An interview about Jewish/Muslim relations in Europe

The following is an interview given by Rabbi Aba Dunner, Executive Director of the Conference of European Rabbis, to a chain of Orthodox Jewish Israeli newspapers on Feb. 16th, 2006 and that I've recently ran across.

The original interview appeared in Hebrew. It is a bit long, but I thought that he says some interesting things that deserve to be translated, especially as it does not appear online at all, as far as I know. I did not translate the entire thing, but only whatever seemed to relate to Jewish-Muslim relations in Europe and Islam in general.

Q: The increase in anti-Semitism, is it a passing phase or a consistent course?

A: Anti-Semitism is increasing in a consistent manner. If in the past the reason was Israel and conquering the territories, today it’s because of the Muslims. You should know that even if the Europeans hate the Muslims, there is sympathy to the approach which says: strangers, get out of our lands. The second group they’ll want to throw out will be the Jews. We’re always in the line of fire. “Esau hates Jacob” is an old hate, not new.

Q: There’s a difference between the countries in the manner of anti-Semitism?

A: In Russia it was always there and never stopped. It’s their own original anti-Semitism. Not imported from Europe. In England it’s getting stronger. There’s a right wing nationalistic leader who aims his attacks at the Muslims and as a result we’re starting to see vandalization of Jewish cemeteries, the graffiti calling against Jews.

Q: How is it expressed?

A: In attacking Jews, vandalizing property, vandalizing cemeteries, graffiti with hate slogans, and swastikas.

In Russia there was communism and they didn’t have freedom of the press, that’s why today where there is freedom of the press you can find libelous writings of the worst kind at every street corner, things that appeared in Nazi Germany. It inflames feelings that exist anyway in Russia. In France it’s already a burning fire; so much so that Rabbi Sitruk decreed that Jews should walk out on the streets with a beret and not with a yarmulke, because it’s life threatening.

Q: Are the Muslims the origin of the hate in France or is it that known French stranger-hating and their hidden anti-Semitism that affected the Muslims?

A: in France there’s horrible anti-Semitism originating from the Muslims.

I’m in Paris once every three months for a meeting with Rabbi Sitruk who’s the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, and it happens every so often that I stand in the Champs Elysees , a taxi stops, the driver looks at me, sees that I’m Jewish and continues on. It’s undisguised there. France has Le Penn’s extreme right wing party but that’s nothing compared to the Muslims. And it exists in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. It all stems from the Muslims. Letting the Muslims enter Europe was one of the Europeans’ greatest mistakes. They flooded Europe completely.

Q: In view of the violent riots in the world and in Europe due to the Mohammed caricatures, do you notice a change in the attitudes of politicians towards Muslims?

A: If in the past they were seen as cheap labor, today they’re seen as a threat. The main reason is that suddenly they see that they number in the millions. A lot more than the official demographics show. In France alone they talk about 6 million Muslims. But they know the real number gets up to 12 million Muslims. The president of France, Jacques Chirac knows the real number; I’ve met with him twice about it. He knows and tells me straight out: I need the Muslims on my side at election time. The Jews are only 600,000; these are the facts we have to face. When we claimed that in every conflict he takes the Muslim side he answered: I’m a politician. In Israel people think he’s pro-Muslim, but it’s wrong, he’s pro-himself. He doesn’t like them but he plays the game that will bring him votes in the elections. Still, in the past week three events combined to catalyze a change in the attitude towards Muslims. The riots that broke out after the caricatures, the Hamas win in the Palestinian elections and the question of nuclear weapons in Iranian hands, whose president is sending out blatant threats against all of Europe. These three factors joined together and caused the leaders of the EU to show backbone against the Muslim threat that surrounds them from many sides. I think that it’s really God’s grace that these three events combined together at one time. It’s unbelievable, no matter where they look, in every newspaper they open; they see manifestation of Muslim aggressiveness that makes them understand that the demonstrations and manifestations of hate are not a result and reaction to the caricatures but simply the violent Muslim nature that does this to show they hate the West. The Muslims say it bluntly: we hate you. It just gave them the opportunity to do all those violent acts. Some of them didn’t even see the caricatures. There’s nobody to talk with on their side. After all, tomorrow morning another newspaper, or I, will say the wrong thing and who knows what will happen to me or my family. And like me, everybody else is afraid something will happen to them.

We’ve told the leaders and Chirac above all, but they’ve never accepted this theory, they’ve always tried to protect them; that this attack on this or that synagogue was the work of an extremist but that Muslims as a society are not like that. Now they see who they have to deal with and that’s a winning point for our side.

We’ve spoken to Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, and there the situation is better. They have a lot of Turks, but the Germans, because Germany brought the holocaust to the world, are very sensitive to every anti-Semitic flare-up.

Q: What is your stance regarding the caricatures?

A: We’re very much against the caricatures that were published. If anybody would have asked for our opinion we would have opposed the publication. But on the other hand, we say to the Muslims: you’re no better. Look at your books and see what you teach just 10 kilometers from my neighborhood in London. How much venom and incitement there is there against the Jews. It’s unbelievable what you write in your newspapers that are openly sold in the streets of London. I warn the police about it, all the time, with no results. I said that if I would write in English what the Arab journalists write here in London, I would have been in jail a long time ago. But they can write against the Jews, against the Nation of Israel, against the State of Israel and the authorities don’t do a thing.

I talked to the head Imam in London about the situation, I asked him why they didn’t publish anything years ago when Muslims in India rose against the Hindu and destroyed with tanks objects which are ancient and holy to the Hindu. Why then and in similar cases there was no protest against defaming religious feelings and persecuting people based on their religion. But when we’re talking about negligible caricatures, you burn the whole world. Why?

Q: You expect that Muslim religious leaders will condemn Iran’s announcement that they will run a contest of caricatures about the holocaust?

A: We don’t expect anything from them. Nothing will change; they’re the same evil people. It’s a fact of life. Maybe when they talk to me they’ll tell me I’m right and that they as Muslim religious leaders oppose violence, but they speak differently to the masses. The real voice of Islam is the voice of the masses in the street.

Q: Do you have connections with Muslim leaders?

A: We have connections with the senior sheikh in Kazakhstan, but what’s happening there is unusual. Even though it’s a Muslim country, it’s first of all a police state and the regime won’t let the masses dictate the mood. But here in Europe, the people who are willing to be in contact are modern spiritual leaders, not elements that influence. But we need to sit with somebody, so we sit with them.

Q: Why don’t you talk to those who do influence?

A: Because they don’t want to. Rabbi Jacobowitz of blessed memory, who was Britain’s Chief Rabbi, asked to meet the Chief Imam in Britain. Two years we tried and didn’t manage to get an appointment. They don’t want to. It’s enough to see them every Friday when they go out of the mosques, it’s really dangerous for a Jew to walk alongside them at that moment.

Q: In fact, you’re accusing Europe’s leaders who are permitting the Muslims to fan such hatred.

A: Right. Everybody knows what they say deep inside. But they can’t do anything. It’s difficult to come out against the imams in the mosques. It’s difficult to restrict them. They’re comforted that nothing serious happened yet.

You can see the results of the Muslim brainwashing in the field. The terrorist attack in Israel two years ago was executed by two Muslim terrorists with British citizenship. They were born in England and learned in the best schools. Also the subway attack was executed by English Muslims. One of them was a teacher in school who said goodbye to his wife and kids in the morning and went out to put explosives.

1 comment:

Charles Martel said...

that last few sentences are especially chilling.

thank you for translating. we badly need to hear more of this Rabbi in the European media.