In the very immediate aftermath of the Hamas atrocity of October 7, many of the death cult’s semi-closeted fanboys and girls jumped the gun a bit, bleating loudly about a lack of ‘balance’ or ‘double standards’ in the mainstream media, at a time when Israel had not responded significantly.
What they really meant was any description of this evil for consumption of the masses had to be cloaked in caveats couched in the terminology of their long-term and really rather ossified worldview.
These are after all, the same people who could not resist what-abouting Stephen Fry’s Christmas Message. The poor man was bravely juggling the personal and the collective plus the universal with the specific and did a creditable job of it. But they are never listening, except in relation to the checklist of their own grievances. Many of them have been apologising for the more barbarous expressions of Islamism since at least 2001.
Anyway, outside of a satirical Woody Allen movie, “I am a Jew” ought never to sound like the beginning of an apology, and certainly nobody from any part of society should feel the need to flag up their support for ‘Justice for Palestine’ simply in order to avoid the venom, at once personal and clumsily collectivised, of the pro-Hamas morality police.
The problem with what-abouting the very discriminate mass murder committed that day is that it undermined anything they had to say later on about the seemingly indiscriminate response by the IDF. If you could not bring yourself to wholeheartedly denounce the pogrom and the political culture which perpetrated it, then your subsequent wailing about civilian casualties makes for an unconvincing spectacle.
Fry’s message dragged up some of the hackneyed arguments and counter-arguments about the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Both those with good intentions and those without them tend to sound rather disingenuous in this particular exchange.
Perhaps more interesting however is the largely under-addressed comparison between anti-Zionism and Islamophobia.
In the eyes of the leftist ideologues the former is a virtue, the latter a vice — yet both of them are grounded in the same, slightly suspect strategy: establishing a hard border between an ‘immutable’ (ethnicity, or at least, identity) and that which is supposedly mutable, (political and cultural beliefs and practices).
This is as doomed as walling off nature and nurture in biology, but there is more of a moral self-defence motive in play here, which adds elements of both urgency and hypocrisy.
There’s another more indirect parallel worth noting: Islamophobia need not be a phobia (always somehow pre-conscious and irrational) in the same way that anti-Zionism ought not to be an ism (a rigid doctrinal position that opposes Israel whatever it does, up to and including existing.)
There are also significant differences between Anti-Zionism and Islamophobia, probably an entire essay’s worth, which need not be enumerated here, but the most fundamental is that Zionism largely relates to foreign policy and Islamophobia to the domestic.
In other words, within many European nations, Islamic beliefs and practices sometimes represent a significant challenge to the liberal consensus in a way that any Jewish commitments to their ancestral homeland abroad do not.
I mention Europe specifically, because in the USA one is just as likely to come across Christians who think and act as if the modern world is yet to be invented, so Islamism is part of a wider problem of having to tolerate the intolerant there.