VIDEO: James Renton on antisemitism and Islamophobia

Details:  Continue reading

Advertisements

Parliamentary event: Understanding Islamophobia and Antisemitism in Europe and the UK in 2018

10 January 2018 10 am-11.30

This event presents recent academic research findings, based on the book Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story?, newly published by Palgrave Macmillan and edited by Dr James Renton (Edge Hill University/European University Institute, Florence) and Dr Ben Gidley (Birkbeck, University of London). The discussion, aimed at politicians, policy-makers and civil society, will focus on questions such as:

  • How have antisemitism and Islamophobia related to each other in different European contexts, historically and today? How can we understand this connection?
  • How did the term “Semite” come to refer to the Jews, and how is it connected to the term “antisemitism”?
  • Is Europe a secular continent – or a Christian one? And what does this mean for Jews and Muslims?
  • How can we combat antisemitism and Islamophobia together today? What historical resources can we draw on in building solidarity against racism?

For details of the book, see http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137412997.

Hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism. Co-organised by Monitor: Global Intelligence on Racism, based at the Robert Schumann Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute.

The event introduced and chaired by Nusrat Ghani MP, will include a short presentation of research by the co-editors, followed by a panel discussion and questions. Panellists will be Omar Khan (Runnymede Trust), Karen Pollock MBE (Holocaust Educational Trust) and Danny Stone MBE (Antisemitism Policy Trust).

Please email Ben to register to attend.


James Renton: Does Europe’s Far Right Hate Muslims the Same Way They Hate Jews?

By my co-author James Renton in Ha’aretz. Extract:

Protesters carry Polish flags and a banner declaring 'Islam = Terror' during a rally organized by far-right nationalists to mark 99th anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw. November 11, 2017

President Donald Trump’s retweeting of anti-Muslim videos propagated by Britain First has made millions more people around the world aware of the European far-right’s crude Islamophobia.

Is this racism a retargeting of familiar tropes of anti-Semitic hatred? Or does anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish hatred have a more complex relationship, both in history and in our current moment?

Prejudice toward Islam and Muslims is endemic in the Europe of 2017. The “Muslim Question” is central to the politics of the far right, which has achieved success unprecedented since WWII at the polls this year, from France to the Czech Republic via Austria and Germany.

More significantly, the fear of Muslims as potential terrorists has become an integral part of mainstream European politics and the European security state, as has been identified by Amnesty International, among others.

Several commentators and academics have argued that this groundswell of Islamophobia, which began in earnest with the “war on terror” after 9/11 and has gathered pace since 2015, has made Muslims the “new Jews” of Europe. They contend that today’s emergency is redolent of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s, or of the late 19th century.

READ THE REST.

For all posts on our book Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Storyclick here.


Reply to Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon wrote – and Ha’aretz published – a reply to my op ed about him. Here is my reply to his reply, which I did not send to Ha’aretz.

Gilad Atzmon starts his letter by calling me a “Zionist”. Normally, I would reject that designation, but Mr Atzmon has called my friends in the (anti-Zionist) Jewish Socialist Group “anti-Zionist Zionists” because their commitment to Jewish culture and identity marks them out as “tribalists” and therefore “Zionists”, so maybe from him I should take it as a compliment.

Tellingly, he continues that I “failed to properly source a single accusation” against him, and that I instead cited “opinions printed in extreme Zionist and Jewish outlets”. My article indeed cited a couple of Jewish outlets, such as the Jewish Chronicle and the Community Security Trust, although to most people these wouldn’t count as “extreme” Jewish outlets. But mainly I cited anti-racist and left sources: the anti-fascist Hope not Hate, Socialist Unity’s Andy Newman, the former SWP activist Richard Seymour, and Palestine solidarity campaigners such as Ali Abunimah and As’ad AbuKhalil. Anyone who thinks those are “extreme Zionist and Jewish outlets” has, well, issues.

Mr Atzmon continues “in my entire career I have never referred critically to Jews or anyone else as a race, biology or people”. The “as a race, biology or people” bit is essential, because his attacks on what he calls “Jewishness” are not framed biologically, but as attacks on “Jewish ideology”, “Jewish identity” and “Jewish power”. However, his writings tend to short-circuit rapidly from this distinction to race. For example he has written that “I contend that all forms of Jewish politics are ethno-centric and to a certain extent, racially driven.”

And he uses all the standard tropes of racial antisemitism when he talks about Jewishness: in his Reading talk he spoke of Jewishness as “following mitzvot” and said the “Jewish lobby is a cosmopolitan lobby”. In his other recent writings, he has repeatedly insisted that “Jewish power is the capacity to silence the discussion of Jewish power”. He obsessively uses the word “tribal”. He repeats alt-right conspiracy theories, for example muttering about “[George] Soros’ funded front (Antifa, Black lives Matter, LGBTIAP groups etc.)”.

As the legacy of the Holocaust has left explicit raciology toxic in our culture, many racists on the far right have avoided openly using the language of race science, preferring for instance to dwell on “cultural” rather than racial difference and to use terms from the classical lexicon of racial antisemitism or names like Soros as code-words for the deeper agenda. Atzmon’s writings on “Jewishness” fit well into this paradigm.

On one point Mr Atzmon concedes my charges are “correct”: that his writings “are circulated by some right-wing and conservative outlets and thinkers”. That, however, is not a charge I made. I said they are “widely circulated on far right websites”. It is not mainstream conservative websites who like Atzmon, but Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

He qualifies his concession: “they are at least as popular within left-wing outlets and progressive circles.” I am curious which outlets he refers to, as his views have become increasingly toxic to the point where even those few left sites which once gave him a platform, such as the Socialist Workers Party, now seem to find him an embarrassment.

Ben Gidley, London


Cities acting for migration

The Columbia Global Policy Initiative has made a submission about the role of cities to the Special Representative of the Secretary General for International Migration in relation to the Global Compact for Migration. It includes this claim:

local authorities and mayors in particular play a crucial role in framing greater diversity as a complex but fundamentally fruitful outcome of globalization.

This claim is referenced with a citation to a report I co-wrote: Elizabeth Collett & Ben Gidley, ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford, Attitudes to Migrants, Communication and Local Leadership
(AMICALL) — Final Transnational Report (2012) see at https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/media/PR-2012-AMICALL_Transnational.pdf .


Pourquoi les progressistes anglais célèbrent encore un grotesque antisémite et un négationniste ?

A French translation of my Ha’aretz op ed is published here.

Full text: Continue reading


Gilad Atzmon in Reading

I have published my first op ed in Ha’aretz. The title is theirs not mine. It’s online here, the opening below.

Opinion Why Are U.K. Progressives Still Celebrating a Grotesque anti-Semite and Holocaust Denier?
When a publicly-funded community center hosted the Jew-hating Gilad Atzmon, it blocked anti-racists on Twitter who challenged the decision. For many on the U.K. left, the denial of anti-Semitism has become a reflex

Ben Gidley Oct 30, 2017 10:30 AM Continue reading


Florence event: Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe

NYU Florence:

Oct 26, 2017 / 18:00 – 19:00 / VILLA SASSETTI

Are today´s Muslims Europe’s “new Jews”? Is Islamophobia the same as, or an aspect of, Antisemitism? Controversy over this question has raged over the last decade or so. From a historical point of view, is there a dynamic relationship between Antisemitism and Islamophobia and, if so, how has it evolved over time and space? Religion, empire, nation-building and war, they have all played their part in the complex evolution of this relationship. What does Europe have to say about the fact that Jews and Arabs were once called Semites, but are now widely thought to be on two different sides of the “War on Terror”?

Historian James Renton and the EU Coordinator on Combatting Antisemitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, will debate the relationship btween the two racisms and Europe’s response to it.

Moderated by Marcella Simoni, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Moderator


Being Jewish After Balfour: The 1917 Revolution

Date: Thursday 23 November 2017

Time: 7-8pm

Price: Free with Museum entry

Categories: talks

In this talk, Dr James Renton will discuss how the Balfour Declaration transformed what it meant to be a Jew in the world. Rather than a story of Jewish empowerment, he will argue that this revolution was shaped by the interests and power of imperial states and a global political system. At its heart, the talk will grapple with the controversial question of how much control do Jews have over their own identity?

In October 1917, only a minority of Jews believed in Zionism, and many were strongly opposed. Jews who were desperate to be accepted as loyal citizens in the countries that they called home were horrified by the idea of a Jewish nation. Even those who were indifferent to Zionism shared the mainstream assumption that the movement was a utopian dream. This situation changed overnight with the Balfour Declaration- an event that permanently altered the politics of being a Jew.

Dr James Renton is the author of The Zionist Masquerade: The Birth of the Anglo-Zionist Alliance, 1914-1918, and co-editor with Ben Gidley of Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story? He is Reader in History at Edge Hill University and Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute.


Paris event: Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe

About the book

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.

Participants:

Benjamin Gidley, Senior lecturer, Birkbeck, University of London

James Renton, Reader in History, Edge Hill University, Visiting Fellow, European University Institute

Lecture organized by Jean-Philippe Dedieu, historian and sociologist, professor in the Columbia MA in History and Literature.

Free and open to the public


Islamophobia and Antisemitism in Christian Europe: an Intertwined History

Pears Institute Lunchtime Seminar

Speaker: Ben Gidley, Birkbeck, University of London
Date: Tue, Oct. 10, 2017
Time: 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Venue: Birkbeck, University of London
Free event for scholars: Email pearsinstitute@bbk.ac.uk for further information.
Details: This paper, drawing on a newly published book edited by James Renton and Ben Gidley, explores the changing ways the figures of the Jew and the Muslim have been used to mark the borders of European identity – an identity that remains normatively Christian despite a rhetorical drift to secularism, the “Judeo-Christian” or the multifaith. The paper argues that these two figures have been constitutive outsiders shaping what Europe is. Both forms of racialisation have mutated over time and in different parts of the continent, and understanding this, the paper argues, requires a rigorously comparative and rigorously diachronic perspective. Each form of racialisation has occurred independently of the other, but more often they have taken on meaning in relation to each other, and so analysing both anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim racism is enhanced through case studies which excavate their relationship

James Renton forscht derzeit in Florenz – sein Schwerpunkt ist die Erklärung von 1917

From Juedische Allgemeine:

Der Balfour-Spezialist

Der Historiker James Renton forscht derzeit in Florenz – sein Schwerpunkt ist die Erklärung von 1917

10.08.2017 – von Daniel ZylbersztajnDaniel Zylbersztajn

Auf facebook teilenAuf twitter teilenAuf google+ teilenper E-Mail schicken

Der britische Historiker James Renton (41)

© Daniel Zylberstein

Eigentlich ist er Regenwetter und Gummistiefel gewöhnt, denn sein Arbeitsort ist die Fakultät für Geschichte an der Edge Hill University in der Nähe von Liverpool. Doch stattdessen sitzt James Renton (41) an einem schönen sonnigen Tag an einem Schreibtisch in Florenz. Große Fenster zeigen das Panorama einer sonnigen Hügellandschaft voller Pinien- und Olivenbäume.

[READ THE REST]


From the BIH blog: Racism, Antisemitism, Theory

From the BIH blog on a recent event I co-organised.

On April 24 scholars and activists packed out a large room at Birkbeck for a one-day workshop titled ‘Racism, Antisemitism, Theory’. Organised by Dr BrendanDr Ben Gidley and Dr Aaron Winter, the workshop was generously supported by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism. The event brought together ten speakers to explore the relationship between racism and antisemitism.

For the organisers, the rationale for holding such an event was clear: across Europe, the United States and other parts of the globe, we have witnessed a resurgence of racism and nationalism, including anti-migrant xenophobia, Islamophobia and antisemitism, as well as the mainstreaming of far right and even fascist discourses. Alongside the emboldening of colour-coded forms of racism and racialisation, older forms of antisemitism have returned to the political mainstream – openly in cases such as Hungary’s Jobbik or Greece’s Golden Dawn or just beneath the surface as in France’s Front National – while both traditional and unorthodox forms of white supremacy and antisemitic conspiracism now have a foot inside the White House.

If the task before us is to understand these racisms, old and new, then it is a task that has provided no shortage of challenges. One such discussion that has proved to be especially difficult to navigate is the relationship between racism and antisemitism. The controversies of the racism/antisemitism debate are to be found in many regions of the world, but they have been particularly keenly felt in the UK, where in the last year, the tangled and tense discussion on antisemitism in the Labour Party has continued to rumble on, often generating more heat than light.

What these and other such debates have revealed is that there are a real set of difficulties in thinking about racism and antisemitism together. At the level of the political, those who shout loudest about antisemitism sometimes have little to say about other forms of racism, and the reverse is equally true. Within the academy, scholars of racism and antisemitism are all too rarely in dialogue with one another. What we aimed to do in the workshop was to take a step back from politics towards theory. Or as Stuart Hall once put it, to take a ‘detour through theory’ as a way of renewing anti-racist scholarship.

The workshop addressed three key issues. First, we explored not just the limits but also the possibilities of bridging the conversations on racism and antisemitism. Second, we explored a range of theoretical traditions and their capacities for making sense of the racism/antisemitism relationship. Third, and perhaps most importantly, we identified some of the barriers within our existing theoretical frameworks that prevent a bringing together of these issues.

The day was split into three panels, with two papers and a discussant in each session.

In Panel 1, Professor Jack Jacobs and Dr Christine Achinger explored Critical Theory and the role it might play in helping us think through the relationship between racism and antisemitism. Jacobs offered a close reading of the writings of Frankfurt School theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, arguing that their insights into antisemitism also provide a resource for thinking about racism and other forms prejudice. Achinger drew on more recent developments in critical theory to explore the racism/antisemitism relationship.

In Panel 2, our attention turned to intersectionality and whiteness studies. In the opening paper, Professor Avtar Brah highlighted the way differential racialisations pose difficulties for anti-racist practice. In the second contribution, Professor Anoop Nayak argued for the need to think more critically about the liminal category of ‘white other’. Whiteness, he argued, is not homogenous, but multiple and mutable. Dr Gail Lewis, in her comments, reminded us of the dialogues between black and Jewish feminists in the 1970s. She also raised concern about the tendency to construct equivalences when racism and antisemitism are brought together.

In the final panel, Professor Satnam Virdee and Professor Bryan Cheyette examined whether postcolonialism might help us to think about racism and antisemitism in conjunction. In a paper that argued against ‘supersessionist’ thinking, Cheyette explored the difficulties that postcolonialism has in accounting for ‘Jewish experiences’, and similarly, the inabilities of Jewish studies to come to terms with colonial histories. In the final paper of the day, Satnam Virdee spoke of the important contributions postcolonialism has made to the study of racism, but also its difficulty in capturing the racialisation of the ‘European interior’. This, he said, is a consequence of a flattening of ‘the west’ such that other modalities of racism are elided, including antisemitism and anti-Irish racism.

Given the direction of travel in global politics, it seems that the issues raised in this workshop are unlikely to go away any time soon.


Me vs Jeremy Irons

I was quoted in London Student‘s article about Jeremy Irons telling the striking security workers who work next door to my office at the University of London to “be reasonable”.

Here’s the quote:

The Twitter reaction to Irons wading into the conflict was largely negative. Daniel Stone called his speech “utter condescension”, while Ben Gidley accused him of “whitesplaining to migrant workers”, calling his speech “appalling”. Seambreamlatte wrote: “How patronising and historically ignorant can you get”.

Here’s my tweet:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js


VIDEO: Is Marine Le Pen a fascist?

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

From politics.co.uk:

Tomorrow France goes to the polls in an unprecedented election between Marine” Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. But is the National Front candidate really an old school fascist? We talk to Ben Gidley, senior lecturer at Birkbeck, about the far-right’s attempt to rebrand itself and secure electoral success. You can follow him on Twitter here.

VIDEO LINK HERE

Interview by Ian Dunt

Filming & production by Alex Frois


Book giveaway: Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space

Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space book cover.

From the British Sociological Association:

This month we have five copies of Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space [Routledge], edited by Mette Louise Berg, Ben Gidley and Nando Sigona, to giveaway to our members.

This book explores how people live with diversity in contemporary cities and towns across Europe. Drawing on ethnographic studies ranging from London’s inner city and residential suburbs to English provincial towns, from a working-class neighbourhood in Nuremberg to the streets of Naples, Turin and Milan, chapters explore how diversity is experienced in everyday lives, and what new forms of local belonging emerge when local places are so closely connected to so many distant elsewheres. The book discusses the sensory experiences of diversity in urban street markets, the ethos of mixing in a super-diverse neighbourhood, contestations over the right to the provincial city, diverse histories and experiences of residential geographies, memories of belonging, and the ethics and politics of representation on an inner city estate. It weaves together ethnographic case studies with contemporary social and cultural theory from the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, geography, cultural studies, and migration studies about urban space, migration, transnationalism and everyday multiculture.

If you are interested in receiving one of these free copies, please email Claire Simmons with your name and postal address and we will pick five winners at random in June. Please note that you must be a BSA member to enter this book draw. If you aren’t a member and would like to find out how to become one and see what other benefits are available to you please visit the Membership section.

 


Migrant Cartographies

On May 12 at Goldsmiths:

Goldsmiths Sociology Department's photo.
MAY12

Migrant Cartographies: Cities, Circuits and Circulations

Public

Cities are in part constituted in myriad enactments of migrant presence which generate urban dialectics of self-and-city composition. Cities also condense many of the challenges we face in migration in the generation and navigation of local circuits composed through forms of social provision, distributions of opportunities and social goods, labour markets and so on, making cities a crucial scale for the research and analysis of transnational migrant mobility. Circulations of transnational migrants within and between cities articulate other circulations – of money, objects and various forms of property – providing a challenge in thinking about the ways in which these circuits might be connected.

This symposium intends an interrogation of cities through the transnational mobilities co-composing them. It aims to develop a conversation among scholars of migration, mobility and urbanism reflecting on, developing and refining some of the conceptual categories we use in our research. It invites interrogation of transnational urbanism’s underlying logics and theoretical frameworks in concepts like circuit, migrant, city, mobility, migrant journeys, trajectories and circulations.
Continue reading


Humanity at Sea

I recently spoke at this event at the Columbia Global Center in Paris:

Humanity at Sea Maritime Migration and the Foundations of International Law, 1945-2015

Below the fold, a video of the event. At some point I’ll post the text of what I said.

photo Roni Horn

Photo: Roni Horn

February 8, 2017

This lecture will attempt to connect the dots between the current “refugee crisis” and several of its relevant historical precedents: actions of Jewish migrants to Palestine after WWII, Vietnamese ‘boatpeople’, Haitian refugees seeking to reach Florida, and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees bound to Australia. Through its engagement with history, the talk will outline a novel theory of human rights modelled around an encounter between individuals in which one of the parties is at great risk.

Continue reading


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


Sharia Councils: a user’s guide

From France Culture:
Réécouter La France et l’Angleterre au bord de la crise de nerfs (2/4):
Sharia Councils, mode d’emploi
55min | 17.01.2017

Exporter https://www.franceculture.fr/player/export-reecouter?content=eea81f3a-f459-47a8-8d47-5934677510da