Wednesday, October 27th | 22 Heshvan 5782

October 10, 2017 4:35 pm

New York Times Touts Jewish Role in ‘the Promise of Muslim Communism’

avatar by Ira Stoll


The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto, in his “Best of the Web” column, used to have a running category called “Questions Nobody Is Asking.”

It is a label that might well be applied to the headline over a recent New York Times opinion piece, which asked, “What Killed the Promise of Muslim Communism?”

The article is by John T. Sidell, who is the Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I found it nearly impenetrable, but nonetheless newsworthy on two fronts.

First, it naively and incorrectly describes Communism and Islamism as promising: “around the time of the Russian Revolution, the prospects of Communism and Islam joining forces seemed very bright….the strength of Communism, as a movement, was its ability to mobilize laborers to fight for better wages and working conditions through unions.”

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In fact wages and working conditions are better under capitalism, as evidenced by, among other things, the fact that whenever individuals got a chance to flee from one system to another, they voted with their feet and chose the capitalist one. And, rather than “bright” or full of “promise,” the prospect of a Communist-Islamist alliance would be pretty grim for those, such as Christians, Jews, or capitalists, who would not be part of the ruling clique in such a system.

The other newsworthy aspect of the Times article is that, bizarrely, it identifies a figure in this purported Muslim-Communist alliance as “the Comintern chairman Grigory Zinoviev, a Ukrainian Jew.” How Zinoviev’s Jewish background is relevant here is a mystery that the Times leaves unanswered.

The Times article goes on to claim that “one effect of the failure of revolutionary forces to mobilize under the joint banner of Communism and Islam was to deeply divide Muslims.” This ignores that Muslims had been divided for centuries, well before the Russian Revolution, by language and by Shia-Sunni differences.

Like Communism itself, the idea of “Muslim Communism” being something promising or something in which a Jew could be a leading figure is a fantasy. One question more relevant than “What Killed the Promise of Muslim Communism?” is “Why is the New York Times indulging this nonsense?”

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.


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