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Islamophobia Is Not Pro-Israel

25 September 2012 Huffington Post 8 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Joshua Stanton

Joshua Stanton

Islamophobia Is Not Pro-Israel

At a moment when I would otherwise be reviewing Yom Kippur teachings and preparing spiritually for the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar, I instead feel called as an American Jew to respond to the abominable, Islamophobic advertisements in the New York City subways.

Islamophobia is an ideological threat to the State of Israel. It dims the ultimate hope for Israel’s future: peace.

Anyone who claims to be “pro-Israel” must by definition yearn for peace between Israel and its neighbors. Those who do not cannot possibly want what’s best for Israel. It is simply an irreconcilable contradiction. How could someone who claims to want what’s best for Israel want for it anything but peace? I would like to see the rationale of anyone who suggests that peace is somehow suboptimal for any state, much less one that we care for deeply.

Where conversations often become more complicated, however, is when discussing what a just peace means and how best to achieve it. Given the state of conflict between Israel and some of its neighbors, working toward peace has become mired and enmeshed in competing visions for each group involved. The peace process (alternating, tragically, with ongoing bouts of violence) has become more than simply a matter of international relations; it now relates to the internal identities of Israel and its many neighbors.

While many ambiguities about the peace process remain, one element is certain: false dichotomies hurt the prospects for peace in such a complicated region. The idea of condemning a single group for all of the pain and suffering caused by a multi-lateral conflict is morally bankrupt and politically foolhardy. Doing so creates fissures where there could be bridges and pits people against each other in arguments of little value. It undermines moderates and bolsters extremists. It looks for simple answers to complex problems that require greater nuance.

Islamophobia is an ideology that can create such false dichotomies.

Beyond the evident harm that Islamophobia could bring to the prospects for peace, it now holds the potential to bring the pain of the Middle East conflict more extensively overseas, allowing the hurt to ricochet around the world.

The Islamophobic advertisements that groups recently placed in the New York City subways create false binaries of the sort that reduces the likelihood of peace — and then brings them home to Americans. They read as follows: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

From heinous implications and hateful language to insinuations about Islam and a claim that the Middle East conflict can be understood to be about the “civilized” and the “savage” rather than moderate Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze against extremists of multiple faiths, I see no reason that these advertisements should be seen as pro-Israel.

If there is an effective way to sideline people who love Israel and love their fellow Americans of all faiths, it is through these advertisements. If there is an effective way to create animosity where there was goodwill, it is through these advertisements. If there is a way to amplify the pain of the Middle East conflict overseas, while reducing the chances of its resolution, it is through these advertisements — and the debased sentiments that they espouse.

My hope and prayer, however, is that they also give moderate Jews, Muslims, Christians and people of all traditions the chance to sideline Islamophobes. As a Jew, a supporter of Israel and anally of American Muslims, I can only hope that our success in marginalizing extreme ideologies in the United States — such as Islamophobia — can ultimately give Israel and all of its neighbors the hope for peace that they have long deserved.

As with all of my pieces, this article represents only my own views and does not reflect the positions held by Hebrew College, the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, or any other organization of which I am a part.

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8 Comments »

  1. Most Islamophobes are secretly anti-Semitic, too. Listen to them carefully…you’ll see.

  2. I see this backfiring big time on Geller already, she is cutting her own throat and not even knowing it. Remember that say, ” be careful for what you wish”

  3. It’s the same zealot hate that has plagued us all since Abraham. The common thread in all fundamentalism is its satanic source.

  4. Thank you for publishing this. This is a really important message.

  5. Thank you Joshua, I’m an American also and would love for peace to come to the Middle East, including Israel. There’s so much Islamophia out there and mostly from the extreme right wing chrisitans. My family is christian and jewish but not but birth. Two marriages into the Jewish faith. I’m Muslim though as I converted to Islam almost 9 years ago. Peace be to you brother. :)

  6. Thank you Joshua, I’m an American also and would love for peace to come to the Middle East, including Israel. There’s so much Islamophia out there and mostly from the extreme right wing chrisitans. My family is christian although I’m Muslim as I converted to Islam almost 9 years ago. A lot of people don’t know that Albanian Muslims saved quite a few Jewish famlies from the Holocaust when they let them in their homes and told the Germans they were family. Great story if you research it. Peace :)

  7. Good article, far right hardline Zionists, the ones that support the settlers’ seizure of lands in the occupied territories, know the only way to achieve their goals is by wiping out the Palestinians through ethnic cleansing since the state of Israel’s security is dependant not only on sovereignity of land: to control access to the sea for trade and military reasons but also demographics as the total amount of Palestinians and their rate of population growth far exceeds the Jewish Israelis’. They consider it a neccessary evil. And I believe that is their aim. That is why they spread hate and try to polarize Americans. However that is obviously unjust, inhumane, but also impractical for long term peace, stability, and security. However no alternative exists to maintain the Jewish character of Israel, which is also incredibly important for any prospect of long term peace. Its a tough dilemma. Arab heads of state also benefit from the prolonging of the conflict: to give their regimes legitimacy and support in the eyes of their constituents, as well as to distract them from the monopolization of state resources for private profit by government officials. So of course there are extremists on both sides. I highly recommend the book “Israel and US Foreign Policy” to put things into prespective, and I agree with the conclusion: Israel is using and hurting America on the Mideast stage, and that simply put, its not America’s problem nor responsibility to sue for peace, arm any regimes, etc. Israel provides absolutely zero strategic value, ask any military officer, and it actually makes it harder to achieve American foreign policy goals because of the state of conflict its always in or helps to creates. Our main interest relates only to the securing of energy supplies and not the arbitration of these conflicts. Israel is a drain, and not America’s respinsibility, nor problem, not for moral reasons, not for strategic reasons. The ones responsible for these wars, and conflicts should be left to fix it themselves. America should do only what is good for America, we are not responsible for the security of any other state, their state is.

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