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Published:March 10th, 2010 21:20 EST
religion

Response to "As a Jew, did you ever think?"

By Geoff Dean

 Darryl Weinberg of the Light of Messiah Ministries International, a leading group in the Messianic Jewish movement, recently responded to my article European Islam-bashing: The New Anti-Semitism? in which I wondered aloud if European Islamophobia was the new anti-Semitism. (OK, computers are not all that loud, but you know what I mean.)

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 He was obviously hot under the collar about my views. I suppose I could have let it go and smiled and considered it "mission accomplished" but I think he deserves a response. So I will give him one. Thoughtful, aren`t I?

 First off, Mr. Weinberg tried to make the issue the attacks of "thugs" on the state of Israel and another "attempt at extermination" there. Sorry, but Mr. Weinberg, if you had read my article or at least, the title, you would have noticed that I am criticizing anti-Islamic fear mongering in EUROPE. I support and love Israel, although I don`t always agree with her policies, such as never ending expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Either way, this is NOT what my article was about.

 "These people have in their own book a sworn declaration to eradicate us from existence and you`re wondering why people are afraid of the Koran." Are you suggesting that the backlash against Islam in Europe is due to a visceral hatred of Muslim anti-semitism? And that this is based in the Koran? Does the average European (or American, to be fair) know squat about what is in the Koran? Do they give a.... care (yes, let`s use that word) about anti-semitism?

 I believe that most Europeans who oppose minaret construction, mosque construction, burqa wearing, etc. do so because of cultural prejudices and economic fears. You would be hard-pressed to convince me that people are acting out of a rational concern for and understanding of the doctrines and teachings of Islam. Again, I must quickly add that Americans are no better, and probably much worse.

 "People are not picking a fight with Islam. They are fighting back..." How can you say that Swiss voters banning minaret construction is fighting back? What did Swiss Muslims do? And how can the ban be an appropriate response? Banning the Koran, as suggested by Dutch politican, Geert Wilders? Allowing neo-nazi groups to re-form in Austria with an anti-semitic and anti-Islamic base? Are these really not "picking a fight with Islam?"

 As for wearing a "shroud", I am not Muslim and neither a woman, so I have no desire to do so. But I believe that I should have the right to do so if I so choose, as surely as I have the right to wear a prayer shawl and kippah in public or any other religious garment I deem appropriate.

 "People have been slamming Judaism and Jews for centuries." Absolutely true. All the more reason we should make sure that the same thing doesn`t happen to our Islamic brothers and sisters. We should know what it is like to be persecuted for our religious beliefs, as much as or perhaps more than any other group. And when we were persecuted, how often did the persecutors tell themselves that they were just "fighting back" against a "heinous, barbaric, and terrifying" religion called Judaism?

As a Jew Ms. Piazza, did you ever think?