BBC Interview Palestinian Activism and Anti-Zionism vs Anti-Semitism
Channel: Mohammed Hijab
File Size: 41.14MB
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Okay, we're good.
And so, did you grow up in London? And also, I mean, what level of religious? Would you say that you are? Well, I think I'm an observant Orthodox, traditionalist Muslim, suddenly and kind of orientation for that way. And yeah, so I grew up not really in that. I mean, I grew up in a in a liberal environment, I grew up here in London, I went to a multicultural school
actually went to the same school as some very famous people who went to Syria.
Which I will knock on the famous. Yeah, not in the positive sense. And, and I've seen everything you know, and I've engaged with everyone. And it's really a privilege experience. I think when you grow up in a multi, deeply multicultural society, and you see people from different perspectives and different backgrounds, and you can get along with them, you learn how to kind of be what you are, be proud of what you are, but at the same time, learn to disagree with people and still get along with them. This is a very important thing. And being being in a multicultural society. Oh, my life, I think that's been probably one of the biggest takeaways. Yeah, I mean, I couldn't agree more. I
think being in a multicultural society forces you to understand that there are a multitude of perspectives. And you need to kind of find a middle ground between what all of you think and try and work out what is a way that you can find harmony in terms of interacting with these other groups and all find out your positive aspects.
Within that diversity, when you're growing up? Were there many Jewish people that you knew? Yes, I actually live in the Jewish area. Which area? Did you grow up in? St. John's with?
I've lived there for 20 years.
So I've lived in this, of course, we have Jewish neighbors, we have people that Jewish people that went to my school were Jewish people that, you know, I grew up with, I knew the rabbis and then the synagogues and so on. Yeah, we have one of the biggest and most important synagogues in the vicinity. So in the area, so yeah, absolutely. And, of course, what I realized about Jewish people is that they're very similar to the Muslim community. And so much has, its you we think, that Jewish people have a uniformity of opinions, but they don't, there are liberal Jews there are, you know, there are Orthodox Jews. And within the Orthodox spectrum, you have her ad you have, you know, sad,
sad, and so on. So really, really, it's sub compartmentalizes. It and it, you know, this category after category. And so it's not a monolithic entity. And this is a very important thing. I think people need to understand when that when discussing Jewish people, because it's not a monolithic entity. And that's what I've discovered really quickly. It was something that growing up, I didn't understand, but now I'm fully aware of people, I think people lose that nuance Gemini there is almost no monolithic group out there, there's a spectrum within every single group is much easier for people to generalize, and then make a sweeping statement on the basis of that generalization,
which I think can most often problematic, and you've got to look for the nuances and things. Look, when you say you're growing up, and you didn't know that what was your What was your perception of Judaism when you were growing up before you educated yourself? But if you think about judo, what did you know about? Well, to be honest with you, Judaism, as a religion, we always knew it was one of the closest religions to the religion of Islam, obviously, we have to, we have to delineate Jewishness into two sub compartments, you've got the ethnic component and you got the religious component. But if we're talking about the religious component, then it's we've always known that
Judaism stands as one of the closest religions to religion of Islam, because both religions, you know, uncompromisingly, monotheistic, right?
There's only one God worthy of worship. Both religions speak about Abraham, obviously, and all the prophets like Noah and all this kind of thing, in the Bible, in the Quran, and the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Hebrew Bible, as the Jews, or Jewish clergy prefer. And, obviously, both religions given the 10 commandments and Moses, Moses as well, which to Muslims, is one of the most mighty messengers most most important men of human kind. In fact, as mentioned, the Quran more than Muhammad is is mentioned for more than any other prophets mentioned is mentioned 70 times by name in the Quran. And so the stories of the Quran will be very much similar
to the stories in the Old Testament, however, with one I would say, key difference, the key difference being we're in the Old Testament there is you could kind of summarize the main message being Let My People Go, right? The Quran doesn't say that that's the main thing that the Quran states that when Moses came to the people of Israel that the main thing was he was trying to get them to believe Pharaoh himself to believe. And it wasn't about Let My People Go, it's about believe in one God and save yourself. It wasn't an exclusivist discourse for a tribe or something. Let my people go let know that there was that as well let my people go yes. But the most important thing is
believe in one God and worship him and that's something that runs through all the stories of the Quran. But to kind of answer your question
We've always known that the proximity between kind of Judaism as a religion and Islam on the on the fundamentals was quite close, and
that there are many things in terms of our practices like Jewish Orthodox Jewish practice, eating pork, or obviously, lack of kosher, we can eat kosher food, we used to grow up on kosher meats, because it was much more, I should maybe shouldn't say this, but
better quality than the halal alternative.
So it's things like that. Yeah.
And so, you know, things like that we were aware of, but clearly as well, there's an aspect of politics. But to be honest, in my household, there was always a distinction that was made between Zionism as a political ideology, and Judaism as religion.
And so I've always known that even since I was young, but once again, I didn't know the sub compartments and the, the the extent of diversity until I got a bit older. So was Israel something that was discussed in your household growing up? Yes. No doubt about it. But
I'm Egyptian by
background, obviously, I'm a British Egyptian. And so the wars, you know, that the 48 War, the 6066 67 War, and obviously 73, one, particularly 73, was, was held in Egypt as a great victory for Egypt. Obviously, what we know about that was that Assad that actually, he politically compromised, okay. And it's interesting to note that in Egyptian culture, this is seen as one of the great victories, even though it was predicated on negotiation. So, which is actually, in many ways is something good to think about, because that is to say that people want peace in the Arab world, people want peace in the Muslim world. They don't want to be in perpetual conflict with their Jewish
Or their was really neighbor. Well, and all there is it really well. So that is something that definitely was there. When I when I went to Egypt, you know, we have bridges that are named after October or the sixth of sixth of October, bridge commemoration, yeah, things like that, you know, so that was definitely part of the culture. Growing up. I was a staple part of the culture and Israel seemed sort of as a boogeyman, kind of
it was, you know, I mean, to be honest with you, right? When I was growing up, the the kind of internal conflicts within Egypt started to override the discourse.
And, you know, that was overshadowing eclipsing the issue, the historical issues. If I grew up in the 80s, or the 70s, I think the situation would have been a little bit different. Yeah. That's true. I mean, and so, from your perspective, how does
the discussion around Israel affect how people think about Jewish people? Do you think it does have an effect and how people think about Jewish people? I think, really, this is a sociological question. If we're being completely honest, it's like whether it does or not, is, it can be historical question, in terms of, if we look at the broad kind of stroke situation from 1945, onwards, or 1948, to be completely precise, or the establishment of the State of Israel, and how the Arab nations
kind of reacted to that, how Muslim nations reacted to that
is going to be a very difficult case for someone to suggest that there was no level of anti semitism, that that emerged in the in the Arab or Muslim world, as a result of the establishment of the State of Israel. I do think that, to be honest with you for looking at a broad stroke, historical perspective, that this this kind of anti semitism is very particular. It's not a it's not an anti semitism that existed in Spain, where, you know, what scholars talk about lack of events here, or, you know, the idea of mutual coexistence between Jews, Muslims, and Christians, or even the Ottoman Empire, I think is particularly pernicious. And I think it's particularly outrageous,
actually, because it is now mixed, it effectively mixed political discourse with with religious discourse in a way that didn't exist in the past. I think that can be said historically, but in terms of, if you're talking about the UK discourse in the UK kind of life, and so it's that requires kind of sociological research. And to be fair, is the kind of studies that we have so far on Jewish communities in Muslim communities. It's difficult for me to make a comment about that. But what should be the case, as I think it's wholly important to distinguish between Jewishness and, and being Israeli supporter, or being a Zionist? And if if we don't make this distinction, I think
there'll be some real problems that can emerge. Well, sorry to refer to you directly.
In the video, actually, you will also included it in the title of your video. Muslims confront radical Israelis. Yes. And isn't that doing exactly what you're saying? Shouldn't be done? conflating a group of Jewish people in Britain and calling them Israelis? Isn't that doing exactly what you're saying? They should, you shouldn't. If someone identifies
As an Israeli supporter and apologists or a pro Zionist, right, that they have already shown their cards, what we're saying is that there is a difference between Israeli discourse or pro Israeli discourse, when we say that we mean those who are sympathetic or apologetic to the policies of the Israeli government policies which have seen the death of 166 civilians recently, of which 66 of them were children. These policies the policies are blockade the policies of settlement in the in the West Bank and shift in these things. If someone if we decide to to oppose these policies, okay, that should never be conflated with anti Jewish. I think the reason why is very clear that if we do that,
that will render those pro anti Zionist, those anti Zionist Jews as impossible subjects that are engaged in a perpetual self flagellation of some sorts, self treachery, self hate of some sorts, they become an impossible subject, but we know these people exist. And in fact, according to the definition of the British government, which on Semitism, which was published in 2016, one of the definitions of anti semitism is when you hold Jewish people responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, and I think doing the doing that confliction puts at risk,
people being anti semitic. And so it's very important that if someone is an apologist for Israel, or for Zionism, that that should be outlined and delineated or otherwise completely separated from a Jewishness, I think it's very important. I completely agree with you, to be honest, on almost every single point. Do you not think the title of that video, for example, and maybe I don't want to get into it in this way, but can you? Can you first of all, tell me, can you tell me what it was that you did, and Golders Green and what made you feel compelled to go and did? Well, we went to Stanford Hill and golden screen,
that we were looking for our allies and Associates, because we have many allies, pro Palestine, anti Zionist allies and Associates, many of which are on the record with us holding hands and placards and so on, and, and showing their disdain for the policies of the Israeli government. And I think it's very important to give these people a voice because it does exactly what we were talking about in the beginning. It gives diversity to the Jewish community, the Jewish community are not a monolith. And there are a significant sizable chunk of the Jewish community who see no connection whatsoever with being Jewish. And, and support for Israel. In fact, this was published in one of the
only studies that was done 2010
I think is yes, in 2010, were about 4000 Jews were well question and a sizable population. So no, necessarily in at all of Jewish people, between support for Israel and Jewishness. This is these are not my words. These are the sociological findings of the Jewish policy, the Institute produced policy, and 2000. So I think I think here at once again, it's it's imperative, especially where maybe right wing media, you know, organizations and so on, are reluctant to do so even to be a centrist media streams, I'm reluctant to do so that we give voice to these voiceless pro Palestinian Jewish people who represent a big part of the Jewish community. But can you literally in layman's
terms, can you explain to you what it was that you guys went out? And did that day? Before we can? Right? So yeah, what we did was we went to our Rabbi friends, we went to many of our associates from the Jewish community to condemn the actions of the Israeli government at that time, which were killing, indiscriminately killing civilian populations in Gaza. They were in the script, they were dropping bombs on houses, killing people. 66 of them are children actually. And we thought that that was disgusting. And to be fair, we did on a fortunately confront some people, which were ready to confirm had you organized it with the rabbis to go to go down there. And so um, so you went down to
Golders Green and Stamford Hill, this was a day. This was the day of where there was protests. So it was already organized, everything was already organized by organizers. And those rabbis by the way, they are part of a panel of ours. And they are part of the decision to ricotta pump these in the terracotta rabbis. Is that right? Yep. Yep, yep. So yeah, so you drove to gold. And so you went from one to the other to the Yeah, we went we went to about 10 different locations that me and was that all with the the van which was I think, was it projecting? Yeah, this is a picture of the this validation This van is not just to be clear, this van is not our van. It's not, it's not we don't
own that van. This van and the pictures, once again, the pictures of that van were chosen by a panel of people, of which those pro Palestinian anti Zionist Jews were part of that panel. And and some of the the imagery of that van. We objected to it. We said we don't really I think this is quite untangle.
They said, Look, this is the kind of thing we're seeing in the academic discourse. Norman Finkelstein himself wrote a book called The Holocaust Industry. And it's important, they said that we remind Jews, this was their case, that we remind us that we don't want to fall, we don't want to be the victim of our own past. We said, if you feel strongly about that, we cannot stop you from
not drove the van, we have we had a driver, someday we're gonna do we're gonna, this is not a van in any way, shape or form. But we but this was that there was a panel of people, of which they were part of that panel. And they decided on the pictures, and we spoke about it, we were a little bit a bit worried about the kind of imagery and the kind of, but they said, Yeah, this should be set in that in that language and that strong language. So because this is our view that the view is that we have suffered one of the most catastrophic and monstrous, and condemned double and abominable things in human history, which is the Holocaust. And we should have we should teach our upcoming
generations that we cannot even go anywhere near doing that to another population, not to say that there is some kind of comparison there is not. But having said that, they said there is no comparison in the size and scale of it, obviously. But we don't even want to come close to that with a bargepole. When you when you worried about it being antagonistic, shouldn't you told them really to not come because there's no comparison there's a risk if you're if you're doing it in front of their van showing those images that people might misconstrue and feel that you are making a die. There is a risk, of course, there is a risk. But the thing is, I don't think that pro Zionist, or
apologetic people that are apologetic to the Israeli narrative, or the Israeli government. In fact, those individuals should be protected. I think that if they are willing enough and brave enough to scrutinize or to defend, I should say, to defend that government's policies or the government that supports the policies, they should be brave enough to be cross examined, scrutinized or otherwise interrogated publicly, as well. And I think what it is, is that we've got to remember that in Israel, there was the status rule 1952,
which, which categorically states and is still part of the books, the legislative books, which categorically states that Israel is the creation of the Jewish people, or the Jewish people. But this again, monolithic kind of narrative, doesn't doesn't give a flavor to the Jewish community. There's no diversity that this is the problem narrative. And what we're saying is that there are some Jews out there, as you know, and I know, that will will condemn Israel with all VMMC and all vigor. And they will condemn them in language, which may be antagonistic to me, and you or me put me particularly because I'm non Jewish, but I say give them a voice because they deserve a voice. And
they've been blocked by members of their own community. Not all members, but some members, some intolerant members of their own community, we all have them from having that voice, we will provide the voice for them. And what was the reaction that you got to publishing that video? Well, we've got some, we've got a mixed reaction, we've got some people saying this was exceptionally well done, and it was needed. And this is the kind of thing we need. And we're ruffling the feathers as part of public discourse and as part of freedom of speech and expression of sight. And we have some people saying this is antagonism. This is stirring, you know, division and so on. And this is the nature of
public discourse. If we're going to have any discussion whatsoever, if it doesn't accumulate, or generate some kind of controversy, usually, we're talking about some mundane issue, which, which, which maybe,
isn't worth talking about in first place. But if this is one of the one of the pieces of collateral damage that you get from doing freedom of speech properly. But as someone I mean, so much of what you're saying I agree with, and I think one of the things you clearly are passionate about promoting is a sense of harmony. Yes, does it How does it make you feel then that literally direct accusations of anti semitism will at your door on the basis of what Yeah, I think there was saying that I was soaking it was what what this is, once again, you have to appreciate that there are some people
that conflate anti Israel is realism, if you wanna call that or anti Zionism within Semitism. We're seeing that that conflation itself is ad Semitic, according to the British definition of British governmental definition. The British government itself has laid down a definition which has been accepted by a bulk of the bulk of organizations and in the West Jewish organizations, which is that to equate the government's actions the Israeli government's actions with Jewish people is anti semitism. They're telling me that in fact, if what you do is you attack the the Israeli government and you attack the policies of the discriminatory policies and the attacking policies when it comes
to the new anti symmetric, we're seeing that you're more likely to fit the the category of anti symmetric according to the British government because you're making the competition nice. Is it not
that tree, going to an area with a large Jewish community with the backdrop which which wasn't the backdrop the you guys decided to bring and going there and confronting people? Isn't that isn't it? I mean, it's subtle, but isn't that implicitly implicitly quite? I don't know, I'll tell you what it's like Semitic, I'll tell you it's like
the Human Rights Watch have categorized Israel as an apartheid state, you know that it's on the public record. And not just their many different organizations, which have nothing to do with Islam, or Muslim or Muslim community. Now, how I knew maybe been around at the time of the South African apartheid, and there was a white South African community in Britain in London. And had I gone with my cameras and said, I want to rally support against apartheid from these people. If they were to say this is anti or racial towards anti south, or South Africans, I would say that itself, is an affront to freedom of speech and to freedom in general. Because if I'm against an apartheid system,
and I'm wanted, I want to rally support and get associates from the community, which are probably most powerful and being able to make a case that if that is anti semitic, then they have distorted and defamed or even completely destroyed what it means to be anti semitic. What we have to go back to our robust definitions, which don't violate the terms, anti semitic is when you have certain attitudes towards Jewish people. And there's a whole definition that you can find in the British government website. It's nothing to do with someone being critical of Israel, or going to any area in London, which doesn't belong to any community, by the way, because it's a free country, going to
any area in London, and rallying support from any member of any community. And that includes the Muslim community, the black community, the Hispanic community, or any other community, if I go to those communities, and I asked them, Listen, we have a cause. And it's a pro Palestinian cause. It's an anti Israel government cause? Would you like to join this? Cause? I have a full right to do that. And I think it's totally legitimate for any community.
Is there not a risk? I mean, lots of debates get brought down by associations with things that they don't want to be associated with, didn't we run the risk of doing that? I'm mainly thinking of the VAT because if you're going there, and you're confronting people with images, and you can make an assumption that a lot of the people in that area will have had family who perished in the Holocaust, you are associating yourself with that van, just by virtue of being alongside it isn't that wasn't that problematic? Did that look put you off wanting to do it? Well, you don't want to draw a line and say the van, the van itself is not my property. It's got nothing to do with me. And the pictures
on the van, as I said, were, were chosen by Jewish people. Now, if Jewish people want to talk about the Holocaust, they can talk about the horrible if black people want to use the N word, they can use the N word. I'm not against this. I think that being against this would be to censor, you see those people? Why why I do believe in his free speech in when it's done in it for not for gratuitously insulting populations, for finding the truth. And, and I think that if we're going into a community, like the Jewish community, they are sensible enough and mature enough to be able to conduct free speech, which is not breaking the law, not inciting violence, not that they're sensible enough. And
that's why we have so many allies in that community. If you go on our public platform, you will find so many Jewish people holding hands and placards with us. Why would they do that stuff in bridge itself? I think I would even wager that the majority of Stanford bridge? I don't know, I mean, I haven't done 70 Potentially the majority of them share our types of attitudes towards the pro Palestinian cause. So what I think is, is that you're saying it runs the risk? Of course it does. I mean, would it have ran a risk for some anti slavery advocates in the 19th century, to come out and speak about slavery? Yes. Did it run a risk for them? They went into war in 1861 to 65 in America
for didn't run a risk for people that anti apartheid people against the South African apartheid for them to be labeled in certain ways. Yes. But those individuals who are happy to take that risk and go forward with it and don't care about labels, especially when they're being misapplied. Those are the ones who make history those who are too afraid to to do these things they will meet the dustbin of history, the trash people of Israel, I think, I don't mind being labeled and this is I don't mind being labeled as whatever is I'm a see myself, I'm an Arab and binocularly I'm a see myself, if you want if you want to label if they if they want to label me I tell you what, they label me all you
like because you know why? Because I know it's impossible for Muslim to be anti semitic, the prophet married a Jew. And in fact, not only did he marry an ethnic Jews, the Prophet Muhammad SAW for Ubuntu Hey, he married an ethnic Jew, but he even armed her with ways in which she can combat and siematic some some racism in her own community, telling her to mention her lineage back to Moses and Aaron. I personally think that's a bit of a of a fluff argument because you can't say it's impossible for someone to be anything because quite clear no not for tradition for traditions Muslim. I cannot say
Staying within within the AI paradigm, following what I'm saying that if my prophet and I'm a Muslim, has married a Jewish woman, okay, ethnically Jewish, yeah. And he gave her arguments for people that were being abusive to her
to, to combat anti semitism in her own community.
If I am being a faithful follower of the Prophet Muhammad, I surely should follow in his footsteps. And that's the kind of thing I have on my channel. If anyone goes on online now, on my channel, they will find a video entitled, Why Muslims cannot be on Semitic or shouldn't be on Summit. The reason why is because Islamically for falling the Prophet Muhammad, he married a Jew himself, and he gave her arguments on how to combat Semitism. So I'm not saying it's inconceivable. I'm saying it's also not to be Yeah, it shouldn't be. Yeah, shouldn't be the case. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I can understand that. And
can Can I draw a fairly crude comparison? Do you think would it would in theory, be offensive for somebody to go to a large Muslim population part of London and have a fan with pictures of, for example, the app Kabul airport, ISIS K, recently had caused an explosion, and to demand of people that they give their opinion and outwardly condemn it. Would you think that was problematic? I think it's a dis analogous thing, because if we look at the studies, the one I've just mentioned to them, the Dr. David Graham study, okay, in 2010, which has been conducted by 4000. Jews, I think it's one of the biggest studies. And it's been it's been conducted by the Jewish Institute For Policy
Institute. This study did say that there was a sizable number of people, sizable number of Jewish people that support the State of Israel. And in fact, they base their Jewish identity based on the same as the same thing cannot ever be said about Muslims and ISIS, you will not find the level of support. Are you saying they feel a connection to Israel, or they are supportive of the Israeli government's actions? Because those are two different things. No, no, no, not not the Israeli government, Israel as a nation. What I'm saying is now if there are people that are supportive of Israel, as a nation and the government,
that is different to ISIS, because there's not a like, for like comparison, in terms of demography there, there is there simply not as many Muslims who support ISIS as there are Jews as boys less, but impossible to expect. If you look at Pew, for example, and see the kind of data they have on how many Muslims support ISIS and all the nations, including the Muslim majority nations, is not comparable to the amount of Jews that support Israel, all the actions of the Israeli government. So I think it's a bit of this analogy. But it's, it's it's a similar thing in terms of expecting people 1000s of waves, or 1000s of miles away from the actual conflict itself or issue to answer for as if
they have no, no, they know that, once again, we're not doing that we went to these areas, to get our associates and our allies from the Jewish community to have a voice. So it wasn't answered, We wasn't interrogative it was it was more conciliatory and harmonious, we're going to see our Jewish friends in these Jewish areas. If there happens to be pro Zionists who came to us and challenged us, we are ready to debate them and defeat them in debate as we have been. And the only thing that they can come back with is labeling us as anti Semites that is for me an admission of defeat, because that you can't deal with our argument, therefore, you have to label us. So as far as we're
concerned, okay, it's legitimate, even what you've said there is legitimate if you wanted, if BBC or any other news agents agency came to any area in the world, forget about just London, any air in the world and wanted to ask anyone about anything, I think they should have the sociological privilege to do so. So that we know what people are thinking what people are saying, I think there's no there is not an affront to freedom of speech is in fact, within the spirit and letter and the law of freedom of speech and expression. And if we can't do these things, and there is no such thing as freedom of speech, what is really what it boils down to what there is a freedom of speech, so long
as we don't we don't hurt someone else's feelings, you know, then in that case, I think people need to reassess their their principles. Can I drill back a little bit? Yeah.
Do you think
Islamophobia as an issue is something that's taken as seriously as anti semitism, as you know, because the government has a working definition for anti semitism? It does not have working definition for Islamophobia.
The government, the UK Government, the conservative UK Government has a page long definition of fact, of what constitutes anti semitism, of which by the way, there are religious things, because one might make the argument is this analogies because they would say that Judo Jewishness is both ethnic and religious right? Whereas Islam is as only religious right but then
In the definition where we're at Semitism is the definition of anti semitism. There are religious components of the religious or the infrastructure the organization's on. So if Jewish people are allowed to have a definition, and Jewish, religious Jewish people are allowed to have a definition, which protects them in the law, the Muslim people should have it now, obviously, is different because, as I've mentioned, when we're talking about discrimination towards Muslim people, it's multifactorial in sociological analysis, if you have a black Muslim, right, so they could be discriminated against on the basis of being black, as well as on the basis of being Muslim. And
these two types of discrimination are two separate types. I'm not saying one is worse than the other or whatever, but it's just a separate type of analysis. And I think when we're doing these analyses, we have to be careful not to dis analogize. But also be careful to be consistent, because in this case, if there are aspects, which in the British definition of Semitism are religious, surely there should be
separate things for all the religions, not just Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism, all of them, like why do you think it isn't?
To be to be honest, that's a political question.
Are the conservative party concerned with the Muslim community? No, they don't see maybe from a from a voting perspective that the Muslim community is gonna vote for them in the first place. So they may not want to please them as much as maybe they have a stronger holding in Jewish communities in terms of voting, it might be that the Labour Party has, has traditionally had the Muslim vote, but now with some are moving in the direction that he's moving in, which is, from our perspective, a anti Muslim direction, quite frankly, he's likely to lose the Muslim vote himself. So whatever happens, I think that political parties now need to start thinking more wisely, because we are
according to the census data, we are millions of people in this country, we are millions of people in this country. And if we are not taken seriously, then we will be worse and worse, things like disunity will happen. And we want to create harmony in this country with Muslims because we are millions in this country. And I think that the way to do so is to protect our interests. And the more Muslims feel that their interests are being protected, the less there's likely to be radicalization, there's likely to be disunity, there's likely to be disharmony, there's likely to be all this kind of thing. So I think it is important that the government come forward with a
definition as they have with anti semitism for Slama phobia. How do you think
we can promote a sense of harmony between different communities, specifically with the Jewish community in mind, I think that we really need to just bring people together, if you look at the Pew data, okay. And pew days very interesting, because it's really seen as the gold standard of statistical data, if you look at the Pew data where discrimination is is highest, whether it's racial, whatever it may be, in different countries, you'll find that it's usually in areas where people don't mix.
So a problem for both the Muslim and Jewish community has been, maybe you could, you could argue a lack of integration, a lack of mixing a lack of, you know, having their own kind of ghettos or whatever it is, what we need to do is we need to bring people together from different religions, let them play football or something, let them eat together, let them talk together. And if there are disagreements between Muslims and Jews, they should be fleshed out. But they should be fleshed out in a healthy manner, with a with an eye or an intention to try and create unity, and promote civic coexistence rather than with an eye to try and create disunity and disharmony. I think if we do that
properly, then I think we'll find that this country will be the beacon of light for the rest of the countries on and actually a model on how to deal with the issue of multiculturalism. Are you optimistic? Do you think that's the direction the country is going in? Let me tell you something, I think that there have there's a lot of reason why we should be optimistic
in history, and as I say one of my academic areas of research has been in string convent there has happened between Muslims and Jews in the past, the issue has always been the politics.
After 1940, everything has changed, but we can bring it back. We can I am optimistic. I'm hopeful we can bring it back to a situation where we can bring Muslims and Jews
civil terms with each other. I'm not saying they're not already on those terms, but on better terms with each other in this country. And I think if we have the hard discussions, and we allow and we don't label each other, because people can't fear that I'm gonna speak to my Jewish neighbor, he's gonna answer a call me on and see my vice versa. Did you Did you fear school being called an Islamaphobe? And it just becomes very toxic relationship. Now let's have our discussions. You know, and if we don't fear that we talk about it, then there's a great hope if we do resort to these kind of defensive deflective scapegoating tactics, then it's gonna be it's gonna it's gonna be something
negative for the community. So yes, I am optimistic generally speaking.
This is just a broad identity question. Yes. And do you in terms of your own beliefs? Do you think of yourself as a progressive? Where do you sit in terms of your Social Outlook? I think to be honest with you, the word progressive has an overtones or presuppositions which are really objectionable actually, because they come from an enlightenment, Western enlightened experience, which is entirely Eurocentric, and which has very specific kind of values in mind. I think, what I consider myself as a traditionalist Muslim, that's how I call myself and I think that in many ways, people not understanding traditional Islam that that thing that this type of Islam, if you like, requires some
evolution, okay, are themselves subscribing to a discourse, which is, in my view, actually racial, racial, colonial and racial because it's the same mentality that colonizers had before they went into countries which didn't belong to theirs and impose their values. So I object to the term older I think progressive understood in Western language or in the West generally speaking, has overtones in it which are entirely objection and not only objectionable they require to be evidence from first principles from first principles. They are not argued for authority and they are just the assumptions that are presented as axioms which we don't need to accept.
I'm sorry to bring you back into
I think there's a lot of merit to what you say. But I think specifically that video I did did did strike me as as problematic in lots of ways and I think specifically the title of the video Muslims confront radical Israelis was problematic I don't think I think it was possibly a shock tactic headline in order to get more views in order to promote what is possibly a you want you want a harmonious Yes, but do you not think there's Do you not see how that is problematic? Oh, there are radical Israelis and there's a there's a different way of communicating and what I mean is
you're objecting to the term radical Israeli are there such thing as radical Iranians are there such thing as radical Korea but I'm objecting to radical Israelis because you went to speak to just some you know fairly religious Jewish people who know the certainly you definitely don't know if there is really no no no they they identified as such and not only that, I didn't see a single person in that video identify there was more than once in Israel there was more than one video you have to look at all of them say yes. My past Yes. Would your nationalist they'd said that we are dual nationalist is very much isn't in the video. No, that's that video but there's there's a collection of videos you
have to look at. But there's something else here on say that not only did they do that, if you watch the entire video, when when we talked about why we call that person radical is because they totally humiliated children that were being killed Palestinian children, and there's something effect it was it, they deserved it. Or they did it to themselves. They did it to themselves. So he said, so we we think someone who identifies as a jewel, national, Jewel nationalist, and who who trivializes the death of Palestinian children says they did it to themselves is a radical. I think if that's not a radical, no, we don't know the radical is one of them said.
Yeah, it's just Afghanistan. Yeah, it's funny.
He's working with his children.
Yeah. But I'd worry. I'd worry that there's a little bit of inconsistency, which until you're you know, there's gonna be consistency because you can't you can't.
You can't, like, you can't choose who your followers are. You can't. There's going to be nuance and everything. But isn't there inconsistency
in trying to promote a message of positivity, and then maybe focusing in on only a negative outlet? So I think the video you're referring to is the gent who would say, if it's Afghanistan. Yeah.
So it was that the majority of you you're getting when you get when you went there anything was not are you then not kind of giving and inconsistently or a disproportionately large spotlight does something which isn't representative of how the people you came across? Now, what I would say is go and look at our platforms, because you'll find both you'll find we are confronting people who are pro Zionist. We are also in handed literally in hand in hand with people who are Jewish, anti Zionist, anti Israeli government actions, advocates. So we do both. And that's unfortunately something I have to say. The BBC haven't done enough of something that I say that the BBC if they
did more of it would be more authentic journalism. I think the truth of the matter is what we done if we are exposing some bad attitudes in certain communities, whether it's Muslim or or Jewish, or Christian, or whatever kind of communities all that needs to be exposed. So to some extent, that doesn't need to because
How can we fix a problem that we don't even know exists? We need to X ray. Okay, we need to put under the proverbial MRI, you know, our communities are not just try and kind of whitewash want to put under the carpet, the problems that we have in our in our respective communities, we need to deal with them head on. Like I said, if it was a South African apartheid, if it was a white South African community of white South Africans, and there was apartheid going on, going there and seeing for example, some people agree with apartheid. And then someone comes to me, why are you broadcasting this, I say, this is the problem, we need to expose it. This is the poem we need to
expose it. And I know it can be kind of uncomfortable for us. I know it because I am a Muslim. We see that on the news all the time, we see people doing bad things in the name of Islam all the time. I know it's uncomfortable, what is sometimes unnecessary. uncomfort. And sometimes it's something we need to we need to deal with. Because if we can't, if we pretend it doesn't exist, there's no such thing as Muslim terrorists. There's no such thing as racist. Jews, there's no such thing as Muslim or whatever. If we think all of those categories are in fact, not even in existence, then we can't fix those things in our communities. I mean, one second, you have some Right. in your, in your
eyes got it? Shall I clean it? Or can you
get worse? That's good, because I'm picking them up very much with the camera. It might get worse before we get Yeah, we need to we need to maybe just wrap up guys like soon. Okay, after getting worse.
Yeah. Let's start wrapping up. Can you? Can you understand? I mean, I'm not going to
wade into Israeli politics on the issue of Israel, because it's just so complicated. Generally. I've got personal opinions on the wall. But can you understand why for many Jewish people, it's very complicated. It's not easy for them to outright condemn Israel. Can you understand that that perspective, but based on their own sensitivities, their own history? Can you see why it's complicated for them? Yeah, I totally sympathize with Jewish people who haven't finished the service. Right. I understand that perspective. It's not like it's an alien perspective to me. And I empathize with them. But I just think they're wrong on the issues. Because when we're looking at
right and wrong, right, I think all of us agree that the indiscriminate killing of children of civilian populations dropping bombs in densely populated places, Gaza, which has been blocked, is a blockade on it. Okay. I think that should be condemned by anybody from any religion, just like I would be expected to condemn the actions of whatever country is that claims to speaking of Islam, Iran, Saudi Arabia? Well, I'll condemn any action that they do, even though I have an affinity to Islam. And so I condemn any action that they do in the name of my religion, because, in fact, my failure to do so would be a discredit to the religion itself. I think it would be a disservice to my
community and my religion if I don't condemn those actions. And I think the same thing can be said, of individuals who support the State of Israel who do not condemn outright the actions of a government who dropped bombs indiscriminately in the most densely populated area in the world.
This is such a broad political question, but
what resolution would you like to see in that part of the world what would you like to see happen? This is a very difficult question, whether I what I would like to see is
what I would like to see is coexist. What I would like to see is what we saw in Spain, what we'd like to see is competencia. What I would like to see is tolerance. But what I'm probably going to see is all the opposite to that, unfortunately, right? I don't have an optimistic view of what's going to happen in that area. Anyone who looks at the history of that area will know that there is no resolution that is probably going to be had in the foreseeable future. I have to be honest and say what I can do here is pray.