Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe


Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe –
A Shared Story?
Edited by James Renton & Ben Gidley
Palgrave Macmillan 

As a seemingly universal force that contributed to a conservative disposition, religion appeared to be an indispensable foundation of the empire.

In the terrifying world conjured by right-wing thinkers, Jews and Muslims shared odious traits. They were cunning, frighteningly clever and keen to outsmart and exploit the good-hearted Russian peasant. They disdained Christianity and Christians and mocked the faith of the Russian tsar […]. At the same time, though, Jews and Muslims, particlularly the poor among them, appeared to be mired in backwardness; their social isolation could not be explained by geography or poverty alone, but also by a haughty and religiously inspired exclusivity, which caused them to shun their Christian neighbours and would-be brothers in the family of empire. They were even in cahoots with foreigners.

Robert D. Crews
(‘Fear and Loathing in the Russian Empire’)

Good grief.
”Even in cahoots with foreigners.”
Whatever next?
The sharing of mutual understanding?

In the volatile, although totally unsurprising above quotation, Robert D. Crews sets forth a number of inflammatory issues on just a part this book’s highly contentious subject matter; although in direct relation to Russia (a country, given it’s own exceedingly chequered history), continues to remain fraught with fragmentation to this very day.

One need look no further than what has been going on in The Ukraine over the last few years.
And prior to that, Chechnya.
And prior to that – well, you hopefully get my politically, expansionist drift.

To currently consider Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe – A Shared Story? as a somewhat controversial publication, is akin to summarising the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate as being a tad awkward.

As the two editors James Renton and Ben Gidley write in this book’s Introduction, ‘The Shared Story of Europe’s Ideas of the Muslim and the Jew – A Diachronic Framework’: ”[…] the word ‘antisemitism’ does not belong to pre-modernity. It was, instead, the product of a very distinct context of political, cultural and economic strife in central Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. In an intellectual culture shaped by racial nationalist thought, and driven by a desire for racial purity as political panacea, self-declared Jew haters deployed the word as the name for their political movement: the Antisemitism-Liga of Berlin, founded in 1879.”

Such self-declared ”Jew haters,” are unfortunately, still as much in evidence throughout parts of the former East Germany and Europe today, as they were when Adolf Hitler declared: ”By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
There again, he always was a lunatic.

Worrying though, is the fact that so many powerful lunatics akin to Hitler, appear to be on on the rise right now.

The Queen herself, played host to the biggest (and without any shadow of a doubt, the most powerful) lunatic in the world two days ago, when she and other members of the Royal Family entertained U.S. President, Donald Trump, at Buckingham Palace.
So forget looking no further than the Ukraine.
London’s W1 postcode will suffice nicely.
To be sure, one need look no further than Westminster, that risible cesspit of self-serving, political vipers, wherein The Conservative Party appear to be on the brink of greed-riddled, self-implosion (which can only be a good thing), and The Labour Party remain drenched within a quagmire of their own, antisemitic design (which really isn’t a good thing).

So yeah: Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe?
How about: Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Central London?
Not to mention huge swathes of the United States…

Divided into four Parts: Christendom (‘Ethnic and Religious Categories in the Treatment of Jews and Muslims in the Crusader States’ and ‘Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Conspiracy Theory of Medical Murder in Early Modern Spain and Portugal’), Empire (‘Fear and Loathing in the Russian Empire’ and ‘The End of the Semites’), Divergence (‘The Case of Circumcision: Diaspora Judaism as a Model for Islam?,’ ‘Islamophobia and Antisemitism in the Balkans’ and Antisemitism and Its Critics’) and Response (‘Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Search for Common Ground in French Anti-racist Movements since 1898,’ ‘The Price of an Entrance Ticket to Western Society: Azaan Hirsi Ali, Heinrich Heine and the Double Standard of Emancipation’ and ‘The Impact of Antisemitism and Islamophobia on Jewish-Muslim Relations in the UK: Memorz,Experience, Context), these 301 pages, do, as the chapter headings themselves might suggest, take the reader on a very considerable journey.

A journey, albeit mired in trajectorial tragedy, is still continuing to this very day.

If nothing else, this overtly dense book substantiates the degree to which racism and any form of religiously induced phobia, remains nothing other than quintessential hopelessness.

As both editors, James Renton and Ben Gidley, agree: ”It is inadequate to pair one racism with one configuration of the state form and another racism with a different political structure; the point is that both racisms change over time as the state form changes.”

Surely the point is no matter how much (all) racisms change over time; there will always be some indelible form of state sponsored subversion aimed at the ignorant and the stupid – by those who really ought to know (and do) better. But choose not to.

David Marx


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