Conjuring up Islamophobia


by Sunny
24th April, 2006 at 3:59 am    

Blogger Bob Pitt at IW clearly cannot find enough relevant examples of Islamophobia otherwise he wouldn’t be linking to this lame campaign.

To summarise: The Times says Muslim students are complaining about teaching material at a madrasa that tells them to believe non-Muslims are filth. In addition it publishes another article saying the Qu’ran must be understood in context, and there should be more British born imams to teach this stuff, not literalist hard-liners from Iran. Given that British Muslims themselves want the same, this is not unreasonable, you may think.

But no. The Islamic Human Rights Commission, which hilariously thought the most Islamophobic person in Britain was Polly Toynbee at one point, says it’s another example of “Islamophobic bias“. Sheesh.


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  1. Jay Singh — on 24th April, 2006 at 10:08 am  

    They have a beef with Arsenal football club too.

    http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=1743

    The Islamic Human Rights Commission is launching a campaign against Arsenal FC’s support of the racist apartheid state of Israel. The campaign comes as a result of Arsenal FC’s recent deal with Israel to promote it as a tourist destination.

    “As long as apartheid states such as Israel are promoted by Britain’s top football clubs, the ‘kick racism out of football’ campaign will never progress beyond being a hollow slogan.”

    ++++++++

    This is what I detest most about these pressure groups – they infect British society with the poison of their hatreds and issues – making everything in Britain into a big issue for their cause to build up the resentment and rhetoric of ‘Muslims under threat’ – they are a liability to the Muslim community.

  2. Rohin — on 24th April, 2006 at 11:25 am  

    Hehe, I wonder what Emirates think about Arsenal endorsing Israel?

    Hello friends.

  3. Roger — on 24th April, 2006 at 12:49 pm  

    How do islamic human rights differ from unislamic human rights and islamic inhuman rights?
    Is this Bob Pitt the one that used to be part of Gerry Healy’s mob and copped subsiides from saddam and Ghaddaffy among others?

  4. Sunny — on 24th April, 2006 at 1:47 pm  

    hey hey hey Mr Rohin! Is the intrepid world traveller back?

  5. Amir — on 24th April, 2006 at 2:20 pm  

    You see, Sunny: there are two sorts of social commentator (…without generalizing, of course!)
    1) Those who cheapen words
    2) And those who devalue words.
    It’s how a political lexicon ebbs and flows. Take, for instance, the pejorative ‘anti-Semitism’. On the one hand, you’ll get fanatics like Melanie Philips and the Anti-Defamation League who tend to bandy the word around too freely, and hurl it against those who are especially critical of Sharon, Israel’s Occupation, and so on. If everything is ‘anti-Semitism’, then you drain the word of its usefulness. In other words: you cheapen it.

    But then, paradoxically, you get those bone-headed anti-anti-Semites. People like Alexander Cockburn, Ed Herman, Faisal Bodi, and Norman Finkelstein (cough). If anyone so much as winces at their anti-Zionist crusade they’re accused of ‘playing the politics of anti-Semitism’. This puts Jews in a very uncomfortable position. For no insult is just any insult, it’s always ‘really about’ Israel. It devalues the pejorative.

    Ditto in the case ‘Islamophobia’. Jay Singh is right: they’re a liability to the Moslem community.
    Period.

  6. Jai — on 24th April, 2006 at 2:32 pm  

    =>”For no insult is just any insult, it’s always ‘really about’ Israel. It devalues the pejorative……Ditto in the case ‘Islamophobia’.”

    Very well put. On a related but tangential note, both Hamas and the Sudanese government have disavowed OBL’s recent statement where he’d been attempting to encourage another Islamic insurgency in these areas, and had been claiming that proposed Western intervention there is further evidence of a “War against Islam”.

    Good to see that OBL increasingly appears to be losing credibility amongst groups he would like to be his supporters, which I believe has already been happening across various parts of the Arab world.

  7. Sunny — on 24th April, 2006 at 3:10 pm  

    This is exactly what annoys me too – people wasting our time with their constant screaming over trivial issues.

  8. Sid Singh — on 24th April, 2006 at 3:16 pm  

    Is anyone going to tell David Hirsh and the authors of the Euston Manifesto that?

  9. Amir — on 24th April, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    Sid,
    David Hirsh is a bit over-zealous – I agree. But the Euston Manifesto is a decent, well-intentioned (albeit simplistic) blueprint. People should be a bit more amenable to healthy debate and a plurality of ideas on the Left, etc. One of the signatories is Hillel Steiner, who – along with Michael Otsuka and Phillipe van Parjis – helped create the doctrine of ‘left-libertarianism’ – a new school of thought in left-wing economic theory. It’s very, very exciting (trust me).

    So: Anything that gets the signature of Hillel Steiner deserves to be taken seriously.
    http://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/politics/about/staff_profiles/hillel_steiner.htm

    And here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-libertarianism

  10. Sunny — on 24th April, 2006 at 3:33 pm  

    They are parodies of each other aren’t they. Oooh look, I’m the victim, me me me!

  11. Amir — on 24th April, 2006 at 3:49 pm  

    Oh definitely! Each side is a lazy mirror image of the other!

  12. Sid Singh — on 24th April, 2006 at 3:50 pm  

    Amir
    I’ll certainly look into Hillel Steiner, thanks. I’m not convinced that his backing of the EM does not make it (the EM) guilty of the same compulsive-obsessive over-exposure of the ati-Semitic charge as made by IW of Islamophobia. Not as hamfisted (as in the examples that Sunny has pointed out) and certainly not as aggressively as Melanie Phillips. But its up there.

  13. Amir — on 24th April, 2006 at 4:01 pm  

    Sid,
    I can definitely see where you’re coming from. Trust me, I’m very much from the ‘Boris Johnson’ school-of-thought when it comes to cultural/religious/ethnic sensitivities. Ha ha! But I think you’re blowing the ‘self-pity’ argument out of all proportion. The Left has many admirable qualities, but the latent anti-Semitism running through it is not one of them. Please Sid, I beg of you, read this essay by Johann Hari:
    http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=571

    It’s an absolute cracker.

    Ironically, I think the Euston Manifesto has more in common with the ‘vibe’ at Picked Politics than it does at Harry’s Place or Oliver ‘two semesters in a row’ Kamm. Honestly. Re-read it.

  14. Jay Singh — on 24th April, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

    Sid

    Why the need to make the peace and mental torment of Muslims in Britain and the good faith and peace of our society contingent on the Israel/Palestine issue? Read the piece by Shiv Malik on the stupid fuckwit from Derby who went to suicide bomb Tel Aviv to see what the cultivation of this hatred is all about. The obsession with Israel and Jews amongst some in the Muslim community has a very very dark edge to it indeed. This is what is being talked about. I see nothing in the Euston Manifesto that even approaches the level of idiocy of IW – and I wonder why Israel Palestine has been turned into the central source of Muslim identity and ‘anger’ and ‘pain’ in places like Hounslow and Derby, for gods sake!

  15. Sid Singh — on 24th April, 2006 at 4:45 pm  

    Yeah, you know if the IW were to write a manifesto to match the EM it would be harping on about Islamophobia and couch itself in a plethora of cutesy Universalisms. And I would still reject it. The EM does the same, but from the other end of the spectrum. Mark Marquesee said this about the EM, which would be just as valid if you do a search and replace of Muslim for Jew:

    The authors condemn “prejudice against Muslims” but are exercised at far greater length and with much greater passion about what they see as a burgeoning anti-semitism. Yes, there has been an increase in anti-semitic acts and utterances, and yes, at times, people on the left have shown that they are no more immune to this disease – or to any other form of racism – than the rest of a twisted society. But that doesn’t for a moment justify the attempt to smear as anti-semites the pro-Palestine, anti-war left (see my article). The manifesto refuses to acknowledge the painfully obvious fact that the anti-semitism charge is being used indiscriminately by supporters of Israel, and that such indiscriminate usage (repeated in the manifesto) is detrimental to Jews and to democratic debate. People who claim that “political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us” and then routinely smear their opponents as anti-semites and terrorist apologists are nothing but rank hypocrites.

  16. Jay Singh — on 24th April, 2006 at 4:59 pm  

    So what? What is the obsession with Israel Palestine to the extent of making it a point of principle of Muslim life in Britain? Leading to the furnace of resentments that produces suicide bombers and fundamentalists on our campuses and in our society? What good is this doing us? This is a fundamental lack of perspective!

  17. Sid Singh — on 24th April, 2006 at 5:11 pm  

    What is the obsession with Israel Palestine to the extent of making it a point of principle of Muslim life in Britain?

    I admit that South Asian Muslims suffer from an unreciprocated compassion for the plight of Palestinians whereas the large majority of Arabs don’ t know the first thing about South Asian Muslim issues. But to suggest that a Muslim shouldn’t be concerned about Palestine for fear of falling foul to “programmed” anti-Semitism is dismissive and arrogant and wholly uncharacteristic of you. Would a Muslim be anti-Chinese if they felt strongly about the illegal occupation of Tibet?

    I only wish Norman Geras and crew were as honest as you when you rightly suggest that the Palestine issue leads to the “furnace of resentments that produces suicide bombers and fundamentalists on our campuses and in our society”.

  18. Jay Singh — on 24th April, 2006 at 5:38 pm  

    But what is it Sid? It has become a canker on the side of Muslim life in Britain and produced the paraffin that turns Pakistani boys in Derby, Leeds and Hounslow into suicide bombers. It’s totally out of proportion and as Raz has so eloquently said in the past, it’s about time Muslims in this country stopped obsessing on this and put things in perspective. There was a case recently about some guy planning to hit synagogues – this obsession and hatred is turning against US in OUR SOCIETY now – this politics of division stinks.

  19. Sid Singh — on 24th April, 2006 at 5:59 pm  

    I dunno Jay. To paraphrase Mohammed Ali:
    No Jew ever called me a Paki

    But plenty of Arabs have and continue to treat South Asians like untermenschen. But both Sunny and I have highlighted those practices. I’ve also blogged and commented on Muslims needing to address their own anti-Semitism. Particuarly South Asian Muslims, who come ‘hard-wired’ with prejudices against Hindus but have no experience of living side by side with Jews in their homelands.

    But you can’t claim to write a Manifesto for the Left and expressly gloss over, and defend, the illegal occupation of Israel just in case it should aggravate anti-Semitism. Well, actually you can.

  20. Yusuf Smith — on 24th April, 2006 at 7:32 pm  

    The practice of numbering non-Muslims among types of filth seems to be standard in Shi’ite religious law texts – Robert Spencer has on more than one occasion drawn attention to Sistani’s tendency to do this in order to cast aspersions on his “moderate” credentials. ICE-L is basically an Iranian foundation, and given that any Shi’ite Muslim would care more for the endorsement of Qom than of Middlesex, one wonders why Middlesex accredits these courses.

  21. Bikhair — on 24th April, 2006 at 8:24 pm  

    Jay Singh,

    I agree with you that Muslims do often care about the Palestinian situation more than any other group of Muslims and dare I say maybe even their religion. But we arent the only ones who obsess. It might just be the case that our obsession is directly related to the attention the conflict gets in the Western press and in the West in general. I mean we arent the only ones keeping this alive.

    I have spoken to so many non Muslims about the issue of the Jewish tribe in Arabia Banu Qurayza. Can anyone tell me why the death of the men of this Jewish tribe means so much for these people today? Especially considering that Pagan Arabs werent given as many options upon defeat by the Muslims like the Jews and the Christians were. Do you ever hear anyone wax regrettably about the fate of Pagan Arabs in Prophet Muhammed’s Arabia?

  22. Ravi4 — on 24th April, 2006 at 9:52 pm  

    Here’s something bizarre – white Neo-Nazi becomes extremist jihadi Islamist. (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,170-2149297,00.html)

    Even seems anti-semitism was one of his main motivations for conversion.

    If someone tried to write satire like this it’d be rejected for being too obvious.

  23. Refresh — on 25th April, 2006 at 12:09 am  

    I guess the respite has been longer than the week we expected – and Pickled Politics has been better for it.

    Back to the fray I guess..

    As someone else had said Islamophobia Watch (IW) is reportage.

    The article in question is dubious in its foundation for the simple reason that despite following the links I could not see what the issue was. What were the specifics in question? I’d be interested to know.

    Amir – read the Johan Hari article – yes it is a cracker and definitely worth a read. Says a lot about perspectives. The point Hari makes about 1967 and the offer made to Yasser Arafat in 2000 is absolutelly relevant on many counts.

    The disaster that unfolded from thereon leaves us with our hands in despair.

    With Israelis forever wondering about their future, and the Palestinians seemingly forever struggling.

    What is most painful to me is that Muslims have always had good relations with Jews – but the last 60 years has poisoned the well and it needs to be corrected. Muslims like the rest of the world are not by nature bad hosts – but they make for poor victims.

    I will never understand why so soon after Israel came about – they happily joined in with attacking Egypt along with the British and French. Why when these are the neighbours you would need if you are going to be living on the block.

    I am reading a book ‘Zionism – Enemy of the Jews’ which is fascinating and you should read it too.

    There is now a lot to be reclaimed, and I sincerely hope its not too late. Muslims need to look past the last 60 years and recognise their cousins; and Israel will have no choice but to recognise that their’s was a flight from the 2 millenia old anti-semitic Europe.

    Jay I really cannot explain why muslims will never let go of the issue of Plaestine – other than to say that a great injustice has been inflicted in a land which hosts the third holiest site for Islam.

    When Yasser Arafat refered to risking being assasinated if he should accept the terms Barak ‘generously’ put forward and Clinton tried to force through – it was this religious context Arafat was referring to (in my opinion).

    I guess it would be like Sikhs handing over dominion of the Golden Temple. Its probably that simple.

    The other aspect to consider, when there is an occupying force is that resistance will eventually force the occupier to leave. The problem we have here is that the occupiers do not necessarily feel they’ve occupied enough. And the occupier has nowhere else to go.

  24. Samuel — on 25th April, 2006 at 12:18 am  

    refresh

    Muslims will have to get used to sharing ‘the third holiest site for Islam’ with Jews – because Israel is going nowhere, even when the independent Palestinian state is established. Lets say the occupation ends and Palestine is free – are you saying that Muslims will still seek to reclaim sovereignty over Jerusalem, even though it is the HOLIEST city of Judaism, not the third? I see this as part of the mental shackles of Muslims on this issue. They have to face up to this and learn to accept this.

  25. Jay Singh — on 25th April, 2006 at 12:23 am  

    Refresh

    The Amritsar analogy does not work. Amritsar is the equivalent of Mecca for Sikhs. One of the most important Sikh Gurdwaras is under foreign dominion – the temple in Pakistan where Guru Nanak was born. As long as Sikhs get access they dont see any problem – Muslims should look at the access to their holy places in Israel in the same light.

    But still the question remains, why have Muslim organisations in the UK fanned the flames of the issue so much that it becomes a cause for which British lads kill themselves (and dozens of other people) for? It is totally off the hook – it is a totally manufactured grievance for British Muslims to the extent that it features in Muslim discourse, adding to extremism and hatreds here.

  26. Refresh — on 25th April, 2006 at 12:31 am  

    Samuel, Jay I did fear that we’d end up comparing rankings.

    Nevertheless you have my view.

    I thought most important point I was making was how to correct the issues – to reverse hatreds fostered and developed over the last 60 years.

    Be interested in your views.

  27. Jay Singh — on 25th April, 2006 at 12:45 am  

    Refresh

    I come from this as an outsider. I have no religious or personal stake in Israel-Palestine. I did not even know or care about the issue until I started reading about it in the last few years, probaly since 9/11. Everyone knows the basics – the Palestinians should be given their statehood. That is self evident.

    What I am commenting on is the stuff I see and hear and read about around the issue. It is preposterous and ridiculous for people to make it an issue in British society and make the conditions of that conflict a concern or an identity issue for Muslims in British society – the politicisation of this has been utterly disastrous for Muslims. It is beyond belief that in the last few years suicide bombers reared on a diet of paranoid all consuming rhetoric about the existential Zionist entity should have come from Derby and London and Leeds. I am concerned about the effect this has on us in our society. The radicalisation, the alienation it engenders and cultivates, all fed by ‘the leadership’. It is wrong.

    These are just my observations. I doubt it can be turned around, I fear that this issue has been so cultivated that it will fester in our cities and cause bad blood and radicalisation now. But it is a bad bad thing. Raz has a lot to say on this issue too.

  28. Siddhartha Sinatra — on 25th April, 2006 at 12:47 am  

    Refresh

    I think the conflict is more akin to the India-Pakistan partition of 1947 when peoples from both sides of the border were uprooted from their ancestral homes and were forced to move to another country based on religious and ethnic divisions. Its an event whose lingering emotional scars and baggage are carried by Sikhs, Mulsims and Hindus from that part of the world to this day.

  29. Jay Singh — on 25th April, 2006 at 12:47 am  

    The whole thing is out of proportion – some people have completely lost their perspective on the issue.

  30. Jay Singh — on 25th April, 2006 at 12:52 am  

    Just to clarify:

    I understand why Muslims feel a certain way about this.

    My point is this – the degree to which it has become all consuming is unhealthy – plus – it is being exploited by those who don’t have the welfare of Muslims in Britain in their heart – those who view Sajda and Abid in Manchester and Ilford as expendable to be stoked and hyped up to meet their political agendas. Do you see what I mean? They do not care about what it means to struggle to make a place in British society, find a job, raise kids. All that matters is Palestine and the Ummah.

    Raz jump in if you feel like it.

  31. Refresh — on 25th April, 2006 at 1:17 am  

    Jay of course its a bad thing. I am not sure there is any loss of perspective. It is one of the biggest issues for us all, and we cannot dismiss it so easily. (I mentioned a book – please do get hold of it or some of Dilip Hiro stuff). Although we all have to admit 9/11 has changed how people view the same thing, but the reality is still the same.

    From a general (non-community point of view) the comments I made at the end of my intervention are the core issues – we have two ‘communities’ one having been forced out and the other forever fearful. We must satisfy both – otherwise there is no solution.

    If you read the Johan Hari article, then you would see there is a way forward.

    The hatred fostered are on both sides of the argument. The ploughing in of all the latecomers determined to put the blame entirely on one side of the argument is now the complicating factor.

    I said, perhaps not clearly enough, we must address the fears of the Israelis, and also recognise the dignity of the Palestinians. And then – see it for it is – an expression of generosity not expected of anyone else on the planet.

    I am convinced all the other issues will begin to fall away.

    Sid, I am not sure its that close to the Indo-Pak issue ( understand the similarities ) – the serious difference is that the communities that formed the 2 wings of Pakistan and India were from within. Partition.

    The basis of Israel was ‘a land without people for a people without land’. But that wasn’t quite true.

  32. Sunny — on 25th April, 2006 at 1:21 am  

    I guess the respite has been longer than the week we expected – and Pickled Politics has been better for it.

    Refresh – it remains part of our core philosophy to highlight stupidity within our own communities over issues of religion or whatever. Without critical introspection – we are useless.

  33. Jay Singh — on 25th April, 2006 at 1:23 am  

    Refresh – even though suicide bombers have emerged from the suburbs of Leeds, Hounslow and Derby, stoked by the fires of paranoia over the Zionist boogie man, you really do not think that there has been a loss of perspective in Britain? Really? You dont think this obsession is unhealthy? I think we are on different pages of the book then.

  34. Refresh — on 25th April, 2006 at 1:29 am  

    I don’t know Sunny. If we knew where we were all going I could respond appropriately.

    Stupidity one minute perhaps isn’t the next – we never know.

    Attitudes change, we develop (or think we do). Society moves on , and then with a thud things start moving into reverse.

    Nothing is permanent – everything is there to be moulded.

    Are we responding or moulding? Just some rash thoughts…

  35. Refresh — on 25th April, 2006 at 1:33 am  

    Jay, the loss of perspective I am referring to is the importance of the issue of Palestine/Israel for all of us.

    Not least because the whatever happens there has the potentional to damage the rest of the world.

    Probably best to stay on the same page.

  36. Sunny — on 25th April, 2006 at 1:50 am  

    I don’t know Sunny. If we knew where we were all going I could respond appropriately.

    where are we going with what?

  37. raz — on 25th April, 2006 at 1:57 am  

    Jay, you know my views very well. I am so sick and tired of hearing the same spiel about ‘Zionists’ and ‘the occupation’, even from the most liberal of Muslims. The fanaticism with which the Palestine issue is regarded with borders on a form of mental illlness – I’m not joking! If Muslims dedicated 1% of their energy devoted to bashing Israel to activities actually useful for British Muslims (like for instance doing something about the fact that Muslims make up some of the least educated, least paid and least healthy sections of the UK) then some good might actually come of it. But what do I know?

  38. Refresh — on 25th April, 2006 at 2:10 am  

    Raz, in the normal day how often do you come across the Israel/Palestine issue? From muslims and non-muslims?

    For me, extremely rarely. In fact I can’t recall the last conversation I had on the subject. I may not be representative of the population.

    Seriously we need put a check on this exaggeration.

  39. Sunny — on 25th April, 2006 at 2:20 am  

    I think he may be referring to politically active Muslims.

    Certainly, most Muslims I know are not obsessed about the issue. I could say I follow it more strongly. But Muslim bloggers, or the ones politically active – they want a simple campaign they can vent their anger on. Rather than the MCB, Israel makes an easier target.

  40. raz — on 25th April, 2006 at 2:31 am  

    Yes I am referring more to the politically minded (although I’ve heard blatent anti-semitism from A LOT of people).

    An anectodal point:

    When I was at University, the Islamic society tried to get the Jewish society banned because it was supporting the ‘racist state’ of Israel. Seriously, why is it so damn important? Isn’t there enough hatred in the Middle East iteself, without transplanting it to the UK as well?

    I want to see less of that and more of this:

    http://www.maimonides-foundation.org/index.php

  41. Refresh — on 25th April, 2006 at 9:51 am  

    Good link Raz. That’s where I want it to be.

    Reclaiming our histories.

    As for anti-semitism, I’ve had to challenge that and its come from the most unlikely quarters.

  42. Jai — on 25th April, 2006 at 10:45 am  

    Some belated thoughts from me:

    1. Amritsar can’t be compared to Jerusalem, for the reasons Jay Singh has stated, and also because it’s supposed to be a holy site (indeed, a refuge — like all gurdwaras) for the whole of mankind, regardless of religious affiliation. Of course, the etiquette to be observed in its day-to-day running, and within the premises itself, is supposed to be according to traditional Sikh lines on the matter, but once a person sets foot inside the building (or, again, any gurdwara), he/she is just a member of the human race under one God (ie. no religious distinctions).

    So while the Mecca analogy is apt, this is the major difference (along with the fact that “pilgrimages” to Amritsar are not mandatory or even required). Amritsar belongs to all of mankind, equally.

    2. The obsession with Palesine, Isreal and Jews amongst some UK-based Muslims has already been discussed on this thread. However, it’s worth remembering that neither the majority population nor the Government is going to allow the UK to be used as a “base” for the promotion of activity hostile to the official relationship between Britian and a foreign state, especially if it involves violent/terrorist actions.

    3. Following on from this, at the risk of sounding like someone from our parents’ generation, it’s unwise to forget what happened in Uganda (although my own parents actually come directly from India). If certain groups are perceived to be causing too much trouble in the UK, then sooner or later the patience of the rest of the British population is going to snap and, in the interests of self-preservation and the maintenance of what they perceive to be their basic way of life, they will start implementing appropriate laws and taking measures to rectify the situation. There is such a thing as pushing people too far.

  43. Jay Singh — on 25th April, 2006 at 10:53 am  

    I just want people like the MCB to get over their obsession – playing politics with things is alienating them from mainstream society – especially over the Holocaust Memorial thing which is absolutly catastrophic for the image of Muslims in Britain and which they dont seem to realise. Any religious politics that focusses on issues outside the shores of Britain is pernicious – and I include the Sikh Federation and RSS affiliates here who also worry more about what is happening in India than what is happening in London or Leicester or Birmingham. They need to turn their faces away from those places and let them be and start engaging 100% with English society and not make things contingent on overseas politics so that those issues get stoked amongst people here.

  44. Jay Singh — on 25th April, 2006 at 11:39 am  

    Really Jai? So what do you think it will take for Uganda situations to develop, given that Britain is a constitutional democracy and not a banana republic ruled by a lunatic dictator?

  45. Jai — on 25th April, 2006 at 11:48 am  

    I have no idea, Jay. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to live in someone else’s house and start using it as a base to unjustifiably cause unnecessary trouble either within the building itself or in the houses of people living down the street, even if you happen to have been born in the house and its original owners have been considerate enough to let you regard it as your home too.

  46. Jay Singh — on 25th April, 2006 at 11:54 am  

    Well, there are a few Khalistanis and Hindutvadis wanking about too so I guess we all have something to look forward to in that case!

  47. Rohin — on 25th April, 2006 at 11:56 am  

    “even if you happen to have been born in the house and its original owners have been considerate enough to let you regard it as your home too.”

    I find that comment very interesting coming from you Jai.

  48. Jai — on 25th April, 2006 at 2:47 pm  

    =>”I find that comment very interesting coming from you Jai.”

    Why is that, Rohin ?

  49. Rohin — on 25th April, 2006 at 3:08 pm  

    Let me try and explain. You are one of the people on here who I think has similar views to me on things like integration, nationality, Britain etc. So the analogy you used of being born in someone else’s house and the owners of the house being considerate to let people stay struck me as odd. It’s not the kind of language I have come to expect from you. I know you’re drawing an analogy to make a point here and I know I may have misconstrued what you said – but do you get what I mean about the language being unusual? I don’t regard myself as staying in someone else’s house. Despite not being born in this house (as you mention that) I feel this is my house just as much as anyone else.

    When I state that immigrant communities should integrate into the British way of life, I don’t mean they should behave as though they are welcome guests – which is what you seem to say. Don’t worry about it, I know this is a laboured point and I haven’t changed my opinion of you or anything!

  50. Jai — on 25th April, 2006 at 3:29 pm  

    Rohin,

    It’s a slightly convoluted analogy, but you seem to have got the gist of what I was saying anyway.

    We may — rightfully — feel that this is “our house”, but there was a time not so long ago when many of the original “owners” were quite happy to make our parents and us feel as unwelcome as possible. This has changed in recent years, fortunately. We are also lucky in that the legal infrastructure of this “house” automatically confers citizenship in those born here, and facilitates (relatively) easy citizenship to others.

    However, despite both the culture and the legal system being amenable to all of us these days, it doesn’t mean that this would necessarily stay that way if troublesome groups give the majority population sufficient reason (or excuse, in the case of the nastier types) to change their accomodating stance and “go backwards”.

    There is a risk of undoing all the progress that has been made by both the indigenous population and the immigrant communities over the past few decades. This is the main point I am trying to make — I’m certainly not talking about some kind of “gas chamber”option which Refresh has occasionally mentioned, but if people’s tolerance runs out and irritation becomes the overriding emotion instead of empathy & fairness, the (hypothetical) possibility of matters taking a nastier course isn’t, well, impossible. Human history shows that, depending on both external triggers and internal pressures, societies, cultures, and legal systems can change, sometimes unexpectedly so.

  51. Don — on 25th April, 2006 at 3:44 pm  

    Since all any of us have is a ‘Summer’s lease’ (rolls eyes piously heavenwards) we are more flatmates, no?

    Of course, some flatmates can be such a nightmare that the rest of the house starts checking the small print …

  52. Jai — on 25th April, 2006 at 4:03 pm  

    “Flatmates” is a great analogy, Don, but if the flat was originally rented by some people already, and they make room to accomodate another family who move in much later, then the latter have an obligation not to take advantage of the formers’ hospitality, no ?

    Let’s use another (and to some extent very Asian) example. A woman marries into a large family. The latter happily treat her as “one of their own” and do not exhibit any prejudice against her in relation to the original family members. They also “bend the rules”in order to accomodate her own foibles and idiosyncracies, as she is originally from another family and these things are to be expected. It would then be very bad form indeed if the woman proceeded to deliberately wreak havoc in (or take gross liberties with) her in-laws’ family.

  53. Sunny — on 25th April, 2006 at 6:47 pm  

    I don’t buy the original analogy used by Jai. I think the problem isn’t that the new tenants (or flatmates) are not being considerate enough, but rather that they still don’t regard it as their house.

  54. Roger — on 25th April, 2006 at 6:53 pm  

    “what do you think it will take for Uganda situations to develop? ”

    There’s a long way to go, but in some ways the situation in Britain and the attitude to immigrants and refugees in general and muslims of any kind in particular, is more hostile than it used to be. There is less general racism and more specific hostility- the very term asylum seeker instead of refugee is one sign of how public attitudes and thought have been damaged. It’s noticeable that the BNP has positioned itself as anti-islamic not racist in its recent propaganda; presumably they think that they are more likely to gain support like that. Even more worrying, they may be right.

  55. Jai — on 25th April, 2006 at 6:59 pm  

    Sunny,

    =>but rather that they still don’t regard it as their house.”

    Yes, that too.

    The problem is that by maintaining that mindset, their subsequent negative actions will cause some of the original “flatmates” to feel that it’s not the the “new arrivals’” house either. Vicious circle etc.

  56. Ravi4 — on 25th April, 2006 at 10:00 pm  

    I agree with Rohin – this is fundamentally not someone else’s house. But I don’t think there’s a real disagreement here on that point.

    The trouble with the analogy for me is this. By talking about the need for us to live by the rules of this “new house”, we’re making an assumption that the phenomenon we’re worried about – extremism by Muslims, Sikhs, hindus, Tamils, Sinahlese, Palestinians whatever – would be acceptable if we were back in our “old house” ie the mother country. But I don’t think Jai and the others in the thread do mean that – at least I hope not. Support for suicide bombing, destruction of places of worship, expulsion of peoples of different religions, banning criticism of our own society and religion etc should surely be unacceptable whether we live here or not if what we want to do is build decent humane societies.

    I totally agree that as citizens of this country we have to engage fully and wholeheartedly with the political and social life of this country. (I speak as someone married to a “native”.) But I hope that doesn’t mean giving up our links to our ancestral countries. I think our link to the “old country” is one of the major contributions or “value added” we bring to UK society.

    I hope we can stay engaged in what happens back there. Contribute our knowledge and experience to debates about the UK’s policy towards what happens back there. Do what we can to ensure that the UK acts to help do good instead of ill back there. But in all this act according to universal standards of decency and humanity – not prejudice, ignorance, bigotry, violence etc. And of course don’t get obsessed by it and act as if we are totally disengaged with what’s happening around us here on a day to day basis too. I think we’d all advocate that kind of behaviour whether we’re in the new house or back in the old.

    (Sorry to come over all rhetorical – sound of violins, angelic choirs etc)

    So I don’t think there’s any problem with Brit Muslims feeling a certain particular sympathy for the Palestinians and their problems in part because of their co-religionist status. Where I do have the problem is with the support for extreme and inhumane action allegedly in order to help the Palestinians (which of course often has the opposite effect).

    (As others in this thread have said, the UK media’s own reporting of the situation often doesn’t help either.)

    We’re back to that universality – vs relativism thing again. Did someone mention the Euston Manifesto…

  57. Sunny — on 26th April, 2006 at 12:35 am  

    I’m with Ravi4 on this too. I don’t inherently see a problem with supporting Palestinian rights by Muslims or anyone. Hell, I’m there too.

    The problem is twofold:
    1) When that is used as an excuse to conjure up Zionist conspiracies and inevitably leads to losing all sense of proportion or sense (see MPAC).

    2) That is all one cares about, as some Muslims supposedly against oppression are. Actually it’s not just a Muslim thing. I see Hindus, Christians and Sikhs only obsessing about their own as if there is a pecking order in whose life is more worthy. Either you care about human life full stop, or you’re fooling yourself. I think many of the people supposedly asking for Palestinian rights are fooling themselves and others.

    And yes, I also agree that extremism must be countered everywhere, but I think the boys meant more in terms of just demanding extra preferences (“we’d like all our toilet seats to face Mecca please”).

  58. Amir — on 26th April, 2006 at 2:00 am  

    Ravi4,
    Great post. And I agree: there is nothing at all unreasonable about particularist empathy. We all do it: the human mind can only devote so much energy to each and every instance of human privation. People tend to narrow it down to a ‘short-list’ (for want of a better word).

    But Ravi, I get the impression that you’re skimming over an unpleasant reality vis-à-vis Israel-Palestine: there is a huge gulf between particularist empathy for group ‘x’ and an anal retentive/aggressive obsession with group ‘x’ to the detriment of ‘y’ and ‘z’. It leads, under all circumstances, to a mental taxonomy of people as ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ victims; at any rate, it is a habit of thinking and behaving where millions of people can be branded like cattle and assertively labelled as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s called nationalism.

    Admittedly, Israel is committing real and terrible crimes in the Occupied Territories – but it does seem that human rights abuses committed by Jews are accorded a unique status by much of the Left (note to Sid: that is why it receives disproportional lip-service from the Euston Manifesto). Over the past 15 years, Russia has slaughtered at least 300,000 people in Chechnya – 40,000 of them children. (By comparison, some 3,600 Palestinians have been killed during the second Intifada, as well as 800-1000 Israeli civilians.) In fact – and this will shock some people – the Jordanian authorities have killed more Palestinians than the Israelis: an estimated 22,000. And what about the 250,000 black Sudanese who have been butchered in Darfur since the beginning of ‘that’ genocide? And yet, it is Israel who receives the lion’s share of blame. Why it that?

    (Note to Sid, do you honestly believe that signatories of the Euston Manifesto – i.e. Geras, Cohen, Makiya, etc. – are card-carrying members of the Likud Party? Of course not.)
    Amir

  59. raz — on 26th April, 2006 at 2:42 am  

    “Over the past 15 years, Russia has slaughtered at least 300,000 people in Chechnya – 40,000 of them children. (By comparison, some 3,600 Palestinians have been killed during the second Intifada, as well as 800-1000 Israeli civilians.) In fact – and this will shock some people – the Jordanian authorities have killed more Palestinians than the Israelis: an estimated 22,000. And what about the 250,000 black Sudanese who have been butchered in Darfur since the beginning of ‘that’ genocide? And yet, it is Israel who receives the lion’s share of blame. Why it that?”

    While I agree with this I would add:

    Violence against Jews is also minor in comparison. As you say, a mere 1000 Israelis have died in the conflict – and yet every suicide bomb in Israel is headline news. Why are Israeli deaths given so much attention? In my opinion, both Palestinean and Israeli deaths (and crimes) are given far too much significance. The Euston Manifesto people need to recognise this, rather than just focusing on one side of the issue. In fact the Euston Manifesto people should never have mentioned Israel-Palestine in so much detail. It’s not that important. Same goes for Islamic terrorism, which has also killed far less people than Russia in Chechnya, India in Kashmir, North Korea, Sudan etc. If they want us to believe in their ‘universal principles’, then they need to drop the narrow (and predictable) focus that they took.

  60. Amir — on 26th April, 2006 at 3:02 am  

    Raz,
    The Manifesto is merely responding to a growing trend within its own ranks: the fashionable anti-Zionist lobby and anti-imperialist gurus who attribute everything to the unquestionable evils of Israel and the United States – regardless of any context whatsoever. Simple as. And why shouldn’t they be allowed to talk about it: what’s so wrong about trying to address irrational prejudices held by members of your own ideological community, so to speak? If, for example, a liberal Islamic organization tried to distance itself from, say, Pizza HuT or the MPAC – would you, then, be prepared to denounce it for double-standards and compromising (betraying?) its universalist principles? No, you wouldn’t.
    The Euston Manifesto is decent – I like it.
    Amir

  61. Amir — on 26th April, 2006 at 3:13 am  

    Not perfect, by any means – but ‘decent’, most definitely.

    (oh shit, have I just posted a ‘straw man’ for everyone to knock down… ???)

  62. Refresh — on 26th April, 2006 at 9:34 am  

    ‘oh shit, have I just posted a ‘straw man’ for everyone to knock down… ???)

    Hahaha, Yes you have. You’re far more generous to them and their intentions than necessary, but given they are getting far too much attention, I will attempt not to comment further.

  63. Amir — on 26th April, 2006 at 3:36 pm  

    Refresh,
    You made an earlier recommendation:

    ‘Zionism – Enemy of the Jews’ by Alan Hart

    Sorry, but it’s an awful, self-indulgent ‘thesis’. Not, of course, if you’re a member of the Neturei Karta. But for a historian of the Middle-East, it stinks. Mr. Hart – a well-known sycophant for the miserable reign of Yasser Arafat – misrepresents, omits, and ‘cherry picks’ from the writings of Herzl and Jabotinsky, de-contextualises the existential appeal of Zionism per se (i.e. Dreyfus, Hitler, the Russian pogroms, The Great Arab Revolt, the MacDonald White Paper, etc.) and uses a few salient passages to convince us that Zionism is ahistorically chauvinistic (note: the same technique that Oriana Fallaci and Robert Spencer adopt via Islam). Hart also conflates socialist militants like the Haganah with revisonist terrorists like Irgun (Lehi) and religious fanatics like Mafdal.

    A useful corrective, by the way, is this book:

    Read it for a balanced perspective.

  64. Refresh — on 26th April, 2006 at 4:03 pm  

    I don’t think I will. Can I assume you’ve read Alan Hart?

    The book you refer to is supported / published by The European Jewish Publication Society.

    Generally I tend to look for material which is from ‘culturally unconnected sources’. Dilip Hiro is another writer I find very interesting.

    I would like to know a lot more about the Neturei Karta – I know very little at the moment, other than their opposition to Zionism on the basis of their faith.

  65. Refresh — on 26th April, 2006 at 4:09 pm  

    Dilip Hiro’s:

    Sharing the Promised Land: A Tale of Israelis and Palestinians

  66. Amir — on 26th April, 2006 at 4:36 pm  

    Refresh,
    Well, yes, I’ve read Hart’s books – vol. 1 and 2.

    So, you want to learn more about Zionism, but, paradoxically, you’re unwilling to read Laqueur’s superb contribution to the debate? Your reason: Because it’s commissioned by a Jewish organization!? Come off it. Some of the most virulent critics of Israeli politics have all been Jewish: Chomsky, Hitchens, Benny Morris, Martin van Creveld, Tom Segev, Michael Walzer, Israel Shahak, Yuri Avneri, Neve Gordon, and Yigel Bronner. (And yes – they too had help from Jewish publishers).

    Trust me: Laqueur’s book is a sober and mature analysis. It’s the ultimate point-of-reference. It appears to me, however, that you just want polemical material to satisfy your own pre-conceived notions. Laqueur is an anti-polemicist. And it’s the best place to start, my friend.

    In any case, almost all our commentary on the Israel-Palestine dispute is unconsciously ethnocentric, so you can’t escape it – no matter how hard you try. It’s just a matter of sorting the wheat from the chaff (and I can help you on that count).
    Amir

  67. Amir — on 26th April, 2006 at 4:51 pm  

    Refresh,
    The Neturei Karta is an ‘unorthodox orthodox’ branch of Judaism with an insidious penchant for military strongmen like Yasser Arafat and a theological loathing of Zionism – which, to them, is an affront to God. Neturei Karta teaches that Jews must wait for God to end the exile of the Jews, and that human attempts to do so are sinful.

    To take a recent example: In March 2006, several members visited Iran where they met with Iranian statesmen, including the Vice-President, and praised Ahmadinejad for calling for the State of Israel to be ‘wiped off the map.’ The spokesmen commented that they shared Ahmadinejad’s aspiration for ‘a disintegration of the Israeli government’. When asked by reporters, the group also mentioned that they were not bothered by Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial.

    See here
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1139395563055&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    Amir

  68. Amir — on 26th April, 2006 at 5:15 pm  

    Let me put it to you this way: Neturei Karta is a Jewish equivalent to Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan. Shoko Asahara is the Japanese equivalent of Rabbi Moshe Hirsch.

  69. Refresh — on 26th April, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

    What I really want is the conflict to end. Yes of course I want to understand what needs to be done to end it.

    I have no reason to assume that everyone else’s contribution is inaccurate or not worthwhile.

  70. Lopakhin — on 26th April, 2006 at 6:24 pm  

    Bikhair: I have spoken to so many non Muslims about the issue of the Jewish tribe in Arabia Banu Qurayza. Can anyone tell me why the death of the men of this Jewish tribe means so much for these people today? Especially considering that Pagan Arabs werent given as many options upon defeat by the Muslims like the Jews and the Christians were. Do you ever hear anyone wax regrettably about the fate of Pagan Arabs in Prophet Muhammed’s Arabia?

    You mean to say he did just as bad stuff to the pagan Arabs? (*rushes off to his Islamic history textbooks to gen up*)

  71. Bikhair — on 26th April, 2006 at 9:08 pm  

    Lopakhin,

    Hey whats up? Listen we need to speak about Taqiyyah remember?

    The Pagan Arabs werent given a choice of bansihment or jizyah, they had to convert.

  72. Lopakhin — on 27th April, 2006 at 9:29 am  

    I left an answer here.

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