Britain’s first Muslim government minister, Shahid Malik, thinks that many British Muslims feel like “the Jews of Europe”.“I don’t mean to equate that with the Holocaust,” the Dewsbury MP said last week on Channel 4, “but in the way that it was legitimate almost — and still is in some parts — to target Jews, many Muslims would say that we feel the exact same way.”
It is a perverse comparison. Unlike Europe’s Jews under the Nazis, UK Muslims face no legal restrictions on their movements, occupations, or marriage partners; have a vote; are not forced to wear identifying clothing; and certainly do not face physical annihilation. Moreover, the Jews were targeted for their ethnic identity alone, whereas the Muslim community could do much to stem anti-Islamic feeling by doing more to confront the extremists in its midst.
Yet the accusation has become fashionable, repeated lately by former London mayor Livingstone and Sunday Times columnist India Knight, among others.
The irony, of course, is that in today’s Britain, Jews are four times more likely to be physically attacked because of their religion than Muslims, according to police figures from 2006. And a large percentage of these attacks — between 27 and 38 per cent in the past four years, according to the CST — are by people of “Asian or Arab appearance”. For Mr Malik — who was guest speaker at the Liberal Judaism patrons’ dinner earlier this year — to use the Jews in order to claim the mantle of victimhood under such circumstances is cynical in the extreme.
Europe’s largest Jewish day school, JFS, has spent £100,000 defending in court its decision to refuse entry to a boy whose mother had converted through a Progressive beth din. This in addition to the time and energy it has spent keeping out the children of two women who converted Orthodox in Israel, but were deemed “insincere” by our own Office of the Chief Rabbi. But is this really a sensible use of the school’s resources? JFS pupils in Year 7 spend just five hours a week on Jewish subjects, including Hebrew; and less in later years. This is only marginally more than they would receive in cheder. Perhaps if the school focused less on keeping supposed non-Jews out, and more on offering a thorough Jewish education to the kids they let in, the entire community would benefit.
The Telegraph’s coverage of the terror attack in Jerusalem last week was sickening. Accompanying a full-length report — which did not even name the victims — was a box focusing solely on the murderer. And the paper seemed to have swallowed whole the story spun by his family, that it was — yup, you guessed it — the Jews’ fault: he had his “heart broken by a Jewish girl”, and “never recovered from [the] doomed romance”, which ended years ago. As if this could ever explain or justify murder; as if this is where our sympathies should lie. What on earth were they thinking?
Religious coercion in Israel continues apace. Last week, the “Rabbis of the Commission on Transportation Issues” sent a letter to students at the girls’ Bais Yaakov schools, and published ads in the Charedi press, asking girls to sit at the back of buses. The aim is to force the transport companies to segregate lines running through Charedi areas by gender, and let women board buses via the back door. This, said the ads, was “halachic travel” — although mixed buses seem acceptable to Charedim across the world, and even in Israel until recently. There have been several incidents of women, including frum novelist Naomi Ragen, being physically beaten for refusing to vacate their seats at the front of unsegregated buses. Once again, in the Israeli Charedi world, the law and the wishes of the majority of the population don’t count — might is right.