Back in 2004 when Sheik Yusuf Al Qaradawi was giving his blessing to suicide bombings, Peter Marshall observed on Newsnight: “Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is, it’s worth reiterating, deemed an authority on these matters, generally seen, we’re assured and reassured, as mainstream”. If Ken Livingstone was trying to exert a moderating influence when he welcomed Al Qaradawi with a big hug as an “honoured guest” in 2004, the strategy was a failure. Al Qaradawi hosts the popular Al Jazeera programme “Shariah and Life” from where he pronounces on and incites against not just Israel, but explicitly Jews, gay people, women, and other groups.
He’s not allowed into Britain.
After noting earlier unambiguous statements by Qaradawi on Al Jazeera, David T reproduces a translation which nobody – even those who are eager to defend Qaradawi – seems to dispute. The Holocaust was a divine punishment for Jews, Jews are Allah’s enemy, Al Qaradawi would like to shoot Jews as a jihadi:
“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.
January 28, 2009:
To conclude my speech, I’d like to say that the only thing I hope for is that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of Jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair. I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Allah’s mercy and blessings upon you.”
Al Qaradawi is one of the clerics issuing fatwas on the shoddy and obviously racist Innovative Minds Israel boycott site, known as InMinds. Obviously racist because the first link in the menu – FAQs – leads to a page containing the following statement: “Whilst it is true that the cancerous zionist entity has got its tentacles hooked into numerous markets and economies – sucking each one to nourish itself, but this is no excuse for us not to do anything.” You could take out the word “zionist”, substitute “Jewish”, and the imagery would be identical to that which prevailed in publications like Der Stürmer in the run-up to the Holocaust.
Also obviously racist because, like Qaradawi, it uses Jews and Israelis interchangeably. The same FAQ page: “And Jewish groups such as B’Tselem and Gush Shalom have launched their own boycott Israeli goods campaigns”. There is no B’Tselem and Gush Shalom outside Israel, nor within Israel are either of them “Jewish groups”. And they aren’t in on the boycott – that’s just false.
Obviously racist because it repeatedly generalises about Muslims and denies the political diversity of Muslims. This is clearest on the fatwa page which attempts to enshrine the boycott as a quintessentially Muslim act.
And obviously racist because of the dangerous distinctions between Zionist and Jew decreed by these clerics – to the effect that the Jews who think that Israel should exist are Zionists and fair game: “The issue of the Jews is quiet separate from that of the Zionists, if the Muslims are victorious over the Zionists, the latter will meet the same fate as the deposed shah” (he was expelled from his homeland, lived his last years in fear of extradition, and died in exile).
It is imperative, as a political party which has decided to boycott Israel, that we put clear political distance between ourselves and organisations like InMinds. The difficulty here is that there is no firewall between what Greens stand for and what InMinds stands for. This allows InMinds to use the Green Party as part of its own racist boycott campaign. Some Greens have used InMinds as part of their boycott campaign.
Greens need to recognise that this is a negative association and take the relevant measures. Clearly, action against Israel attracts people who hate Jews, and they may have cameras and blogs. But given the spike in antisemitism directly related to the loudest (though most futile) forms of Palestine activism, isn’t it time – if it wasn’t already – to be explicit and specific in taking a stand against antisemitism?
Update: David T again responding to a commentator who argues that Al Qaradawi is a moderate pluralist prone to only the odd bit of hatred.