Anti Wilders campaign turns anti-Jewish …writes Julie Nathan
The impending visit to Australia by Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP, has created a storm of controversy.
Wilders, who heads the Dutch Party for Freedom, has been outspoken on the role of Islam and of Islamic extremism in Europe. He asserts that there is no difference between Islam as a religion and extreme Islamist political ideologies. He has called for a ban on further Muslim immigration to the Netherlands, claiming that Muslims do not integrate into Dutch society and contribute to the creeping Islamisation of Holland.
Holland has seen the murders by Islamist extremists of film maker, Theo van Gogh, and politician and gay rights activist, Pim Fortuyn, for their critical views of Islam.
Wilders is due to talk this month in Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. The sponsors of his tour, the Q Society, have reportedly found it difficult to secure venues because venue owners are fearful of violent protests or worse.
Due to continual threats against Wilders, who lives under 24 hour security in Holland, Dutch police officers will accompany him during his stay in Australia.
Anti-Wilders campaigners claim Wilders is a bigot against Islam and a racist. Ironically, some of them have descended into religious bigotry and racism of their own, directed against the Jewish community.
Wilders is not Jewish, and his party supports a ban on ritual animal slaughter, including kosher slaughter, and to varying degrees, halal slaughter. Despite this, it is Wilders’ support for the state of Israel against Islamist extremism and terrorism that has been the pretext for polemical attacks on Jews.
The campaign against Wilders is being organized through several Facebook pages. Three of these are sub-named: “No to Islamophobia, No to Racist Hate”. Yet the call against racist hate has itself attracted an outpouring of racist hate from those opposing Geert Wilders.
One poster on the Sydney Facebook page equates Jewish national self-determination with the establishment by the Nazis of a vast system which systematically murdered six million Jews and hundreds of thousands of other unarmed civilians. The EU working definition of antisemitism includes “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor”.
In another thread on the Sydney page, the poster wrote: “Multiple wives seems more reasonable then tulmadic (sic) approval of multiple little boys.”
This claim that the Talmud permits sex with children is a complete fabrication, and a favourite slander by those hostile to Jews. Further, the Talmud has absolutely no connection to Wilders or his party, so any comment on the Talmud is purely gratuitous and unjustified denigration of Judaism.
A few days later on the same page, the same poster wrote: “Are you pro Zionist and do you believe in this ideology that sees any Zionist or Jew as superior / chosen people that are above the law while the rest of us are goyim less humans.”
Neither Judaism nor Zionism promotes any theory of ethnic superiority of Jews over gentiles. Again, this is pure fabrication.
Of the several Facebook pages campaigning against Wilders, it is mainly the Sydney page that contains the anti-Jewish postings. This Sydney page was established by James Supple and Amy Thomas
Both Supple and Thomas work for Solidarity Magazine, which describes itself as a “socialist group,” one of whose aims is to work “against racism.”
One would assume that socialists opposing racism would counter and condemn the anti-Jewish racism being posted on the Facebook page they established. One would expect that a Facebook page with the sub-name “No to Racist Hate” would bar any kind of racist content.
In response to an article on Wilders in WA Today, Thomas posted on her personal Facebook page “The horrendous racist quotes from white supremacists in this article give reason why we should protest, not why we shouldn’t. We need a physical showing of opposition to show that the ideas of Wilders are not welcome here.” She then linked to the anti-Wilders Sydney Facebook page.
Thomas quite rightly sees the quotes in the WA Today article as racist, yet when it comes to anti-Jewish racism on her own anti-Wilders Facebook page, she appears blind. It appears that to Thomas, bigotry by “white supremacists” against Muslims is unacceptable, as indeed it is, but racism by others against Jews is acceptable.
Supple posted an apology for offensive and racist material, and has, as he claims, deleted “explicitly offensive posts and comments” but places the blame for the racism on those “people from the far right trolling.” In addition to anti-Muslim comments, Supple deleted one whole thread with all its anti-Jewish comments but did not prevent the main culprit from continuing to post other anti-Jewish material.
On another Facebook page, the administrator deleted “racist drivel” as he recognized that “this event page is not the place for Islamophic rants to be broadcast!” Some of the anti-Muslim comments were indeed vile, and deserved deleting. In fact, all of the anti-Wilders Facebook pages contain varying degrees of anti-Muslim comment. The campaign against Wilders has attracted those who are anti-Islam and anti-Muslim, as well as Jew-haters.
The reaction to Wilders’ visit has been a lightning rod for all kinds of racists. It is especially revealing that anything that has even the vaguest possible connection to Jews, such as Wilders’ support for Israel, is used as an opportunity by Jew-haters to crawl out of the woodwork and spew their venom.
In a democracy such as Australia’s, we all have a right to demonstrate for or against any person’s or organisation’s views or policies. That right does not extend to the dissemination of racial hatred against any group.
If the organizers of the anti-Wilders campaign are genuinely against racism, and not just jumping on a populist bandwagon, they need to open their eyes and learn some hard lessons. Lesson number one is that allowing anti-Jewish comments to remain on their Facebook pages sends the utterly hypocritical message that criticism of Islam and Muslims is to be opposed, but racism against Jews is acceptable.
Regardless of the identity of the perpetrator, or the identity of the victim, racism is racism and those who wish to be taken seriously as anti-racist campaigners must pro-actively combat all species of racism in all their insidious guises.
Julie Nathan is the research officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the officially elected representative organisation of the Australian Jewish Community.