When I read about Islamic extremism my mind goes back to 25 years ago when, as a callow youth, I used to attend Speakers’ Corner almost every Sunday. (Yes, I know, I know, but not all of us enjoyed traditional Sunday lunch with all the trimmings!) I was attracted to a forum where people could express their view on an array of subjects. Little did I know that the proceedings would be hijacked by Edgware Road Arabs and Muslims spitting venom against the West, Israel and Jews.
Everyone’s entitled to their point of view about Israel, of course. But that’s just the point here. Any speakers who defended Israel – or even those in the crowd who defended it – were hounded out. The anti-Semitism was vitriolic, led by one particularly charming Muslim gentleman who was forever ranting about ‘Jew dogs coming out of gas chambers and stealing Palestinian land’. He never missed a Sunday. He exerted a perverse attraction, so much so that I just couldn’t help listening to him.
He said that ‘the Jews had brought about Hitler through their own actions’ and predicted that one day – ‘one day’ – Israel would be destroyed. He was immensely popular and regularly drew crowds of hundreds. I can’t remember one person ever saying – ‘we don’t have anything against ordinary Jews; our target is Israelis’. His invective was like a Sunday afternoon orgasm to his audience.
I should add that over the many years that I attended Speakers’ Corner there were one or two other events going on elsewhere. For example, a certain Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait in August 1990. True, a few Kuwaitis did turn up in the park to denounce Saddam. Yet you always felt that this was hardly the main event. I soon concluded that Speakers’ Corner had become just a hate fest for anti-Semites, a place which, even 25 years ago, Westerners feared to tread. No policeman ever intervened on hearing the extreme racism being spewed.
I realise that Israel is criticized from all quarters – and so it should be when it is has erred. The point of this piece is not to defend Israel’s actions. My point is that even back then people were scared of Muslim extremism and clearly reluctant to challenge it. When the fatwa was imposed on Salman Rushdie even some supposedly liberal figures in the British political and cultural community were reluctant to defend him for fear of a retaliation.
Anti-Semitism, on the other had, is a prejudice that is precisely the opposite. By this I mean that nobody is scared of Jews. It is easy and it demands no heroism from the hater. Very few Jews will punch you in the face if you call them ‘Jew dogs’. When I heard about the attack on George Galloway I very much doubted that his assailant was Jewish. Jews rarely operate like that. It is the ultimate irony that Israel is always assailed for its viciousness because the stereotype of the Diaspora Jew is just the opposite – malleable, neurotic and non-violent.
Anti-Semitism is a great way to attack the establishment, the West, Israel – all in one go. It has become a convenient and risk-free rebellion for dispossessed young Muslims throughout Europe. Truly, it is the socialism of fools. No wonder the far Left are starting to say things that were once associated with the extreme Right.