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British Muslims Against Anti-Semitism

One thing I’ve always admired about Britain is its almost pathological tolerance for eccentric or fringe opinion. We have fascists and communists in the United States, but they seldom pose a threat to commanding large, electable movements such as the British National Party, or the Socialist Workers Party, or the Galloway-led RESPECT coalition (which consists of a rump of disaffected Marxists marching arm-in-arm with Islamist reactionaries who, under more preferable circumstances, would happily kill disaffected Marxists). Anyway, my friends at the social democratic blog Harry’s Place — many of whom contribute to Jewcy, or allow us to cross-post — have been doing excellent work bringing to their readers’ attention instances of resurgent Jew hatred in the UK. They do this even when Israel is not at war with Hamas, but as you can imagine, their labor has trebled in recent weeks.

Jews were expelled from England in 1290 by King Edward I and only allowed back in after Oliver Cromwell decided they should be in 1656. Without issuing an official decree, the hero of the Roundheads simply instructed Menasseh ben Israel, a Sephardic Jew from Amsterdam, to establish a Jewish community in London.  Since then this small but vibrant minority has found itself entangled in domestic eruptions of fascism, communism, Zionism, and everything in between. Karl Marx did most of the spadework for Capital in the Reading Room of the British Museum. Arguably the most influential prime minister of the 19th century, Benjamin Disraeli, was himself a Jew, and one can’t invoke the old aphorism, "think Yiddish, dress British" without recalling that Isaiah Berlin, who would find neither positive nor negative liberties embodied in the medieval fever-dream now gripping modern Europe, was a Russian-Jewish exile. Through tweed and toil–and humane skepticism of the materialist fever-dream he had fled in St. Petersburg–Berlin became the picture of donnish liberalism. 

I bring this up by way of introducing the following letter. It’s as important as anything you’ve yet read about the international reactions to Operation Cast Lead:

In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

16th January, 2009

Dear Fellow Muslims,

We are deeply saddened to hear about anti-Semitic assaults on British Jews, and a recent arson attack on a London synagogue. Although the perpetrators are yet unknown, we unreservedly condemn attacks on innocent British citizens and the desecration of all places of worship.

The ongoing killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza by Israeli forces has angered us all.

However, this does not, and cannot, justify attacks on our fellow citizens of Jewish faith and background here in Britain.

Most Muslims are completely against such behaviour. However, we call on all Muslims to continue to remain vigilant against attempts to bring our own faith and community into disrepute. British Jews should not be held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.

Yours in Islam and peace,

Shaikh Abdal-Hakim Murad, Cambridge Shaikh Mawlana Shahid Raza, Leicester/London Shaikh Sayyid-Mohammed Musawi, London Shaikh Ali Qadiri, Barking Shaikh Mufti Barkatulla, London Shaikh Dr Musharraf Hussain MBE, Nottingham Shaikh Dr Usama Hasan, London Shaikh Bilal Abdullah, London Shaikh Aftab Ahmad Malik, Bristol Shaikh Irfan Chishti MBE, Rochdale Dr Tahir Abbas, Birmingham Navid Akhtar, London Parvin Ali OBE, Leicester Kamran Fazil, Birmingham Rokhsana Fiaz, London Ed Husain, London Azeem Ibrahim, Glasgow Maajid Nawaz, London Dr Zahoor Qureshi, London Usman Raja, Berkshire Yasmin Sheikh MBE, London Zeshan Zafar, London

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