When Muslim Antisemitism comes to Australia

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council | When Muslim Antisemitism comes to Australia

As a boy, I spent many a Friday prayer in mosques hearing clerics wax lyrical about Jewish conspiracies and their intent to dominate the world and rid it of Islam. Descriptions of Jewish wealth, miserliness and hooked noses were commonplace. It just seemed normal and I didn’t think twice about it until I started meeting Jews in high school, even being invited to my first bar mitzvah in Year 7.

There is a story told by Muslims to each other, repeated in sermons and conversations, one I remember hearing as a child, that Muhammad gloriously slaughtered hundreds of Jews.

After defeating an invading army in Medina, Muhammad allegedly turned on the Jewish residents of the Banu Qurzaya tribe, who had remained neutral in the battle. He picked hundreds of the men and murdered them before dividing the spoils of conquest, varying from women to horses, amongst his Muslim followers. The tale is not recounted in the Koran but is in the Hadith and the Sira, which is the biography of the Prophet, and is spoken about as a source of pride among clerics and scholars. There is no record of it in any Jewish historical documents.

Recent controversies in the UK have raised the prospect of antisemitism in Muslim communities and, as a consequence, a greater tolerance of it in UK Labour and other leftist parties, which those of Muslim origin overwhelmingly vote for. There is a growing view among Jews that the British Labour party no longer has a place for them, illustrated by prominent British figures such as author Howard Jacobson withdrawing their support.

In Britain the dispute began when two leading figures were suspended from the Party for making what were considered antisemitic remarks. Bradford politician Nazeem Shah suggested in a social media posting that Israel be relocated to the United States and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone tried to defend Shah by claiming Adolf Hitler was in fact a Zionist. Earlier in the year, the Labour Party opened an investigation into the Oxford University Labour Club before suspending several councillors and activists for antisemitic remarks.

The proportion of Muslims in the United Kingdom is greater than in Australia – 5% compared to 2%. In London the proportion is closer to 12%. But the concentration of Australian Muslims in outer metropolitan areas, primarily in Sydney and Melbourne, many of which are marginal seats, make them an electorally significant group. There is evidence that the growth of Muslims in the electorate is not only affecting ALP policy towards Israel, but increasingly allowing a greater tolerance of antisemitism.

Read the full article by Tanveer Ahmed at the AIJAC website

Dr. Tanveer Ahmed is a Bangledeshi-born Australian psychiatrist and author, and a regular commentator in both print and electronic media. He is an elected councillor at the City of Canada Bay, NSW.