My moderate-Muslim test
An absence of hostility towards Israel and Jews is the key
As I understand it, auto-immune diseases are caused when the immune system which protects the body turns upon itself, mistaking friendly organisms for foes and vice versa.
One might say that just such an affliction now assails the British and American intelligentsia — with some British Jews themselves amongst the worst affected.
The latest example of this general disorder was the reaction to the jihadi attack in Fort Hood, Texas, last week when a Muslim army psychiatrist screaming “Allahu akhbar” gunned down and murdered at least 13 people, leaving dozens more injured.
Despite evidence over many months that this man had been consumed by Islamist fanaticism, the US and British media (not to mention President Obama) spent several days playing down or seeking to deny that this was an Islamist religious atrocity.
There are several reasons for this near pathological state of denial: multicultural ideology, extreme ignorance, funk. But another is the anxiety not to tar all Muslims with the same extremist brush.
This is a very proper instinct. Many Muslims in Britain and America have fully signed up to democracy and human rights; indeed, they are themselves potential victims of the Islamists and the sharia law they aim to impose upon the “infidel” world.
So it is very important to separate moderate Muslims from Islamists. But how can you tell a genuine moderate from the dissimulators?
I myself have stumbled in this area. Having believed that the government-funded “anti-Islamist” campaigner Ed Husain was as advertised, I and many others were rudely disabused of that notion recently when he sprang to the defence of the Muslim Council of Britain’s spokesman Inayat Bunglawala, who openly declares he wants Britain to become an Islamic state and who has refused to condemn the Islamic practice of stoning to death.
Among the many jibes Ed Husain threw my way when I criticised Bunglawala was that I supposedly deemed any Muslim who did not support Israeli Likud policy to be an Islamist.
Interestingly, this absurd caricature was not dissimilar to a charge once made to my face by the Hamas-promoting Dr Azzam Tamimi, who declared disgustedly that I would only consider a Muslim to be a moderate if he supported Israel.
While Ed Husain was wrong, for once Tamimi was spot on. I do indeed think that the issue that defines true Muslim moderation is the absence of hostility towards Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people.
There are some Muslims who have zero prejudice towards Israel and the Jews. I have met a few of them — and there are indeed only a very few. They are excessively brave people.
They have to be — because even among Muslims who would never have any truck with sharia law or Islamist violence, theologically-based prejudice against Israel and the Jews runs very deep indeed.
Those who are free of such bigotry have the integrity to reject that theology. They are true moderates because, in supporting Israel’s defence against those who want to extinguish it as a Jewish state, they are on the side of truth against lies, justice against injustice and freedom against murderous tyranny.
Those who don’t support Israel’s self-defence — such as Ed Husain — are on the wrong side of the fight to defend civilisation. No-one — whether Muslim, Christian, atheist or anything else — can be considered to be a “moderate” person if he or she is bigoted towards Israel or the Jewish people. You cannot be a moderate bigot.
Jewish community leaders who are engaged in outreach to the Muslim community are making a heroic attempt to build bridges. But unless they make their friendship conditional upon rationality towards Israel and the Jews, such initiatives are likely to be as conducive to communal health as an auto-immune deficiency to the body’s natural defences.
Melanie Phillips is a Daily Mail columnist