Visiting Israeli Professor Raphael Israeli presents different faces for different audiences. Sometimes he says his target is only “Islamists”, ie, those Muslims who want to impose a political version of Islam on secular democracies.
Certainly this is what he said in a letter to The Australian. Here's an excerpt from The Oz report on February 19 2007 ...
A VISITING Israeli academic has blasted Australia's Jewish leaders for disowning him after he raised concerns about the level of Muslim immigration in Europe and the consequences of a similar approach here.Yet he wrote an almost identical, though more virulent (and need I say honest) letter to the far-Right polemical JihadWatch website. In that letter, he made it clear he was talking about “the Muslim thugs”, without differentiation. In other words, his attitudes are directed to all Australians who happen to tick the “Muslim” box on their census forms. Here's how The Age reported Israeli's remarks ...
Raphael Israeli, Professor of Islamic, Middle East and Chinese History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, wrote to The Australian yesterday to complain about his treatment after a story in the Australian Jewish News which claimed he favoured a cap on Muslim immigration.
The story, which Professor Israeli said didn't accurately reflect his views, led to criticism from Muslim and Jewish leaders without further checks with him, he said. The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, co-sponsoring his lecture tour, decided to sever ties with him.
"Instead of standing by their guest, and supporting free debate in this country, Jewish leaders have elected to shamefully disown me in their statements that were geared to placate Muslims," Professor Israeli wrote.
"I come from a country dipped in solidarity and that never abandons its fighters in the battlefield. Here I feel abandoned, forlorn, betrayed by people who lack courage and stamina to stand up for principles."
Professor Israeli's attributed comments in the Jewish press last week in part suggested there would be demographic pressure for Indonesian Muslims to resettle. The article quoted him as saying "one of the big possibilities is Australia, so they will continue to come legally, or illegally, and settle here, and when they get to the rate of the 10per cent, like in France, then you will see life will become untenable".
A VISITING Jewish professor has lashed out at Australian Jewish leaders for their "shameful submission to Muslim thugs", saying his comments were less harsh than some by the Prime Minister and federal Treasurer.Regardless of where he stands, we’d be living in denial if we insisted Israeli’s attitudes to that nebulous Arab/Muslim/Islamist/Middle Eastern “them” aren’t gaining some hold.
Hebrew University professor Raphael Israeli, dropped from a proposed lecture tour after comments last week, said political correctness did not allow his remarks to be said, though, privately, all supported them.
He said Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello had said harsher things after "Muslim riots", but "someone elected to seize upon this opportunity now and sweep Australia into a storm in a teacup".
Professor Israeli, who will teach his six-week Islamic history course at the University of NSW, posted his version of the stoush on a website.
On the Dhimmi Watch section of www.jihadwatch.org, he wrote: "The dhimmi-like Jewish leadership cancelled all activities, in a shameful submission to the Muslim thugs and under the false claims of a 'multicultural society' in Australia, which they know is not true."
Why is this so? Who is responsible? And what is being done about it?
Journalism professor and veteran reporter Peter Manning believes that skewed reporting is largely to blame. His research of metropolitan Sydney newspaper reporting pre and post-September 11 shows that the prejudices have pre-dated the emergence of al-Qaeda.
Experts like Dr James Jupp of the Australian National University argue cogently against Israeli’s central thesis on limiting immigration for a particular religious group. Here's how ninemsn reported Jupp's remarks on February 16 2007.
A local immigration expert has dismissed suggestions by a visiting Israeli academic that Islamic migration to Australia should be capped.I think much responsibility rests with Muslims themselves, especially with religious and organisational leaders who are largely first generation migrants who regard Islam as a relic of their lives “back home” and are generally disinterested in communicating Islamic theology to the broader community.
... immigration expert Dr James Jupp from the Australian National University said talk of limiting immigration for Muslims was the kind of idea "put forward by crackpots" — even though there is no legal barrier to doing so.
He said banning immigrants on religious grounds is possible as all migrant applications are done in other countries which are not subject to our racial vilification laws.
“You [immigrants] have no legal rights to Australian law if you are outside Australia,” Dr Jupp said.
Proving religious discrimination “would be extremely difficult” as immigrants cannot access our legal system before they arrive in Australia.
”I don’t think you’d have a leg to stand on, you couldn’t prove it,” Dr Jupp said.
He added that officials could easily hide religious discrimination behind the various other requirements immigrants must meet to enter this country ...
... Dr Jupp said that would not occur here as European countries gave full citizenship to emigrants from ex-colonial nations — many of which are Muslim countries.
As Australia has no colonial ties with Muslim countries like Algeria, it was unlikely that Muslims would come to this country in such large numbers as they do in Europe.
The ethno-religious nature of the Muslim religious establishment is the biggest reason why Israeli’s claims simply don’t apply to Muslims here (if they apply anywhere else).
On Radio National Israeli said that
... in Islam, secular Islam, or secular Muslims, is a contradiction in terms.He also said that there is only one Islam, and that Muslims either adopt it or they don’t.
This is the weakest link in Israeli’s argument. Australian Muslims come from over 60 different countries. Australian Islam is more ethno-cultural than religious a phenomenon, reflected in Muslim community leadership drawn from ethnic-based mosques.
To say there is one Islam means there is one Muslim community. But the fact is that Muslims cannot even agree on holding festival days. Israeli says that a growing monolithic Muslim community in Australia is a threat. This Muslim community doesn’t exist down under.
An edited version of this piece was first published in Crikey on 23 February 2007.
Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf
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