Another Banana Skin at the Board

On Friday The Times reported that Heshmat Khalifa – a trustee and director of the charity Islamic Relief Worldwide – had resigned after the newspaper’s Investigations team found antisemitic comments (in Arabic) on his Facebook page.  Jewish News covered the story, including responses from Community organisations – CST, JLC, CAA and the Board of Deputies.

Here was the Board’s comment: ‘Mr Khalifa ought to be ashamed of these disgraceful racist comments, which attempt to pit two minorities against each other. Muslims and Jews must unite to fight racism together, rather than propagate lies about each other.’

Could the comment have been more misguided?

Attempt to pit two minorities against each other‘ – This reads as if relations between Muslims and Jews were wonderful until Khalifa appeared with a mission to change that. Utter nonsense. There is a body of polling evidence suggesting that antisemitism among British Muslims is significantly higher than in the population overall. For example the 2019 ADL poll found that 54% agreed with 6 or more antisemitic statements, versus 11% for the population overall.  See also polling for the Campaign Against Antisemitism charity (April 2016) which found that 42% of British Muslims thought that Jews were more loyal to Israel than the UK versus 24% for the population overall. And ICM polling for Channel 4 in 2015 which found that 40% of British Muslims thought that Jews had too much power in international financial markets and 42% thought that Jews are more loyal to Israel than the UK. When Heshmat Khalifa described Jews as ‘the grandchildren of monkeys and pigs‘ he wasn’t trying to sour a happy relationship. He was simply expressing a sentiment which is very common in the Arab Middle East and far too common among British Muslims.

Muslims and Jews must unite to fight racism together‘ – With one honourable exception (Muslims Against Antisemitism, founded by Fiyaz Mughal OBE) Muslim organisations do not recognise the widely accepted IHRA definition of antisemitism – so how can they be a suitable partner for fighting it?

Propagate lies about each other‘ – This is the most offensive part of the Board’s comment. I challenge the Board to provide evidence that hatred of Muslims in the Jewish Community comes anywhere near the scale of Muslim antisemitism. Or indeed even exists at all – which is why there is no polling evidence about it.

This reminded me of the previous incident concerning ‘false moral equivalence’ at the Board that I wrote about only this morning. In August 2014 during Operation Protective Edge the Board – at the initiative of the then President Vivian Wineman – issued a joint statement with the Muslim Council of Britain suggesting (absurdly) that Israel targeted civilians – not just at all, but to the same extent as Hamas!

BoD 2014

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Could the ‘Board Spokesperson’ who issued the statement on Khalifa possibly be the same chap who libelled Melanie Phillips? I think we should be told.

A Jewish representative body which – in the interest of political correctness – ignores Muslim antisemitism does a disservice to the community and is not fit for purpose.

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