Shamash replaced the former candidate for Hendon, Jeremy Zeid, who was forced to step down after tweeting comments suggesting the US President, Barack Obama, should be put on trial like the Nazi war criminals for allegedly confirming Israel’s nuclear weapons’ capability.
Last week, Shamash told the paper, “I am not Islamophobic, I am fearful. What is Islamophobia? It is not someone who hates Muslims – it is someone who fears them.” Shamash also referred to UKIP’s proposed policy to ban religious slaughter saying “Shechita is safe (with Ukip), Nigel Farage over-ruled them [the party]. He said shechita was safe. I suppose the Jewish community got caught in the cross-fire. I am not sure about all religious slaughter, but it would seem inequitable to protect one and not the other.”
In this week’s JC, reporter Sandy Rashty writes that Farage “refused to condemn comments made by Ukip’s candidate for Hendon, Raymond Shamash.”
Asked if he considered Shamash’s comments to be Islamophobic, Farage replied, “I am sure there are plenty of other people in the Jewish community who would, in private, echo what he said.”
Farage told the paper, “We have been incredibly weak in looking at the way mosques operate. Preachers in those mosques have come in, saying things that no other religion would get away with… There is no rabbi who would get away with saying things like that – it would be a national scandal.
“The two areas where radical Islam is the biggest problem is: schools and prisons. They are both state-run. We could do something about that if we were prepared to be a bit firmer, but we are not prepared to be a bit firmer because we are scared.
“The sexual abuse cases in Rotherham and Rochdale – we were scared to do anything that may have been seen as Islamophobic or racist, so we turned a blind eye to practices.”
“My view is this: we have a long pluralist tradition of different religions mixing in Britain through private observance, but, publically we have to live under one law.
“There are some who are pushing through Sharia law, total alternatives to the British way of life.
“We have to be more robust in defending our Judeo-Christian culture.”
Farage’s comments about Muslims are perhaps to be expected from a man who was recorded in a TV documentary on race in the UK as saying he would scrap much of the UK’s race discrimination laws, referred to some members of the Muslim community as “fifth columnists” and taken a disparate approach to tackling anti-Semitism and Islamophobia among his party’s rank and file. But treating the UK’s religious minority groups differently in a bid to appeal to voters is deeply troubling.
For example, Farage refers to “some who are pushing through Sharia law” ignorant of the fact that the legal framework that permits the establishment and remit of shari’ah tribunals also governs Jewish Beth Din courts.
Farage refers to Islamophobia in the context of political correctness in the sex grooming scandals in Rotherham and Rochdale, even though the failures of the local authorities stemmed from far more than just the fear of being accused of racism. More importantly, he acknowledges fears among British Jews following the shootings in Paris and Copenhagen but pays no heed to the Islamophobic attacks experienced by Muslims in the aftermath of terrorist atrocities, at home or abroad.
Farage rehearses the canard of “radical Islam” being a problem in schools even though the Education select committee report into the so-called Trojan Horse affair concluded that there was “no evidence of extremism or radicalisation, apart from a single isolated incident, was found and that there is “no evidence of a sustained plot nor of a similar situation pertaining elsewhere in the country.” The JC reporter doesn’t probe Farage on this. Nor does she point out the obvious double-standard in criticising shari’ah tribunals while overlooking the existence of Beth Din courts.
Farage argues, “Preachers in those mosques have come in, saying things that no other religion would get away with… There is no rabbi who would get away with saying things like that – it would be a national scandal” and yet there is significant evidence of pro-Israeli lobby groups bankrolling Islamophobes who, as Nathan Lean puts it, “manufacture fear of Muslims”. There is also evidence of rabbis condoning “religious war” against Palestinians and sanctioning the “indiscriminate killing of civilians” because “an entire city holds collective responsibility for the immoral behavior of individuals. In Gaza, the entire populace is responsible because they do nothing to stop the firing of Kassam rockets.”
The Spinwatch report, Cold War on British Muslims, uncovers the donor base of the neo-con think tanks, Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange, both of whom are well funded by some donors with a pro-Israeli outlook. The former later merged with another think tank, the Henry Jackson Society, whose employment of Douglas “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board” Murray as Associate Director raises similar questions about the pro-Israeli networks that fuel anti-Muslim hatred.
Farage’s claims that Muslim preachers say things that “no other religion would get away with” falsely suggests that Muslims are not at the receiving end of prejudice perpetrated by members of other religious groups. And yet consider Baroness Caroline Cox, a patron of the Christian Institute, who along with former UKIP party leader, Lord Pearson, invited Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders to screen his documentary, Fitna, at the House of Lords in 2009. Wilders’ most recent outing was as a speaker at a Pegida rally in Germany this week where he is reported to have said, “Your chancellor, Frau Merkel, has said Islam belongs to Germany and I ask you, is she right? She’s not right.”
“Mrs Merkel says that Islam belongs to Germany. She is not right. I have a message for her — Islam does not belong to Germany or the Netherlands.”
Wilders is currently facing trial for incitement of racial hatred for an incident in The Hague in March 2014 where he asked his party supporters if they wanted fewer Moroccans in the country. Some responded by chanting “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!” and he replied, “I will fix it for you.”
Jewish Labour MP Ivan Lewis recently spoke out against Islamophobia in the Jewish community saying “I find it incredible that the Jewish community can have double standards on this matter. If we are out there fighting anti-Semitism and asking for zero tolerance on it, then if even a small minority engages in Islamophobia, we lose moral authority and legitimacy and we cannot have double standards. I think we have a disturbing amount of anti-Muslim elements in our community, and if the Jewish community doesn’t call people out on what is frankly racism, then it is shameful.”
Jeff Sparrow in the Guardian looks at Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in European history noting that “The shared origins of the two hatreds means that, in the context of the ongoing wars in the Middle East, Islamophobic conspiracies can easily supplant traditional antisemitic rhetoric.”
It is a shame that UKIP’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is not more robustly challenged by Jewish communities who know what it is to be demonised as a religious minority.