Category Archives: Jews and Muslims

France and England on the verge of a nervous breakdown

From Kenan Malik’s Pandaemonium:

The French journalist Ilana Navaro has made a superb four-part radio documentary series for France Culture on social policies towards immigration and integration in France and Britain. Entitled La France et L’Angleterre au bord de la crise de nerfs (‘France and England on the edge of a nervous breakdown’), the documentary visits a ‘theological cafe’ in Paris and the Cambridge Muslim College, a sharia council in Birmingham, Goutte d’Or, an area in the 18th arrondissement in Paris with a large North African and sub-Saharan population, Brick Lane in East London, and Walsall, in the English Midlands. Among those interviewed are the anthropologist Sam Everett, the sociologists Ben Gidley, Amine El Yousfi and Benoit Coquard, the historian Nazneen Ahmed, Amra Bone of the Sharia Council of Birmingham, Pragna Patel from Southall Black Sisters, Shaista Gohir of the Muslim Women’s Network, the Parisian imam Mohamed Bajrafil, the religious historian and trainer, Samia Hathroubi, and myself. (My interviews are in episodes 3 & 4.)

Kenan posts the audio too, illustrated by some beautiful Arabic calligraphy.

Here’s episode 3:

https://www.franceculture.fr/player/export-reecouter?content=b93feec0-b60a-4b38-9070-8287ec083796


LONDON/PARIS JEWS/MUSLIMS

From the Woolf Institute blog:

Woolf Institute research in Paris: “Religion, social action and urban policy: London and Paris face to face” by Junior Research Fellow Dr Sami Everett

Critical comparative perspectives are key to thinking afresh about an object of study. This is why I organised a unique event called “Religion, social action and urban policy: London and Paris face to face” that drew together academics from across disciplines and actors of civil society working on or through faith. Each panel was carefully selected to give expert reflection on the differences and similarities between France and the UK (Paris and London) in terms of managing urban ethnoreligious diversity. Given the heightened suspicion of faith in Europe today, and in particular Islam, the event focused on attitudinal change. It quickly became apparent that central to this discussion is the vexed question of French secularism (laïcité), a key aspect of assimilationist policy, and its relationship to contemporary interaction between faith communities and religious discrimination.

[READ THE REST]

Here’s me:

Capturing faith and ethnicity statistics is another fundamental difference between the UK and France. French Republican ideals of neutrality and equality do not allow for such granularity in census data. Omar Khan Runneymede Trust director (London) gave a statistical overview of racial and islamophobic discrimination in employment using UK census data as a way of appealing to policy makers. By contrast, and in spite of having no data, Estelle Barthelemy, founder of Mozaïk RH  (a recruitment agency of diversity in the Paris region) works with to try and increase the number of ethnically and economically disadvantaged young people in upper tier (graduate) employment. Discrimination though, is also discursive (it permeates peoples’ political speech)  and paradoxically while important work has been done to limit  Islamophobic and anti-Semitic (but not only) hate speech, barrister Arié Alimi  and ethnographer Ben Gidley alerted us to the fine line between what at times people say and their behaviour i.e. people can work together and enjoy each other’s company yet speak in a prejudicial manner about one another.

ben-hanane

Ben Gidley and Hanane Karimi

 

The event was funded by the PSL-University of Cambridge partnership that seeks to strengthen intellectual collaboration between the UK and France. The Woolf Institute and the Faculty of History of the University of Cambridge organised the event with the French National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) laboratory Groupe Religions, Sociétés, Laïcités (GRSL).

Read the GSRL blog post by Sami Everett and watch the conference videos here.

psl-conf


Religion, Social Action & Urban Policy: London Paris face to face

From the GSRL blog:

Religion, Social Action & Urban Policy: London Paris face to face / Religions, action sociale et politique urbaine: Paris et Londres en face à face

On 17 March 2016, a conference took place in Paris at the GSRL. It was organised within the exchanges between PSL Research University and the University of Cambridge by Samuel Everett (postdoctoral researcher at the GSRL/Woolf Institute). Read the conference program.
My bit:
Secularism Faith & Community

While in London civil society is often openly infused with religious values, social initiative in Paris and its periphery is structured by laïcité. This panel explores these conceptions of state secularism and questions the realities of these ‘models’ within local urban contexts as ideas of class, race and religious identity increasingly intersect.

Ben Gidely [sic!] discussed three historical-social science research projects on which he has worked focusing on his historical and ethnographic work in East and North East London.

He argued that national-level policy can mould how people live together and in the UK.

He discussed the theory attributed to this idea: “conservative pluralism” in which the Church of England maintained overall religious supremacy by mediating for minority faiths.

Space and place nevertheless impact on interreligious relations such as those on Brick lane which fosters neighbourhood narratives of cosmopolitanism.

Finally, somewhat paradoxically, his research has shown that how people interact with one another does not necessarily concur with how they talk about each other i.e. racist speak can belie good relations.

The post includes videos. Here’s mine:

 


Coming soon!

Very excited that two book projects that have been very close to my heart for some time are both moving towards publication. First, in a few months, Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story?, edited with James Renton (actually he did far more of the work than me) will be out with Palgrave.

This is the first book to examine the relationship between European antisemitism and Islamophobia from the Crusades until the twenty-first century in the principal flashpoints of the two racisms. With case studies ranging from the Balkans to the UK, the contributors take the debate away from politicised polemics about whether or not Muslims are the new Jews. Much previous scholarship and public discussion has focused on comparing European ideas about Jews and Judaism in the past with contemporary attitudes towards Muslims and Islam. This volume rejects this approach. Instead, it interrogates how the dynamic relationship between antisemitism and Islamophobia has evolved over time and space. The result is the uncovering of a previously unknown story in which European ideas about Jews and Muslims were indeed connected, but were also ripped apart. Religion, empire, nation-building, and war, all played their part in the complex evolution of this relationship.  As well as a study of prejudice, this book also opens up a new area of inquiry: how Muslims, Jews, and others have responded to these historically connected racisms.

The volume brings together leading scholars in the emerging field of antisemitism-Islamophobia studies who work in a diverse range of disciplines: anthropology, history, sociology, critical theory, and literature. Together, they help us to understand a Europe in which Jews and Arabs were once called Semites, and today are widely thought to be on two different sides of the War on Terror.

Here are the contents:

1 Introduction: The Shared Story of Europe’s Ideas of the Muslim and the Jew—A Diachronic Framework | James Renton and Ben Gidley

Part I Christendom

2 Ethnic and Religious Categories in the Treatment of Jews and Muslims in the Crusader States | Andrew Jotischky

3 Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Conspiracy Theory of Medical Murder in Early Modern Spain and Portugal | François Soyer

Part II Empire

4 Fear and Loathing in the Russian Empire | Robert D. Crews

5 The End of the Semites | James Renton

Part III Divergence

6 The Case of Circumcision: Diaspora Judaism as a Model for Islam? | Sander L. Gilman

7 Islamophobia and Antisemitism in the Balkans | Marko Attila Hoare

8 Antisemitism and Its Critics | Gil Anidjar

Part IV Response

9 Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Search for Common Ground in French Antiracist Movements since 1898 | Daniel A. Gordon

10 The Price of an Entrance Ticket to Western Society: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Heinrich Heine and the Double Standard of Emancipation | David J. Wertheim

11 The Impact of Antisemitism and Islamophobia on Jewish–Muslim Relations in the UK: Memory, Experience, Context | Yulia Egorova and Fiaz Ahmed

Further in the future, my first sole-authored monograph, Citizenship and Belonging: East London Jewish Radicals, has a publication date with Manchester University Press in the Racism, Resistance and Social Change series edited by John Solomos, Satnam Virdee and Aaron Winter.

Racism, Resistance and Social Change is committed to providing a forum for the publication of challenging and innovative scholarship on questions about race, racism and ethnic relations. We have seen intense debate about these issues both globally and within particular geopolitical environments. Our main objective in this series is to provide a forum for scholars from a range of theoretical and political perspectives to publish their work and to develop a dialogue that has an international and multidisciplinary focus. We aim to publish both theoretically driven research as well as research with a more historical and empirical frame.

 

Authors will be asked to address at least one central theme:

  • Mapping the changing forms and nature of racism in the contemporary age
  • Understanding racism over the longue duree, or re-connecting the present to the past
  • Anti-racism as intellectual and social movement

Forthcoming Books in series:

  • Margarita Aragon, African and Mexican American Men and Collective Violence, 1915-1965: Racial problem headaches (Autumn 2017)
  • Ben Gidley, Citizenship and belonging: East London Jewish Radicals 1903-1918 (winter 2017)

Series Editors: John Solomos, Warwick University, Satnam Virdee, University of Glasgow and Aaron Winter, University of East London,

 


Yulia Egorova on Jewish-Muslim relations

At the LSE Religion and the Public Sphere blog:

Jewish-Muslim relations are often constructed in the public discourse as problematic due to the conflict in the Middle East. Based on her recent study conducted with Jewish and Muslim participants in the UK with Fiaz Ahmed, Yulia Egorova suggests that Jewish-Muslim relations are instead shaped by and, at the same time, reflect wider public attitudes towards ‘minority communities’ in general and towards Jews and Muslims in particular.

synagogue.and.mosque_670x335

It appears that for many British Jews and British Muslims, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia constitute a significant factor that determines their place in the vexed picture of Jewish-Muslim relations in Europe, and it can be argued that the social hesitation that some British Jews and British Muslims have against each other is a symptom of wider problems in the way ‘minority’ groups are perceived and treated in society.

Both personal and historical experiences of discrimination were frequently referred to in our respondents’ accounts of their view of Jewish-Muslim relations and of their perception of the other group. In the case of the Jewish communities, historical and personal memories and experiences of discrimination, combined with exposure to public and mass media discourses that construct Muslims as a security threat in general, and a threat for Jewish persons and organisations in particular, forces some members of the Jewish constituency to view Muslims with suspicion. The responses that we received from our Jewish interviewees about their experiences of interactions with British Muslims were positive, however, almost every respondent talked about the concern present in their congregations. It is clear that some of their hesitation stems from the rhetoric of the ‘war on terror’ that is common in the mainstream mass media and public discourse, and is not at all limited to the Jewish constituency.

READ THE REST

This article is based on a paper by Yulia Egorova and Fiaz Ahmed, “The Impact of Antisemitism and Islamophobia on Jewish-Muslim Relations in the UK: Memory, Experience, Context” in Ben Gidley and James Renton, eds., Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story? due out in December. 

About the author
yuliaDr Yulia Egorova
is Reader in Anthropology at Durham University and the Director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society and Politics.

 


The Routledge Handbook of Muslim-Jewish Relations

routledgehandbookNewly published:

Edited by Josef Meri

The Routledge Handbook of Muslim-Jewish Relations invites readers to deepen their understanding of the historical, social, cultural, and political themes that impact modern-day perceptions of interfaith dialogue. The volume is designed to illuminate positive encounters between Muslims and Jews as well as points of conflict within a historical framework. Among other goals, the volume seeks to correct common misperceptions about the history of Muslim-Jewish relations by complicating familiar political narratives to include dynamics such as the cross-influence of literary and intellectual traditions. Reflecting unique and original collaborations between internationally renowned contributors, the book is intended to spark further collaborative and constructive conversation and scholarship in the academy and beyond.

Reviews:

‘This volume [is] an important contribution to the growing literature on Muslim-Jewish relations’ — Mark R. Cohen, Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East, Emeritus, Princeton University, USA

‘Josef Meri and thirty-five other scholars lift a reader’s imagination above the current quagmire to the richness and complexities of Muslim-Jewish Relations over 13 centuries. This text is a post-modern exercise confronting the absolutes of power rhetoric with multiple perspectives from an ancient narrative. — Professor Joseph T. Kelley, Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations, Merrimack College, USA


Shifting markers of identity in East London’s diasporic religious spaces

A new article in The Impact of Diasporas: Markers of Identity, a special issue of Ethnic and Racil Studies produced by the Leverhulme diaspora programmes at Oxford and Leicester universities. The issue is edited by Joanna Storey and Iain Walker.

Ethnic and Racial Studies Vol. 39 , Iss. 2,2016

This article discusses the historical and geographical contexts of diasporic religious buildings in East London, revealing – contrary both to conventional narratives of immigrant integration, mobility, and succession and to identitarian understandings of belonging – that in such spaces and in the concrete devotional practices enacted in them, markers and boundaries of identity (ritual, spatial, and political) are contested, renegotiated, erased, and rewritten. It draws on a series of case-studies: Fieldgate Street Synagogue in its interrelationship with the East London Mosque; St Antony’s Catholic Church in Forest Gate where Hindus and Christians worship together; and the intertwined histories of Methodism and Anglicanism in Bow Road. Exploration of the intersections between ethnicity, religiosity, and class illuminates the ambiguity and instability of identity-formation and expression within East London’s diasporic faith spaces.


Historicising Diaspora Spaces

A new chapter

Image result for Religion in Diaspora Cultures of CitizenshipIn: Religion in Diaspora: Cultures of Citizenship, edited by Sondra Hausner and Jane Garnett

Part of the series Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship pp 55-79

Historicising Diaspora Spaces: Performing Faith, Race, and Place in London’s East End

Nazneen Ahmed with Jane Garnett, Ben Gidley, Alana Harris, Michael Keith

Abstract:

From the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century, there has been a prevailing tendency to orientalise the East End of London. The idioms have changed, but underlying distortions of perspective have remained, from ‘darkest London’ through myths of the Blitz to ‘the new East End’ (Dench et al., 2006; Gidley, 2000; Walkowitz, 1992). This orientalised east London has been framed through (and served as an icon for) two conventional narrative tropes in the history and social science of migration in Britain, one temporal and one spatial. Both narratives are embedded in often-unspoken assumptions about the exercise and practice of citizenship. In particular, east London histories privilege the trajectories of migrant minorities that arrive in London’s lower echelons and are rescued from the abyss through self-improvement and civic engagement. The stories of Huguenot refugees, the Jews of the East End, the Maltese, the Indians, and the Irish are all in some ways redemptively showcased as plot lines of model minority integration. This familiar chronological script is mapped onto an equally familiar cartography as migrants move up, move out of the ghetto and into the suburbs, and leave space for the next wave of settlement. In spatialised Chicago School geography, stories of invasion, succession, and neighbourhood change, as, in chronologies of ladder-climbing minorities, we tend to find cast lists that are relatively unblemished by the presence of traces of difference. The ethnic mosaic is the key metaphor here: it implies social worlds that pass each other by relatively untouched.


Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism: parliamentary report launch

Yesterday, the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism hosted a parliamentary launch of our report on integration, disadvantage and extremism, edited by David Feldman and me. David and I presented the report to the integration minister, Stephen Williams MP, and a small audience of MPs,  lords and officials. The event was chaired by John Mann MP. The report was published in May by the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism and COMPAS.

Here is the text of what I said.

My job today is to say a few words about the recommendations made in this report. David finished on the importance of the role of central government in promoting and shaping integration in the UK. Running through our recommendations is a commitment to two related principles: the responsibility of leadership in combating extremism and the importance of evidence in making policy.

One of the central recommendations of the report, therefore, is listening to the grievances that drive intolerance in our society. The evidence collected in this report shows that grievances relating to disadvantage provide fertile ground for intolerance and division. To combat intolerance, therefore, we need to understand and address its social contexts.

For instance, Oxford sociologist Professor Anthony Heath shows that disengagement from the British mainstream is a function of what he calls the “integration paradox”: This paradox sees not Muslim migrants, but their objectively more “integrated” British-born children, becoming more sensitive to the inequalities of opportunity facing them in British society. Similarly, Vidhya Ramalingam, in collecting the evidence on far right extremism, shows that the appeal of the far right is not necessarily to the most disadvantaged among the white working class, but to those who are socially integrated in their communities but feel left behind by a rapidly changing Britain and distrustful of authority. We make a mistake, therefore, if we simply dismiss as ‘prejudiced’ those who are drawn to racist and extremist programmes – whether among the white or Muslim populations – as if they are fantasists. Rather we should see them, in general, as responding to real problems but with the wrong answers.

This points to a second key recommendation too: the importance of a whole community approach to integration, led by national government, to re-engage with those feeling left behind or disengaged. Not by targeting ‘problem’ minorities – an approach which reproduces the flaws of a divisive state multiculturalism: stigmatising groups, driving grievances and competition, promoting division over cohesion. But instead by calibrating mainstream policy levers towards ensuring that no group is left out of a concern for social mobility and social justice. For example, it is not integration policy but housing and schools policy that will stop a drift towards segregation where it occurs; it is not integration policy but employment policy that will reduce the growing gaps in employment outcomes across the population.

As MPs know from their constituencies, integration – or a lack of it – is experienced at a local level, on the streets of Britain’s towns and cities. But a national strategy is critical if we are to have any chance of overcoming the barriers to integration that create the conditions in which extremism festers. A national strategy isn’t necessarily about a new national funding programme. A national strategy is settingout detailed, concrete, substantive actions – for example, to narrow gaps in socio-economic and educational outcomes, or to eliminate segregation in schools and neighbourhoods, or to build a shared civic culture – but also a coherent methodology for measuring progress based on robust data: such a smart approach is the only cost-effective approach to doing social policy in a time of austerity. Again: the responsibility of leadership, grounded in evidence-based policy-making.

A third recommendation to put this responsibility into effect is around the way we communicate these issues. The kinds of grievances which give rise to softer forms of racism are often driven by inflamed discourse, by debates based on perceptions and assertions rather than facts. To this end, we all have a responsibility to promote evidence-based, balanced and open discussion and debate. This means finding a way to re-engage communities while using language that does not alienate, but rather speaks to their concerns about fairness, equality and justice: not lecturing about prejudice or common values, not dismissing grievances as “bigoted”, for example, but instead addressing their substance.

This approach builds on the record of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, which has worked to develop guidelines on electoral conduct and on hate speech in campuses.

In widening the focus from antisemitism to other forms of intolerance and extremism, this might mean, for instance, taking care in the use of numbers – inaccurate presentation of information leads to divisive debates and bad policy-making.

It might mean avoiding terms such as ‘native population’ – which can obscure the contribution and strong British identification of long-settled minority populations and conflate nationality with ethnicity.

And it might mean avoiding speaking of Britain’s diverse population as if it is composed of discrete and homogenous entities – ‘Muslim communities’ or ‘white working class communities’ – given that similarities across and differences within such communities are often at least as significant. Such terms, in failing to recognise the diversity and range of voices and positions within such populations, also fail to address the real structures of disadvantage that shape their experiences.

Addressing these structures of grievance is the best – the only – way to take forward the imperative to tackle all forms of intolerance in our society.


Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism: report published

This is the report based on the parliamentary symposium we organised last year for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism. The report is introduced by John Mann MP with an afterword by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi. Press release:

Report explores what drives far right and radical Islamist movements in Britain

27 May 2014

A new report, ‘Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism’, produced by researchers from COMPAS and Birkbeck, University of London, for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, examines what drives extremism in British society.

It suggests that Islamist and far-right extremism are often two sides of the same coin with radical ideologies being embraced by people who feel marginalised as they appear to offer an explanation for, or an answer to, a sense of grievance or lack of opportunity.

The report, which offers new insights from ten leading academics and thinkers, says extremism and integration cannot be tackled at a local level alone. Nor can they be addressed in isolation from tackling issues of disadvantage and inequality. It suggests a unified national strategy is required to build community cohesion and integration, incorporating legal and policy responses, and with a renewed commitment to improving social mobility and racial justice.

Professor David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London, who co-edited the report, said: ‘Xenophobia, Islamophobia and antisemitism are promoted by leaders and ideologues to drive many different forms of extremism. Their appeal to followers is rooted in social and political grievances. Intolerance and racism cannot be understood or fought in isolation from tackling their underlying causes.’

Report co-editor Dr Ben Gidley, Associate Professor in the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Integration – or a lack of it – is experienced at a local level on the streets of Britain’s towns and cities. This research suggests a more effective national strategy is needed to overcome barriers to integration; otherwise, there is a risk that we create conditions within which extremism can flourish.’

One of the report contributors, leading sociologist Professor Anthony Heath from the University of Oxford, identifies what he calls ‘the paradox of integration’. He suggests that second generation British Muslims are becoming more aware of inequalities in British society than their parents’ generation were. ‘Simple caricatures of Muslims as leading separate lives will not do,’ concludes Professor Heath. ‘Non-Muslim British citizens must do their part too to live up to the ideal of providing equality of opportunity for their Muslim fellow citizens.’

Professor Heath, who led the Ethnic Minority British Electoral Survey (EMBES) in 2010, found that while 94% of Muslims born in Britain expressed their national identity as British or English, compared with 66% of first generation Muslims who migrated here, their perceptions of discrimination and exclusion have increased: 46% of second generation British Muslims felt there was prejudice against Muslims as compared with 27% of the previous generation; 20% of second generation Muslims also felt discriminated against because of their religion as compared with 8% in the first generation.

The reasons why people support far right organisations, as well as the UK Independence Party (UKIP), in Britain are also explored. Vidhya Ramalingam, from the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), argues that there is ‘a wide reservoir of tacit support’ in Britain for ideas put forward by the far right. ‘The UK has historically been fertile ground for movements thriving on discontent with mainstream political institutions, popular xenophobia and euro-scepticism,’ she adds in the report. She suggests that although the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is not a right-wing extremist party, there are overlaps between its policy proposals and those of the far right. Her review of existing research concludes it is important not to stereotype these groups or their assumed support base as being from ‘the white working class’.

UKIP’s ‘narrative of divide and rule’ is explored by Professor Ben Rogaly from the Sussex Centre for Migration Research and Dr Becky Taylor from Birkbeck, University of London. They explore what is meant by the white working class, arguing that UKIP seeks to separate “strivers” from the “skivers” to justify cuts in benefits, and immigrants and ethnic minorities from the so-called indigenous population. Their research includes case studies in Peterborough of white working class individuals who have moved to the area, and assesses their views of international migrants. The authors suggest that politicians ‘should be bolder in articulating the structures which give rise to common experiences of inequality and disadvantage, rather than focusing on external markers of difference’.

Read the full report

Integration Disadvantage and ExtremisimMay2014FINAL

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Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism: parliamentary symposium

On 8 May, with David Feldman of the Pears Institute, I co-organised a parliamentary symposium on disadvantage, extremism and integration, for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.  You can follow some of the debate on Twitter with the hashtag #IntSym.

Pictures from the APPG:

Here’s the full details on the Pears Institute website:

Details: The Symposium will reflect on the government’s integration strategy and to do so in the light of both contemporary developments and recent scholarship. It will bring the most current evidence-based research to bear on urgent issues of policy for an invited audience of academic experts, policy makers and parliamentarians.Welcome and Introduction

David Feldman, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London John Mann MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

Session 1: Integration and Disadvantage Today

Introduction: Andrew Stunell OBE MP

Chair: John Mann MP

  • Ben Rogaly, University of Sussex and Becky Taylor, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Rob Berkeley, Runnymede Trust
  • Anthony Heath, University of Oxford

Session 2: Integration and Extremism

Introduction and Chair: Baroness Sayeda Warsi

  • Vidhya Ramalingam, Institute for Strategic Dialogue
  • Nasar Meer, Northumbria University
  • Dave Rich, Community Security Trust

Session 3:  Is Localism Sufficient?

Introduction and Chair: Gavin Barwell MP

  • Maleiha Malik, Kings College London
  • Ben Gidley, COMPAS, University of Oxford
  • Dean Godson, Policy Exchange

Concluding Remarks

David Feldman, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London

UPDATE: READ THE REPORT HERE

 

Podcasts:Click on a podcast to listen,
Right click to save

Session 3:  Is Localism Sufficient? [via Backdoor Broadcasting]


From Ben’s archive: The First War on Terror

I just saw this at Hari Kunzru’s website:

Bande a Bonnot

Anyone interested in political history or theory should visit Christie Books, the publishing house and anarchist archive run by Stuart Christie, would-be assassin of General Franco and author of the entertaining memoir My Granny Made Me an Anarchist. The site contains a great deal of audio and video, including a documentary I made for BBC Radio 3 in 2008 called The First War on Terror. It’s about the anti-anarchist panic that gripped Europe in the late Victorian period, and the responses by writers (from pulp novelists to greats like Conrad and Chesterton) to the fears of a social order without gods or masters. Listen to the program here.

I feature (fairly briefly) in the programme, taking Hari on a walking tour of East London, including Freedom Books, which was firebombed this week, probably by fascists (and not for the first term), along with Clive Bettington of the Jewish East End Commemoration Society (far more radiogenic than me), talking about Joseph Conrad, Rudolf Rocker and more.

Here’s the BBC’s page on it:

b00dp1phNovelist Hari Kunzru explores how pulp fiction writers and great novelists got to grips with the UK’s first major ‘war on terror’ – against the Anarchists of Victorian and Edwardian times. These ‘scare novels’ responded to the Anarchists’ wish to abolish the State by depicting outlandish scenarios such as political assassinations and large-scale bombings.

He also explores the world of the real anarchists in London’s immigrant communities – most of whom were peaceful and cultured East End Jewish activists, trying to improve conditions in the garment trade – in contrast to these terrorists the novelists imagined and the popular press feared.

Bringing the programme up to date, Hari and literary scholars Laurence Davies and Deaglan O’Donghaile also briefly consider the modern response to 9/11, asking whether novels on terrorism ever get it right.


The idea of Islam

Second issue of the Muslim Institute‘s Critical Muslim journal/book series now out. It’s excellent: thought-provoking, easy to read, beautifully designed. I’ve got a chapter in it on Jewish ideas of Islam. Also:

Ziauddin Sardar argues why Islamic reform is necessary, Bruce Lawrence sees Muslim cosmopolitanism as the future, Parvez Manzoor declares jihad on the idea of ‘the political’, Samia Rahman gets to the root of Muslim misogyny, Michael Muhammad Knight explains his taqwacore beliefs, Soha al-Jurf has problems with orthodoxy, Carool Kersten suggests that critical thinkers and reformers are often seen as heretics, and Ben Gidley on what keeps Muslims and Jews apart and what can bring them together. Also in this issue: Stuart Sim takes a sledgehammer to the ‘profit motive’, Andy Simons argues that Jazz is just as Muslim as it is American, Robin Yassin-Kabbab meets the new crop of Iraqi writers in Erbil, Said Adrus visits a Muslim cemetery in Woking, Ehsan Masood confesses he spent his youth reading the extremist writer Maryam Jameelah, Iftikhar Malik dismisses pessimism about Pakistan, Hassan Mahamdallie explores what it means to be an American, Jerry Ravetz discovers the Arabic Maimonides, Vinay Lal assesses the legacy of Edward Said, and Merryl Wyn Davies takes a train to 9/11. Plus a brilliant new story from Aamer Hussein and four poems by the celebrated Mimi Khalvati.

Update:

Subscribe on-line here.


British Jews and Muslims: two myths

Part 1 “the myth of Jews as a model minority, blazing a trail that Muslims and other immigrants should follow” and Part 2 “the Islamophobia-is-the-new-antisemitism myth” can both be read at the Muslim Institute, concluding:

“This complex reality requires a complex politics. We need to stop competing in the victimhood stakes and recognise that both racisms are important and dangerous. We need to attend to Islamophobia in the Jewish community and to antisemitism in the Muslim community. And we need to be vigilant about the blurry line between taking sides on Israel/Palestine and taking up antisemitic or Islamophobic themes. Once Jews and Muslims recognise they have a common stake in fighting both racisms then we can begin to build a Britain free of antisemitism and Islamophobia.”

Full text follows. Continue reading