Does Anti-Islamism Reflect Anti-Semitism?
Congressional hearing, lobbying push begs the question
Today, Politico reports that several groups have coalesced around New York Rep. Peter King’s congressional hearings on Islamic radicalization in America to try “to transform anti-Islam crusading into a mainstream lobbying effort.” Among the leaders of this effort is Pamela Geller, a Jewish woman who is among contributing editor Jeff Goldberg’s chief bêtes noires. But the broader trend is a welcome occasion to revisit an article Daniel Luban published in Tablet Magazine last year arguing that anti-Islam rhetoric reflected logic that used to be deployed by anti-Semites. “Many of the tropes of classic anti-Semitism have been revived and given new force on the American right,” Luban argued.
Once again jingoistic politicians and commentators posit a religious conspiracy breeding within Western society, pledging allegiance to an alien power, conspiring with allies at the highest levels of government to overturn the existing order. Because the propagators of these conspiracy theories are not anti-Semitic but militantly pro-Israel, and because their targets are not Jews but Muslims, the ADL and other Jewish groups have had little to say about them. But since the election of President Barack Obama, this Islamophobic discourse has rapidly intensified.