What drives lecture-hall hate

Profoundly nonsensical thinking links Oxford and Cambridge Islamists.


In terms of the ongoing battle against anti-Jewish racism in this country, February has not been a particularly good month.

First, Cambridge University's Israel society capitulated to pressure from the university's Islamic and Pakistan societies and withdrew its speaking invitation to professor Benny Morris, thereby giving its seal of approval to the absurd accusation that this Ben-Gurion university academic is an "Islamophobic hate speaker."

Originally a revisionist historian of Zionism, professor Morris once espoused the view that Palestinian Arabs had in 1948 been gratuitously expelled from what is now Israel. But in recent years he has - to some extent - changed his mind on this issue. In 2004, whilst maintaining his former view that these alleged expulsions amounted to ethnic cleansing, he wrote that "when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide - the annihilation of your people - I prefer ethnic cleansing".

In other words, he located such expulsions as there might have been within the undeniable context of the Arab desire to destroy the Jewish state. In the minds of Islamists and their fellow-travellers, this is, of course, rank heresy. But it has nothing to do with Islamophobia - the irrational hatred of followers of Islam.

The student thought ‘Jew’ and ‘Israeli’ were synonymous

Then we witnessed a distressing event at Oxford. Whilst Israel's deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, was attempting to speak, by invitation, at the Oxford Union, an undergraduate student unfurled a Palestinian flag and shouted in Arabic. There is some dispute about what he shouted. Some reports suggested that he exhorted "slaughter the Jews." The student himself has denied this, claiming that what he actually mouthed was merely a battle cry dating from Mohammed's attack on Jews in the oasis of Khaybar (629 CE), in what is now Saudi Arabia.

In point of fact I'm not sure that the student has done his cause much good by offering us this explanation. Whilst the clarification - if it is one - may indeed serve to avoid a prosecution for incitement to murder, it locates his outburst within the context of an actual event that resulted in the subjugation of Jews by Muslims, as required by Islamic law.

To make matters worse - for himself and his cause, that is - the student is reported to have declared that he believed the words "Jew" and "Israeli" were "interchangeable terms." Well, I can assure you that as far as Islamists are concerned, they are.

To confirm this truth you have only to consider the content of the lecture given on February 9 by Dr Azzam Tamimi at the School of Oriental & African Studies. Dr Tamimi (who had but a few days earlier addressed the same Islamic society at Cambridge that had demanded and obtained the banning of professor Morris) called for the destruction of Israel. He located this call within the context of his support for Hamas, an organisation whose founding charter - as we all know - incites the killing of Jews and whose propaganda is suffused with anti-Jewish rhetoric.

Dr Tamimi asked: "Why are the Jews superhuman and better than anyone else that God would give them a homeland? Is God a racist?"

Next week sees the launch of Mr Anthony Julius's long-awaited History of Anti-Semitism in England, which I have just finished reading. The volume has its strengths and its weaknesses, but one of its greatest strengths is the very erudite literary flow-chart (so to speak) that it offers, demonstrating in some considerable detail how antisemitism and anti-Zionism derive from the same roots and are, essentially, garments cut from the same cloth.

It matters not that the project to re-establish the Jewish state was opposed by some Jews, or that some Israelis side today with those who seek its dismemberment.

Classic Judeophobia sees the Jew as an aggressive and malign deformity on the face of humanity, seeking conspiratorially to subvert and control humankind through all manner of devilish devices. The classic Judeophobe, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, asserts - therefore - that even if Jews have rights, they must remain subordinate, and that these rights exclude the right to self-government and to a nation-state. The classic Judeophobe sees in the state of Israel the ultimate proof of the authenticity of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Its destruction is therefore not merely desirable. It is imperative.

These are the arguments that link the Islamists of Cambridge to their brethren in Oxford, and to those (not least within the Oxford Union audience itself) who applauded their efforts earlier this month.

We are not living in happy times.

    Last updated: 3:51pm, May 21 2010

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