Photo: AP
Terrorists hit London
Photo: AP

Center of hatred

London increasingly emerging as radical Islamic, anti-Semitic hub

The mainstreaming of anti-Semitism and demonization of Israel is felt most acutely, however, in the public culture of the capital city of London. In the past decade, the United Kingdom’s undisputed political, economic, and cultural center has also become a major world center of political Islam and anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American activism.


Through its Arabic-language newspapers, magazines, and publishing houses, not to mention its flourishing network of bookshops, mosques, and community centers, radical Islam has taken full advantage of what British democracy has to offer for its anti-Western goals, reaping the benefits of London’s significance as a hub of global finance, electronic media, and mass communications technology.


The effect of this with regard to anti-Semitism and virulent anti-Zionism has therefore been quite different from that found elsewhere in Europe: Although Britain’s Muslim population of about 1.5 million is only a quarter of that of France, the growing influence of London’s Muslims has given the most inflammatory of ideas a greater legitimacy in the capital’s political and cultural discourse than they enjoy virtually anywhere else.


Much of this energy has been directed at mobilizing Muslims to fight against Israel and America. The impassioned calls of Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, a leading Muslim cleric in London, to “celebrate” the September 11 attacks as a great moment in history and recruit Muslim youth for “holy war” in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine, have struck an emotional chord in the Muslim ghettos.


This is less surprising when one recalls that 40 percent of British Muslims surveyed in a Sunday Times poll after 9-11 believed Osama bin Laden was “justified” in his war against America. They even supported those of their coreligionists from Britain who volunteered to fight with the Taliban against the Western allies.


'Filthy Jews'


At the same time, Islamists like Al-Muhajiroun (“the Exiles”) spokesman Anjem Choudary regard Britain and the West as mere pawns, controlled by the “Zionists.” Israel is invariably portrayed as a “cancer in the heart of the Muslim world” to be eliminated only by radical surgery.


Sheikh Bakri himself has warned Jews in Britain to avoid any support for Israel lest they “become targets for Muslims.”


Al-Muhajiroun combines calls for “the black flag of Islam to fly over Downing Street” with demands for the liberation of Palestine and the Jihadist demand to “de-Judaize the West.”


This highly inflammable cocktail embracing Palestine, jihad, the dream of a worldwide caliphate, Koranic indoctrination, and classical Judeophobia, was exposed by the Old Bailey trial of Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal, in February 2003.


The cleric, a Jamaican convert to Islam educated in Saudi Arabia, was found guilty of inciting to murder and racial hatred on the basis of his lectures and videocassettes - some of them on sale at specialty bookshops in Britain - and sentenced to nine years in prison.


Overwhelming evidence was produced at the trial to demonstrate his encouragement for a violent jihad to kill non-believers. Particular venom was reserved for the “filthy Jews.” In a spine-chilling speech which seemed to anticipate the May 2003 suicide mission of Hanif to Tel Aviv, el-Faisal ranted:


People with British passports, if you fly into Israel it is easy…. Fly into Israel and do whatever you can. If you die, you are up in Paradise. How do you fight a Jew? You kill a Jew.


Mayor compares Jewish reporter to Nazi camp guard


Such sentiments have long ceased to be limited to Muslim self-expression; the politics of London have begun to internalize the discourse of hate. In February of this year, the city’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, angrily compared a Jewish reporter for the Evening Standard to a concentration camp guard.


Instead of later apologizing, Livingstone criticized the reporter’s employer for what he said was its history of racism, scare-mongering, and, oddly enough, anti-Semitism.


Shortly thereafter, Livingstone published a piece in the Guardian claiming that Ariel Sharon “is a war criminal who should be in prison, not in office,” adding that “Israel’s own expansion has included ethnic cleansing.”


Subsequently, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, responding to Jewish critics of the mayor, published an article on its web site entitled “Zionists Want Their Pound of Flesh.”


Given the legitimacy that such rhetoric enjoys in Britain today, it should not surprise us to discover the emergence of efforts among the intellectual elites to convert their rhetoric of hate into action - principally through the boycotting of Jewish and Israeli products and people.


It is these which have turned the public atmosphere in Britain into perhaps the most uncomfortable for Jews in all of Europe.


Excerpted from an article in the upcoming edition of Azure , published by Shalem Center, Jerusalem


Robert S. Wistrich holds the Neuberger Chair in Modern European History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is director of its Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism

פרסום ראשון: 07.07.05, 18:47
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