Friday, November 26, 2010

Moderate Muslim author condemns virulent anti-Semitism infiltrating Islam

By Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun November 23, 2010

Toronto author Tarek Fatah is peddling a radical notion: Muslims and Jews really ought to get along.

In his newly published book, The Jew Is Not My Enemy, the founder and former head of the Muslim Canadian Congress argues that if Muslims in the Middle East have anyone to blame for their plight it's their own political and religious leaders.

Moreover, "Despite my solidarity with the Palestinian cause, I denounce anti-Semitism and refuse to hate either Israel or the Jewish people."

The 61-year-old Pakistaniborn journalist immigrated to Canada from Saudi Arabia in 1987 and in the early 1990s ran unsuccessfully for the Ontario New Democrats. (He later left the party, believing "the NDP today has become the bastion of anti-Israeli sentiment.")

Fatah, a moderate Muslim who is not Arab, hosts a Toronto radio show.

Against a 2010 backdrop of Islamic terrorism, his views are intriguing. For example: "By any rational standard, Muslims and Jews should have been, and could be, partners."

Their faiths are similar, he says, and more unites than divides them.

According to the author, there are no boy scouts in the Middle East conflict. He's critical of Israel's "immoral" occupation of Palestinian land: "If Israel is to survive as a nation state, not a pariah, it will have to get Palestine off its back."

And, the Palestinians, espousing an all-or-nothing doctrine, repeatedly have squandered opportunities to secure a state for themselves.

But the bigger theme in his book is a condemnation of the virulent anti-Semitism that has infiltrated Islam, a "medieval madness that is creating monsters within the Muslim community."
Fatah, who -- no surprise -- has received his share of death threats, debunks a flotilla of ancient myths regularly deployed to feed Muslim hatred of Jews.

Muslims are told early and often by clerics and in religious tracts that Jews are the descendants of pigs and apes and the brothers of monkeys, that they annually sacrifice people to drink their blood.

This nonsense has only been fuelled by the spread of Wahhabism, courtesy of a wealthy "Saudi hate machine" that geared up in earnest after oil prices soared in 1973.

Fatah writes that Saudi Arabia preaches hatred of Jews in its schoolbooks and that it exports Korans that feature interpretations promoting Judeophobia.

He says clerics regularly close Friday prayers with a call to arms to defeat the Jews.
By contrast, Fatah notes, Jewish scriptures and teachings do not feature anti-Muslim preachings.

"I have spent countless hours trying to locate explicit attacks on Islam by Jewish religious authorities, but have found little evidence of such literature."

And, he recalls centuries during which Jews and Muslims lived cooperatively in the Middle East. In India and Pakistan in the early 20th century, Jews were safe and welcomed.

His book points out that Israeli Arabs regularly state a preference for living in Israel rather than under Hamas or Fatah rule or other Middle East regimes. Many hold favourable views about Jews, says Fatah.

In addition, he reports that when he has randomly asked Israeli Arabs if they believe Israel is an "apartheid state," they laugh out loud.

In the end, argues the author, Muslims "have a choice. Either we allow ourselves to be consumed by hatred, or we approach Jews as fellow human beings, at worst as adversaries in a political dispute, not as monsters destined to be our enemy for all time."

Fatah will be in Vancouver on Monday at 7:30 p.m. to discuss his dispassionate and meticulously researched tome.

The venue: Temple Sholom, 7190 Oak St. Free admission.
Pity he isn't speaking at a mosque.

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