Archive for Anti-Semitism

“Judenrat Jon” Stewart

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2012 by loonwatch

“Judenrat Jon” Stewart

by: David Harris-Gershon on January 7th, 2012

When Jon Stewart is called a “smug, self-loathing Jew” by a right-wing Jewish personality (who is often called upon by conservative pundits to wax political), it’s tempting to dismiss the comment as a disgusting tribal dig.

When Jon Stewart is called a Judenrat who “would have been first on line to turn over his fellow Jews in Poland and Germany” by this same hawkish voice, it’s tempting – even though this voice has a visible platform – to just ignore the comment as the product of the Republican, FOX-inspired echo chamber.

However, ignoring these comments wouldn’t just be dangerous, it would be to allow a growing brand of hatred coursing through America’s veins – produced on the fringes – to continue infecting our public discourse (and public opinion) on matters both foreign and domestic.

It’s a hate-filled islamophobia that masquerades as patriotic, as anti-terrorism, as proudly American and Zionist (as though the two are synonymous). It’s a brand of hatred that the current GOP seeks, a hatred it feels it needs, a hatred it foments for perceived political gain at great cost to civil society. And, as much as it pains me as a progressive Jewish American to say, it’s a hatred right-wing American Jews are often solicited to be spokespeople for on venues like Fox News, with claims of anti-Semitism at the ready should they be critiqued by people such as, well, Jon Stewart.

So, wait – what happened to Jon Stewart, exactly? – you ask. Here is the context:

Jason Jones and The Daily Show crew produced this rather brilliant segment on how Broward County Republicans orchestrated a campaign to block membership of a Muslim Republican to the Broward Republican Party’s executive committee. This was done with the help of the Muslim-hating group ironically called Americans Against Hate (headed by Joe Kaufman, who is running against Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Congress).

The segment elicited this disgusting display from Pamela Geller:

This is not the first time that The Daily Show made fun of, ridiculed, and smeared proud Americans and passionate zionists. What’s he doing? And why? Does he know how much CAIR raised for their home office, Hamas, whose stated goal is to destroy the Jewish homeland, through the Holy Land Foundation? Stewart missed his calling. He would have been first on line to turn over his fellow Jews in Poland and Germany. Smug self-loathing Jew.

Yes, Geller is a nut. And yes, this particular display has been limited – so far – to her personal site. But Geller, just one of many fringe figures who inexplicably get airtime aplenty, knows what she’s doing. She knows the game: play the anti-Semitism card.

And not just any anti-Semitism card – the self-hating-Jew card. And she plays it against one of our country’s most important media critics and defenders of reason. Why? Because he represents exactly what she and her right-wing minions loathe: someone willing to call out islamophobia for what it is, even when promoted by American Jews.

While it would be easy to dismiss all this due to the messenger, does Jon Stewart shy away from railing against hatred and bigotry when it is perpetrated by the unhinged?

Nope.

And neither should we.

Muslims and Jews Unite to Oppose EDL

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon People, Loon Sites, Loon-at-large with tags , , , on December 16, 2011 by loonwatch

EDL
Last summer, Pamela Geller was outraged when she discovered some of her fellow far-right haters in the English Defense League are—gasp!—anti-Semitic:  Blog Wars: Pamela Geller vs. Gates of Vienna and the EDL?

The EDL has tried to court Jewish groups with little success. Now they face concerted opposition from Jewish and Muslim communities.

(cross post from Islamophobia  Watch)

Muslims and Jews unite to oppose EDL

The Home Office has written to an umbrella group representing a range of Jewish communal and religious groups in response to statements distancing themselves from the methods and aims of the English Defence League.

Earlier this year the leaders of the United Synagogue, Reform, Liberal and Masorti communities, as well as the Board of Deputies and the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ congregation, highlighted their opposition to the EDL’s tactics and called on the far right organisation to refrain from using Jewish and Israeli symbols in its campaigns.

Under the umbrella of the Council of Imams and Rabbis of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, they rejected in particular the EDL’s “efforts to incite hatred and antagonism in our society”, its attempts to “foment violence” and “drive a wedge between the Jewish community and our Muslim neighbours”.

They attempted to draw a line under the EDL’s efforts to attract Jewish membership, which reached a peak with a rally “to oppose Islamic fascism” outside the Israeli embassy last year where EDL members waved Israeli flags. The EDL has a “Jewish Division”, but it has been beset by infighting and is understood to have only a handful of Jewish members.

James Brokenshire, the Home Office Minister responsible for policy regarding the EDL, has now sent a letter of response to Mehri Niknam, director of the Council of Imams and Rabbis.

“We welcome your positive action to counter the divisive influence and minimise the impact of EDL activity,” he said. “As a government our position is clear, we will not tolerate groups like the EDL who spread hate, seek to divide us and deliberately raise community fears and tensions.”

He said the government would continue to condemn the EDL’s views and actions when necessary and work with police and local agencies. Mr Brokenshire added that the government trusted local agencies to “put in place suitable local measures to counter the influence and minimise the impact of EDL activity. We stand ready to provide advice and support where it is requested.”

Iranian Book “How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet” No Different than Israeli Publications

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2011 by loonwatch

The anti-Muslim blogosphere operates as an echo-chamber: one Islamophobic site publishes a story and then the other ones quickly reproduce it.  The latest story to get the Islamophobic juices flowing was with regard to a book that was supposedly published by religious students in Iran.  I wrote about it earlier:

Iran: Yet Another Case Study in Robert Spencer’s Hypocrisy and Double Standards

JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer just posted an article with the following title:

How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet: Iran promotes genocidal book by Muslim seminarians, published by Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance

He’s taking exception to an anti-Israeli book supposedly written by some religious students in Iran, called “How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet.”  Spencer calls this a “genocidal book.”

This is why LoonWatch exists.  We’ve been documenting what loons like Robert Spencer say so that we can pull Jon Stewart moves like the one I am going to pull now…

The reader is referred to Robert Spencer’s post in March 2010 wherein he promoted a “genocidal video” calling for “wiping Pakistan off the map” and nuclear annihilation of Pakistan:

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer: Wipe Pakistan Off the Map

And my article on the topic back then:

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller Promote Video by Militant and Genocidal Group

When Iranians/Muslims call to “wipe Israel off the map” or “eliminate Israel from the planet”, then it is a “genocidal book” and all freedom-loving people must be outraged by this.  When anti-Muslim extremists call for the same against Muslims, then that’s a “genocidal freedom-loving video” that all freedom-loving people must support.  As George Orwell put it: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

Robert Spencer’s hypocrisy and double standards are of course shared across the Islamophobic spectrum, from the mild-mannered Jeffrey Goldberg to the foaming-at-the-mouth website BareNakedIslam.

For now, I am assuming that Robert Spencer et al. are accurately reporting the story–a huge assumption considering: (1) I have not found the story reported by any reputable sources; (2)  Loons like Robert Spencer aren’t exactly known for accurately and truthfully reporting anything about Islam or Muslims. (3) Spencer cited Pajamas Media as his source (note: Remember how Robert Spencer and his minions scoff at using a source with silly names like “LoonWatch” or “Danios”…)

Leaving aside for now matters of accuracy, I’d like to expose even more hypocrisy and double standards from not just Robert Spencer but by the Islamophobes in general who are reporting this story in an effort to warmonger against Iran on Israel’s behalf.  They are trying to argue that the anti-Israeli book was not just written by a couple random students, but was in fact endorsed by the Iranian government; their evidence for this is the claim that the “book has been published by the Khorasan branch of the Ministry of Islamic culture and guidance.”

If this is proof of how evil Iran and Islam are, then what about this:

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is a part of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and “is recognized by law as the supreme halakhic and spiritual authority for the Jewish people in the State of Israel.”  During the Gaza War (Massacre) in 2009, the Chief Rabbinate “gave soldiers fighting in Gaza pamphlets urging them to show no mercy.”  Other pamphlets elaborated on the Chief Rabbinate’s orders, spelling it out in no uncertain terms: kill the civilian population because “it is not innocent.”

Haaretz, the oldest and one of the most established of Israeli newspapers, reported:

An overview of some of the army rabbinate’s publications made available during the fighting reflects the tone of nationalist propaganda that steps blatantly into politics, sounds racist and can be interpreted as a call to challenge international law when it comes to dealing with enemy civilians.

Robert Spencer wrote that the Iranian book was a “book filled with genocidal hate, rooted in the Qur’an”; he bolded the parts of the passage that mentioned the Islamic holy book.  His purpose in doing so is obvious: to smear the entire faith of Islam.

It should be pointed out to Spencer that in the case of the military rabbinate’s violent, racist, and genocidal publications, it was none other than the Bible and traditional Jewish law that was cited.  Haaretz noted:

Following are quotations from this material:

“[There is] a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it.” This is an excerpt from a publication entitled “Daily Torah studies for the soldier and the commander in Operation Cast Lead,” issued by the IDF rabbinate. The text is from “Books of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner,” who heads the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Muslim quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.

The following questions are posed in one publication: “Is it possible to compare today’s Palestinians to the Philistines of the past? And if so, is it possible to apply lessons today from the military tactics of Samson and David?” Rabbi Aviner is again quoted as saying: “A comparison is possible because the Philistines of the past were not natives and had invaded from a foreign land … They invaded the Land of Israel, a land that did not belong to them and claimed political ownership over our country … Today the problem is the same. The Palestinians claim they deserve a state here, when in reality there was never a Palestinian or Arab state within the borders of our country. Moreover, most of them are new and came here close to the time of the War of Independence.”

The IDF rabbinate, also quoting Rabbi Aviner, describes the appropriate code of conduct in the field: “When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. This is terribly immoral. These are not games at the amusement park where sportsmanship teaches one to make concessions. This is a war on murderers. ‘A la guerre comme a la guerre.’”

To be perfectly clear, if it is true that an Iranian book was published with such offensive material in it, we should condemn it wholeheartedly–just as we should condemn the Israeli publications I mentioned above.  But we shouldn’t vilify Islam as a whole, just as we shouldn’t vilify Judaism as a whole.  Neither should we beat the drums of war against Iran, just as no rational person would use the Israeli publications as a valid justification to attack Israel.

I would, however, point out that there is one major difference between the case in Iran and Israel.  If it is argued that the Iranian book endorses ethnic cleansing as our opponents claim, it should be pointed out that Iranians are not actively carrying out such a thing.  The belligerence is limited to mere words and rhetoric.

Meanwhile, the publications in Israel were handed out to soldiers deployed in a brutal war against Palestinians/Muslims, part of a long campaign of ethnic cleansing that first began in 1948.  Those instructions to show no mercy to the enemy population were actively executed and acted upon by Israeli soldiers.

Leading international human rights organizations condemned “Operation Cast Lead” (as it was called by the Israelis).  Amnesty International, for example, titled their report: “Operation Cast Lead: 22 Days of Death and Destruction”.  The report noted that Israeli forces committed “wanton destruction” and killed “[h]undreds of Palestinian civilians” (whereas Palestinian rocket attacks “only rarely caused civilian casualties”).

Meanwhile, no Iranian publication can be linked to actual Jewish or Israeli fatalities.

Iran cannot realistically go beyond anything more than mere words or rhetoric, because actual acts of violence will be met with overwhelming force and massive retaliation from Israel and/or the United States.  This is so much so that it is being reported, by the likes of none other than Jeffrey Goldberg, that Iran is already under attack by Israel and the United States, and yet the Iranians have not retaliated or declared war.

If bombing Iranian facilities, killing their scientists, and using drones in their territory cannot evoke a military response, then why would anyone assume that they would have the audacity to initiate an attack on Israel?  The reason Iran hasn’t responded to these acts of war against it are that it wants to avoid being “bombed into the stone ages” like Iraq was.  In other words, the last thing Iran would want to do is give Israel or the United States a smoking gun.  Angry but empty rhetoric earns Tehran popular support, whereas action would jeopardize the regime’s very existence.

The Iranian leadership is no doubt despotic, oppressive, and illegitimate; but it is also, like many dictatorships, tenaciously pragmatic when it comes to holding onto the reigns of power.  The desire for self-preservation is an amazing thing.

Meanwhile, Israel can afford to act unilaterally, and it does so quite regularly and with a great deal of impunity, thanks to Uncle Sam, who acts as a shield to any international response.

This is why dwelling on Iran’s rhetoric as opposed to Israeli action is misleading, but that of course is the essence of war propaganda.

Update I:

Prof. Juan Cole worded it best (h/t Believing Atheist):

Moreover, Iran cannot fight Israel. It would be defeated in 72 hours, even if the US didn’t come in, which it would (and rightly so if Israel were attacked). Iran is separated by several other countries from Israel. It has not attacked aggressively any other country militarily for over a century (can Americans say that of their own record?) It has only a weak, ineffective air force. So why worry about it?

What is really going on here is an old trick of the warmongers. Which is that you equate hurtful statements of your enemy with an actual military threat, and make a weak and vulnerable enemy look like a strong, menacing foe. Then no one can complain when you pounce on the enemy and reduce his country to flames and rubble.

Muslims and Jews Defy Stereotypes, Come Together Over Coney Island Bagels

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by loonwatch

Food is a good way to create friendship. The story below will probably blow the Islamophobes’ mind away, maybe they will start to protest this bagel shop now because it spells the Islamization of Coney Island? (hat tip: Keio Pamudji)

Coney Island Bialys and Bagels, Jewish Bagel Shop, Rescued By Muslim Cab Drivers

(Huffington Post)

A 91-year-old New York Jewish bagel shop about to go under was saved by two former Muslim cab drivers who vowed to keep it kosher.

Coney Island Bialys and Bagels was set to close its doors in September, with longtime owner Steve Ross citing a bad economy as the culprit, the Jewish Daily Forward first reported.

But Peerzada Shah and Zafaryab Ali couldn’t let that happen, so the two former New York cab drivers and one-time roommates bought the store together.

Ali had worked at the shop for about 10 years and didn’t want to see the iconic neighborhood store shut down. Shah went to culinary school in Manhattan and was knowledgeable about ovens and baking equipment, the Jewish Daily explains. Both men immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan.

Ross’ grandfather, Morris Rosenzweig immigrated from Poland and opened the shop in 1920.

Some might wonder whether the “geopolitics that divide Muslims and Jews” pose a problem, but all three men say it doesn’t factor in anywhere.

“It doesn’t matter,” Ali told the New York Daily News. “I make the food for everyone.”

A longtime customer also told WPIX he didn’t have any issues with the religion of the two men.

The new business partners are renovating certain parts of the shop, but plan to use the same recipes, equipment and the kosher menu, MSNBC points out.

Joseph Jackson has worked at the shop for 30 years and decided to stay with the new owners.

“The two men are very, very good-natured, well-intentioned and just good people,” Jackson told MSNBC. “They want to keep the bakery kosher and I want to help them succeed.”

And he’s not the only one who wishes them well.

“I’d like to see them flourish because they’re making a product that my grandfather brought to this country,” Ross told the New York Daily News.

Robert Spencer and Julius Streicher, Islamophobia and Anti-semitism: Same Message, Different Minority

Posted in Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2011 by loonwatch

Robert Spencer and Julius StreicherRobert Spencer and Julius Streicher’s eerily similar rhetoric

An interesting piece by journalist COLM Ó BROIN comparing quotes from Robert Spencer and and Julius Streicher.

Julius Streicher was a pre-Nazi era anti-Semitic propagandist and his rhetoric eerily echoes that of Robert Spencer’s.

Islamophobia and Antisemitism: Same message, different minority

by Colm O Broin (Middle Class Dub)

Below are quotes which highlight the disturbing similarities between Islamophobic and Antisemitic messages.

Ten statements by ‘anti-jihad’ writer Robert Spencer and Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher are compared.

Julius Streicher was the editor of Der Stuermer, a Nazi paper that spread vicious Antisemitic propaganda from 1923-1945. As Nazi Party leader in Nuremburg he organized the destruction of synagogues in the city.

He was not directly involved in the Holocaust but was convicted of crimes against humanity after WWII. He was found guilty of inciting hatred against Jews in Der Stuermer and was executed in 1946.

Robert Spencer is a prominent critic of Islam who runs the Jihadwatch.org website. He is the author of several best selling books on Islam and he has spoken on Fox News, CNN, NBC and other news channels.

He has organized protests against the construction of mosques in New York. He has advised the FBI on Islam and his books were recommended by the FBI for its agents.

The following is a comparison of their views on Muslims and Jews respectively.

1 Muslims/Jews have a religious duty to conquer the world.

“Islam understands its earthly mission to extend the law of Allah over the world by force.”

Robert Spencer.

“Do you not know that the God of the Old Testament orders the Jews to consume and enslave the peoples of the earth?”

Julius Streicher.

2 The Left enables Muslims/Jews.

“The principal organs of the Left…has consistently been warm and welcoming toward Islamic supremacism.”

Robert Spencer.

“The communists pave the way for him (the Jew).”

Julius Streicher.

3 Governments do nothing to stop Muslims/Jews.

“FDI* acts against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials…in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism.”

(Freedom Defense Initiative, Robert Spencer/Pamela Geller organisation).

“The government allows the Jew to do as he pleases. The people expect action to be taken.”

Julius Streicher.

4 Muslims/Jews cannot be trusted.

“When one is under pressure, one may lie in order to protect the religion, this is taught in the Qur’an.”

Robert Spencer.

“We may lie and cheat Gentiles. In the Talmud it says: It is permitted for Jews to cheat Gentiles.”

From The Toadstool, children’s book published by Julius Streicher.

5 Recognizing the true nature of Muslims/Jews can be difficult.

“There is no reliable way for American authorities to distinguish jihadists and potential jihadists from peaceful Muslims.”

Robert Spencer.

“Just as it is often hard to tell a toadstool from an edible mushroom, so too it is often very hard to recognize the Jew as a swindler and criminal.”

From The Toadstool, children’s book published by Julius Streicher.

6 The evidence against Muslims/Jews is in their holy books.

“What exactly is ‘hate speech’ about quoting Qur’an verses and then showing Muslim preachers using those verses to exhort people to commit acts of violence, as well as violent acts committed by Muslims inspired by those verses and others?”

Robert Spencer.

“In Der Stuermer no editorial appeared, written by me or written by anyone of my main co-workers, in which I did not include quotations from the ancient history of the Jews, from the Old Testament, or from Jewish historical works of recent times.”

Julius Streicher.

7 Islamic/Jewish texts encourage violence against non-believers.

“’And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter…’ — 2:191.”

Koranic verse quoted by Robert Spencer on Jihadwatch.org.

“’And when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally: men and women and children, even the animals.’ (Deuteronomy 7:2.).”

Biblical verse quoted by Julius Streicher in Der Stuermer.

8 Christianity is peaceful while Islam/Judaism is violent.

“There is no Muslim version of ‘love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you’ or ‘if anyone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also’.”

Robert Spencer.

“The Jew is not being taught, like we are, such texts as, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,’ or ‘If you are smitten on the left cheek, offer then your right one.’”

Julius Streicher.

9 Muslims/Jews are uniquely violent.

“(Islam) is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers.”

Robert Spencer.

“No other people in the world has such prophecies. No other people would dare to say that it was chosen to murder and destroy the other peoples and steal their possessions.”

Julius Streicher.

10 Criticising Muslims/Jews is not incitement to violence against Muslims/Jews.

“There is nothing in anything that I have ever written that could be reasonably construed as an incitement to violence against anyone.”

Robert Spencer.

“Allow me to add that it is my conviction that the contents of Der Stuermer as such were not (incitement). During the whole 20 years, I never wrote in this connection, ‘Burn Jewish houses down; beat them to death.’ Never once did such an incitement appear in Der Stuermer.”

Julius Streicher.

Notes:

Robert Spencer quotes;

(1) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-871902797772997781

http://www.ourbeacon.com/cgi-bin/bbs60x/webbbs_config.pl/md/read/id/314123119154008

(2) http://www.jihadwatch.org/2011/07/anders-breivik-and-the-echo-chamber.html
(3) http://freedomdefense.typepad.com/about.html
(4) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-871902797772997781
(5) http://www.jihadwatch.org/2007/08/australian-pol-to-oppose-islamic-immigration.html
(6) http://www.jihadwatch.org/2011/07/daniel-greenfield-in-defense-of-robert-spencer.html
(7) http://www.jihadwatch.org/2011/08/wapo-do-critics-actually-read-the-koran-uh-yeah.html
(8) http://books.google.ie/books?id=eanFm7hiM1cC&pg=PA27
(9) http://www.jihadwatch.org/2006/01/what-is-a-moderate-muslim.html
(10) http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00hz34g

Sources for Julius Streicher quotes;

http://propagander.tripod.com/js2.html

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/story5.htm

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Streicher.html

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Giftpilz.html

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/secretplan.html

http://www.twitter.com/colmobroin

Fox “News”: Evil Muslims Behind Occupy Wall Street

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2011 by loonwatch

Well, that didn’t take long.  Fox “News” had Dick Morris on, who claimed that the Evil Muslims are behind the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Watch the video yourself (h/t Young Turks)–the fun part about “the Moozlums” comes near the end of the clip around 5:15:

Notice how Morris says: “It’s come out that they [Occupy Wall Street] are Anti-Semitic, that the Mozlem groups are involved…”

So, if any Muslim group is involved, that’s bad?  No Muslims are ever allowed to join anything at any time anywhere?  Should American movements from now on have a “No Muslim” Policy like the GOP does?

And I love how he equates “Anti-Semitic” with “Muslim,” as if they are interchangeable.  Occupy Wall Street is not Anti-Semitic, but I’ll tell you who is Islamophobic: Dick Morris, Bill O’Reilly, and Fox “News.”

These people make me furious, and are the reason I spend so much of my very limited free time writing for this site.

Don’t Fear Islamic Law in America

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2011 by loonwatch

By ELIYAHU STERN

MORE than a dozen American states are considering outlawing aspects of Shariah law. Some of these efforts would curtail Muslims from settling disputes over dietary laws and marriage through religious arbitration, while others would go even further in stigmatizing Islamic life: a bill recently passed by the Tennessee General Assembly equates Shariah with a set of rules that promote “the destruction of the national existence of the United States.”

Supporters of these bills contend that such measures are needed to protect the country against homegrown terrorism and safeguard its Judeo-Christian values. The Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has said that “Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.”

This is exactly wrong. The crusade against Shariah undermines American democracy, ignores our country’s successful history of religious tolerance and assimilation, and creates a dangerous divide between America and its fastest-growing religious minority.

The suggestion that Shariah threatens American security is disturbingly reminiscent of the accusation, in 19th-century Europe, that Jewish religious law was seditious. In 1807, Napoleon convened an assembly of rabbinic authorities to address the question of whether Jewish law prevented Jews from being loyal citizens of the republic. (They said that it did not.)

Fear that Jewish law bred disloyalty was not limited to political elites; leading European philosophers also entertained the idea. Kant argued that the particularistic nature of “Jewish legislation” made Jews “hostile to all other peoples.” And Hegel contended that Jewish dietary rules and other Mosaic laws barred Jews from identifying with their fellow Prussians and called into question their ability to be civil servants.

The German philosopher Bruno Bauer offered Jews a bargain: renounce Jewish law and be granted full legal rights. He insisted that, otherwise, laws prohibiting work on the Sabbath made it impossible for Jews to be true citizens. (Bauer conveniently ignored the fact that many fully observant Jews violated the Sabbath to fight in the Prussian wars against Napoleon.)

During that era, Christianity was seen as either a universally valid basis of the state or a faith that harmoniously coexisted with the secular law of the land. Conversely, Judaism was seen as a competing legal system — making Jews at best an unassimilable minority, at worst a fifth column. It was not until the late 19th century that all Jews were granted full citizenship in Western Europe (and even then it was short lived).

Most Americans today would be appalled if Muslims suffered from legally sanctioned discrimination as Jews once did in Europe. Still, there are signs that many Americans view Muslims in this country as disloyal. A recent Gallup poll found that only 56 percent of Protestants think that Muslims are loyal Americans.

This suspicion and mistrust is no doubt fueled by the notion that American Muslims are akin to certain extreme Muslim groups in the Middle East and in Europe. But American Muslims are a different story. They are natural candidates for assimilation. They are demographically the youngest religious group in America, and most of their parents don’t even come from the Middle East (the majority have roots in Southeast Asia). A recent Pew Research Center poll found that Muslim Americans exhibit the highest level of integration among major American religious groups, expressing greater degrees of tolerance toward people of other faiths than do Protestants, Catholics or Jews.

Given time, American Muslims, like all other religious minorities before them, will adjust their legal and theological traditions, if necessary, to accord with American values.

America’s exceptionalism has always been its ability to transform itself — economically, culturally and religiously. In the 20th century, we thrived by promoting a Judeo-Christian ethic, respecting differences and accentuating commonalities among Jews, Catholics and Protestants. Today, we need an Abrahamic ethic that welcomes Islam into the religious tapestry of American life.

Anti-Shariah legislation fosters a hostile environment that will stymie the growth of America’s tolerant strand of Islam. The continuation of America’s pluralistic religious tradition depends on the ability to distinguish between punishing groups that support terror and blaming terrorist activities on a faith that represents roughly a quarter of the world’s population.

Eliyahu Stern, an assistant professor of religious studies and history at Yale, is the author of the forthcoming “The Genius: Elijah of Vilna and the Making of Modern Judaism.”

(source: The New York Times)