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Why Muslims must be at the forefront of fighting anti-Semitism

On October 27, 2018, a gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue at the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while Shabbat morning services were being held. He shot and killed 11 and injured another seven. The murderous act was considered the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States. The suspect, 46-year-old Robert Gregory Bowers,…

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Why Muslims must be at the forefront of fighting anti-Semitism

On October 27, 2018, a gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue at the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while Shabbat morning services were being held. He shot and killed 11 and injured another seven. The murderous act was considered the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States. The suspect, 46-year-old Robert Gregory Bowers, was arrested and charged with dozens of federal crimes. He was a notorious racist with a history of anti-Semitic hate speech on social media.

In 2006, a young Jewish man, named Ilan Halimi, was kidnapped in France by a gang demanding substantial ransom money from his family, “believing them to be rich because he was Jewish”. He was tortured for three weeks and then was found dumped in the suburb of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois. He died on the way to a hospital. Earlier this year, a tree planted in his name was chopped down.

In England, the record number of anti-Semitic acts in recent years include: “a man who was walking to a synagogue when food was thrown at him from a car, a woman who was spat at in the face on a bus, a Jewish bakery that was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti, and a brick that was thrown at a synagogue’s glass front door”.  

The numbers are staggering and Europe-wide. “Antisemitism is rising sharply across Europe, experts have said,” according to a recent report by the Guardian, “as France reported a 74 percent increase in the number of offences against Jews last year and Germany said the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks had surged by more than 60 percent”. The article further says: “The figures confirm the results of three recent Europe-wide surveys showing Jewish people feel at greater risk, and are experiencing markedly more aggression, amid a generalized increase in racist hate speech and violence in a significantly coarser, more polarized political environment.”

The deep roots of anti-Semitism in Europe are widespread and murderous. From a prolonged history of pogroms to the Crusades to the horrors of the Holocaust, and a long and nasty history in between, European Jews have been the consistent subject of baseless slander, vicious defamation, malignant lies and rumours, wild and vilifying conspiracy theories, all resulting in massacres and ultimately genocide under Nazi Germany. In no other continent, country, or culture have Jews ever been so brutalised as they have been in Europe.

Although no other clime or continent is entirely immune to it, anti-Semitism is a specifically European disease, with European Christianity a main culprit in the carnage. The implications of the Pope Pius XII (1876-1958) during the European Holocaust has earned him the title of “Hitler’s Pope”. In Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust (Cambridge, 2003), William I Brustein offers a wide spectrum of the religious, racial, economic, and political roots of this European disease.

Critique of Zionism is not anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism is a horrid fact, and Zionists have turned anti-Semitism into an even more horrid false charge. The recent examples of Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar and Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party in the UK, exemplify the consistent and systematic abuse of the charge of anti-Semitism levelled against anyone anywhere who dares to raise her or his voice in support of Palestinians criticising the murderous history of Zionism in the course of the occupation and theft of Palestine.

Submit to the Zionist theft of Palestine and slaughter of Palestinians silently – anything other than that you are an anti-Semite to Zionists. They rode on that hobby horse until their delusional ship ran aground. 

Based on their public positions, neither Omar nor Corbyn is anti-Semitic. They are merely and mildly critical of the Israeli policies, and in the case of Omar of the inordinate and pernicious power of the Zionist lobbies in the US. That does not make them anti-Semites. That makes them critical of a colonial project and its active propaganda machinery.

The charge of anti-Semitism is not light. The Zionists know what they are doing. They unleash the charge to silence, paralyse and neutralise their political opponents. For a long time, they were successful, until their trick became known around the globe.

The Zionists claim that the establishment of the state of Israel is to protect Jews against persecution. This is a false claim. The establishment of the state of Israel in Palestine, where Jews have always lived alongside Muslims and Christians, was a European colonial project and as such has exacerbated the terror coming towards the Jews. 

Today, anti-Semitism is real and Zionists are categorically unqualified even to detect, let alone to fight it. Jews are the victims, Zionists the beneficiaries of anti-Semitism. The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, freely and openly elected as the top political figure of the Zionists, is a rank racist with a widespread coalition with all other racists, including anti-Semites, chief among them the US President, Donald Trump.  

Zionists have weaponised the charge of anti-Semitism and seek to paralyse, punish, and neutralise those who dare to speak on behalf of Palestinians. This very violent act disqualifies Zionists from bringing the charge against anyone – even, and in fact in particular, against the real anti-Semites. To fight anti-Semitism, the fighter must have moral authority. As a racist apartheid state, Israel lacks that moral authority. As an ideology of racist occupation of Palestine, Zionism lacks that moral authority. As active, hardcore or liberal advocates of that ideology of land theft, occupation and incremental genocide of Palestinians, Zionists lack that moral authority.

Crying wolf

Zionists have two deadly weapons at their disposal, both of which are now entirely useless and outdated: first is their massive stockpile of nuclear weapons and second their empty slander of anti-Semitism.  
From when they write highfalutin opinion pieces in Haaretz or the New York Times or anything else in between to when they demand and exact masses of billions of dollars of military extortion from the US, Zionists rely on these two weapons – that they are the only nuclear power in their region at the service of the empire and that anyone daring to tell them they are a gang of racist European settler colonial thieves stealing Palestine one settlement at a time, they start kicking and screaming, like that proverbial shepherd: “Wolf!”
They have for so long for so many times and on so many false occasions cried wolf to silence their political adversaries that today no one believes them even if they detect real anti-Semitism.  

If not Zionists, then who has the moral authority to detect and fight anti-Semitism?

First and foremost, Jews themselves have been fighting against anti-Semitism for a long and sustained history. They are the victims of this deadly European disease. They have paid heavily and dearly for that hatred. They lead the way on the global battle against all kinds of racism, of anti-Semitism in particular.

In a recent piece titled, “Debunking the myth that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic”, Peter Beinart has rightly pointed out “all over the world, it is an alarming time to be Jewish – but conflating anti-Zionism with Jew-hatred is a tragic mistake”. It is more than a “mistake”. It is a treacherous trap. Beinart is one among countless other critical thinkers and progressive Jews and Jewish organisations that have openly, boldly and persuasively argued against equating the critic of Israel or even Zionism with the hatred of Jews.

As a matter of principle, I disagree with a critical thinker first declaring he is Jewish before engaging in a critic of Israel or Zionism. I would never begin my critique of militant Islamism, or of ISIL (or ISIS), or of Saudi Arabia, or any other ruling Muslim regime, by first declaring – “I am a Muslim”. Jews have always been at the vanguard of all sorts of social justice movements. Their opposition to Israel or Zionism is not an exception. It is the success of the Zionist propaganda if we ever identify Judaism with Zionism.

Politicians like French President Emmanuel Macron who equate the critique of Zionism with anti-Semitism are demonstrating their historical and intellectual illiteracy. As Azmi Bishara points out in a recent essay, anti-Zionism is a substantially Jewish phenomenon. Jews have been at the forefront of battling Zionism. In his historical ignorance, or political charlatanism, or a combination of both, Macron is turning Jews against themselves.

Muslims must be at the vanguard

It is the moral and political duty of Muslims to join Jews in their fight against anti-Semitism. Muslims must be at the forefront of fighting anti-Semitism because Islamophobia is the other side of the selfsame disease. Neither Israel, nor Saudi Arabia, nor any other Muslim country on planet earth is in a moral position to join Jews and Muslims in this fateful battle.

As the horrific massacre of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15 shows, Muslims and Jews (as well as African Americans and indeed any other community that these “Whites” consider foreigners in their settler colonies) are the identical victims of racist White supremacists the world over.  

For more than a decade now, I have argued that Islamophobia is the most recent rendition of the selfsame animus that has fuelled European anti-Semitism. Jews and Muslims are almost identical victims of European racist hatred. Historically, Jews have been the internal and Muslims the external other of racist Europeans. In India, Myanmar and China, the ruling Islamophobic elite mimic European racists in their practices.

The recent migration of Muslims into Europe has exacerbated that hatred and rechannelled anti-Semitism into Islamophobia. The European support for Israel, it is crucial to keep in mind, and hatred of Muslims are interconnected. They want European Jews to leave Europe and go to Israel with the same intensity that they wish Muslims to go back to their own countries. European xenophobia is predicated on the selfsame delusional racism that gave birth to Nazism in Europe.

Jews and Muslims are natural allies in this battle against racism in the intertwined forms of entrenched anti-Semitism and widespread Islamophobia. Zionists and racist Europeans know this. The conflation of Zionism and Judaism, as recently staged by Macron, is a false flag to confuse the issue and prevent the active solidarity of these two main victims of their racism.  

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance. 

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New Daesh leader was informant for US, says counter terrorism report

NEW YORK: The man widely believed to be the new leader of Daesh was once an informant for the US, according to a new report from the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC), a research body at the US military academy of West Point in New York. “Stepping Out from the Shadows: The Interrogation of the Islamic State’s…

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New Daesh leader was informant for US, says counter terrorism report

NEW YORK: The man widely believed to be the new leader of Daesh was once an informant for the US, according to a new report from the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC), a research body at the US military academy of West Point in New York.

“Stepping Out from the Shadows: The Interrogation of the Islamic State’s Future Caliph” is based on Tactical Interrogation Reports (TIRs) — the paper trail the US military creates when enemy fighters are detained and interrogated — from Al-Mawla’s time in captivity in the late 2000s.

Before his release in 2009, Al-Mawla named 88 extremists involved in terrorist activities, and the information he divulged during his interrogations led US forces in the region to successfully capture or kill dozens of Al-Qaeda fighters, the report claims.

The CTC said it is “highly confident” Al-Mawla became the new leader of Daesh after the previous leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, was killed in a US air raid in Syria in October 2019.

Although Daesh announced that a man called Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Qurashi was Baghdadi’s successor, US officials have also stated that Al-Qurashi’s true identity is actually Al-Mawla — also known as Hajj Abdullah.

Before joining Daesh, Al-Mawla is believed to have been the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda.

While details about the operation resulting in his capture are scarce, the TRIs reveal that he was captured on January 6, 2008.

The following day, US Central Command announced the capture of a wanted individual who “previously served as a judge of an illegal court system involved in ordering and approving abductions and executions.”

In his interrogations, Al-Mawla offered up details of terrorist plots to his interrogators, while minimizing his own involvement. He identified many jihadists by name and offered descriptions of their roles in the terrorist organization and details of their involvement in attacks on US-led coalition forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Al-Mawla — a former officer in Saddam Hussein’s army and once Baghdadi’s speechwriter — emerges from the TIRs as a mysterious personality with a vague past, whose ethnicity could not be determined with certainty. The statements in the reports are rife with contradictory elements and open to a wide range of interpretations. As the authors point out in their introduction: “It is incredibly difficult to ascertain whether what Al-Mawla divulges regarding himself or ISI (the forerunner of Daesh) as an organization is true.”

Details of the specific demographics of Al Mawla’s birthplace of Al-Muhalabiyyah in Iraq’s Tal Afar district are sketchy, but it is generally accepted to have a predominantly Turkmen population. The authors of the report point out that some sources have suggested “this could pose legitimacy problems for him because (Daesh) mostly has Arabs in its senior leadership echelons,” but add that at least two other senior members of the group were reported to have been Turkmen.

Al-Mawla also claimed to have avoided pledging allegiance to ISI because he was a Sufi. The report’s authors cast doubt on that claim, given his quick rise to prominence in the terrorist group and the fact that ISI and Daesh branded Sufism as heresy.

But the authors do believe the TRIs give some valuable insights into Al-Mawla’s personality.

“The fact that he detailed activities and gave testimony against (fellow jihadists) suggests a willingness to offer up fellow members of the group to suit his own ends,” they wrote. “The amount of detail and seeming willingness to share information about fellow organization members suggests either a degree of nonchalance, strategic calculation, or resignation on the part of Al-Mawla regarding operational security.

“He appears to have named individuals in some capacity across all levels of the organization, while describing some individuals in some detail,” they continued.

The US Department of Justice has offered a $10million reward for information about Al-Mawla’s identification or location.

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The poisoning of Alexey Navalny: Five key things to know

What happened on the day Navalny fell ill? On August 20, a Thursday, Alexey Navalny, Russia’s leading Kremlin critic, had finished up campaigning for opposition politicians in Siberia for local elections, which were taking place from September 11 to 13.  He left Xander Hotel and headed for the Tomsk Bogashevo airport. There, he drank a…

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The poisoning of Alexey Navalny: Five key things to know

What happened on the day Navalny fell ill?
On August 20, a Thursday, Alexey Navalny, Russia’s leading Kremlin critic, had finished up campaigning for opposition politicians in Siberia for local elections, which were taking place from September 11 to 13. 
He left Xander Hotel and headed for the Tomsk Bogashevo airport. There, he drank a cup of tea. He was on the way to Moscow.
In the first half-hour of the flight, he fell ill and witnesses said he screamed in pain. He was later in a coma.
He was airlifted to Germany’s capital, a six-hour flight, to the Berlin Charite hospital.The plane made an emergency landing at Omsk. He received treatment in the Russian city, where doctors said he was too unwell to be moved, but two days later on August 22, a Saturday, they said his life was not in danger.
Was he poisoned? 
Navalny’s team believes he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, a claim several European countries support.
A laboratory in Germany said it had confirmation on September 2, followed by laboratories in France and Sweden on September 14.
Samples from Navalny have also been sent to the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague for testing.
Russia says there is no evidence to prove Navalny was poisoned, while its ally Belarus has also doubted the claim. The doctors in Omsk said they had not detected poisonous substances in Navalny’s body. 
US President Donald Trump has been criticised for towing Russia’s line, saying on September 4 – two days after Germany’s claim to have “unequivocal evidence” – that “we have not had any proof yet”.
How is Navalny’s condition now?
On September 7, more than two weeks after falling ill on the plane, Navalny’s doctors in Germany said he was out of a coma and that his condition was improving. His spokeswoman said, “Gradually, he will be switched off from a ventilator.”
On September 15, Navalny posted on Instagram that he was breathing alone. He has said he plans to return to Russia. 
If he was poisoned, who may have poisoned him and where?
Navalny’s team believes he was poisoned at the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin – a claim the Kremlin has strongly denied. 
Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh had initially said she believed Navalny’s tea at the airport was poisoned, but on September 17, his team said the nerve agent was detected on an empty water bottle from his hotel room in the Tomsk, suggesting he was poisoned there and not at the airport. 
What effect has the alleged poisoning had?
The alleged attack has widened a rift between Europe and Russia, with Germany and France leading calls for a full investigation but stopping short of outrightly blaming the Russian government. 
MEPs have called for sanctions against Russia, saying on September 17, “The poison used, belonging to the ‘Novichok group’, can only be developed in state-owned military laboratories and cannot be acquired by private individuals, which strongly implies that Russian authorities were behind the attack.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Germany’s ambassador to Moscow, while the United Kingdom has summoned the Russian envoy over the incident.
For its part, Moscow rejects what it called the politicisation of the issue.
Significantly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under pressure to halt the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which transfers Russian gas to Germany. Once again, the Kremlin has warned not to involve the Navalny case in any discussion about the pipeline, with Dmitry Peskov saying on September 16, “It should stop being mentioned in the context of any politicisation.”
 
A timeline of events surrounding the alleged poisoning attack on Navalny: 
August 20 – Navalny falls ill on flight; plane makes emergency landing in Omsk; his spokeswoman says he was poisoned, perhaps by the tea he drank at the airport
August 22 – Navalny airlifted to Berlin Charite hospital 
September 2 – Germany says it has ‘unequivocal evidence’ Navalny was poisoned, Russia responds by saying the claim is not backed by evidence
September 4 – US President Donald Trump says ‘we do not have any proof yet’
September 6 – Heiko Maas, German foreign minister, threatens action over gas pipeline project, saying, ‘I hope the Russians don’t force us to change our position on Nord Stream 2’
September 7 – German doctors say Navalny is out of an artificial coma
September 11-13 – Russia holds local elections; Navalny’s allies make gains in Siberian cities
September 15 – Navalny posts on Instagram that he is breathing alone
September 16 – Kremlin spokesman warns against politicising Navalny issue in discussions over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Germany
September 17 – Navalny’s team now suspects he was poisoned in his hotel room, not the airport, citing traces of nerve agent on an empty water bottle
September 17 – MEPs call for sanctions against Russia 

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Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan to lend voice to Amazon’s Alexa

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan will be the first Indian celebrity to lend his voice to Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant starting next year, as the Silicon Valley giant expands its presence in the significant market.The 77-year-old actor has been a household name in India for nearly half a century, and his deep baritone is instantly recognisable…

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Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan to lend voice to Amazon’s Alexa

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan will be the first Indian celebrity to lend his voice to Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant starting next year, as the Silicon Valley giant expands its presence in the significant market.The 77-year-old actor has been a household name in India for nearly half a century, and his deep baritone is instantly recognisable to listeners in the country of 1.3 billion.Foreign firms such as Amazon have spent tens of billions of dollars in India in recent years as they fight for a piece of the Asian giant’s burgeoning digital economy.In a blog post on Monday, Amazon India said Bachchan’s “voice experience” feature will become available for purchase on Alexa next year.”It will include popular offerings like jokes, weather, shayaris (poetry), motivational quotes, advice and more,” the firm said.Alexa first rolled out celebrity voice option last year with actor Samuel L Jackson, following a similar move by Google the year before, which gave users the option of hearing singer John Legend on the Google Assistant.”I am excited to create this voice experience,” the Bollywood megastar said on Amazon’s blog.”With voice technology, we are building something to engage more effectively with my audience and well-wishers.”His earlier foray into vocal blogging in 2010, Bachchan Bol-Bachchan Speak, allowed fans to listen to pre-recorded messages by the star at the push of a button.In addition to competing with voice-activated devices such as Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant for consumers, Amazon is battling Walmart-backed Flipkart and JioMart, owned by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, for a share of the online retail market.The tech giant, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, is also trying to win eyeballs with its streaming service that competes with Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar.Bachchan and his family have been among India’s highest-profile coronavirus patients. The superstar, his actor son Abhishek, actress daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, and granddaughter Aaradhya were all admitted to hospital in July. All four have since been released.The veteran star returned to work last month filming India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? after authorities eased coronavirus curbs on movie and TV shoots.Nevertheless, with cases in India nearing five million, authorities in Mumbai – the home of Bollywood – have asked production houses to ensure that common facilities are regularly sanitised, masks worn and social distancing “followed as far as possible”.Bachchan’s last film, comedy-drama Gulabo Sitabo, went straight to Amazon’s streaming service in June, after theatres in India shut down in March due to pandemic fears.

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