Yet more thoughts on Anti-Semitism

A long time ago (when I was still at university), I was doing a cryptic crossword with a friend. The clue was something about Jews and Arabs. We puzzled over it. Triumphantly, I shouted the answer: “Semite!”
“Arabs aren’t Semites!” said my friend, who happened to be Jewish.
“Go back and read the Old Testament again,” I said. “Remember all that stuff about Abraham having a son called Ishmael with Hagar? Ishmael, the one from whom the Arabs were descended?”
[In fact, the traditions differ somewhat, with the Jews and Christians believing that Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac, and the Muslims believing that Abraham (Ibrahim) was asked to sacrifice Ishmael.]
“Well, how come some Arabs are anti-Jewish and some Jews are anti-Arab?” asked my friend. “Does this mean that they’re both being anti-Semitic?”
“Technically, yes.”

Anyway, I just looked up “Semite” in the dictionary, and yes, I was correct. It can be used to refer to Jewish people, but it can also refer to the Akkadians, the Canaanites, the Phoenicians and the Arabs. It is derived from “Shem” (as in the first son of Noah), because all these peoples are believed to have descended from Shem.

I thought of this when I read about Professor Raphael Israeli’s recent comments that Muslim immigration should be limited and that Muslims are intrinsically violent. I am glad to see that the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council has dropped its support for Professor Israeli. Such comments are divisive, unhelpful and inaccurate.

I also thought of this when I looked at the anti-Jewish comments on the “Mission Islam” website for a previous post and Sheikh Feiz Mohammed’s comments on Jews for another post. As I have noted elsewhere, Hamas and Hezbollah use the so-called “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as “proof” that there is a Zionist conspiracy to control the world.

All this stuff has its antecedents in white supremacism. Professor Israeli’s comments are precisely the sort of attitude that Jews had to fight against for generations in Europe and elsewhere – the sort of attitudes that led to the Holocaust and to the slaughter of millions of Jews. By the same token, it lies ill in the mouths of radical Muslims to complain about “Islamophobia” if they use and advocate “Judaeophobia” in their own writings and works.

If I were a Jew or a Muslim, I’d be very wary of taking on board these kind of notions. Why? Well, the genesis of these ideas comes from white supremacy, according which neither Jews nor Muslims are acceptable. Adolf Hitler would say that they all should be eradicated. After all, there’s so much in common between Jews and Muslims:

  • Both refuse to eat pork, and require meat to be ritually slaughtered;
  • The men wear skull caps when at in holy places;
  • Both have religious laws developed by religious scholars (Jewish: halakah; Muslim: hadith);
  • Both say “Shalom” or “Salaam” in greeting;
  • Both forbid idols and religious iconography; and
  • Both share many of the same prophets and holy places. In fact, they come from the same area.
  • Both openly admit in their histories that they are related.

Interestingly, Irfan Yusuf noted in a post that one of Mohammed’s wives, Safiyya, was Jewish, and Mohammed criticised another of his wives for being cruel to her on this basis.

When adopting ideas that have their origins in white supremacism, Jews and Muslims risk giving those ideals legitimacy…and allowing third parties to use those ideas successfully against their own people. Imagine if a Ku Klux Klan leader saw Professor Israeli’s comments: “Yeah, he’s exactly right…let’s stop any of them getting in, Jews and Muslims!” Or a right wing shock jock saying people should be violent towards Muslims – after all, that’s the sort of behaviour Sheikh Mohammed recommends towards Jews and Christians.

Maybe everyone should think about the ethic of reciprocity for a few moments: do unto others as you would have them do to you! It’s a fundamental tenet of Judaism and Islam, not to mention Christianity and many other religions.

Postscript:
Looking in Wikipedia, I found various interesting expressions of the ethic of reciprocity.

Torah/Old Testament, Leviticus 19:18:

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”

Hillel the Elder, Talmud, Shabbat 31a:

“A certain heathen came to Shammai and said to him, “Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah in the time I can stand on one foot.” Thereupon he repulsed him with the rod which was in his hand. When he went to Hillel, Hillel said to him, ‘What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn.”

Mohammed in the hadith:

“None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

Let’s not leave out Jesus in the Bible, Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31, (see also Luke 10:27, referring to Leviticus)

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The Mahabhrata (5:15:17):

“This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.”

And some other wise fellows agree…
Confucius:

“What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others.”

Aristotle:

“We should bear ourselves toward others as we would desire they should bear themselves toward us.”

Plato:

“May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me.”

Socrates:

“What stirs your anger when done to you by others, that do not do to others.”

Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium 47:11:

“Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors.”

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5 Comments

Filed under islam, judaism, religion, tolerance

5 responses to “Yet more thoughts on Anti-Semitism

  1. HVB

    Your list of similarities put me in mind of comedian Tim Minchin’s “Peace Anthem” for the middle east, which goes something like “You don’t eat pork, // we don’t eat pork, // it seems it’s been that way forever.// So if you don’t eat pork, and we don’t eat pork, // Why not not eat pork together?” Makes me laugh every time.

  2. Law Student

    In the randomly picked 10 law students at my law school, 3 will be Jewish of Eastern European/ Middle Eastern origin, 3 will be Asian and the remaining 4 will be Anglo Australians.

    I happen to know quite a few Jews studying law with me. It seems that Professor Israeli is simply speaking what is on the minds of many, if not the majority of Australian Jewry.

    Jews not only in Australia, but around the world are instilled with a mentality of racial superiority and being the chosen people of God from a very young age.

    One Jew out of a group of 5 told me that Arabs and Muslims are “blueprinted bastards because Ishmael was born out of wedlock to Hagar, Isaac was born clean.” The rest burst out laughing.

    Another in the group went on to say that for the past 4000 years mankind has been united to exterminate Judaism and yet failed because God has favoured them over others.

    I would also say that the majority of White Australia would be thinking similiarly to Prof. Israeli.

    I say this for a few reasons and observations i have made as a person who has lived their whole life in WA.

    The expressions on peoples faces when an Asian appearing person boards the train.

    When we built a two storey house on a street of one storey’s, our windows were smashed and our houses egged.

    When a car of young guys brave enough to express their opinion drive pass a Muslim lady born and bred here they’ll yell “fucking muzzi go home.”

    These are everyday experiences that Muslims who aren’t afraid to show their Muslimness experience, and it comes from no one else but ordinary White Australians.

    After all the 5000 men and women who took part in cronulla weren’t imported from right wing nazi factions in germany.

  3. Legal Eagle

    Unfortunately, there are a section of bigoted idiots in every single group of people: Jews, Muslims, Australians, Kalathumpians… My cousins (who are Eurasian) have unfortunately experienced the kind of racism you describe.

    I guess that guy who made the dumb comment to you just proved he isn’t superior to anyone. Next time he says that to you, tell him he’s a putz. It’s Yiddish for…um, go to the link and look it up. If you need any more Yiddish insults, I have a great store learned from my cryptic-crossword-doing friend mentioned in the post.

    According to my knowledge of Judaism, being God’s chosen people doesn’t mean one is racially or morally superior. In fact, it puts an extra burden on the Jews to behave better than other people. God issued the Noahide commandments to all other people, whereas He issued the much more stringent 613 commandments to the Jews.

    I have friends who are Jewish and friends who are Muslim. None of my friends would ever make the kind of racist comments mentioned in my post or in your comments. Many Jews of my acquaintance would also be appalled by Professor Israeli’s comments. Many Australians of any background would be appalled.

    However, it is true that anti-Muslim sentiment is being spoken about much more openly, and that there are those who agree with Professor Israeli’s views in Australia. Last year I saw some blogs where people were calling for Muslim immigration to be stopped (the authors were Anglo-Saxon Australians). It shocked me. Personally, I have no objection to anyone of any religion or race coming to Australia, and I will respect their traditions as long as they respect my traditions and background too.

    I strongly believe that if a Muslim woman wears a hijab while walking down the street, she should not be shouted at by louts. The Muslim woman’s culture says that wearing a hijab is necessary or desirable, and I believe she is entitled to do that. By the same token, if I choose to wear a swimming costume at the beach, I should not be harassed and thought to be “asking for it” (c/f Sheikh Hilaly). My culture says that wearing a swimming costume at the beach is fine, and it does not mean I am an “easy woman”.

    I think part of the problem arose people when the comments of people like Hilaly were publicised, telling Australians that they are immoral and that they should change their culture. It is incidents like this (beaten up by the press) which have given rise to an anti-Muslim immigration sentiment, along with fear about terrorism. Immigration is a two way street. Hilaly doesn’t have to change his culture and become an Aussie (it’s fine if he doesn’t drink, prays on Friday, wears a little white hat, keeps fast for Ramadan, only eats halal meat pies etc) but to my mind, he does have to respect the culture of the country to which he has come.

    The important thing to remember is that just cos Hilaly says all this stupid stuff doesn’t mean every Muslim here agrees with it, and that there are as many types of Muslim as there are Christians. What about the Muslim Tuareg, where the men wear an indigo veil hiding the face, and the women go unveiled? Or the Whirling Dervishes? Obviously not stereotypical examples of Muslims…

    So yeah, all those intolerant bigots out there should treat others in the way they would want to be treated themselves. As the Rabbi says, all the rest is commentary.

  4. Anonymous

    Dear Sir,

    The following issue can destroy ISLAM or ISRAEL; study it thoroughly to see if there is any truth to it.

    READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

    The COVENANT with Abraham and his DESCENDANTS is central to JUDAISM/CHRISTIANITY/ISLAM.

    Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.

    Genesis 21:14 Contemporary English version se below link

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=GENESIS%2021;&version=46;

    Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away.

    GENESIS 16:16
    And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish’mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish’mael to Abram.
    GENESIS 21:5
    Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

    At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!

    BY DOING SOME KINDERGARTEN ARITHMATIC USING ARABIC NUMBERS (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)
    NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.

    100 years old – 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC’S WEANING

    THAT WOULD MAKE ISHMAEL 17 YEARS OLD IN GENESIS 21:14-21
    BUT IT IS A DESCRIPTION OF AN INFANT.

    Carefully read several times the above passage and then tell me the mental picture you get between the mother child interactions what is the age of the child. If the mental picture is that of a 17 year old child being carried on the shoulder of his mother, being physically placed in the bush, crying like a baby, mother having to give him water to drink, than the Islamic viewpoint is null and void. Why is there no verbal communications between mother and (17 YEAR OLD) child?

    GENESIS: 21:14 – 21
    So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the (17 YEAR OLD) child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the (17 YEAR OLD) child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Let me not look upon the death of the (17 YEAR OLD) child.” And as she sat over against him, the (17 YEAR OLD) child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad where he is. Arise, lift up the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the (17 YEAR OLD) lad a drink. And God was with the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

    The age of Ishmael at this stage is crucial to the Abrahamic faiths. If he is 17 than the JUDEO/CHRISTIAN point of view about the Abrahamic covenant is correct. This has devastating theological consequences of unimaginable proportions.

    This makes the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and there descendants a work of fiction. I would strongly suggest it is clear cut case of racial discrimination and nothing to do with god almighty. The scribes have deliberately tried to make Isaac the only son and legitimate heir to the throne of Abraham??

    Please can you rationally explain this anomaly?

    I have asked many persons including my nephews and nieces – unbiased minds with no religious backgrounds but with reasonable command of the English language about this passage and they all agree that the child in the passage is an infant.
    AS THE DESCRIPTION OF ISHMAEL IN GENESIS 21:14-21 IS THAT OF AN INFANT IT CAN BE ASSUMED SOMEONE HAS MOVED THIS PASSAGE FROM AN EARLIER PART OF SCRIPTURE!!! AND HAVE GOT THERE KNICKERS IN A TWIST.

    For background info on the future religion of mankind see the following websites:

    http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/Muhammad_Bible.HTM
    (MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE)
    http://bible.islamicweb.com/
    http://news.sky.com/skynews/video/videoplayer/0,,31200-galloway_060806,00.html
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7828123714384920696
    (ISRAELI HOLOCAUST AND WAR CRIMES)
    http://ifamericansknew.com/
    http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/MB_BQS/default.htm
    (BIBLE, QURAN and SCIENCE)
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/ ANTI-WAR
    http://www.harunyahya.com/
    (EVOLUTION DECEIPT)
    http://www.barnabas.net/
    http://www.answering-christianity.com/ac.htm
    http://www.islamicity.com/
    http://www.islamonline.net/english/index.shtml
    http://www.islamalways.com/

    HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 verses 101 – 122

    101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.

    102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!” (The son) said: “O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!”

    103. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),

    104. We called out to him “O Abraham!

    105. “Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!” – thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    106. For this was obviously a trial-

    107. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

    108. And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:

    109. “Peace and salutation to Abraham!”

    110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    111. For he was one of our believing Servants.

    112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac – a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

    113. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.

    114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

    115. And We delivered them and their people from (their) Great Calamity;

    116. And We helped them, so they overcame (their troubles);

    117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear;

    118. And We guided them to the Straight Way.

    119. And We left (this blessing) for them among generations (to come) in later times:

    120. “Peace and salutation to Moses and Aaron!”

    121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    122. For they were two of our believing Servants.

    ISHMAEL IS THE FIRST BORN AND GOOD NEWS OF ISSAC DOES NOT APPEAR UNTIL AFTER THE SACRIFICE?????

    Therefore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed without the need of any WMD’s.

    HADITH

    Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583:
    Narrated Ibn Abbas:
    The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka’ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael’s mother followed him saying, “O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?” She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, “Has Allah ordered you to do so?” He said, “Yes.” She said, “Then He will not neglect us,” and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka’ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:
    ‘O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.’ (14.37) Ishmael’s mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).
    When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times.”
    The Prophet said, “This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, ‘O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?” And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it.”
    The Prophet added, “May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael’s mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth.” The Prophet further added, “Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.’ The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada’. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, ‘This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.’ They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water).” The Prophet added, “Ishmael’s mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, ‘Do you allow us to stay with you?” She replied, ‘Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.’ They agreed to that.” The Prophet further said, “Ishmael’s mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.

  5. Pingback: Dance of the seven robes « The Legal Soapbox

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