Tuesday, 03 March 2020 16:48

BELGIUM – Op-ed on Le Vif creates misunderstanding around Islam and antisemitism

In analysing antisemitism in Europe, a regular contributor at Le Vif, uses controversial words such as Islamofascism and Islamoleftism, and pits Muslim and Jewish voters against each other. This is Belgium’s media monitoring highlight for February.

This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of February, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

le vif de papeDate of publication: 18 February 2020

Author: Nicolas de Pape, Senior Writer at Journal du Médecin

Media outlet: Le Vif, mainstream French-language news magazine

Headline: “European Jews: to stay or to leave?”

Link: http://bit.ly/LeVif_dePape

Description of the anti-Muslim content: In an op-ed, Nicolas de Pape, a regular contributor at Le Vif and senior writer at Journal du Médecin (Doctor’s Journal), addresses the forms of antisemitism present in Europe that are pushing a number of Jewish people to leave their countries. The article mentions recent terrorist attacks against Jewish people, highlighting that “this violence comes from the same people that are victims of racism: radicalised Arab-Muslims”. After this, the journalist starts using inappropriate terms, such as “Islamofascism” and “Islamoleftism” without providing any explanation on what exactly they refer to, nor what his position on these terms is. The article states: “Over time, Islamofascism lost its anti-Jewish ‘monopoly’. In 2020, the Jew is now trapped between the plague of the far right and the cholera of Islamoleftism.” The following sentence also seems to suggest that Islam is responsible for antisemitism on the Left. Another paragraph claims that elected officials are no longer interested in protecting Jewish citizens because it’s not convenient for them in terms of electoral gains. The writer states: “No European state, despite cookie-cutter declarations [...], is able to really protect its Jews individually. These are no longer of interest to politicians who, in many towns and cities have other fish to fry.” In other words, the author is claiming that politicians are not addressing antisemitism because they want to please Muslim voters, who are more numerous than Jewish voters.

Myth Debunked: International and local organisations have warned about the alarming rise of antisemitism in Europe. Many articles have recounted how a number of Jewish people have considered the possibility of leaving Europe out of fear for their safety. As the European Jewish Congress (EJC) explains, “Antisemitism in Europe today knows no difference between left or right political creed, origin or religion. It is a heterogeneous phenomenon that expresses itself in a wide variety of different forms.” In other words, it is present among right-wing fascists, left-wing anti-Zionists, and radicalised Islamists. The article in Le Vif does state this, however, its argument relies heavily on problematic terms such as “Islamoleftism” and “Islamofascism”. These words are problematic as they combine two things (Islam and the Left; and Islam and Fascism) that are not directly related. Islamofascism has been controversially used to refer to terrorist Islamic movements or ideologies that show similarities to fascist movements of Europe in the twentieth century, in terms of totalitarian tendencies. While some, like journalist Christopher Hitchens, have defended the validity of the term in the years following 9/11, in the English-speaking world, the use of the term Islamofascism has drastically declined due to its conceptual ambiguity. The term Islamoleftism (Islamogauchism in French), as the newspaper Liberation explains, gained popularity in the 2000s to disparage people on the Left who are in solidarity with Muslims in their fight against racialisation and discrimination. It has been used by the far-right French politician Marine Le Pen Both to refer to an unhealthy alliance between "Islamist fanatics" and the French Left, Al Jazeera reported. In summary, when used uncritically, these terms evoke fears of something frightening, and undecipherable related to Islam, which creates misunderstandings about the religion and people of Muslim faith. In this context, they imply that Islam, as a religion, is antisemitic and responsible for creating antisemitism within the Left. The claim that politicians are neglecting issues of antisemitism because of the high demographic presence of Muslim voters is both divisive and unfounded. Not only did the author provide no evidence to this theory, but he also suggests that the struggles and the demands of minority groups are in competition with one another, rather than being united by the same goal to tackle racism and discrimination.

More to read:

How Marine Le Pen Relies on Dividing French Jews and Muslims

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