When Are We Going to Talk About Muslim Antisemitism?
The reaction to the attack on the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Jan. 15, in which a Muslim attacker demanding the release of a convicted Muslim terrorist took several hostages before being killed by police, has proved one thing: no one wants to talk about Muslim antisemitism.
Indeed, American Jews are already being gaslit, with no less than the FBI claiming that the attacker’s motives were not antisemitic, despite witness testimony that he made openly racist statements about Jews.
Even America’s top law enforcement agency, it seems, does not dare something so politically incorrect as to talk about Muslim antisemitism. But we have to talk about it, because if we don’t, another Texas-style attack will occur, and it may have a much bloodier end.
There is no doubt about the extent and severity of Muslim antisemitism worldwide: it is a statistical fact that hatred of Jews is ubiquitous in Muslim-majority nations today. According to recent Anti-Defamation League (ADL) surveys, the Muslim-majority countries show rates of antisemitism that far outstrip those in any other part of the world. There, antisemitism is systemic and normalized in cultural, political, and religious discourse.
Such pervasive racism has helped shape the discourse in Muslim communities outside those countries, and with very real consequences. Since 2000, Muslim antisemites in Europe have launched successive waves of brutal antisemitic violence — including murders, riots, assaults, and attacks on synagogues.
It was inevitable that this global pogrom would eventually strike the United States, and in May 2021, it did. Rallying to the side of Hamas in its latest war against Israel, Muslim-American antisemites struck out at America’s Jews. While woefully underreported except by Jewish outlets, this mini-pogrom included numerous acts of assault, verbal harassment, and vandalism — including of my own father’s business in the heavily Jewish suburb of Brookline, Massachusetts.
This was not a spontaneous pogrom motivated by anti-Israel rage — which would have been bad enough. It was a direct result of the embrace of antisemitism within the mainstream of the Muslim-American community.
This was conclusively proven late last year by another underreported incident, in which Zahra Billoo, a top official at CAIR — the most prominent and influential Muslim-American organization — gave a speech that defamed literally the entire American Jewish community as participants in a conspiracy against American Muslims.
“We need to pay attention to the Anti-Defamation League, we need to pay attention to the Jewish Federation, we need to pay attention to the Zionist synagogues, we need to pay attention to the Hillel chapters on our campuses,” Billoo said. She then repeated the discredited “deadly exchange” blood libel that claims Israel is responsible for police violence against Black Americans.
In response, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the normally quiescent ADL, quite rightly called Billoo’s remarks “textbook vile, antisemitic, conspiracy-laden garbage.”
At that moment, CAIR had an opportunity to take a stand against antisemitism in its own community. Instead, it endorsed Billoo’s racist statements, and gaslighted American Jews by claiming that critics of Billoo’s hate speech “use false allegations of antisemitism in a cynical attempt to silence American Muslims who speak up for Palestinian human rights.”
In short, America’s most influential Muslim organization openly endorsed antisemitism. It declared war on American Jews. This is symptomatic of systemic antisemitism in the Muslim-American community that has resulted in very real acts of violence. And no one, it seems, wants to talk about it.
This can no longer be tolerated. The conspiracy of silence surrounding the issue of Muslim antisemitism must end.
First, hate groups like CAIR and others like Students for Justice in Palestine, which engage in antisemitic incitement and sometimes violence, must be ostracized and isolated. Antisemitic Muslim-American officials, clerics, and activists like Billoo, Louis Farrakhan, Linda Sarsour, and Ilhan Omar must be held to account for their hate speech. Muslim-Americans who oppose antisemitism — and there are many — must be supported, promoted, and protected so they feel safe to speak out.
More than anything else, Muslim-American antisemitism must be cancelled. It should be expelled from polite society, and stigmatized for what it is: hate.
The gaslighting of American Jews must end as well. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can no longer be a convenient excuse for antisemitism. If critics of Israel cannot criticize Israel without being antisemitic, they have no business doing so in the first place. If they cannot oppose Israeli policies without violating and destroying the Jewish body, then they must be stopped by any and all legal means necessary.
Thankfully, no one was killed during May’s mini-pogrom or in the Texas synagogue attack. But I do not believe this will be the case forever. Muslim-American antisemitism is like any other antisemitism. It will end in a murder. Unless we stop it.