Friday, February 23, 2007

Why Israeli is wrong

The controversy surrounding Professor Israeli continues. Part of it is driven by the fact that the man seems incapable of giving a consistent account, preferring to provide a different argument depending on who his audience is.

Israeli’s words have sparked a furious debate within the Jewish community, as evidenced by the last two editions of the Australian Jewish News. Certainly much of this debate arises due to intra-communal leadership debates, and I’d rather not discuss these. I think it’s only fair to allow Jewish communities to sort these matters out internally just as they have allowed Muslims to sort out the Hilaly issue internally.

AJN copped plenty of flack for running the story, accused of misquoting Israeli. They have now released the transcript of his interview concerning Muslim migration. The most favourable reading of this transcript shows that Israeli is not just targeting certain kinds of Muslims. Rather, he is targeting all Muslims.

It is easy to turn around and say Israeli is being racist and xenophobic or to argue he is using the language used by Nazis against Jews during the 1930’s and ‘40’s. This is all true, but its constant repetition achieves nothing.

Politically correct use of the “R” word won’t work. Instead, we need to address the root of the arguments of Israeli and prove why these are weak. I wish I could do this in one installment but time won’t permit this. It is an ongoing exercise that requires the efforts of many people across a range of disciplines.

Waleed Aly addressed part of Israeli’s argument in his elegant rebuttal in the Melbourne Age. Just to recap, here is what Aly said about Rwanda …

RWANDAN Muslims were once held in low esteem. They were traders in a land where farmers held prestige. Moreover they were socially and politically negligible, constituting roughly 5 per cent of the population, and largely confined to the unspectacular neighbourhood of Kigali. Then came the genocide of 1994 in which tribal violence between Hutus and Tutsis claimed 800,000 lives.

Churches became slaughterhouses. Some brave priests and nuns lost their lives trying to resist the genocide. Many others were complicit. Hutu Catholic pastors offered refuge to Tutsis, only to surrender them to Hutu death squads who massacred them in the pews, and even at the altar.

Meanwhile, Kigali was a sanctuary. Muslims, both Hutu and Tutsi, resolved that they would stand against the genocide. When Hutu militias surrounded the neighbourhood, Hutu Muslims refused to co-operate. They hid Tutsis — Muslim and Christian — in their homes and in their mosques. Now, Islam in Rwanda is booming. Masses of Christians, incapable of returning to the churches in which their families were slaughtered, sickened at the thought of praying next to those who massacred them and listening to priests who sanctioned it, have converted to Islam. Today, Muslims constitute around 15 per cent of the population.

As Aly shows, Islam manifests itself in different ways in different parts of the world. There is no doubt that there have been places where Islam was spread at the point of the sword. But has that been the experience in Australia or in our region?

Forced conversion into or away from Islam is unheard of in Australia. Certainly Muslims aren’t known to engage in the kinds of activities attributed to some (allegedly) Christian sects such as the Exclusive Brethren. Indeed, the only case I am aware of reported as an “honour killing” could well turn out to be anything but that.

Israeli illustrated his argument in an interesting and revealing interview with Stephen Crittenden on Radio National’s The Religion Report.

(The nature of the questions fed to Israeli by Crittenden during the interview actually also says a lot about Crittenden’s own prejudices. But I’ll leave that for another day.)

One claim Israeli makes is about his own expertise. In addressing this, I don’t wish to make personal attacks or cast aspersions on Israeli. I will, however, address his claims to specialist expertise on the subject of European Islam.

Look, I did some work on Islamic fundamentalism in general, particularly in the Middle East, and lately I just completed a book on Islam in Europe. I call it, 'The third Islamic Invasion of Europe,' taking into account the two previous invasions in the 8th century to Spain and Portugal, and southern France, and the 15th, 16th century by the Ottoman Empire from the East. And now the third invasion is taking place via this penetration of massive immigration of Muslims from all over the world.

Israeli’s research work on Islam has focused on Chinese Muslims. His PhD was in fact on the subject of Muslims in mainland China. The thesis was also published as a book by Curzon Press in 1980. It is interesting that, although he claims expertise on this topic, he has never actually traveled to China.

Further, Israeli has no recent peer-reviewed academic articles on Muslims in Europe. The bulk of his articles published in academic journals have been on Muslims in China or Muslims in the Middle East, the latter largely in the context of Arab-Israeli relations.

Israeli has one article published in the journal Current History in April 1980 entitled Muslim minorities under non-Muslim rule. I have tried to access the article online but it is no longer available. From the title of the paper, it is hard to know if it provides a historical or contemporary review on the subject or whether it concerns Europe or Asia.

Israeli also published an article entitled From Bosnia to Kosovo: the Reislamisation of the Balkans. However, this was published by a far-Right Israeli think tank, not a peer-reviewed academic journal.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007


Anonymous said...

I don't think Israeli hates muslims. It's not personal. It's just normal in Western society to do some hygenic things like wiping your own arse, flushing the toilet, taking out the garbage, poisoning cockroaches rats and other vermin etc. All Israeli is saying is that as a precautionary measure and because it makes life more pleasant we should be wiping away muslim filth, flushing them down the toilet, putting them in rubbish bins and maybe poisoning them. All entirely civilised and reasonable and hygenic. It's not hate. It's just the right and responsible thing to do if you care for the living conditions in your country in the same way that you practice personal hygene or good housekeeping. Australia is our home and it is our duty to keep it clean and free of muslim vermin. As they say Cleanliness is next to Godliness. If for our own cleanliness we are also doing the right thing by God then all the better.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine Mark Arbib of the NSW ALP using the pointed sword of government to achieve any aims he desired, including the promotion of Islam.

Give Muslims an inch, and they will take a mile. Australia must be defended from this wicked, evil faith.

Irfan said...

What on earth does Mark Arbib hav to do with Muslims? Or are you presuming that someone with a surname that rhymes with "Habib" must necessarily be Muslim? I wonder what that says for the millions of Lebanese and Palestinian Christians with such surnames.

Legal Eagle said...

Not a direct comment on the piece...but it reminded me about my Chinese Muslim friend. I didn't even realise that there were Chinese Muslims until I met him, although of course it makes a lot of sense when one thinks about it.

He is an amazing person, very learned and urbane, as well as a fantastic guy to take to a Chinese restaurant (he inevitably orders up a delicious feast). Apparently his forebears converted to Islam after travelling the Silk Road. He was telling me a little about his background and how his family have helped the local mosque establish a school for young women back in their home town.

Just thought it is nice to think about a positive story in this present climate...

Anonymous said...

There are stupid, gullible, and evil people all over the world, even in China.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 3:16pm aka "dick-head": actually muslims are quite hygenic as they do things like actually washing the arse before wiping... precisely what upper class westerners do. have you ever heard of a bidet? dick-head.

Anonymous said...

You are an idiot. If you went into google and turned off English Only results you would find that Israeli has a vast array of published and peer-reviewed work in Hebrew. So much for your objectivity and research skills coloured as they are by anti-jew hate. Your words drip malice and viciousness which is all the more surprising for someone from such an inferior academic background who has no formal academic publications of any sort. I laugh at how pathetic you are. And you are supposed to be one of the leading lights of the muslim community? Your inferior contribution to public discourse invites unfavourable comparison with more learned, reasoned and articulate commentators such as Andrew Bolt. You are a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

What Irfan said:

You always point to the obscure particular Christian minority of an ethnic race to defend to objectionable Muslim majority of any ethnic race.

As far as I am concerned, and I speak much better English than you do Irfan, "Arbib" does not even sound like "Habib".

It is up to Mark Arbib himself, or even you to show that the NSW ALP head honcho is not a Muslim (or pretends not to be, like the Greenacre ALP Federal candidate.)

Give Muslims an inch, and they will take a mile. Australia must be defended from this wicked, evil faith.

Thank God for David Clarke MLC exposing Louise Marcus' Muslim opponent, as an un-Australian and un-electable Muslim terrorist supporting freak.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:16.

There's a saying of Prophet Mohammed which goes "cleanliness is half of faith."

The emphasis Islam has put on cleanliness, no other religion has. \

Please dont respond by saying why Pakistan or Iraq is dirty. There's a big difference between being Muslim and being Islamic.

Anonymous said...

" anonymous 3:16pm aka "dick-head": actually muslims are quite hygenic as they do things like actually washing the arse before wiping... precisely what upper class westerners do. have you ever heard of a bidet? dick-head..."

You stinking muslim peasant. Some French people wash the arse and genitals AFTER wiping. Old people, hospital patients, prostitutes etc use a bidet AFTER wiping. Only a stinking muslim would use a bidet BEFORE wiping and would probably also wash the baby and peel the vegetables in it. Stay away from my bidet or you'll be getting some American backboarding water torture. I dare anyone to go to the public toilets at Brighton Le Sands. Anyone who does will come away convinced that the muslims must be either exterminated or driven into the sea.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 1:04. David Clarke is a wonderful man and a great patriot. it is always fascinating that his detractors don't have the things that David Clarke has.
Such as a nice wife and family, the admiration and respect of many friends and supporters, a useful role working for his country and the love of God. By comparison his very few detractors are a bunch of lonely fat friendless losers and pathological liars filled with hate against God and shouldn't be allowed to stay in Australia.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 1:02pm aka "dick-head": washing the arse first and wiping it dry makes more sense. washing it after will simply leave the butt wet and the shitty residue running down one's legs. This will be the last word on the issue since I do not normally converse with dick-heads. dick-head.

YL said...

Anon @ 102, you clearly are fixated with sh#t. And given the way you wash, I'd say you're covered in it.

No, can we get back to the issues?

Anonymous said...

A good title for a future Dr Israeli book would be: 'From Auschwitz to Lakemba - the Demuslification Cleansing of Australia'

Anonymous said...

At least Israeli can right a book. The average muslim ratbag just calls on other even more stupid muslims to blow themselves up. Muslims are not even 1/50th what the jews are when it comes to culture and rational thought and building positive societies

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the insulting, irrational responses to an well-articulated article. I am not a Muslim, I am a Christian, and yet after reading some of the ridiculous reponses I am astounded that Muslims are the ones being called stupid and incapable of coherent debate, as Israeli has claimed. If you have an argument, then post something worthwhile. If not...calling muslims rat-bags, peasants, sying they should all be thrown into the sea... I'm sorry you are so pathetic you're laughable. The public toilets are pretty bad where I live too...should we get rid of young white males, while we're at it, because they're the ones causing the trouble? You do nothing but convince me that jews are just as bad.

Irfan Yusuf said...

Anon @ 1112am, virtually all the Jews I have met are very pleasant people. Let's try to avoid generalising about any group, including white males. Though your other comments are well made.