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Why combining antisemitism and Islamophobia is wrong

French left-wing parties demonstrate against antisemitism, islamophobia and all forms of racism, in Nantes, France, Nov. 11, 2023. (Photo: Maylis Rolland/Hans Lucas)

In an effort not to sound too supportive of one particular side, the U.S. Biden administration decided to tackle the subject surrounding the “rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia on college campuses nationwide, following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.”

While a number of plans, which they intend to implement, have been outlined, including DHS staff (Department of Homeland Security) working together with schools, no one has been able to give a fair comparison of how Muslims are being targeted and threatened on the same scale as Jewish individuals. Yes, there was one example of a Palestinian staff member of an American University in Washington, D.C. who had supposedly been threatened, as well as an alleged spike in complaints from Muslims, but no one has reported Jewish groups on campuses calling for the eradication of Muslims nor been told to avoid using the front doors to enter their schools.

That is because Jews traditionally do not threaten others of different races or religions. They are notoriously renowned for being tolerant and, generally, liberal in their views and politics. In fact, a number of Israelis, who were murdered by Hamas terrorists, were known to have been strong advocates and even members or participants of Arab/Israeli co-existence organizations as well as those who tangibly helped Arabs to improve their lives. This was evidenced by the New York Times headline which read, “Peace Activists are Among the Israelis Missing and Killed,”

Yet the two issues are conflated as one main problem to tackle. In fact, it’s very reminiscent of the 2019 incident, involving Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who had used an antisemitic trope against Israel, when she stated, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” Rather than single out for her disgraceful comments and pass a measure to combat those particular sentiments, directed at Jews, the House, instead, “passed a resolution to condemn ‘anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry, in an effort to tamp down the uproar over her criticism of Israel.”

Many complained that the all-encompassing resolution merely watered down the vicious anti-Jewish claims made by the congresswoman who is known for her constant attacks against Israel and the Jewish community. But that was the idea! It provided a “well-rounded” approach to fighting all types of discrimination, while carefully avoiding the needed conversation that Omar, a sitting U.S. congresswoman, is blatantly biased against Jews.

Rather than concentrate on the antisemitism problem, which is causing Jews to curb their outward identification as Jews, remove mezuzas from their doorposts and travel together in groups to ensure greater protection, Vice President Kamala Harris is focused on “developing the first-ever U.S. national strategy to counter Islamophobia, clearly intended to counter the bitter criticism they have received from the party’s left-wing intersectional base that is deeply upset about the president’s support for Israel.”

The elephant in the room is the fallout within the Democratic party as a result of Biden’s support for Israel and what it will mean for the next presidential election. Already, there have been numerous threats to pull support from Biden should he continue to be the Democrat candidate in the race. 

If, at some point, he is replaced by someone else, the new candidate will have to carefully navigate the obvious minefield that accompanies support for the Jewish state. But given the significant number of Jewish Democrat voters, as well as leaders of the party, that will not be an easy feat.

For now, their best strategy is to marginally acknowledge the existence of antisemitism and the need to fight it, while coupling it with Islamophobia in order to level the playing field. The problem with that is there simply is little evidence that Muslims are experiencing anything even close to resembling the death threats, verbal abuse, coarse graffiti, vilifying social media posts and collective blame and guilt being heaped upon the Jewish race, regardless of their connection to Israel.

No one can point to any pro-Israel rallies, which have denounced Palestinians or threatened them with harm, as their own often-violent demonstrations have done towards Jews. Even the recent mocking comments of actress Susan Sarandon, who said that now “Jews are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence,” is a remark that is unrivaled by anyone on the other side. 

And if Muslims are subjected to violence “so often,” why have we not heard about it until now? Just in the November 22nd edition of the Jerusalem Post, page 5 headlines in the “News in Brief” section were dedicated solely to three specific stories involving antisemitism. The first involved how Malmo, Sweden is rife with anti-Jewish incidents, including offensive chants, graffiti and the use of Hitler references, along with Holocaust denial (which seems contradictory). 

The next story focused on the “37% of Jewish college students in the U.S. who report feeling compelled to hide their Jewish identity due to safety concerns. One in three Jewish students reported witnessing or experiencing acts of hate or violence against Jews on campus.” The third story reported Nazi graffiti on former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel at his Michigan home.

If similar incidents have been occurring in the Muslim communities, throughout the U.S. or even Europe, why are they not being reported? Why are we not hearing about them on television or seeing angry crowds gather to vilify or protest or deface the property of Muslims? For sure, they would be top headlines, not only in newspapers but on the evening news. Perhaps, Susan Sarandon has the stats and specifics of Islamophobic incidents that have gone unreported since she laments their frequent occurrence.

By the way, the suffix in the word “Islamophobia” refers to a fear (phobia) of Islam. Given the type of radical Islam, to which Hamas terrorists adhere, it might not be unjustified for peace-loving individuals to have a genuine fear of that kind of subversive religion. However, antisemitism is a completely different dynamic, because no one can justify any fear of the Jewish people who are not known to be violent. Jews are more associated with their creativity, innovation and intellect. 

Likewise, the peace-loving Jewish nation has sought, throughout its 75-year existence, to enter into peace agreements with its Arab neighbors, some of whom have, time and again, refused to lay down their weapons and co-exist in harmony. That would include Syria and Lebanon, as well as Iran, which is Persian, but, nonetheless, refuses to live in peace with Israel.

In short, the combining of these two concepts – antisemitism and Islamophobia is like trying to compare a tiger to a rabbit. They just aren’t the same animal! 


A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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