Islamophobic B’nai Brith Ad
by Sheila Musaji
On November 9th, The B’nai Brith of Canada published a full page Islamophobic advertisement in the National Post in Canada. You can see the actual ad here. The heading of the ad is “The Unholy Alliance” The first section discusses Hitler and the Holocaust, and there is a photograph of Hitler with the Mufti of Jerusalem, a number of Nazi photographs interspersped with photographs of what may be Palestinian groups (these photos are not identified). The second bold heading is “Common Objectives of Nazism and Radical Islam”. The next heading “We Must Wake From Our Slumber Before It Is Too Late”.
According to the B’nai Brith of Canada website mission statement: “B’nai Brith Canada is the action arm of the Jewish community. We believe in: Reaching out to those in need, Fighting antisemitism, racism and bigotry; Promoting human rights and peace throughout the world. We do this through a wide range of activities, both at the national and local level.” I was curious about the claim of fighting bigotry and spent a little time on their site where I found a section on the B’nai Brith League of Human Rights which had an excellent pamphlet on recognizing stereotypes. Here are a few sentences from the pamphlet: “Stereotypes can create or perpetuate intolerant or hateful attitudes towards a particular group of people. Holding stereotypes can lead to bias, a general preference for one group over another. A particularly dangerous form of bias is prejudice, which is a negative opinion about a group or individual. Prejudice can lead to discrimination, where an individual is actively treated differently than others. Discriminatory behaviour can include harassment and persecution. ... When someone you know uses stereotypical statements to describe a member of a group, the best thing to do is speak out and let that person know what you think.”
This is great theoretical material, but this ad proves that they don’t understand their own material, or only understand it in relation to the Jewish community. Perhaps their slogan should be “well, maybe one more time for the Muslims” rather than “never again”.
This is a particularly loathsome example of double standards, since on November 2nd, the JTA published an article noting: “More than 300 Conservative rabbis signed a statement urging Americans to renounce the use of Nazi imagery in political discourse.” This article further quoted this statement “The willingness of supporters of public policy positions to employ the demonizing rhetoric of Nazism not only does nothing to move conversation forward; rather, it has a chilling effect on people of conscience who find the appropriation of such imagery to be disrespectful of the victims and reinforcing of the politics of personal attack that has damaged public discourse in the United States. We plead—indeed we demand—that civility govern these crucial deliberations. ” ‘Sages,’ warned the Rabbis of the Talmud, ‘take great care with the words you speak.’ “
And, to make this even more insensitive, the ad appeared only a week before this years anual mosque-synogogue twinning.
It is sad that there is a segment of the Jewish community that is so anti-Muslim and anti-Islam. This ad is right up there with the films Relentless, Obsession and The Third Jihad (also, sadly produced and promoted by Jewish groups), with the Israel Hasbara Committee posting the anti-Muslim “you worry me” email, with the American Jewish Congress’ ‘Inflammatory’ Claims About Muslims - “In an interview with the Jewish Journal, the associate director of the American Jewish Congress Western Region said the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission was intimidated into giving an award to a Muslim leader, Maher Hathout. Allyson Rowen Taylor said commissioners were afraid to vote against the award because: “They’re afraid of the Muslim community burning cars, burning effigies and burning synagogues.”, with David Horowitz’ “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”, and many other incidents that are beyond understanding for a community who has experienced the results of religious demonization. And, it is definite that both Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism are increasing. This is not good for any of us.
Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation Director has called Muslim-Jewish Dialogue a ‘Pipe Dream’ - he said that that dialogue with moderate Muslims is a “pipe dream” because “there’s nobody to talk to.” I hope that these persistent attacks on the Muslim community stop before any possibility of dialogue and cooperative effort are effectively shut down. At this point in time, the American Muslim community wants to dialogue, but that is difficult to do when you are being regularly slapped in the face.
Perhaps the folks at B’nai Brith should read my article Muslims Who Fought Against the Real Fascists where they would learn a little history:
Bulgarian Christians and Muslims protected Jews from the Nazis. Albania was the only Muslim majority country in Europe. Albania not only saved Albanian Jews from the Nazis, but, in fact, Albania was the only country in Europe that had a larger Jewish population at the end of the war than before the war. Not one Albanian Jew or any other Jew who came to Albania for protection was turned over to the Nazis.
300,000 Moroccan Jews in Israel mourned the death of King Hassan of Jordan in 1999. His father, Mohammed V, is widely credited with having saved Morocco’s Jews from deportation during World War II, and Hassan continued the philo-Semitic policies of his father. Although there was an outbreak of anti-Jewish incidents following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Jewish community was generally safe under the protection of both Mohammed and Hassan, who proudly considered the Jews “Moroccans of Jewish origin.
Arabs and Jews once fought together under the British Flag against the Nazis in the Palestine Regiment.
Noor Inayat Khan fought against the Nazis and was killed at Dachau concentration camp.
The stories of Muslim rescuers of Jews are largely unknown and unpublished. Only in the past fifteen years have Holocaust researchers brought a few to the public’s attention. Yad Vashem and other Holocaust memorial groups have honored several Muslims (whose courageous stories we have been able to confirm) as Righteous Gentiles. The Muslim rescuers include:
- The Bosnians who during World War II, who hid Jews from the local pro-Nazi regime, but Dervis Korkut saved the precious Sarajevo Haggadah, concealing it in his home and thus keeping the 14th-century volume, the best known illuminated Hebrew manuscript, intact.
- Selahattin Ulkumen, the Turkish Consul at Rhodes, whose rescue of several dozen Jews from certain extermination at Auschwitz led to the death of his wife Mihrinissa when the Nazis retaliated against him
- The Albanian Refik Vesili who — as a 16-year-old — saved eight Jews by hiding them in his family’s mountain home.
The Central Mosque of Paris served as a shelter for hundreds of French Jewish children being rescued from deportation to death camps. This mosque was built in the 1920s, as an expression of gratitude from France for the over half-million Muslims from its African possessions who fought alongside the French in the 1914-1918 war. About 100,000 of them died in the trenches. A film has been made about this called Their Children Are Like Our Own Children.
The majority of Allied troops that landed on the beaches of Provence in August, 1944 were “Free French” Muslims from North and West Africa. Thousands of Moroccan and Indian Muslim troops voluntarily served in the liberation of Italy. They risked and gave their lives along with Polish freedom fighters and American GIs at Monte Cassino. Tens of thousands more Soviet Muslim troops bravely served at hellish Stalingrad and Leningrad. All of us should honor and be thankful for their sacrifice in helping end the scourge of Nazism.
Or they might read the article Islamic Fascists? Deceptive Labels & Propoganda are Counterproductive from which they would learn
In just the past few months there has been a rash of articles and blog entries that bring up and expand upon the sad fact that Amin el-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem collaborated with Hitler during WWII. This comes at the same time as President Bush’s use of the term Islamic Fascists appearing to validate a term used over the last few years among those determined to provoke a clash of civilizations. Whether the sudden proliferation in the use of this term (or its’ variants - Islamo-Nazi, Islamo-Fascist, etc.) and the articles attempting to find some connection with Islam and the Nazis and Fascists is simply a case of extremists feeding off of each other in our world of almost instantaneous communication, or is due to a calculated campaign is debatable, but the end result is an increase in Islamophobia and mutual distrust. Such stereotyping all too often leads to a dehumanization of the “other” and has historically been the precursor to isolation, discrimination, and violence. Such descriptions also blur distinctions and create an atmosphere in which the “enemy” becomes most or all Muslims.
Robert Duncan’s article “Islamic terrorism linked to Nazi fascists” on Renew America uses the Mufti/Hitler photo as justification for President Bush’s use of the term Islamic Fascists. Others who have jumped on this bandwagon are Jonah Goldberg in “The Swastica and the Scimitar”, Gene Pinkam, Alan Dershowitz, Timothy Furnish (who is opposed to the use of the term, but whose ‘reasons’ for that opposition still play into the same mindset, Daniel Johnson, etc.
Little Green Footballs is showing archival footage of Hitler and the Mufti, a number of blogs are referring to a photo of Hitler together with the Grand Mufti, and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross even stretches the Mufti’s aberrational behavior to include a generalized “Muslim World’s sympathy with the axis alliance”. And, the propoganda film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” is being shown across the U.S. and Canada and attempts to make this same connection.
This is a pointless attempt at justifying stereotyping and Islamophobia. Certainly there were some Muslims who were Nazis or Fascists, but they were a small minority compared to all of those who fought against the Nazis and the Fascists.
The actual Nazi party originated in Germany, a predominantly Christian country. The actual Facists came out of Italy, another predominantly Christian country. The Nazis and Fascists were predominantly Christians. Christianity had a role in the rise and fall of the Nazi’s. The Vatican signed a concordat with Hitler’s Reich. The Catholic responses to Hitler were ambiguous at least. There are numerous photographs of Hitler with various Christian clergy including Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, the papal nuncio in Berlin, and with a Catholic Cardinal, Spanish and German Bishops giving Nazi and Fascist salutes, Cardinal Michael Faulhaber marching in a Nazi parade, the Reich Bishop Ludwig Muller, and many more that are still available. There are also numerous photographs of Christian symbols in Nazi artifacts.
Hitler himself referred to Christianity as a foundation for his beliefs: “The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.” Source: My New World Order, Proclamation to the German Nation at Berlin, February 1, 1933
The Christian connection with the Nazis and Fascists was widespread and well-documented. The Muslim connection was minimal. And, just as there were Christians who resisted and fought against the Nazi and Fascist regimes there were also many Muslims who fought against this evil worldview.
As an American Muslim I have made unambiguous statements condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of religious intolerance. But, I expect that American Jews will make just such unambiguous statements rejecting Islamophobia. If neither community is willing to step up to the plate on this issue, then we play right into the hands of those who promote a clash of civilizations.
I believe that all of those who see the necessity for dialogue and a hope for peace among the world’s religions should follow B’Nai Brith’s advice in their pamphlet “When someone you know uses stereotypical statements to describe a member of a group, the best thing to do is speak out and let that person know what you think.” Please contact them at http://www.bnaibrith.ca/league.html
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