The British Labour Party has recognized that it has an anti-Semitism problem. Recently it came out with a leaflet titled “No place for Antisemitism,” in addition to a microsite to tell its membership how to recognize and deal with anti-Semitism. However, as Andrew Apostolou pointed out in a scathing piece in The Times of Israel, Labour’s campaign is doomed to fail because its assumptions rest on a flawed history.
Labour, headed by Jeremy Corbyn, assumes that anti-Semitism and Zionism are both “European guilt trips.”
Apostolou rightly points that anti-Semitism is not just a European problem, citing examples of pogroms in the Ottoman empire, the Middle East and North Africa. The Holocaust, Apostolou affirms, was not just aimed at European Jewry: It targeted Jews the world over.
Let’s take this further and say that the Nazis had their Arab collaborators. The wartime Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem was a willing accomplice in the proposed final solution to the Jewish problem. “Kill the Jews wherever you find them!” he exhorted Arab audiences in his radio broadcasts from Berlin, where he spent four years as Hitler’s guest with a retinue of 60 other Arabs.
The mufti’s anti-Semitic legacy, and that of the Muslim Brotherhood, are with us still.
The failure to acknowledge Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism is a peculiarly leftist blind spot. Twentieth-century Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism resulted in the ethnic cleansing of almost a million Jews in a single generation, but its roots lie in an ancient system of exploitation of the wealth and talents of Jews and Christians known as dhimmitude, where other religious minorities have second-class status. This system, punctuated by the odd pogrom or forced conversion, cemented a concept of Muslim supremacy over non-Muslim peoples reminiscent of colonialism.
Underlying the Labour campaign against anti-Semitism is the assumption that Israel is to blame for ruining the pre-existing state of harmony and peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews. This, of course, is a myth. Jews in the Muslim world were always viewed as inferior and had few rights, their fate utterly dependent on the munificence of the ruler of the day to whom they had outsourced their right to self-defense.
This truth is a vindication of Zionism. Even if oriental Jews were not prominent in the modern Zionist movement, they remain eternally grateful that Israel—where they comprise half the population—has ended their historically weak, inferior and defenseless status. Israel is the envy of other indigenous non-Arab and non-Muslim groups, like the Kurds or the Assyrians, who would dearly love to throw off the yoke of Arab supremacy to achieve self-determination in a sovereign state of their own.
Lyn Julius is the author of “Uprooted: How 3,000 years of Jewish Civilization in the Arab World Vanished Overnight” (Vallentine Mitchell, 2018).