltdown of amy winehouse. what are we to infer from the obsession of the british public with celebrities, in that case? i’d say it was far more serious in terms of the healthiness of public debate.

    The fact that there is no distancing from the likes of the ADL, Chief Rabbi, Church etc. means that this disgraceful portrayal is going by unchecked.

    the fact is that a lot of people in the community do not disagree with what melanie phillips says. she is entitled to say it, isn’t she? you have this rather odd assumption that whatever she says is going to be by definition wrong and extreme and the rest of the community should distance ourselves from it – but all i am saying is that a) that just isn’t realistic and b) your assumptions are quite questionable in the first place. NB – and i’ll say it yet AGAIN – that does NOT MEAN I THINK SHE IS ALWAYS RIGHT OR EVEN RIGHT MOST OF THE TIME.

    No doubt the Jewish Police will now ask for my ip address. I wonder if the Judaism Police have considered working for the Chief Rabbi to define acceptable conversion but they must be too busy doing a bit of interfaith work and writing articles in Jewish publications but could be a useful career opportunity to question people’s adherance to faith.

    gosh, avi, you are a hoot, aren’t you?

    Although, I’d like Dawkins to shut the fuck up. That is not a particularily helpful point of view, IMVHO. It makes us look as ridiculous as the fundies…

    i don’t see why he should shut up. i do see why his points of view on religion should be publicly ridiculed. on the other hand, he seems to be completely unaware of how useful he is as a recruiting-sergeant for fundamentalism – he is creating more enemies for science and that can’t be a good thing.

    people need not be afraid of Dawkins if their own personal belief is strong enough.

    to be precise – if they can find reasonable (not necessarily rational) grounds on which to refute his criticisms.

    Unfortunately, the Abrahamic religions especially find comfort in trying to impose their moral guidance on everyone else.

    judaism doesn’t.

    “If Islam is “scary” so too is Christianity and Judaism, and other mumbojumbo imposition on an individual.”

    judaism is unable to “impose” on individuals if they are prepared to go their own way; it doesn’t have any physically coercive power (at least not outside the most ultra-orthodox enclaves) unlike islam or christianity.

    There are some adherents of Judaism who, in the name of religion, are imposing certain kinds of ideologies geographically, ethnically, religiously, and politically.

    agreed – and there are other adherents of judaism, such as myself, who oppose this as completely wrong.

    Even in Judaism now there is a trend towards allowing people to convert to become Jewish. Further there is a small but growing voice that due to the small numbers of Jews think that there should be a move to bring people to the faith. One of the leading Reform Rabbi’s is agreeing with this though not openly calling for this yet. So even here there is a move towards calling people to the faith.

    i will oppose this to the last. our opposition to evangelism is one of the only things that gives us moral credibility.

    All religion is based upon the concept of converting people. The fact that Judaism hasn’t for an extended period of time is due to the factors and situations faced by Jews in terms of persecution etc. It isn’t because of the laws of faith and trying to proclaim it is, is nonsense.

    no it isn’t. we gave up evangelism for very good reasons – namely, that wider society is no longer idolatrous in the sense that the Torah understands it. if everyone is obeying the 7 noahide laws (and virtually everyone does nowadays) then there is no need to convert anyone – particularly to judaism. you are simply wrong about this.

    Similarly Jewish law regarding homosexuality is the same as Christian and Islamic law.

    no, it’s not!! i understand what you’re saying about punishment, of course, but the actual understanding of what is involved is very, very, VERY different.

    BananaPoliceman – You are very slow at answering questions – are you finding it hard! I managed to answer your questions in a few hours. So come on!!

    some of us have work to do. i know you miss me, though.

    BananaPoliceman is Bananabrain who has taken on the task of checking and verifying whether people are Jewish abnd thus able to give opinions regarding Israel.

    not at all, as usual you are putting the most convenient interpretation on what i write. all i am saying is that you have some very odd opinions on what being jewish is all about, to the point that not just me, but a number of other people, some of whom are not at all religious and some of whom are not jewish find bizarre. in short, you give some very odd readings on the “jew-dar”. whether this is suspicious or not is another thing. personally, i think you have some really peculiar ideas and your apparently inexhaustible appetite for having a go at all aspects of israel is something i would understand in anas, but in someone jewish i find not only irrational, but unbalanced, a bit like gilad atzmon. on the other hand, if he’s jewish, then i don’t see why you can’t be. one can never know, really.

    There are legitimate comparisons, but there are also illegitimate uses. I’m in favor of fighting both, but we should strive not to pit Jews and Muslims against each other in the Oppression Olympics. It’s a disservice to both groups

    exactly.

    In fact, I wonder whether judaism as a religious construct- a belief system- was a response to christianity’s adaptation of judaism to form a universal belief-system.

    not at all – judaism showed universalist traits from its very beginning – but we were always far more interested in creating a just society than a jewish one.

    the ‘god’ thing is really a sideshow as far as i can see, just a ‘king’ in the sky rather than earth. who would flatter themselves that a ‘god’ would bother writing ‘books’ to humans? i mean really, what anthropocentric arrogance.

    well, you’ve really opened my eyes here, dr freud. sheesh. once we figured out there was such a concept as G!D, working out what G!D wanted from us was a comparatively straightforward step. and it’s only anthropocentric arrogance if you don’t think we are the stewards of this planet, as it says in genesis. we certainly have the power to ruin and destroy it, so perhaps we ought to take responsibility for that.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  85. Avi Cohen — on 29th July, 2008 at 10:56 pm  

    BananaSlipupPoliceman – Well that was a long post where you interspersed many peoples comments rather oddly.

    “now we’re *really* into the conspiracy theories. perhaps you’d like to give examples of how there is a “jewish” agenda to portray muslims negatively and keep them out of politics? and what is the “own interest” that you’ve identified? i only ask because you seem to have a very clear idea about this stuff and i feel i would have at least noticed it in the community before now.”

    So when countless commentators say that political islam needs to be kept out of politics and we shouldn’t allow Muslims to feel like victims that isn’t going down this road that you want exclusively reserved?

    I didn’t say it was a community thing and the fact that you do a bit of interfaith work now and then doesn’t give you the low down on the community. As long as thy tow your line why the hell would you notice?

    Aside from your poster girl read the works of Dave A in The Times and various people in the USA.

    So are you denying that Jewish commentators write articles saying that Muslims should be allowed to play the sympathy card and that care needs to be taken when discussing Islam and politics?

    “no it wasn’t. he was acting in direct contravention of the Torah law which says a king isn’t allowed loads of wives (or horses, or palaces) and, moreover, these politically convenient marriages involved the wives concerned bringing their idolatrous religions with them and the Tanakh is highly, highly displeased with this. in fact, it is one of the reasons that there is a discussion about whether solomon thereby forfeited his place in the World to Come or not.”

    Look this is sheer nonsense because David had a number of wives, Jacob had wives and concubines. So we can’t say it was just Soloman – though Soloman has a much larger number. The point the writer made was that the criticism often is aimed at Mohammed and there are similar tales amongst the prophets in the old testament.

    Equally I restate that given the number of prophets who had wives and concubines then this was accepted practise in this period for whatever reason amongst the tribes of the Middle East. To claim after the fact it wasn’t allowed when others did it as well and the tibes of Israel are also from this concept just shows that it was accepted practise.

    The 12 tribes of Israel are borne from wives and concubines so to say this wasn’t a practise of the time is going against the writings in the old testament itself. Where are the tribes of Asher, Dan, Gad, Naphtali descended from? They are not from wives.

    This is a naive discussion at best because the marriages in all these cases may have been for a variety of reasons.

    “the fact is that a lot of people in the community do not disagree with what melanie phillips says. she is entitled to say it, isn’t she? you have this rather odd assumption that whatever she says is going to be by definition wrong and extreme and the rest of the community should distance ourselves from it – but all i am saying is that a) that just isn’t realistic and b) your assumptions are quite questionable in the first place. NB – and i’ll say it yet AGAIN – that does NOT MEAN I THINK SHE IS ALWAYS RIGHT OR EVEN RIGHT MOST OF THE TIME.”

    More whataboutery – look if you looked at what I was saying instead of being selective in my comments you’d know full well what I said was that if the Jewish community is rightly – RIGHTLY – asking Muslims to look at unfair portrayals of Jews within that community then the reciprocal thing to do is to distance from extreme comments of Eurabia, Londonistan etc from within the Jewish community. Unless of course you deny there is even a problem?

    The fact that most people agree with her or Memri is an indication of a growing problem and not something to brag about.

    “i will oppose this to the last. our opposition to evangelism is one of the only things that gives us moral credibility.”

    Yes well you should have started a few years ago when this debate started. It is already accepted and if you know the community as you say then you’d know the Rabbi’s that you can oppose it to your last with eh?

    “no, it’s not!! i understand what you’re saying about punishment, of course, but the actual understanding of what is involved is very, very, VERY different.”

    No it isn’t. After the destruction of the 2nd Temple the Rabbi’s took a decision not to enforce the law but it doesn’t mean it:

    a) isn’t in there.
    b) wasn’t previously practised as part of divine law.

    “some of us have work to do. i know you miss me, though.”
    Yeah you’re just looking for the answers ;-)

    Don’t worry I’ll give you more time, though am shocked you can’t answer Question 2 quickly. I miss you like a hold in the head.

    “not at all, as usual you are putting the most convenient interpretation on what i write. all i am saying is that you have some very odd opinions on what being jewish is all about, to the point that not just me, but a number of other people, some of whom are not at all religious and some of whom are not jewish find bizarre.”
    The same all applies to you. You claim one thing then admit to another. I’ve already highlighted what you’ve claimed and said. You’ve admitted that you feel you have to behave like Dershowitz do you deny that?

    “your apparently inexhaustible appetite for having a go at all aspects of israel”
    Again more nonsense from you. This is blatent misrepresentation. You’ve even agreed with me when I refuted the notion that claimed Obama was appealing to Jews and Israel on certain campaign issues. Now to dig yourself out you apply a nasty misrepresentation of what I say.

    I have a go at Israel with regards to the occupation and that is all. You nonsensical claim that it is with all aspects is pure fiction.

    “but we were always far more interested in creating a just society than a jewish one.”
    I see so when I want to see justice for the Palestinians then you complain but then have the nerve to say that Judaism is interested in creating a just society but attack those that want to see that. Bloody genius!

    Creating a just society involves as the Chief Rabbi said learning from the experiences of exile and not accepting that the actions of Israel are contrary to Judaism and that doesn’t mean that silence is imposed on this but that people speak out. By speaking out is adhering to the pursuit of creating a just society.

    By staying silent is accepting the opposite.

    What you fail to see is that the diaspora needs to provide the checks and balances that allow Israel to adhere to the values of humanity and Judaism. I would remind you that you’ve agreed with me on this point in the past.

    Israel doesn’t need Melanie Phillips, Daniel Pipes etc. as much as it needs people like me, IJV etc. and possibly you to bring it to checks and balances to grow as a nation.

    This can’t just be lip service it needs to be action so that Israel is reminded that Jews will criticise when it oversteps the mark.

    If Jews can’t see that now then truely the lessons of exile haven’t been learnt and punishment can follow, you know that is what is stated.

  86. Refresh — on 30th July, 2008 at 4:15 pm  

    ‘Israel doesn’t need Melanie Phillips, Daniel Pipes etc. as much as it needs people like me, IJV etc. and possibly you to bring it to checks and balances to grow as a nation.’

    Couldn’t agree more!

  87. Sid — on 30th July, 2008 at 4:24 pm  

    And Islam needs people like me, and possibly Refresh, to bring it checks and balances to grow as a liberal, secular, personal religion.

  88. sonia — on 30th July, 2008 at 4:31 pm  

    44- sid, that’s a powerful post.

  89. Avi Cohen — on 30th July, 2008 at 4:45 pm  

    Sid – of course. It takes people to keep religion and states in check and balanced.

    Our quest for justice for all and fairness for all and equality for all is paramount. A harder to challenge is to stand up for those values and not merely to pay lip service to them.

  90. bananabrain — on 30th July, 2008 at 6:23 pm  

    So when countless commentators say that political islam needs to be kept out of politics and we shouldn’t allow Muslims to feel like victims that isn’t going down this road that you want exclusively reserved?

    those are two different points. what is it with you that you have to reinterpret what i say in light of what you think someone else has said in order to avoid engaging with what i actually did say? i detest political islam, but it will be in politics whether i like it or not. as for muslims feeling victimised, it is not just one issue. some feel victimised unjustly and some feel victimised justly. unfortunately, those who scream “persecution” and “iminent genocide” are ruining it for the rest, who have in many cases reasonable complaints which they would like to raise through the existing political process. but not all complaints are reasonable and not all persecution is real – just like not all criticism of jews or israel is “anti-semitic”. i am against sweeping statements like those you seem to favour, don’t ask me why.

    I didn’t say [the jewish agenda] was a community thing

    then whose thing is it? who are you on about? if it is “the jewish agenda”, surely that must refer to the community, mustn’t it?

    the fact that you do a bit of interfaith work now and then doesn’t give you the low down on the community.

    i think the fact that i am active in it and am pretty well plugged into the discourse at various different levels of religious communities, the informal and formal educational and cultural institutions, to say nothing of the journalist side of things, gives me the low-down. interfaith doesn’t do that at all – intrafaith does. unlike you, i don’t spend my entire time with people who agree with me.

    Aside from your poster girl read the works of Dave A in The Times and various people in the USA.

    SHE’S NOT MY FECKING POSTER GIRL. do i accuse you of having a poster of tony klug on your bedroom ceiling? sheesh. as for dave aronovitch, i’m not convinced he knows anything about the community. and i’ve never claimed to be in the know about the US community.

    So are you denying that Jewish commentators write articles saying that Muslims should be allowed to play the sympathy card and that care needs to be taken when discussing Islam and politics?

    no.

    Look this is sheer nonsense because David had a number of wives, Jacob had wives and concubines. So we can’t say it was just Soloman – though Soloman has a much larger number.

    “you shall set a king over you, one whom HaShem, your G!D, chooses; from among your brothers, you shall set a king over yourself; you shall not appoint a foreigner over yourself, one who is not your brother. Only, he may not acquire many horses for himself, so that he will not bring the people back to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, for the Lord said to you, “You shall not return that way any more. And he shall not take many wives for himself, and his heart must not turn away, and he shall not acquire much silver and gold for himself.” (deuteronomy 17:15-17)

    note the emphasis. now what do we mean by “many”? according to rashi:

    only what he needs for his chariots, “so that he will not cause the people to return to Egypt” [to purchase the horses], because horses come from there, as it is said of Solomon (I Kings 10: 29), “And a chariot that went up and left Egypt sold for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for one hundred fifty.” – [San. 21b]

    this then refers to solomon. and how do we know it doesn’t refer to david? rashi again:

    [this means] eighteen, for we find that David had six wives, and it was told to him [by Nathan the prophet] (II Sam. 12:8):“and if this is too little, I would add for you like them and like them” [totaling eighteen]. — [San. 21a and Sifrei]

    more to the point:

    When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to HaShem his G!D, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of HaShem, and did not follow HaShem fully, as David his father had done.

    is that a sufficient explanation or do you really want more?

    The point the writer made was that the criticism often is aimed at Mohammed and there are similar tales amongst the prophets in the old testament.

    the criticism aimed at muhammad i find prurient and unpleasant in the extreme – and, clearly, there are perfectly satisfactory traditional explanations which prove to the satisfaction of most that a’ishah wasn’t 9. muslims are intelligent enough to realise this would be a problem – the issue would occur if you had a group of muslims who maintained that consummating a marriage with a 9-year old was OK; i’m not aware of such. my only niggle is that i’m not aware of the traditional explanation for why muhammad was allowed more than four wives as mandated for the rest of the muslims. as for old testament prophets, i’m not aware of any accusations of paedophilia aimed at them, although as you’re such a great bible scholar, perhaps you might enlighten me?

    Equally I restate that given the number of prophets who had wives and concubines then this was accepted practise in this period for whatever reason amongst the tribes of the Middle East. To claim after the fact it wasn’t allowed when others did it as well and the tibes of Israel are also from this concept just shows that it was accepted practise.

    both multiple wives and concubines are permitted by the Torah providing you can afford it, although this is no longer permitted nowadays for practical reasons. am i not saying this right?

    More whataboutery – look if you looked at what I was saying instead of being selective in my comments you’d know full well what I said was that if the Jewish community is rightly – RIGHTLY – asking Muslims to look at unfair portrayals of Jews within that community then the reciprocal thing to do is to distance from extreme comments of Eurabia, Londonistan etc from within the Jewish community. Unless of course you deny there is even a problem?

    i personally feel it incumbent upon me to dissasociate myself from the extreme stances in eurabia and londonistan and have done so, here, on numerous occasions, which you seem to have avoided noticing. i cannot say that it is incumbent upon the entire community because they are not entirely convinced that these stances are without merit. nor do i disassociate myself entirely from absolutely everything mel phillips says, because even she is right about some things sometimes (although i don’t know enough about bat yeor to say the same). i reserve my right to a nuanced view. i think the issue that i have is that you seem to think that mel p’s more extreme *views* are equivalent to the actual *actions* carried out by actual terrorists in this country. she is neither inciting murder nor carrying it out and for you to suggest that her views are equivalent to, say, those of abu hamza is quite simply hysterically unbalanced.

    Yes well you should have started a few years ago when this debate started. It is already accepted and if you know the community as you say then you’d know the Rabbi’s that you can oppose it to your last with eh?

    i do know the rabbi concerned – and his wife, who is also a rabbi. i have a lot of time for them both, but i utterly disagree with this point of view. i know why he holds it, but it’s tactical. i believe he is sacrificing an immense moral principle for short-term gain.

    No it isn’t. After the destruction of the 2nd Temple the Rabbi’s took a decision not to enforce the law but it doesn’t mean it: a) isn’t in there. b) wasn’t previously practised as part of divine law.

    the law to exterminate the amalekites is also in there but that too was not completely carried out; the law in many cases describes the ideal situation, not the actual events. as for the whole “wasn’t previously practised”, there were presumably cases in which it was practiced, but you can hardly argue that your understanding of it is correct. look here for a start – r. michael lerner isn’t even traditional, but he is well-informed on the traditional understanding:

    http://www.tikkun.org/rabbi_lerner/Death%20Penalty

    I’ve already highlighted what you’ve claimed and said. You’ve admitted that you feel you have to behave like Dershowitz do you deny that?

    you’re ignoring the context of that statement. i’ve said that sometimes i feel like i have to take positions that are similar to him when both of us face unreasonable, hysterical, categorical criticism of israel and its policies. however, i find that both ironic and irritating, considering how little he and i agree on. you cannot possibly construe that as my holding the same opinions as him. that would be like saying that anyone who drives a car agrees with jeremy clarkson.

    Now to dig yourself out you apply a nasty misrepresentation of what I say.

    not at all. you come across as if you can’t – just can’t wait to find an excuse to get stuck into israel. that i find both unpleasant and unbecoming.

    I see so when I want to see justice for the Palestinians then you complain but then have the nerve to say that Judaism is interested in creating a just society but attack those that want to see that. Bloody genius!

    there is nothing odd about that. i just disagree with you about what a “just society” looks like and how we get to that. this is what annoys me – you cannot understand how there could possibly be any other interpretation of “justice” or any other way of addressing the situation than yours. and that, sir, makes you an extremely blinkered individual.

    Creating a just society involves as the Chief Rabbi said learning from the experiences of exile and not accepting that the actions of Israel are contrary to Judaism and that doesn’t mean that silence is imposed on this but that people speak out.

    but, again, you’re totally misunderstanding and misrepresenting what he is saying – he is not saying that “THE ACTIONS OF ISRAEL” (by which you appear to mean ALL) are contrary to judaism, but that SOME of the actions of israel cannot be reconciled with jewish law – which is perfectly possible, because israel is not run according to jewish law.

    What you fail to see is that the diaspora needs to provide the checks and balances that allow Israel to adhere to the values of humanity and Judaism. I would remind you that you’ve agreed with me on this point in the past.

    and i still agree with you on the POINT – but not upon what those checks and balances are, or how they should be applied. you appear to think you are entitled to sit as judge and jury and that you have the only valid opinion and i am saying that it’s simply not as simple as that.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  91. Avi Cohen — on 30th July, 2008 at 8:06 pm  

    BananaPoliceman – “what is it with you that you have to reinterpret what i say in light of what you think someone else has said in order to avoid engaging with what i actually did say?”

    I’d say the same about you. You actively avoid engaging the issues and simply have a blinkered view of what is going on.

    “then whose thing is it? who are you on about? if it is “the jewish agenda”, surely that must refer to the community, mustn’t it?”

    A Jewish Agenda is currently being pushed by the right and neocons. It doesn’t mean it has community approval now does it. I mean for feck sake that is why I took care to say it was an agenda and not a community thing.

    Jews do feel that the right wing view aided by the neocons is gaining too much hold which is why people are speaking out.

    “unlike you, i don’t spend my entire time with people who agree with me.”
    Getting really nasty now. Unlike you I actually talk to a wide range of people. Many of whom don’t agree with my views. So stick that up your pipe.

    “is that a sufficient explanation or do you really want more?”

    If you boethered to grasp the comment instead of flying off on one you’d know that I bleedin well said that multipel wives and concubines were permitted at the time but that Soloman may ahve had too many. I already said that so why bloody go down a route that I’ve already clarified.

    The point was to answer what the poster enquired about that in the old testament multiple wives and concubines were pernmitted and then ata later date this was dropped. Sheesh.

    “my only niggle is that i’m not aware of the traditional explanation for why muhammad was allowed more than four wives as mandated for the rest of the muslims. as for old testament prophets, i’m not aware of any accusations of paedophilia aimed at them, although as you’re such a great bible scholar, perhaps you might enlighten me?”

    Right first of all I never made that statement and if you bothered to discard your outright hatred for my comments you would bleedin well know that. I actually replied to the comment giving the context of what was permitted in historical times. Your accusations that I said anyting about paedophilia is in fact nothign but a disgusting slur.

    If you bothered to look at the thread then you’d see the comment was originally made by someone else and I supplied the context that people married girls when they reached puberty and indeed gave some reasons why this goes on today. To say that I made such slurs simply brings you into disrepute.

    The comment you refer to and have falsely accused me of was made in comment #45 which wasn’t made by me. It was in reply to a comment made in #15 and #37 again neither of which I made.

    I have explained like you the context of thinking in medieval times to explain the notion of such marriages. I went further to explain why it may go on today.

    At no point did I say what you claim I said and would appreciate a retraction from you for your nonsense.

    “she is neither inciting murder nor carrying it out and for you to suggest that her views are equivalent to, say, those of abu hamza is quite simply hysterically unbalanced.”
    As better people that I have pointed out her views are to crush the Palestinians utterly into defeat. This involves precisely what the IDF going in with loud speakers and telling of the Palestinains or does it involve worse than that? It is you that can’t see the nature of what she is saying because you are blinded by her prose.

    She is inciting Israel to harsher and hasher reprisals.

    “i do know the rabbi concerned – and his wife, who is also a rabbi. i have a lot of time for them both, but i utterly disagree with this point of view. i know why he holds it, but it’s tactical. i believe he is sacrificing an immense moral principle for short-term gain.”

    Your claim was that you would oppose them to your last. If you know them then I invite you to do so. I know his wife is a Rabbi and held in higher regard than he is amongst those that know.

    “not at all. you come across as if you can’t – just can’t wait to find an excuse to get stuck into israel. that i find both unpleasant and unbecoming.”

    Ok show me where I have criticised Israel for something other than the occupation or threatening its neighbours? Either put up or shut up. I haven’t criticised Israel for other than its conduct to a people that it needs to help and live with. I find nothing wrong with saying when they go overboard that they have done so. Equally I have criticised the Palestinians when they go overboard with suicide bombing. I abhore the stuopidity of both sides in thinking they can win. They are both losing and I am not afraiud to say so and won’t be silenced by you.

    “there is nothing odd about that. i just disagree with you about what a “just society” looks like and how we get to that. this is what annoys me – you cannot understand how there could possibly be any other interpretation of “justice” or any other way of addressing the situation than yours. and that, sir, makes you an extremely blinkered individual.”
    I am not blinkered in my view. I’ve said what they need to do. You tell me then what you think is a just society?

    You just attack those that disagree with you then say I am blinkered, brilliant.

    “but, again, you’re totally misunderstanding and misrepresenting what he is saying – he is not saying that “THE ACTIONS OF ISRAEL” (by which you appear to mean ALL) are contrary to judaism, but that SOME of the actions of israel cannot be reconciled with jewish law – which is perfectly possible, because israel is not run according to jewish law.”

    You and I both know that he was referring to the occupation and so was I. So don’t shift ground and say all actions when you bleedin well know the context. For feck sake you are avoiding the issue.

    “you appear to think you are entitled to sit as judge and jury and that you have the only valid opinion and i am saying that it’s simply not as simple as that.”
    You also seem to think that you are judge and jury which is why you derail all discussion on the subject.

    Your approach is precisely why many Jews are now feeling the need to speak out against what is going on.

    By continually shifting ground and hiding behind security those that stifle the chances of peace are afraid of losing ground and hence attack and question those that push for peace. Even Olmert said most of the issues are resolved or resolvable which scares the hell out of the people who have been pushing for a crushing solution.

    The answer to Q2 is Yemen ;-)

  92. marvin — on 31st July, 2008 at 7:57 am  

    Back to reality, Anti-Semitic incidents ‘rise 9%’

    Incidents involving Jewish students or academics and at colleges rose 88%, from 26 to 49.

    MMM, I wonder, attacks in college, ACADEMICS? Must be that cerebral BNP lot eh!!

    FFS. Get real.

    /Must be Islamophobia!

  93. Roger — on 31st July, 2008 at 8:04 am  

    “And Islam needs people like me, and possibly Refresh, to bring it checks and balances to grow as a liberal, secular, personal religion.”
    But will it still be islam then, Sid?

  94. bananabrain — on 31st July, 2008 at 5:28 pm  

    I’d say the same about you. You actively avoid engaging the issues and simply have a blinkered view of what is going on.

    what-evaaaah. your definition of “blinkered” appears to mean “doesn’t agree with me”.

    A Jewish Agenda is currently being pushed by the right and neocons. It doesn’t mean it has community approval now does it. I mean for feck sake that is why I took care to say it was an agenda and not a community thing.

    i didn’t deliberately misunderstand it. that was what you seemed to be saying and, frankly, that is what your phrasing implies. and even going on what you say you mean, that is frankly suspicious – you now appear to be implying that jews are some kind of stalking-horse for a right-wing agenda; and that is barmy. i reckon you should substantiate that or withdraw it.

    Unlike you I actually talk to a wide range of people.

    i’m talking to a wide range of people just on this site, many of whom really don’t agree with me – rather like yourself. so that doesn’t really make sense.

    If you boethered to grasp the comment instead of flying off on one you’d know that I bleedin well said that multipel wives and concubines were permitted at the time but that Soloman may ahve had too many. I already said that so why bloody go down a route that I’ve already clarified.

    it wasn’t what you said. you said – and i quote: “this is sheer nonsense because David had a number of wives, Jacob had wives and concubines. So we can’t say it was just Soloman – though Soloman has a much larger number.” i have refuted this by showing you from the traditional sources how it can’t refer to david and can only refer to solomon. as for jacob, he married sisters – and you’re definitely not allowed to do that in Torah law, but the tradition explains that as having been done before the Torah was actually given at sinai.

    Right first of all I never made that statement [that muhammad was a paedophile]

    i never said you did. i was disapproving of other people who did.

    however, you did go on at length about how young people were allowed to marry in other cultures (“I supplied the context that people married girls when they reached puberty and indeed gave some reasons why this goes on today.”) and then cited “old testament prophets” in support. i’m not aware of too many cases in the old testament where people married young by modern standards, as opposed to the question of muhammad and a’ishah, although i did supply information about how sexual maturity is evaluated within jewish law. i was asking if you meant something specific, but it seems you were just making general unsupported accusations as usual.

    As better people that I have pointed out her views are to crush the Palestinians utterly into defeat. This involves precisely what the IDF going in with loud speakers and telling of the Palestinains or does it involve worse than that? It is you that can’t see the nature of what she is saying because you are blinded by her prose.

    see, this is that whole thing again where i say i think that one of her views may have some merit and then you choose another of her views which i do NOT support and claim that i do support it. this is what i mean by driving and jeremy clarkson. i have always said that there are a lot of views that she holds that i utterly disagree with and this is yet another example. i really don’t see why you feel the need to try and misrepresent my views in such an extreme fashion.

    Your claim was that you would oppose them to your last. If you know them then I invite you to do so. I know his wife is a Rabbi and held in higher regard than he is amongst those that know.

    you don’t read too well, do you? i said i would oppose the views, not the people. i am in fact rather fond of them as people – but i reserve my right to disagree with them.

    Ok show me where I have criticised Israel for something other than the occupation or threatening its neighbours? Either put up or shut up.

    it is your tone, which continually implies that israel has some kind of aggressive genocidal intent. as for “threatening its neighbours”, i hardly think that given the attitude of iran and its proxies, you can characterise the israelis as looking to *start* anything. it was not israel that started the 2006 lebanon campaign and it was not israel that started threatening to wipe iran off the map.

    I abhore the stuopidity of both sides in thinking they can win. They are both losing and I am not afraiud to say so and won’t be silenced by you.

    i am not trying to silence you. this is one of the few points on which we agree.

    I am not blinkered in my view. I’ve said what they need to do.

    hur, hur, hur. QED – this is exactly what i’m talking about.

    You and I both know that he was referring to the occupation and so was I.

    but that isn’t what you *said*. you said: “the Chief Rabbi said learning from the experiences of exile and not accepting that the actions of Israel are contrary to Judaism” – you did *not* limit it to the occupation. i’m afraid i simply do not believe that you don’t intend to imply what you seem to be implying. if you don’t, why can’t you just write in a more precise fashion and then we wouldn’t end up wasting each other’s time arguing at cross-purposes?

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  95. Avi Cohen — on 31st July, 2008 at 7:18 pm  

    BananaPoliceman – “what-evaaaah. your definition of “blinkered” appears to mean “doesn’t agree with me”.”

    Your definition of blinkered is anyone who dartes to disagree with you on Israel can’t possibly be Jewish.

    “you now appear to be implying that jews are some kind of stalking-horse for a right-wing agenda; and that is barmy. i reckon you should substantiate that or withdraw it.”
    Get lost. You just misrepresent anythign that I say to suit you own agenda. Your here to simply pump your agenda and thats fine but for you to cast such accusations when you know that wasn’t meant is lame.

    Did I say all Jews – I said some right wing Jews and you deviate that to Jews are a stalking horse. Where the feck do you get off misrepresenting what I said.

    “i’m talking to a wide range of people just on this site, many of whom really don’t agree with me – rather like yourself. so that doesn’t really make sense.”
    Then equally your comment that I only talk to people who agree with me doesn’t make sense does it. You want to dish out such comments but not take them.

    “it wasn’t what you said. you said – and i quote: “this is sheer nonsense because David had a number of wives, Jacob had wives and concubines. So we can’t say it was just Soloman – though Soloman has a much larger number.” i have refuted this by showing you from the traditional sources how it can’t refer to david and can only refer to solomon. as for jacob, he married sisters – and you’re definitely not allowed to do that in Torah law, but the tradition explains that as having been done before the Torah was actually given at sinai.”
    Bloody hell – you refuted what? Look at the bleedin context of the discussion taking place and what I said. It was the same as you said but in less detail. So we said the same thing to answer the same question. I don’t even know why you are making such an issue of this.

    “i never said you did. i was disapproving of other people who did.”
    Then kindly say it to them and make yourself clear in whom you are talking to.

    “it seems you were just making general unsupported accusations as usual.”
    I’d say that is your speciality.

    “it is your tone, which continually implies that israel has some kind of aggressive genocidal intent. as for “threatening its neighbours”, i hardly think that given the attitude of iran and its proxies, you can characterise the israelis as looking to *start* anything. it was not israel that started the 2006 lebanon campaign and it was not israel that started threatening to wipe iran off the map.”

    Oh bollocks. I’m sick of your nonsense, try reading what leading Jewish commentators say and you’ll see you position is simply nonsensical. I never said they were genocidal and you’re overblowing things to make people see you in a better light. If you bothered to get your head out of the sand you’ll see that everyone is threatening everyone else in that neighbourhood.

    I suppose your poster boy Mofaz said he was going to Iran for a tea party huh? Israel has been making noises about Iran for a long time.

    The bloody problem is everyone feels threatened by everyone else. That needs to stop including Israel.

    You can’t see that but most people can. Sabre rattling USA style does no good in that region.

    Look at Israel and Syria, when they got down to quietly talking instead of sabre rattling they are making progress on an issue that peopl4e said would never be resolved.

    The Iranian President is a prat and you know I’ve said that. He wouldn’t dare attack Israel he is just saying things to get popularity and as has been highlighted even the clergy in Iran are fed up with him. So he said what he said – do you seriously believe that Iran is a match for the IDF? Hell no it isn’t even close.

    Iran couldn’t defeat Saddam’s Iraq and can only conduct low level wars. By making peace with Syria Israel will neuralise much of the direct threat. Making peace with Lebanon will push it back into Iran alone forcing Iran to consider peace.

    “hur, hur, hur. QED – this is exactly what i’m talking about.”
    So come on Genius I asked you for your position on making peace for Israel so tell me your position.

    My position is give back the land to 67 borders, if the settlers want to stay let them stay under joint citizenship. As regards borders and airspace joint control for 10 years with Israel paying a fee for controlling Palestinian and Syrian airspace and borders. The money to be used to build civilian infrastructure in both countries (Palestine and Syria) thereby giving people jobs and dignity reducing extremism.

    Jerusalem to be shared. Water resources to be shared. Gaza and the West Bank to be linked.

    Arab countries agree to diplomatic relations with Israel fully.

    After 10 years the deal on border control and airspace to be reviewed and can be renewed for a further 10 years. If Israel feels secure then it can reduce the level or withdraw completely. Thus securing the wider area for Israel going forward.

    There now tell me your position.

    “but that isn’t what you *said*. you said: “the Chief Rabbi said learning from the experiences of exile and not accepting that the actions of Israel are contrary to Judaism” – you did *not* limit it to the occupation. i’m afraid i simply do not believe that you don’t intend to imply what you seem to be implying.”

    You really are on a pathetic mission here aren’t you? The Chief Rabbi said “It is forcing Israel into postures that are incompatible in the long run with our deepest ideals.”

    He didn’t say it was in regards to the occupation but everyone understood what he was talking about. So stop your nonsense please. Your goign to end up like your onup poster girl Mel by just taking everything the wrong way.

    Ok I’ve clearly said what I see as a just peace. All I ask is that you:

    a) criticise the areas you disagree with in what I say regarding a just peace.
    b) tell us what you view as a just peace. In your own words your ideas.

    Lets see your opinion clearly please

  96. Avi Cohen — on 1st August, 2008 at 1:35 am  

    BananaPoliceMan – I strongly recommend you read this excellent article by Gideon Levy about the less than gallant exploits (war crimes) of a serving member of the IDF who has never been charged:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1007105.html

    In response to your nonsense about the neocons read these articles about the subject and how debate and criticism are smeared by use of antisemitism slurs:

    http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_27833.shtml

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-levy/on-joe-klein-and-the-jewi_b_115999.html

    As you really hate what I say then this segment of commentary makes significant reading:

    “The Klein thesis shared by a great many commentators and analysts (this writer included) goes something like this: Bush administration policies in the Middle East have had disastrous consequences for the US; Israel too is in a less secure and worse place as a result of these policies; ultimate responsibility for all this lies with the president himself and his hawkish and close group of senior aides–principal among them Veep Cheney; the neoconservatives played an important role in providing an ideological framing for these policies; within that neoconservative world there operates a prominent and tight-knit group of Jewish neocons who are ideologically driven in part by an old school Likudist view of Israeli interests.

    Were the Jewish neocons in control and did they make the fatal decisions? No. Are all Jews neoconservatives or are all neoconservatives Jews? Please! Are the Jews or Israel to blame for the Bush Middle East debacle? Get outta here.

    Something did happen though — there was a failure within the mainstream, Jewish and non-Jewish, to identify the existence of a particular Jewish neoconservative narrative and then to challenge that narrative as being fundamentally flawed in its reading of both American and Israeli interests. One of the causes of that vacuum was the abuse and cheapening of the term anti-Semitism as it was hurled at many who went after Podhoretz, Perle, Feith, and co. They tried, and sadly rather successfully, built a wall of untouchability. Klein is taking his shofar or trumpet to that wall, as many have done before, but Joe is particularly MSM, and therefore important.

    Too many Jewish communal leaders and institutions made the mistake of not standing up and speaking out more against the right-wing excesses of a small minority of their co-religionists. Some even embraced and feted the neocons — a mistake AIPAC particularly excelled in and something I get the impression that AIPAC is at least partially trying to walk itself back from.”

    He sums it up prety well and it is a shame that people hide behind and use whataboutery to stifle this discussion.

    As he rightly said:
    “Too many Jewish communal leaders and institutions made the mistake of not standing up and speaking out more against the right-wing excesses of a small minority of their co-religionists.”

    Sums up what I said about Mel.

    The same is occurring here and the voices issuing warning like myself are being drowned out. Read again what he said and what this thread is saying. The warnings are there for the UK Jewish Community not to go down the same road but will they be heeded?????

  97. Matt — on 1st August, 2008 at 5:13 am  

    Something did happen though — there was a failure within the mainstream, Jewish and non-Jewish, to identify the existence of a particular Jewish neoconservative narrative and then to challenge that narrative as being fundamentally flawed in its reading of both American and Israeli interests.

    Actually, I have a real problem with labeling this a “Jewish neoconservative narrative.” In general, it probably unfairly reduces a certain position to a “Jewish” view. But it probably also ignores that there are certain issues on which Jews are relatively united. Jews in America were and are largely against the Iraq War, but are in favor of other certain “Jewish policies.”

    There surely are a disproportionate number of Jewish neocons, but there are also a disproportionate number of Jewish socialists. To take either stance or any number of other stances as “Jewish” feeds into classicaly antisemitic scapegoating.

    Until you get to something like “most Jews believe Israel ought to exist as a Jewish state,” where people tend to deny that this is a “Jewish” viewpoint. Here, most Jews agree, but suddenly anti-Zionists become squeamish about labeling such a view as “Jewish.”

    The overall effect is to appoint gentiles as spokespersons for Jewish interest, capable of deciding “legitimate” Jewish interests. That’s plain racist.

  98. Avi Cohen — on 1st August, 2008 at 7:53 am  

    Matt – Just like Banana you’ve dived in and hurled labels without reading what the writer clearly stated:

    “Were the Jewish neocons in control and did they make the fatal decisions? No. Are all Jews neoconservatives or are all neoconservatives Jews? Please! Are the Jews or Israel to blame for the Bush Middle East debacle? Get outta here.”

    They didn’t reduce anything and the nonsense of calling peopel anti-semitic and questioning if they are Jewish is a standard nonsense that people then use.

    Freakin read what was said and who said it. They are both Jewish writers and reduced nothing. They simply said something that peope don’t want to hear.

    Again for you he said clearly:
    “Were the Jewish neocons in control and did they make the fatal decisions? No. Are all Jews neoconservatives or are all neoconservatives Jews? Please! Are the Jews or Israel to blame for the Bush Middle East debacle? Get outta here.”

    But you jumped in and responded in the way he said people would. Tragic, simply tragic.

  99. Avi Cohen — on 1st August, 2008 at 8:04 am  

    Matt – ” “Jews in America were and are largely against the Iraq War, but are in favor of other certain “Jewish policies.” ”

    Yes and his point was that they didn’t speak out enough to change the course driven by a small minority.

    The same is happening here because a small vocal minority are driving through their position by implying it is the position of the majority and if anyone gets in their way then certain nasty labelling is used to minimise debate.

    Do most American Jews want peace in the middle east – YES.

    So then why is it that politicians rarely listen to them and listen to right wing organisations? Because that small minority has taken the leading positions.

    It is high time the quick use of anti-semitism stoppped and people realised there is a bleedin problem there and one emerging here namely that a small number of people are driving through their agenda and making the community appear to support it.

    Whether you like it or not simply due to her exposure many people see Melanie Phillips as the voice of the Jewish Community and she is driving through her agenda. It isn’t my agenda or most people’s agenda but that is what comes across.

    That is what happened in the USA. So the choice is either:

    a) stand up to this approach of right and left.
    b) ignore it and when people complain say they are anti-semitic.

    That is what the JEWISH Writers – who are leading writers said.

  100. bananabrain — on 1st August, 2008 at 9:56 am  

    i am so bored of this. your writing is imprecise, you make sweeping generalisations and you continually make the mistaken assumption that what “writers”, “commentators” and a small set of activists is actually representative of what the community actually thinks, with little evidence that you have any idea about what goes on in the different parts of the community apart from, apparently, what you can get from the JC. you continually attribute views to me that i do not hold (repeating the “poster girl” thing again, how ridiculous) and whenever i complain about these tactics, you turn round and say “ooh, no, i don’t do X, it’s you that does X.” it’s just childish and it makes for a very poor level of discussion. you just come across as a rather hysterical keyboard warrior and frankly i think i am wasting my time if you simply ignore my most basic positions, such as “MEL P IS RARELY RIGHT ABOUT STUFF”.

    the ironic thing is that i actually agree with you more or less on the shape of the solution. i just don’t think you understand the practicalities involved and you fail to appreciate that there is some real hatred on the muslim/arab side that it seems to me is quite simply not shared on the israeli side, in terms of accepting the existence of the other and not wanting them all killed, although both sides seem to be quite justifiably driven by fear to a large extent. i am not trying to clam moral ascendancy here – this is simply the result of the fact that israel has a free press and muslim/arab societies don’t. if you don’t believe me, perhaps a palestinian who knows the inside of hamas might be more convincing:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1007097.html

    see ya.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  101. Avi Cohen — on 1st August, 2008 at 11:37 am  

    BananaPoliceman – “i am so bored of this. your writing is imprecise, you make sweeping generalisations”

    I am also bored of your misrepresentations of what I say and your failure to even precisely say what your positions are.

    Your constant shifting leads to little constructive discussion, quite possibly this is your aim. You turn up like a bull in a china shop on each i/p or j/m discussion and derail any attempt to understand both sides.

    The reason I say she is your poster girl is because you continually keep saying people in the community say she is right. A small number do but you keep pushing this.

    “you fail to appreciate that there is some real hatred on the muslim/arab side that it seems to me is quite simply not shared on the israeli side, in terms of accepting the existence of the other”
    If I didn’t realise this then why the hell do I keep emphasing the need to build community relations? Sorry but for someone who speaks of generalisations, you’re doing just that.

    “i just don’t think you understand the practicalities involved”
    The practically is that either peace is made or this just continues in ever vicious circles. So either we all speak up or let them tear lumps out of each other.

    “with little evidence that you have any idea about what goes on in the different parts of the community apart from, apparently, what you can get from the JC”
    Look being frank you’ve provided very little evidence of this supposed link you have with the community and most of your information is glibbed from your own views. You won’t even put into writing your views on the peace formula which I’ve done quite clearly.

    Apart from the twinning of mosques and synagogues you’ve said practically nothing about improving community relations and just rip lumps of people that try and improve this.

    Derailing discussions on these topics isn’t a way of improving relations and sadly thats all you seem to want to do.

    “you just come across as a rather hysterical keyboard warrior”
    I’ll tell you what I shall refrainb from saying anything on Israel and Palestine and Jewish-Muslim relations here on PP for the future and lets see what your contribution will be. Will it be more of the same old approach which strangely Marvin is also taking or will it be a refreshing change of positive ideas.

    I can’t say fairer than that. I’ll leave the ground clear for you so try and do something positive rather than saying you know the community and do a bit of interfaith work.

    Thats a fair way forward.

  102. Avi Cohen — on 1st August, 2008 at 11:47 am  

    Oh and BTW I really don’t give a damn about what Hamas say as they are a bunch of idiots. As regards Arabs whether they have freedom of the press or not the issue is that steps need to be taken to get out of this mess of continual hatred.

    Israel has a free press but the same newspaper highlights an IDF Unit and their despicable war crimes and the fact that nothing – i repeat nothing has been done to bring them to trial.

    Again you highlight Arabs rightly but also look at why Israel has failed to bring to justice someone whom Gideon Levy says has been accused of the vilest crimes possible.

    Your example simply illustrates the fact that you are ignoring things on one side but not the other.

    Hamas are a bunch of idiots, Hezbullah are a bunch of idiots. Muslims are displaying increasing bigotry. Ho do we change this? We need to start building bridges.

    Not sit there and say oh look what they do they are really bad and ignore the growing issue and also what we do.

    Again this simply highlights that you are finger pointing and not really coming through with practical solutions. The ground is yours now and I am now saying anymore.

    Start building bridges here or carry on as you have. Let the people see where you go.

  103. bananabrain — on 1st August, 2008 at 11:58 am  

    The reason I say she is your poster girl is because you continually keep saying people in the community say she is right.

    which is not what being “my poster girl” is, obviously, so it’s a highly inaccurate characterisation.

    Your constant shifting leads to little constructive discussion, quite possibly this is your aim.

    what you seem to think is “constant shifting” is simply a nuanced and complex viewpoint. you just don’t like it because it doesn’t fit into the simple goodies/baddies left/right way you seem to see the world.

    The practically is that either peace is made or this just continues in ever vicious circles. So either we all speak up or let them tear lumps out of each other.

    fine, but generalisations and vague, emotional language are not going to help.

    Look being frank you’ve provided very little evidence of this supposed link you have with the community and most of your information is glibbed from your own views.

    it would be quite hard for me to do that without revealing a lot of personal information, which i’d rather not do online.

    You won’t even put into writing your views on the peace formula which I’ve done quite clearly.

    i thought i just did. it looks more or less like what you’ve just said – in the same way that israel has arab citizens, palestine must have jewish citizens; both sides must grant equality. ultimately, the nation-state is a transitional thing in religious terms imo.

    Apart from the twinning of mosques and synagogues you’ve said practically nothing about improving community relations and just rip lumps of people that try and improve this.

    i’ve already said that i’m not going to write out an entire change programme on the internet; i don’t even work in the community professionally. although a lot of what i do is informal, i’m not going to claim influence that i don’t have. what i do have is a personal and social network which gives me access to nearly all the religious sectors of the community and some fairly influential educational and communal institutions. my ear is to the ground in ways and places that david aaronovitch’s (and melanie phillips’) aren’t.

    i appreciate you seem to be trying to be conciliatory so i thank you for that courtesy.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  104. Sid — on 1st August, 2008 at 12:00 pm  

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  105. Matt — on 4th August, 2008 at 4:35 pm  

    It is high time the quick use of anti-semitism

    This is terribly wrong and a typical example of how Jews are not allowed to contribute to the terms of debate – the sort of subtle, systemic oppression that always goes along with the more obvious. Instead, I insist that it is high time people paid more attention to those who complain of antisemitism instead of immediately dismissing them.

    David Shraub put it very concisely when he said:

    Anti-semitism is not only implicated when someone says “Israel is the Jewish vanguard of world domination”, anymore than racism only occurs when someone says “all those n***ers should go back to Africa.” Anti-semitism, to borrow from Taunya Lovell Banks, is often restricted only to “rabid hate and/or violence.” But anyone who has seriously looked into anti-subordination studies knows that the mechanics which keep certain people in power and others down are rarely that simple.

    Avi, first you define antisemitism, following Klein, then claim his writing doesn’t meet that definition of antisemitism. You ignored what I said about why I had a problem with the discussion of Jewish neocons. Ironically, you accuse me of being an incareful reader. Klein spoke of Jewish neoconservatism in exactly the same way others have talked about Jewish Communism or Jewish Capitalism. It reminds me very much of the story of Harvard’s President who put a quota on the number of Jews who would be allowed as students on the grounds that Jews cheat. When it was pointed out to him that other students cheat as well, he said “Don’t change the subject. I was talking about Jews.” This talk about Jewish neocons is very, very much the same spirit of singly focusing on how Jews act.

    When I brought that up, instead of responding to what I said, you tried to undermine the very idea that antisemitism should be taken seriously except when you think it’s antisemitism. You claimed a sort of power over me to decide what even can be discussed.

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