Are “Islamophobia” and anti-Semitism comparable? Reza Zia-Ebrahimi, senior lecturer in history at King’s College London, maintains that the answer is yes. Zia-Ebrahimi recently made this argument with a talk co-sponsored by Harvard University’s Saudi-funded Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program and titled, “When the Elders of Zion Relocated to Eurabia: Conspiratorial Racialisation in Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”
Speaking to a largely middle-aged crowd of about twenty, Zia-Ebrahimi contended that both the Protocols of the Elders of Zion—a Czarist forgery published circa 1903 alleging that Jews were plotting world domination—and Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis—a 2005 book by author Bat Ye’or declaring the demographic and political transformation of Europe into “Eurabia”—employ conspiracy-theories that incite hatred for Jews and Muslims, respectively.
In his introduction, Zia-Ebrahimi credited the late Columbia University professor Edward Said with having originated this link by comparing Orientalism to anti-Semitism.
Acknowledging that the “Israel-Palestine conflict” has “cast a long shadow on these discussions,” Zia-Ebrahimi advocated viewing anti-Semitism and “Islamophobia” as “manifestations of racism” in order to transcend these “divisions.” He described one camp as having “a tendency to be friendly to the state of Israel” and a “problem with Islamophobia,” while the other considers “Israel a colonial state” and believes in “Islamophobia.” The way to overcome these differences, he reasoned, is “to show that Jews and Muslims have been racialized.”
Zia-Ebrahimi further asserted that the two groups have suffered from conspiratorial bigotry, with the “world Jewish conspiracy” on one hand and its “Islamophobic corollary, ‘Islamicization,'” on the other. While conspiracists see Jews as seeking financial control, they see Muslims as “bent on our destruction” through “demographics,” he claimed.
While acknowledging that Eurabia and the Protocols “are two very different texts,” Zia-Ebrahimi maintained that they share certain qualities: representing “Jews and Muslims as a monolithic pack,” “supernatural reimagination” whereby the “most vulnerable sectors of society are perceived as almighty,” and claiming that “both Jews and Muslims benefit from a “European fifth column,” such as socialism or internationalism.
Zia-Ebrahimi focused the bulk of his talk on Eurabia, ostensibly because the Protocols have “been extensively studied.” Yet his hostility for Bat Ye’or and her book drove – and distorted – his presentation. Referring gratuitously to Egyptian-born Ye’or’s “European Jewish heritage,” he correlated her critique of Islam with “Lebanese Christian militias” and “Serbian ultranationalists.”
Zia-Ebrahimi excoriated Ye’or for associating Islam with “jihad,” “genital mutilation,” and “stoning,” and implying that its “principal urge is to subjugate Jews and Christians.” Eurabia, he proclaimed, “assumes all Muslims agree on sharia and want to impose it on everyone else” and above all, portrays a “diabolical Islamic civilization actively scheming destruction of Europe.”
Never once did Zia-Ebrahimi address the reality of such practices within Islam, nor the fact that Islamists advocate Islamic supremacism and are implacably hostile to Europe – seen as Christendom. In his eagerness to whitewash all things Islamist, Zia-Ebrahimi ignored the multiple terrorist attacks throughout Europe and the often contorted Western reaction to Islamist aggression.
By: Cinnamon Stillwell