Shas on Gay Israelis

20 January 2008:

As a Knesset panel deliberated Tuesday on proposals to ban all gay pride parades in Jerusalem, MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) accused the homosexual community of “carrying out the self-destruction of Israeli society and the Jewish people.”

Ze’ev also said homosexuals were a plague as “toxic as bird flu.”

20 Feb 2008:

Homosexuals caused Israel’s last earthquake, Shas MK Shlomo Benizri said Wednesday.

During a special Knesset session on earthquakes, Benizri said he proposed that the Knesset “find a way to prevent mishkav zachar [sexual relations between men], and thus save [us] a lot of earthquakes.”

2 August 2009:

Israeli police are hunting for a gunman who shot dead two people in an attack on a support centre for homosexual teenagers in Tev Aviv.

…Shas, whose members and rabbis have been openly critical of the country’s homoseuxual community, condemned the attack.

“We are shocked and bereaved, and denounce without reservation the murderous incident that targeted Tel Aviv’s gay community,” the statement said.

Surely they mean to say “we are shocked, shocked…”?

UPDATE: Incidentally, the Israeli police still haven’t arrested anyone for a 2008 letter bomb attack which left a teenage Messianic Jew seriously injured.

The BNP and Neo-Nazis, The BNP and Islam

Edmund Standing’s recent report on The BNP and the Online Fascist Network has resulted in a debate over whether Standing has underplayed the BNP’s anti-Muslim rhetoric in his investigation of continuing links to neo-Nazism . Edmund’s view, expressed in a follow-up article, is that

The reality is that Griffin and co don’t really care about Islam. Griffin may be an odious figure, but he’s not a complete idiot, and he knows very well that Britain is not on the verge of turning into an Islamic State.

Following his strategy for making the BNP electable, Griffin has tried to steer the party towards populist issues, picking up on fears and resentment among the electorate in an attempt to use such issues as a Trojan horse for his underlying racist agenda. The truth is that the BNP hates Muslims because they are predominantly brown skinned. In ‘white nationalist’ ideology, everything ultimately boils down to an obsession with race.

Islamophobia Watch complains:

Trying to make sense of Standing’s argument, he seems to be saying that the BNP’s Islamophobia is a mere epiphenomenon of traditional colour-based racism and that anti-fascists should concentrate on resisting the latter. He writes: “The truth is that the BNP hates Muslims because they are predominantly brown skinned. In ‘white nationalist’ ideology, everything ultimately boils down to an obsession with race.”

It is of course true that the BNP’s hatred of Islam is inseparable from the fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not white. But racist ideology is not based solely or even primarily on the physical characteristics of members of the victimised minority community. These days it is more often justified in cultural terms. When the BNP denounces Islam as “alien” to “Western values”, and rants on about the threat to European civilisation posed by a “barbaric desert religion”, this isn’t reducible to a hatred of Muslims because they are brown. The far right really does despise and fear Islamic beliefs and religious practices…If we accept Standing’s analysis, the BNP leadership doesn’t believe a word of this. Griffin is stupid and bigoted enough to embrace paranoid fascist fantasies about Jewish control of the media (see his 1997 pamphlet Who are the Mindbenders?) but apparently he’s too intelligent to imagine that the “liberal elite” are complicit in a plan to facilitate the Muslim takeover of Europe.

Sunny Hundal concurs, calling the report “a farce”. There is also some scepticism because the report has been published by the Centre for Social Cohesion; the CSC’s director Douglas Murray is part of the neoconservative anti-Islamic pundit circuit, speaking alongside the likes of Melanie Phillips and Robert Spencer (Murray also recently spoke at the Robertson faction of the Swinton Circle – which puts him in some dubious company).

However, it seems to me that this spat is unconstructive: we can’t know what’s going on inside Nick Griffin’s head beyond what he actually says or does, and whether or not the BNP’s attacks on Muslims are primarily opportunistic, Edmund does not suggest that they are not serious or should be ignored. His report has a different focus, because it has has a different purpose: we know that Griffin’s stated strategy has been to downplay his true views with palatable euphemisms, and the report contains useful new documentation of the extent to which the party is willing to tolerate and draw support from those who are proud to identify with the Nazis. I think Edmund could consider the BNP’s views on “culture” for people in living Britain when judging whether it all just “boils down” to race – Rumbold (in a thread here) notes that the party would hardly welcome white converts to Islam – but the report does not hinge on that point.