(By Aboud Dandachi)
Pamela Geller. Bill Maher. Daniel Pipes. Sam Harris. Richard Dawkins. Proof that Islamophobia can be a very profitable and rewarding line of work. But for all their blustering, even the combined whining of the entire Islamophobia industry can scarcely hope to inflict long term damage on a religion with 1.5 billion adherents. Hersi Ali once dreamed of and pined for the day when the West would “crush Islam”, and had to reluctantly scale back her ambitions to merely “reforming Islam” when the world showed scant interest in waging an apocalyptic world war on the Islamic faith.
True, Muslims in Myanmar face genocidal persecution at the hands of state backed Buddhist extremists. To follow the thinking of the Pamela Gellers, Bill Mahers and Daniel Pipes of this world to its logical conclusion is to see Myanmar replicated in the West. It would require state sponsored genocide on several continents to even begin to put a dent in growth of the Islamic religion. Islamophobia can be very nasty, but even the most committed group of sit-in-a-think-tank-and-babble-on-about-taqiya Islamophobes cannot possibly pose an existential threat to the Islamic faith.
Unfortunately, the situation regarding Jewish communities around the world is much more precarious. Today, as Israel observes Yom Hashoah in remembrance of the more than six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust, rampant antisemitism has seen a resurgence around the world. While Islamophobia can never hope to do away with its intended target, modern antisemitism in its new, updated guises poses a very real existential danger to Jewish communities. Contrary to the disingenuous made-for-late-night-comedy blathering of Bill Maher, Islamophobia is a very real thing. But the danger and menace posed by antisemitism far outweighs anything Islamophobes can hope to achieve.
While even a thousand PEGIDA marches can (maybe) slow Muslim immigration to Europe, it cannot hope to stop it completely. Even a UKIP-style government in every single capital in Europe can do nothing about the Muslims already living on the continent. But as we have tragically seen over the past few years, all it takes is a bunch of street thugs waving Hamas and ISIS banners on the streets of London, Paris and Copenhagen to create an environment that endangers Europe’s Jewish communities. The 2015 shootings in Paris and Denmark did not arise out of a vacuum, months of antisemitic incitement set the stage and created the circumstances for the terrorist attacks.
Antisemitism is now more resurgent and dangerous than it has ever been at any time since the end of the Second World War. But of course, it has had to adapt with the times and assume different guises, and disguise itself in seemingly respectable political attire.
So let’s be quite clear. If someone goes and waves a flag or banner infront of a synagogue, that person is an antisemite. If a bunch of demonstrators march through a predominantly Jewish neighborhood shouting political slogans, that is an act intended to intimidate that area’s Jews. If a person uses phrases such as “ZioNazi”, that person is not merely opposed to Zionism, but to Jews in general. And so is anyone who repeatedly uses the phrase “New York Zionist”. And so is anyone who claims not to be antisemitic but keeps company with and looks favorably on the utterings of unrepentant Jew-haters, or their tweets and Facebook posts. And so is anyone who demands that local Jews “disown” Israel or else “suffer the consequences of the Zionist entity’s actions”. And so is any Arab parliament that holds a two minute silence in “honor” of terrorists who committed murder in a synagogue. And calling Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East “an apartheid state”, might as well be shorthand for “I’m such a f—king clueless git about anything approaching apartheid”.
Modern day fascists do not brandish swastikas (with the exception of Stormfront scum and their ilk), but by their actions betray their actual intentions. And as a Syrian I have nothing but the utmost contempt for Gaza-groupies who rioted infront of Israeli embassies last summer, but apparently seem content to stay at home while Daesh and the Syrian regime butcher Palestinians in the Damascus Yarmouk neighborhood.
Antisemitism is not just a problem for the Jews. It is the nature of Fascism and religious extremism to subdue and intimidate one segment of society at a time while they impose their will and way of life on that society. Racists, by their nature, are incapable of limiting their racism to just one specific ethnic group or religion. If Jews, one of the liberal West’s most integrated groups, can be targeted, persecuted and made to abandon their societies, then there’s scant hope for any minority, anywhere in the world.
As a Syrian refugee, I will always be a minority anywhere I go outside of Syria, and I would find it very difficult, if not impossible to live in a world where a modern Holocaust has succeeded in hounding out or eliminating a minority from the very societies they have lived in for generations. Refugees can only survive in a world that is accepting of minorities, not one where fascists and extremists can successfully persecute others. Today it might be Jews, but history has shown time and time again that Jews are the proverbial canary in the coalmine; gays, foreigners, different ethnic groups all will be fair game for today’s fascists and extremists, Islamist or otherwise. A world where it is acceptable to make targets out of one ethnic group is a world where all minorities are at risk.
And that is why I can never, and will never have anything to do with antisemites, no matter how loudly they may proclaim themselves to support the causes I hold dearest. Indeed, the more they try to associate themselves with my cause, the more incumbent it is on me not just to disassociate myself from them, but to actively oppose them with the same dedication and energy as I have devoted to my country’s issues. And to see through them regardless of the labels and guises they hide behind.