A Rabbi Warns Against Islamophobia

A Rabbi Warns Against Islamophobia


Photo Credits: FARS

What did the 9 dead victims of a mass killing in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina [June 2015], and the 6 dead victims of an attack on an Islamic mosque in Quebec [January 2017], and the 26 shot dead in a white small town church near San Antonio, Texas [November 2017], and the 11 killed in a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania [October 1018] have in common?

Only their innocence; and being victims of scapegoating.

While the victims were of many different faiths; the church killers, like those who do school killings, were all hate filled, angry males using innocent people as scapegoats. They do not take out their anger on the rich and powerful because they themselves have fantasies of becoming rich or powerful. They just scapegoat all those who are different from them in race, religion, gender, nationality or place of birth.

If you want to understand Trumpism read the following information. A survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted on November of 2015 found that 60% of them believe the U.S. is at war with radical Islamic terrorism. Just 24% disagree.

By party affiliation 56% of Democrats believe America is at war with radical Islamic terrorism, compared to 70% of Republicans. That is not a great difference.

Of all voters, 92% now regard radical Islamic terrorism as a serious threat to the U.S. This includes 73% who say the threat is a “very serious” one, up 23 points in only 13 months from 50% in October 2014.

Another recent poll showed that a majority of Americans (56 percent, including even larger majorities in all the major Christian denominations) say the values of Islam are at odds with American values according to the Public Religion Research Institute’s annual American Values Survey (of 2,695 U.S. adults), released November 17, 2015.

That’s a significant rise of nine points in just the last four years since 2011, when Americans were evenly split, with 47 percent saying Islamic values were incompatible while 48 percent disagreed.

A slow economic recovery for working people, legalizing gay marriage, so many non-white Christian immigrants, and ongoing terrorism in, and coming from, the Middle East, make millions of American’s fearful for America’s future.

Widespread doubt about America’s future has split Americans in half  — 49 percent to 49 percent — on whether “America’s best days are ahead of us or behind us.” This anxiety had  produced a scapegoat; the religion of Islam, as can been seen in a major rise in Islamophobia in the U. S.

Three large groups of Americans had a major increase in Islamophobia; and three smaller groups only had a very small rise, or no raise at all.

The three groups of Americans having large numbers of people agreeing with the statement that the values of Islam are at odds with American values are:

white evangelical Protestants (up 14 points to 73 percent from 59 percent in 2011);

white mainline Protestants (up 16 points to 63 percent from 47 percent);

and Catholics (up 20 points to 61 percent from 41 percent).

The three groups that did not show a significant rise in Islamophobia are all American minorities: only 55 percent of black Protestants said Islamic values were incompatible with American values (up only 4 points from 51 percent); and among Jews and  “nones,” people who claim no religious label, there was no rise at all, because statistically speaking a one point difference (to 42 percent from 41 percent) is within the surveys margin of error.

Many people are very surprised to learn that Jews are much less Islamophobic than Christians even after eight decades of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

Most Rabbis would explain the low rate of Islamophobia among Jews by pointing out that Judaism is more compatible with Islam because both religions reject the concept of Jesus as the Son of God, and the doctrine of original sin.

Most of the non-Jews who convert to Judaism [about 3-5,000 a year] do so because they reject the doctrine of original sin and while they do believe in God, they cannot believe that God has a son.

For these reasons the Jewish People suffered for centuries in Europe from religious extremism and intolerance, so Jews tend to be suspicious of all religious bigotry and scapegoating. This may be the best explanation of  the Jewish disavowal of Islamophobia in America.

Also, all rabbis know that during the ten plus centuries of the Medieval Age, Jews were persecuted much less in Muslin countries than they were in Christian countries. Even today, Jihadi extremist terrorists have slaughtered many more Muslim victims, than the number of Christian, Jewish and Yazidi victims combined.

As Prophet Muhamad himself said: “There will be people who will speak well but act badly” (Sahih Abu Dawud, Albani 4765); and the Prophet said: “They will kill the Muslims” (Bukhari 7432). In 2014 according to the Global Terrorism Index the Islamic State slaughtered 6,073 people, the great majority of them Muslims; and Boko Haram murdered even more victims—6,644. These numbers change yearly but in the last ten years Muslims have always been the majority of victims of so called ‘Muslim terrorists’.

Everyone should be constantly reminded that religious extremism is ultimately self-destructive to its self, and its supporters. In the words of the poet W. B. Yeats: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

The time has come for all the best of religious conviction, to denounce and denigrate the activities and beliefs of those who are filled with the worst of religious convictions, before they desecrate and diminish all believers in the one God of Abraham.

Our religious and political leaders would help improve interfaith relations by constantly repeating the important lesson taught by the German Protestant theologian Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power; and their subsequent purging of their chosen targets, one group after another group:

First they arrested Socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Socialist.

Then they arrested Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they arrested Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.