Friday, February 16, 2007

COMMENT: On Raphael Israeli

Professor Raphael Israeli, a visiting Middle Eastern academic, makes public remarks about the inherently violent nature of Muslim migrants. He claims countries with Muslim minorities making up more than 10% of their total population are riddled with upheaval. He later claimed he was misrepresented, but clarified his remarks with the even more outrageous claim that countries whose Muslim populations reached a “critical mass” would “have problems”, and that this was ...
... the general rule, so if it applies everywhere, it applies in Australia.
Professor Israeli’s message was simple. Muslims are inherently violent. They disrupt their host societies. Countries with more than 10% of their population as Muslim are always in strife.

Israeli’s claims only make sense if we accept the notion that, at heart, all Muslims are the same. We must also accept that all Muslims, regardless of their ethnic or linguistic or sectarian nuance, are determined to manufacture trouble with a view to taking control.

On the same day his comments are reported, one of his sponsoring organisations (the Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council) issues a press release rejecting his comments. They further state that they “will not be co-hosting any of his further appearances in Australia”.

The CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, said Professor Israeli’s comments
... do not reflect the position of the Jewish community and are unhelpful in the extreme.
He reminded us of the Jewish community’s
... strong record in fighting racism and condemn[ing] all expressions of bigotry.
Yet should such comments come as a surprise? Professor Israeli has a history of making inflammatory statements about Muslims. He has frequently spoken and written in support of the most outlandish positions. In November last year, he participated in a debate at the University College Cork in Ireland, where he argued that Islam as a faith was completely incompatible with Western values.

Some 10% of victims of the London bombings on July 7 2005 had Muslim heritage. They included Shahara Islam, a British bank clerk in her early 20’s. This fact didn’t stop Professor Israeli from attributing terrorism and violence to this victim’s family name and faith. In a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli insisted British officials recognise what he described as “the myth of peaceful Islam”.

Israeli has written and contributed to numerous books, including one collection entitled “Muhammad’s Monsters”. In 2000, he published a paper on “Arab and Islamic Anti-Semitism” in which he sought to expose

... the conventional derogatory attitudes that had taken root in Arab and Islamic thinking vis-à-vis the Jews.
How ironic that he is happy to use the auspices of the Shalom Institute to spread his own version of Jewish Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

In June 2004, Israeli penned an article on “Islam’s Sway Over Turkey” in which he castigated the ...

... inexplicable Western policy of appeasement towards Islam ...

... which he claimed was ...

... predicated upon the false assumption ...

... that there was such a thing as moderate or pragmatic Islam. Israeli went onto castigate US and Western opposition to the genocide of Bosnian and Albanian Muslims in the Balkans.

To describe Israeli’s hatred of Muslims as pathological would be an understatement. This isn’t surprising given that he represents some of the most far-Right opinions in Israel, and has written against various Arab-Israeli peace initiatives.

Israeli wrote a scathing attack in June 2004 of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan of unilaterally dismantling settlements of Jewish fundamentalists in Gaza. It seems Professor Israeli’s venom for religious extremism doesn’t extend to Israelis.

Professor Israeli’s latest book, entitled The Third Islamic Invasion of Europe, continues with his theme of a grand Islamic conspiracy to take over Europe. Curiously, he believes attempts by secular Turkey to join the EU form an integral part of this plot to manufacture “Eurabia”, notwithstanding Turkey’s frequently strained relations with Syria and other Arab countries.

Indeed, in endorsing Professor Israeli’s claims, the New York-based Israel Hasbarah Committee wrote on its website on 23 January 2007 that

... since its very onset in 2001 [it] has been the “canary in the coal mine,” warning the world of Islam’s ambitious, well organized, and might we add “vicious” intent to dominate the globe. Who can deny it coming to pass?
Now this raises some interesting questions. What is a Jewish educational institute doing sponsoring the propagation of such jaundiced and divisive views in Australia? Were they unaware that Professor Israeli actively propagated such views? Was AIJAC aware of Professor Israeli’s expressed views?

Further, why is there an eerie silence amongst those sections of the Australian media active in condemning Sheik Hilaly? Will The Oz ensure that 7 pages of its newspaper are spent investigating Professor Israeli and the organisations sponsoring him? Will op-ed editors of major newspapers commission articles questionining and berating Professor Israeli and his expressed views? Will we see Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda Devine, Piers Akerman and others condemning these remarks?

All credit to the Australian Jewish News for breaking this story. Perhaps it is a good indication of mainstream Jewish opinion that AJN carried an anonymous letter to the editor which read …

THIS week I rang to book my place at the course “Understanding Islam”with a top scholar from Israel to be held at Masada College on Tuesday nights.

You can imagine my shock when I found out that it was possible that the course might not run because of insufficient enrolments.
Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

Bookmark this on Delicious


Get Flocked