‘Poisonous nonsense’ of ‘toxic’ IHRC
THE ISLAMIC Human Rights Commission is hosting a conference on 8 December in Kings Cross, ‘Islamophobia and Silencing Criticism of Israel’. The short description of the event says, “Given the racist nature of Zionism, this marriage between the far right and Zionist activists was inevitable.”
The statement warrants a dissection of its toxic narratives.
The term ‘Zionism’ has many meanings to Jewish communities. There is left and right-wing Zionism and there are various interpretations of what it means for Jews. For some, it means societal equality and nation building — the initial driver for Jews who built Israel. For others, it means defence of Israel, economically, culturally and militarily, whilst for some it means defence of the state of Israel through occupation and extended borders.
It is not a static word, just as language is not static. However, to the IHRC this term has, for years, been used as a means to play off Muslim audiences and to foment division.
Yet insidious and divisive text follows this sentence: “ProIsrael advocates see an overlap between their hatred of the Arabs whom they wish to displace in Palestine with the far-right’s hatred of Muslims. It is why you see EDL members attend pro-Israel events to deny the right of Palestinian self-determination and why you can see Zionist Federation placards flown at events where far-right racists shout ‘Allah is a Peado’ and ‘Muslims rape our children’.” This year’s Al Quds Day rally, organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
Jewish support for far right is minimal’
The statement suggests that the vast majority of Jews, who will be proIsrael advocates, are drawn towards far-right groups. The audacity and blanket stereotyping of this statement takes no account how all of the mainstream representative Jewish groups, who are pro-Israel, have open-
ly and vigorously challenged far right anti-Muslim bigots for years.
And to suggest that the Zionist Federation speaks for all British Jews is like suggesting that one Muslim group speaks for all Muslims. This is twisted and childlike commentary but it is deliberate and aimed at playing to ignorance, fear and division.
It has to be asked why the IHRC has failed to mention the activities of leading Jewish organisations who represent the mainstream of British Jewry and who are standing up against anti-Muslim bigotry.
Conversely, has the IHRC released any positive statements about the actions of these Jewish organisations who have consistently stood up against anti-Muslim bigotry? No.
It suits this organisation to punch the lowest common denominator with its support base — and that means vilifying Israel.
The reality is that support for farright groups within Jewish communities is minimal — and Jewish communities openly challenge extremism, hatred and intolerance, including when it is targeted against Muslims.
On many occasions, the IHRC has shouted against the ‘pigeon-holing’ of Muslims after terrorist attacks — and rightly so. Muslims as a whole cannot be held to account for the actions of Jihadi-inpsired co-religionists. Yet, perversely, this same group pigeon holes Jewish communities as though ‘they all think the same’, if they are proIsrael. This simplistic, Trump-like position is not only inflammatory, it needs to be challenged every time it rears its viperous head.
Yet if Trump made a similar statement in reverse, that many Muslims who are pro-Iran, for example, are naturally antisemitic, I can bet that the IHRC would be the first organisation to shout out ‘Islamophobia’. Yet, they are happy to push out this poisonous nonsense.
No-one is denying that Israel is located in a region where human rights are often secondary to security and this includes surrounding Arab majority countries. No-one can also deny that the occupation of the Palestinian territories has affected Palestinian society at every facet and within
virtually every family. These are issues that cannot be washed away. Yet the method by which the IHRC uses the Palestinian issue to whip up divisiveness and reach out to people who have a deeply polarised position is troubling and deeply divisive.
The hijacking of the Palestinian cause by Islamist groups in the UK has been insidious. In the 1970s and early 80s, many of the most vocal supporters and demonstrators for a Palestinian state were non-Muslim. Fast forward to beyond 2000 and some of the main organisers of demonstrations for a ‘free Palestine’ were Islamist groups.
We have under-estimated the acumen and energy of Islamist groups and how they use key campaigning topics as a way to funnel in young minds into their activism. The last thing we need is groups like the IHRC taking the issue of Palestine and lumping it into a debate around ‘Islamophobia’. Palestine is not an ‘Islamic’ or religious issue, nor do Palestinians need to be seen through the prism of a religious struggle. Theirs is a right to self-determination and it is time that British Muslims stood up and resisted making Palestine a religious cause celebre.
For those looking to challenge antiMuslim hate or Islamophobia, I pose the following questions.
Do you want to help ensure that non-Muslims also step up to challenge anti-Muslim bigotry? Or will you be part of the problem?
Do you believe that the IHRC’s campaigning tactics against Islamophobia build bridges or cause further divides with our Jewish brothers and sisters in the struggle against hate?
What has the Palestinian issue got to do with a UK-based NGO that seeks to tackle anti-Muslim hate in the UK?
Your answers will shape where you stand on this issue.
The IHRC exists to sow division’
Fiyaz Mughal is the Founder and Director of Faith Matters, and Founder of Muslims Against Antisemitism