The co-chairman of Britain’s Conservative Party, Sayeeda Warsi, has delivered a speech about antisemitism to the European Institute for the Study of Antisemitism. I am sure that Baroness Warsi means well. I am sure that she is personally genuinely opposed to bigotry and prejudice in any form. I would therefore like to be able to say it was a fine speech. I cannot do so. Despite much in it that was worthy and unexceptionable, in one vital respect it was a travesty – made no more palatable by the fact that many Jews subscribe to precisely the same lethally misguided misapprehension.
This revolves around the comforting but mistaken notion that Jews and Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder against the same threat by racists and bigots. It’s the argument that says ‘antisemitism = Islamophobia’. And it’s the claim that there is nothing intrinsically threatening to Jews within Islam.
All three notions are false. All three notions are promoted by many Jews. All three were to be found in Baroness Warsi’s speech.
‘The ugly strain of anti-Semitism found in some parts of the Muslim community arose in the late 20th century. The point is that there’s nothing in our history which suggests that hatred between Muslim and Jews is inevitable.’
This is total rubbish. Muslim persecution of the Jews started in the 7th century with the birth of Islam and has continued ever since. It is true that down through the decades persecution of the Jews by Christians was more savage and barbaric than by Muslims. It is also true that there were periods when Jews prospered under Muslim rule. But the so-called ‘golden age’ for Jews in Muslim lands was very short indeed. The true history is a general story of humiliation, persecution and pogroms.