After the atrocity comes the inevitable blame game. Hardly waiting to draw breath, Wajahat Ali leapt into print in the New York Times on the same day as the Christchurch massacre to claim, as the Times put it, that ‘all those who have helped to spread the worldwide myth that Muslims are a threat have blood on their hands’.
Ali didn’t even mention the alleged perpetrator because for him the attacks were just ‘the latest manifestation of a growing and globalised ideology of white nationalism’, and the real culprits were ‘the mainstream politicians and media personalities who nurture, promote and excuse it.’
By Ali’s reckoning the culprit-in-chief is President Trump (of course) and his former adviser and former head of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon gets a name-check. Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of Osama Bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State or any one of numerous Islamists who have done their bit to spread the idea that some Muslims are indeed a threat to anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their atavistic and sanguinary 7th century view of the world.
And Ali was not a lone voice. Two New York University students who attended a vigil for the victims of the massacre were enraged to see Chelsea Clinton in attendance. Clinton had had the temerity to criticise Muslim Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar for comments about Israel that many saw as anti-Semitic, and who also supports the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and is well-known for her use of anti-Semitic tropes.
As Palestinian Leen Dweik told the Washington Post, she couldn’t let the moment pass without telling Clinton ‘This, right here, is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put out into the world.’
That’s because for the Left, white supremacism is all but synonymous with Islamophobia. It’s no surprise to learn that Ali was a researcher for the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s 2011 investigation and report Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.
For self-described progressives, the great attraction of rebranding white supremacism as Islamophobia is that it allows them to ignore the anti-Semites in their ranks. Ali did mention that white supremacists are typically virulent anti-Semites but not that anti-Semitism is more common in the Muslim world than anywhere else on the planet.
According to a global survey conducted by the US Anti-Defamation League the ten most anti-Semitic countries or territories in the world in 2014 were all Muslim — the West Bank and Gaza, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
This is no accident. Muslims such as Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, actively collaborated with the Nazis making anti-Semitic broadcasts and succeeded in turning common or garden Muslim anti-Semites of the religious variety into racist anti-Semites.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, when white supremacists indiscriminately murder Muslims, they are channelling a 15th century Catholic fanatic, Pedro Sarmiento, who, in 1449, came up with the profound innovation of using race, rather than religion, as the basis for legally discriminating against Spaniards of Jewish origin.
When Sarmiento introduced laws to persecute Jews not on the basis of their religion — specifically, their presumed guilt for the murder of Jesus — but on the basis of their race — because ‘the perverse lineage of the Jews’ brought the ‘same harms, evils and wars which the Jews… have always brought’ — he was actually inventing the concept of race. Having forced Jews to convert to Catholicism half a century earlier, the invention of racial discrimination allowed the age-old practice of religious anti-Semitism to continue under a new guise.
The difference between religious and racial discrimination may seem inconsequential but it is critical — a religious fanatic at least offers the victim the hope of salvation through conversion, racists seek extermination, or exile, since they claim that whatever it is that they hate about their victim will be passed on to future generations. There is thus a direct link between the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust and white supremacists.
The racial persecution of Spain’s ‘New Christians’ led to the establishment not just of the Spanish Inquisition but to the whole obsession with ‘purity of the blood’. Spain was one of the first European nations to enter the slave trade, previously dominated by the Islamic world. And when it discovered the Americas, it exported not just slavery, but its pernicious obsession with racial purity, first to its colonies and later to the New World. The word ‘race’, meaning ‘tribe, nation or people regarded as of common stock’ only entered the English language in the 1560s.
In Sydney’s Great Synagogue, Rabbi Elton condemned the terrible slaughter in Christchurch and the communal lunch afterwards marked the 141st anniversary of the synagogue’s consecration and the miracle that every Sabbath since had been celebrated, a remarkable achievement which sadly, in New Zealand, is a record that can no longer be attempted.
‘For the first time in history, synagogues in NZ are closed on Shabbat following the shocking massacre of Muslims in Christchurch,’ tweeted the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Isaac Herzog. Herzog stressed that the Jewish Agency and NZ Jewish Council stood in solidarity with the bereaved families and were ‘united in fighting violent hatred and racism,’ but it was reported that services were also cancelled due to security concerns. They were right to be afraid. A white supremacist who attacks a mosque today might well attack a synagogue tomorrow. But so too might an Islamist, enraged by an attack on Muslims.
Leftists who decry attacks on Muslims while slandering Jews are a bad joke and bring to mind the old one about the Jew who found himself stuck on a crowded train next to a rabid anti-Semite. The latter blamed the war, unemployment, even the lousy weather on the Jews. But each time he did, the Jew added, ‘and the bike riders.’ Finally, fed up, the anti-Semite asked, ‘Why do you keep blaming the bike riders?’ To which the Jew replied, ‘Why do you keep blaming the Jews?’