Brendan O’Neill

Why does the left care more about Islamophobia than anti-Semitism?

Why does the left care more about Islamophobia than anti-Semitism?
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Why do leftists care more about Muslims than they do about Jews? If that sounds confrontational, consider this: this week, the Met Police released the latest hate-crime figures for London. They show that offences against Jews have risen by 93% over the past year, while offences against Muslims have risen by 70%. And guess which story the BBC, Guardian and Independent, those voices of the British liberal conscience, have chosen to flag up? Yep, the 70% hike in Islamophobic attacks, not the nearly 100% hike in anti-Semitic offences.

The BBC's headline is 'Islamophobic crime in London "up by 70%"'. The Guardian's is 'Hate crimes against Muslims soar in London'. The Indie opts for 'Hate crimes against Muslims in London "up by 70%"'. What about the crimes against Jews? Sorry, no room for those. They aren't mentioned. Whether as a result of how the cops chose to press-release their new figures or how editors chose to interpret them, or maybe a bit of both, someone down the line has taken the decision that a bashed-up or verbally abused Muslim is more newsworthy than a bashed-up or verbally abused Jew.

This is becoming increasingly common. For some reason, so-called progressives, especially those of a leftist bent, are made more upset by hatred of Muslims than they are by hatred of Jews. It's why the very people - Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Diane Abbott, every leftie on Twitter - who normally rail against racism, and against the people who rub shoulders with racists, could in essence say 'What's all the fuss?!' when it was revealed Jeremy Corbyn had been hanging out with Holocaust deniers.

It's why every bovine attack on a mosque is held up as hard evidence that Europe is descending into a cesspool of anti-Muslim hatred, whereas you have to scour the media to find mentions of attacks on synagogues. In recent days, a Manchester teen was beaten up in a suspected anti-Semitic assault; a Jewish Spanish teenager was physically attacked; and two Holocaust survivors in Amsterdam were assaulted and called 'dirty Jews'. Yet these incidents aren't frontpage news; certainly they aren't cited as evidence that a new plague of prejudice is stalking Europe, as is done when Muslims are assaulted. The message of this double standard, however implicit it might be, is pretty clear: attacks on Jews are less important than attacks on Muslims.

The extent to which chattering-class concern for Muslims trumps concern for Jews reached its nadir when four Jews were murdered in a Parisian deli shortly after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. Pretty much every liberal newspaper in Europe continued thundering on about the potential for an 'Islamophobic backlash' following the Charlie killings, even as Jews were being killed. On the morning the four dead Jews were being put on a flight for burial in Israel, George Clooney was telling fawning hacks how worried he was about 'anti-Muslim fervour' in Europe. It's surreal. Some people seem more worried about possible attacks on Muslims than by actual attacks on Jews.

And now, a hike in anti-Muslim crimes in London is given greater media prominence than a larger hike in anti-Jewish attacks. This implicit demotion of Jewish problems, this judgement that crimes against Jews aren't all that serious, needs some explanation. I think there are two reasons for it.

The first is that flagging up attacks on Muslims allows the left to indulge some prejudices of their own, especially about the dumb, tabloid-reading hordes, whom they view as being one iffy Richard Littlejohn column away from organising a demented anti-Muslim pogrom. The liberal elite's myopic focus on Islamophobia is really an expression of distrust for the insufficiently multicultural, apparently Western-centric masses.

The second reason is that many on the left seem to think anti-Semitism is politically justified. From Karen Armstrong's insistence that the deli attack in Paris 'had nothing to do with anti-Semitism' and rather was 'about Palestine' to various commentators' claims that anti-Semitism in Europe is the inevitable byproduct of Israel's antics in the Middle East, many very respectable people now view assaults on Jews almost as a form of protest, as political rather than hateful.

That's the terrifying message of the media and leftists' implicit downgrading of the seriousness of anti-Semitism. Whether they're excusing these crimes or simply acquiescing to them, they're giving a green light to anti-Semitism.