Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

On Jan. 21, the apartheid Zionist regime of Benjamin Netanyahu was authorized by the United Nations General Assembly to host the first-ever conference devoted to the rise of worldwide “anti-Semitism.”

A letter endorsing the conference was signed by the governments of 40 countries, including the U.S. and every member of the European Union. While the discussion on the conference contained references to the rise of extreme right-wing parties in Europe, the press coverage emphasized attacks on Jewish targets by Muslims in general. (New York Times, Jan. 24)

This is part of a campaign by the European imperialists and Israeli propagandists to fully equate the racist, scapegoating, anti-Semitic fascism of the oppressing ruling classes with anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish acts carried out by oppressed Muslims. At the same time, it is an attempt to divert attention from charges now before the International Criminal Court in the Hague for Israeli war crimes committed against the Palestinian people during the 2014 attack on Gaza.

The imperialist and Zionist strategy is to identify the racist, anti-Semitic persecution of the Jewish people by European fascism with the acts of reprisal, retaliation and resistance of Muslims against Zionism and colonial oppression.

Making opposites equal: a big lie

The imperialist rulers apply the same term to describe political acts that are diametrically opposite to one another. The term anti-Semitic is applied equally to, on the one hand, Greece’s pro-Nazi Golden Dawn, the undercover anti-Semites of the French National Front and Germany’s Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PAGIDA) and, on the other hand, to Hamas, Hezbollah and Muslim individuals or groups that attack Jews in Europe and the U.S.

These latter attacks by Muslims arise out of rage against the crimes of torture, bombing, drone attacks, occupation and terror campaigns like the 2014 Israeli 50-day war against Gaza, in which over 2,000 Palestinians were killed, the vast majority of them civilians, including women and children whose homes, schools, hospitals, water supply, etc., were ruthlessly destroyed.

Under such circumstances there may be many misguided but understandable acts of violence directed against Jews and other targets associated in the minds of the attackers with the suffering of their people. This association is deepened by the fact that Netanyahu and the Israeli regime repeatedly associate all Jews with Israel and Zionist ideology. The only way to put an end to such anti-Jewish acts is for the imperialists and the Zionists to cease their aggression, which is the ultimate provocation and source of all violent resistance.

Rise of fascism and Islamophobia coincide

It is no accident that the rise of fascism in Europe today coincides with the rise of Islamophobia. In fact, Islamophobia is being used as a tool by the ruling class now, just as they used anti-Semitism in the 1930s. In a way, the hatred and prejudice directed at Muslim peoples are an updated version of anti-Semitism, as it is used to divide the masses and find scapegoats in a period when European capitalism is mired in mass unemployment, stagnation and recession and there is growing discontent with the capitalist governments and traditional political parties.

If a world conference is to be authorized by the U.N. General Assembly — which is supposed to be a parliament of nations but is really an instrument of imperialism — the conference should be on the rise of fascism and Islamophobia among the capitalist powers.

The Israeli settler regime has long branded every act of resistance by the Palestinian people over 67 years of brutal and expanding occupation as “anti-Semitic” and “terrorism.” This poisonous and confusing terminology has been adopted by the European imperialists. It has helped to stir the pot of Islamophobia and served to intensify the exploitation and oppression of the Muslim populations of Europe — and the U.S.

Anti-Semitism long practiced by European ruling classes

Anti-Semitism is a term aptly applied to the scapegoating and practices of expropriation of Jewish property by the European ruling classes, from before the time of the Spanish Inquisition to the Nazi holocaust, in which millions of Jews were exterminated in death camps. Nor should it be forgotten that the Nazis also targeted and killed socialists and communists, Roma people, lesbian and gay people, people with disabilities and progressive people of all types.

The French ruling class was filled with anti-Semitic elements. Hitler found a sympathetic section from which to form the Vichy government of France in 1940. Under General Philippe Petain, the Vichy government deported over 700,000 Jews to the death camps. Similar internments and deportations were carried out in northern Italy under the fascist regime of Mussolini, but on a lesser scale.

The British aristocracy also had a strong pro-Hitler wing, led by Sir Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists. Mosley was far from an incidental figure in British aristocratic society. In 1920 his wedding was attended by hundreds of guests, included such European royalty as King George V and Queen Mary, as well as the Duke of Brabant — later to become King Leopold III of Belgium.

The anti-Semitism of the British ruling classes goes back to the 12th and 13th centuries, culminating in the expulsion of all the Jews from England in 1290 by King Edward I.

In fact, the Munich pact, by which the British imperialists recognized Hitler’s takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1938, was carried out by the pro-Nazi appeasement wing of the British ruling class and was calculated to give Hitler a green light to attack the USSR.

More recently, the Ukrainian right-wing, pro-U.S. puppet regime in Kiev was catapulted to power in a fascist-led coup by descendents of groups that collaborated with the Nazis in World War II and who still have allegiance to battalions that fought with Hitler.

These are the ruling-class forces that turned to fascism and anti-Semitism in the 1930s and used the Jewish people as scapegoats. The capitalists backed the fascists when they needed scapegoats to direct mass hostility toward the Jews because capitalism was crumbling during the Great Depression. At the same time, the fascists wiped out the trade unions and all forms of working-class organization.

To equate these reactionary forces and their monstrous persecution and crimes against the Jewish people and all humanity with the angry resistance and retaliation of the Muslim and other oppressed peoples who carry out anti-Jewish acts is to conceal the reality of ruling-class manipulation of ideology through the false application of terminology.

The acts of retaliation against Zionism for its genocidal policies or for the oppression of Muslims by French or U.S. imperialism are carried out by people who do not have F-16s, Apache helicopters, laser-guided bombs, Abrams tanks, drones, A-10 killer planes, Cruise missiles and all the modern armaments needed to defend against U.S., British, French and Israeli aggression.

‘Secularization’ a cover for anti-Islamic discrimination

The Hollande government in France, where there is currently more than 10 percent official unemployment and much higher youth unemployment, is now sponsoring a new program on “secularization.”

Under the new law, which will cost 250 million euros and go into effect in September, students and parents will be required to sign a “secularism charter.” Schools will be urged to have regular ceremonies in which students salute the flag and sing the national anthem. Some 1,000 teachers will undergo training to implement the new law.

The new regulation was prompted by the fact that in dozens of schools across the country, students refused to take part in a moment of silence for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

The secularism charter, passed in 2013, was used to outlaw wearing headscarves in public schools. This was clearly directed at the religious practices and preferences of Muslim girl and young women students. As such it was a violation of freedom of religion.

The secularism charter was supposed to be based on a 1905 law separating church and state. That law was aimed at curbing the reactionary influence of the Catholic Church hierarchy. Catholicism had been made the state religion in 1801 by Napoleon Bonaparte. After that the church was dominant in schools, hospitals, charitable institutions, etc. Divorce was illegal in France. The 1905 law came after the notorious Dreyfus case, in which the anti-Semitic officer corps of the French military framed a Jewish captain for treason and sent him to prison.

So the secularism charter, which was meant to curb the power of the reactionary clerical hierarchy, is now being used to deny freedom of religious practice to Muslims in the name of “French Republican values.”

The hidden relationship between the rise of fascism in Europe and the rise of Islamophobia was revealed in the recent resignation of a leader of the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, which has been carrying out anti-Islamic demonstrations in Dresden. Lutz Bachmann was forced to resign after a photo on his Facebook page was made public showing him made up with the hairstyle and mustache of Hitler.

As part of this Islamophobic campaign, Netanyahu, Hollande, Merkel, Cameron and Obama want to draw an equal sign between the bloody fascism of the right wing and and its genocide against the Jews on one hand and the desperate resistance and profound anger of the Muslim people against the overwhelming armed might of world imperialism, which is trying to subdue the entire Middle East, western Asia and most of the world, on the other.