Following the terrorist attacks in Paris a new and dangerous wave of islamophobia has emerged. Many claims have been made about Muslims and Islam that are scientifically incorrect, morally reprehensible, and very dangerous in practice.
In an international conference on November 19 in Israel that was attended by France's ambassador to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likened Muslims to "dangerous animals" that must be defeated, adding, "The beasts increasingly have a name -- it is radical Islam." On November 18 Netanyahoo's minister of economy Naftali Bennet said, "[Israel] should have killed more [Arabs] because anyone who lifts a hand against Israel must die."
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has asked Congress to prevent Syrian refugees from coming to the United States, On November 13 he said, "We have to recognize that the global Islamic movement is an existential threat..." A week later Carson likened Syrian refugees to dogs, some of whom may be "rabid," adding, "If there's a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you're probably going to put your children out of the way
Such immoral rhetoric is even fiercer among Israelis. Israel's deputy defense minister Eli Ben Dahan has likened Palestinians to "animals."
Rafael Eitan, former Israel chief of staff, infamously said that Palestinians are like "drugged cockroaches in a bottle." "One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail," said Rabbi Yaacov Perrin back in 1994. Senior Israeli diplomat Ayelet Shaked has referred to Palestinian children as "little snakes." Rabbi Dov Lior from an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, "The wicked ones in blood-soaked Europe deserve it for what they did to our people 70 years ago." The same Rabbi ruled last year that destroying the entire Gaza was permissible to defend Jewish people.
So, what should be done about such "dangerous animals" and "rabid dogs"? A "practical solution was suggested by Donald Trump: In an interview on November 19 he promised that, if elected as the President, he will create a database for all Muslims in the United States." When asked whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a data¬base or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion," Trump replied: "We're going to have to - we're going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We're going to have to look at the mosques. We're going to have to look very, very care¬fully."
Later on, when asked about his earlier remarks, Trump said he "would certainly implement" a database that tracked Muslims in the United States. Asked about the difference between the idea of a Muslim database and Germany's treatment of Jews under the Nazi regime by an NBC reporter, Trump ignored the question, then said, "You tell me"
Some Jewish rabbis in the United States have been even more outspoken. Rabbi Shalom Lewis of "Congregation Etz Chaim" in Atlanta, Georgia called for genocide against Muslims.
The Issue of Differences between Us and Others
Differences between various groups of people are an important issue that must be recognized. "We" have differences with "others" and differentiating between ourselves and others requires certain abilities. Even merely accepting the fact that Jews, Muslims, Christians, and adherents of other religions have differences is a good step toward cultural pluralism. It is only through understanding the views of others and respecting the differences that peaceful co-existence becomes possible.
But, the issue is not just about the differences. Others have differences with us, but they also have similarities. The differences create valuable experiences and make life an orchard with many different beautiful flowers.
It may happen that those that appear different from us and unknown look unfamiliar too. We might feel that they threaten our security. If we view strangers as terrifying, instead of tolerance we may encourage violence and "toughness." Thus, knowing ourselves and others might lead to choosing either the right or wrong path, depending on how we view everything.
When valorized differences become sclerotic and are transformed to mere differences, the people and groups that are different from us quickly become "others" and total strangers. This helps starting the process of dehumanizing them, making catastrophes like the Holocaust possible. At first, only the differences are emphasized. It is said, "They do not think like us; their emotions are different from ours; their life style is distinct from ours, etc." Then, it is claimed that, "They behave like animals; in fact they are rabid dogs, pigs and parasites." These make the differences absolute and irreconcilable, which leads to hatred. By dehumanizing others, such hatred leaves no alternatives but Nazism.
Language is an effective tool. We create the world through our language. Self-superiority is created through stereotyping of others that presents a superficial and one-sided description of the world and people, and reduces all the differences to just one, "us" and "them," which represent the good and evil, the civilized and uncivilized, the attractive and despicable, the innocent and corrupt, the original and un-original, the decent and evil, the humane and animalistic. In this process, those characteristics that we do not believe are good are attributed to "others" - Muslims, Jews, Native American, the Baha'is, etc. Instead of accepting our own immoral characters, we deny them and through a hateful process humiliate others as we attribute the evil characters to them. This then "justifies" the crimes that we commit. "If blacks were true humans, we could not make them our slaves. If Native American were not wild, we would not commit genocide against them," we tell ourselves.
The Abuse of the Problem of Terrorism
Terrorism must be condemned in all shapes and forms, Muslim terrorists that belong to al-Qaeda, ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, etc., are all dangerous, but their main threats are against other Muslims, not the West.
But, by abusing the crimes committed by a tiny minority one cannot speak about 1.6 billion Muslims, the vast majority of whom are moderates, as if they are dangerous beasts and rabid dogs. And no one advocates this inhumane approach louder than Netanyahu, who is trying to take advantage of the situation. This is a man that has been accused of at least two war crimes.
In 2009 the Human Rights Council of the United Nations condemned Israel for its war crimes against Palestinians in its war of December 2008. The United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution on 5 November 2009, ordering pursuing the war crimes in Gaza. The Human Rights Council also reported that in its war of summer of 2014 Israel committed war crimes in Gaza, which killed over 2200 Palestinians, about 550 of whom were children.
Netanyahu even lies about the Islamic terrorists in Syria and works with them. During 2012-2015 Israel has attacked and bombed Syrian governmental forces many times, but there has not been a single attack against the terrorists. Former CIA deputy director Michael Morrel advised the Israeli not to work with the Nusra Front in Syria, which is the al-Qaeda branch in that country. Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported that Israel works with Nusra. The Guardian reported that Israeli forces prevented a senior News Corporation reporter from collecting information about the Syrians that are being treated in Israeli hospitals.
Not only has Netanyahu no interest in pulling Israel back to the pre-1967 war borders, he is trying to use the situation to expand Israel's territory. Israel's cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser declared on 3 June that now is "a historic opportunity for Israel in the Golan Heights, and to earn international recognition of Israel rule" in that part of Syria. The day before Netanyahu met with President Obama at the White House, Michael Oren, former Israel ambassador to the UN, asked the President to recognize annexation of the Golan Heights by Israel. In his meeting with the President, Netanyahu implicitly suggested the same. He reportedly told the President that "he cared about [preventing] the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah and [the creation] of a second front in the Golan by Iran and Hezbollah," and then he said "one way to do it would be to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan... because under these conditions Israel will not give it back to Syria." Israel has discovered considerable oil reserves in the Golan Heights.
Peaceful Co-Existence with Those that are Different from Us
We must understand the strangers and those that are different from us, and respect them. In a two-sided process, misunderstandings will be corrected by critiquing them. Peaceful co-existence and respect do not imply ending criticisms. Clearing Islam of violence is an important aspect of multilateral debates and discussions. Instead of inflexible judgement and calling Muslims by racist names, we must open up the door to dialogue. Only by eliminating racism against Muslims and getting rid of the double standards, will the world experience true peace. Calling Muslims animals will force them to hate foreigners, and attract them to the terrorists.
This article was translated by Ali N. Babaei.