CiF’s Jonathan Romain, and ‘Guardian Left’ rationalizations for antisemitism


‘Comment is Free’ contributor Jonathan Romain is the rabbi at Maidenhead, a Reform Synagogue in Berkshire, England, who has received awards for his work in helping couples in interfaith marriages.

Romain

He published an essay at the Belief section of ‘Comment is Free’ on Jan. 19 titled “Muslim-Jewish marriages herald a brave new world“, which celebrates what he characterizes as our day’s “tolerant, pluralist society” where “mixed-faith marriage has become commonplace”.

However, his essay imputes much greater moral significance to such ecumenical success. 

Romain writes, thus:

In the past century in Britain, intermarriage tend to mean Jews (the main minority faith group) marrying Christians. However, in recent years a new trend has arisen: Muslims intermarrying.

No one is surprised that some Muslims marry Christians – they are the majority population – but to the astonishment of many, Muslims and Jews are beginning to marry each other. This is unexpected, as the Israel-Arab problems in the Middle East have affected relationships between members of the two faiths over here.

While there are many working for harmony between them, unwarranted prejudices about each other also abound, with some Jews regarding all Muslims as potential suicide bombers and some Muslims seeing all Jews as Uzi-wielding West Bank extremists.

As with Jonathan Freedland’s recent essay at Open Zion, which CiF Watch and Simply Jews posted about, Romain suggests some sort of moral parity between the two groups’ reaction to the “Israeli-Arab” conflict.  As we noted previously, reports by CST do indeed demonstrate a dramatic spike in antisemitic incidents when conflicts arise between Israel and terrorists on its borders, with a disproportionate percentage of violent attacks against Jews being perpetrated by Muslims – especially those motivated by Islamist ideology.  

However, there appears to be no evidence to suggest similarly violent reactions by Jews against Muslims during such violent conflagrations.  

Romain continues with the following passage, displaying, at the very least, an audacious level of credulity by imputing credibility to the most risible politically correct narratives regarding Jewish-Muslim relations.

“On the other hand, the fact that young Jews and Muslims are linking up has a positive angle, and shows that the conflict in Middle East is not without hope.

Once the territorial disputes are taken away, there are very few religious problems between Jews and Muslims. Whereas, for instance, Jews play a villainous central role in the Christian story, there is no such demonisation of the other in Judaism and Islam.” [emphasis added]

While you don’t need to be a scholar on Islam to acknowledge the existence of pejorative and racist references to Jews in the Koran, and in Hadiths - perhaps the best known being the following, attributed to Allah’s Apostle, which is not only cited in Hamas’s charter but supported, according to a recent poll,by an overwhelming majority of Palestinians: 

“The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.”

In fairness, though, some reasonably argue that textual evidence supporting the claim that Muslims are religiously influenced to possess hostility to Jews must be balanced with a more sober understanding that Islam, as with all religions, “is subject to interpretation, which is not always the same in different times and places or among various individuals or even — in Islam’s case — countries and ethnic groups.”

In other words, to a large degree, (as with all religions) Islam, morally speaking, is what its practitioners make it.

However, even more troubling than Romain’s platitudes about ecumenical harmony is his implication that whatever problems exist between Muslims and Jews are motivated by the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – a hypothesis which is simply ahistorical and easily contradicted by even a cursory analysis of the phenomenon of antisemitism in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

It is undeniable that extreme Muslim antisemitism in the Middle East – which manifested itself in pogroms, the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab lands  and even calls for genocide by Muslim religious leaders – clearly predates Israel’s conquest of territory in the 1967 ‘Six Day War’, and, in many instances, even predates the birth of the Jewish state in 1948.  Additionally, the Damascus blood libel occurred in 1840 – predating the publication of Theodor Herzl’s Zionist manifesto, Der Judenstat, by fifty-six years.

However, beyond the troubling historical reality of Muslim enmity towards Jews, those, such as Romain, who suggest Zionist “root causes” to explain away or contextualize antisemitism are necessarily suggesting that in the event a two-state solution is achieved, such anti-Jewish racism will recede.  According to such logic, the creation of a Palestinian Arab state will ameliorate the Judeophobic obsession which, for instance, led the “moderate” Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, to urge fellow Muslims to “nurse their children and grandchildren on hatred for Jews”. 

Romain would evidently have us believe that, upon the birth of the new state of Palestine, Hamas and Hezbollah leaders will renounce their genocidal antisemitism, Iranian leaders will acknowledge the reality of the Holocaust, the state controlled Arab media will stop inculcating the masses in vile Jewish conspiracy theories, and Jihadists in London, Paris, Milan and New York City will abort plans to target innocent Jews at synagogues, community centers, and markets. 

However, beyond the speciousness of Romain’s particular logic, the causation he’s suggesting between Israeli policy and the persistence of malignant and pervasive anti-Jewish bigotry within particular cultures in the world legitimizes a narrative which should have long since been discredited – that antisemitism may indeed a malevolent force, but one which can be ameliorated by simply changing Jewish behavior.

Perhaps one of the saddest commentaries on the Guardian-style Left – with all of its faux liberal pieties – is its inability to comprehend the most basic truth about racial bigotry of all kinds, including antisemitism: that racism is always a commentary on the moral failings of the racists themselves, and never, ever on the object of their  hate. 

60 comments on “CiF’s Jonathan Romain, and ‘Guardian Left’ rationalizations for antisemitism

  1. Sounds like more engagement in egregious obfuscation from someone who should know better. He confuses personal experience of good relationships between Jews and Moslems and airbrushes clear evidence of antisemitism both before Israel’s independence and after. He obviously has ignored the seminal work on this subject by Bat Ye’or to know of the status of dhimmitude Jews were given under Islamic rule, that “root causes” go deeper than a glossy over-simplistic accounts.

    • Jews and Muslims lived side by side for centuries. Muslim rulers protected Jews from Christian persecution at various times in History.

      Mr Levick needs to study History.

      • Christian and Jews lived side by side for centuries, so what??
        Protection against tribute, otherwise known as head taxes, was the standard. Paying the tax you could keep your religion, and your economical status secured., but you were not allowed to carry wapons and you had to accept Islamic control. The amount was that enormous that it paid a lot of the state salaries, the pensions and the charities of the Islamic states.
        This lead to mass conversions and the tax base for the states vanished considerably, one of the weaknesses of Islamic states and their coming and going.

        • “paying the tax you could keep your religion, and your economical status secured., but you were not allowed to carry weapons”

          Dear Fritz, are members of the Arab Israeli minority in Israel – christians and muslims – allowed to carry weapons?

          • Yes, if like Israeli Jews, they hold the necessary permits.
            Arabs serve as police officers, the Druze and the Bedouin in various military units as well.
            No luck in your slandering attempt, “Nat”.

            • 101, I’m not talking about armed police or army forces. I’m talking about ordinary people.

              Some Israeli Jewish civiliasn – not serving in the police or army forces – have a license to carry a gun. Can members of the Arab Israeli minority in Israel – christians and muslims – have a license to carry a gun?

  2. Another Joshua you are right. that Romain confuses his own, very restricted experience of Muslim/Jewish relationships (and at interfaith meetings Muslims are hardly going to quote koranic injunctions to hate the Jews and kill them are they?).

    You are right also to remind us of Bat Ye’or’s scholarly writing about Muslim attitude to Jews throughout history.

    Romain should be taken to task also because nowhere in this “hot ice and wond’rous strange snow” puff piece is any indication that he is speaking for himself alone, rather than for all the Reform movement. Granted there are some Reform Jews who are as suckered as he is by the stories they tell themselves about what Islam thinks of Jews, but Romain has absolutely no right to leave readers in any doubt that these are his own fairy tales that he has made into specious fact.

  3. I’d like to ask Romain whether he is aware that

    Islam requires the non-Muslim partner in any marriage to convert to Islam?
    Sharia teaches that all children of such marriages are automatically Muslim – indeed sharia teaches that all of mankind is Muslim?
    No Muslim woman is allowed to marry an infidel unless that man converts to Islam?
    Is he honestly trying to aid this jihad by stealth or is his judgment so clouded that he doesn’t realise the implications of what he is writing?

    • Last time I checked, only religious marriages could be celebrated in Israel, and children whose mother was not Jewish were not considered Jews.

      Last time I visited Israel I was saddened to see women pray along one-fifth of the Western Wall while men were allowed to pray along the remaining fourth-fifths.

      Last time I walked in Mea Sharim, I saw a few women begging for money in order to support the dozen children they were raising because their husband, whom they had to marry when they turned 18, would not work. All these women were wearing wigs or scarfs to hide their hair and loose clothes to hide their bodies. Some of these women were “agunah” – women whose husbands have taken a second wife.

      Sadly Islam, Christianity and Judaism have a lot in common when it comes to imposing discriminatory rules on women.

      • You’re a desicable, miserable liar.
        Not only have you never once set foot in Israel, not surprising for a troll, you weren’t briefed by your handlers about the nature of the “Aguna”.
        Polygamy is forbidden in Judaism, whereas Agunot are women refused divorce.
        With recent reforms, it has become exceedingly rarer.

        • 101:

          1 – please show some RESPECT to others

          2 – Polygamy is not forbidden in Judaism. There is no prohibition in the Torah for a man to have two wives. A child born to a married man with his mistress is not considered to be a mamzer (illegitimate). Some orthodox men in Israel refuse to grant their wife a divorce, while living with another woman and having legitimate children with her. It is important to note that while a man may have two wives, a woman cannot have two husbands – should she have children with another man, they would be considered illegitimate.

          • 1 – you’re still a miserable and perverse liar.
            2-In 1000CE Rabbenu Gershom assembled a synod which ruled the following:

            ″About 1000 CE he called a synod which decided the following particulars: (1) prohibition of polygamy; (2) necessity of obtaining the consent of both parties to a divorce; (3) modification of the rules concerning those who became apostates under compulsion”

            A divorce precludes the Husband and his former wife from living together.
            3 – you’re a troll.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy#Judaism

          • Lying so bluntly, eh?
            From the link:

            “A man is similarly not permitted to marry before being divorced”
            .

              • Boy, you ARE a moron, and a pathetic troll, to boot.
                You’ve been given evidence to counteract any claim that Polygamy was legitimate in Judaism.
                “Agunah” is a term pertaining to divorce.
                And you’re a macabre, lousy joke.

                • 101, some Orthodox Jews do have two wives – it’s the Agunah system, which several excellent women’s associations are fighting against in Israel.

                • Listen troll, you’re not going to get away with this.
                  NO JEW can have two wives.
                  Polygamy has been illegal since about 1,000CE…
                  No amount of your trolling tactics are going to change that.
                  You’re about to be banned though, in part for sp’amming on a thread that’s over a month OLD!
                  And in short, you’ve just verified that you’re a Dutch SOB — lying about both Israel and the Jews!
                  You’re scum…

      • “Last time I visited Israel”

        Really ‘Nat’ so as you are an occasional visitor to Israel what qualifications do you have that makes you qualified to comment about Israel?

  4. Reform Judaism has now lowered itself to excusing and explaining away Muslim anti-Semitism by the expedient of blaming the existence of this anti-Semitism on the existence of Israel and the behavior of the Jews themselves.

    There are Jewish leaders who have learned nothing from history.

    • I don’t think that Reform Judaism is some homogenous mass. There are “as a Jews” like Romain (mostly living in the diaspora) and reform rabbis with absolutely different worldview.

      • I am inclined to agree, peterthehungarian, but Romain should have made clear that he wrote as an individual rather than spoke for the Reform movement.

    • Where does Romain “blame anti-Semitism on the existence of Israel and the behavior of the Jews themselves”??

  5. Unfortunately Romain is one of the “trendy, lefty, useful idiots” that the leftards trot out in the UK, ” well he’s a Jew, and a Rabbi, he must know what he’s talking about”, surely? Well I’m afraid he doesn’t, Mr Romain is a trouble maker. On the announcement in the UK of the new Chief Rabbi, Mr Romain wrote to the Times stating that the reform movement in the UK does not recognise the office. Fortunately, The Times published my letter the next day pointing out the divisiveness of Mr Romains comments and rather that preaching the divisive agenda of the reform movement Mr Romain should be preaching cohesiveness. The UK Jewish community is small, but unfortunatlely riddled with such leftardic troublemakers as Mr Romain, all with their own axe to grind. The lay leadership need to get a grip, quickly.

    • Too true, Jon Cohen. Witness the latest lunacy of the Order of Trembling Israelites (aka the Board of Deputies) and their vote in favour of collaboration with Oxfam which lends tacit support to Islamist and other Jew-hating organisations.

      • Serendipity: that’s a pretty wild accusation. Could you provide names of the “Islamist and other Jew-hating organisations” which Oxfam “lends tacit support to”?

          • So Zaytoun are an “Islamist” or “other Jew-hating organisation”. Is this the same company that received two awards at the Soil Association organic food awards in 2011? And the same company that won the Times’ readers award for Women In Ethical Business? If so, do the Soil Association and the Times newspaper both hate Jews and support Hamas as well?

            • Cox can you read English at all?
              1.East London Mosque – an extremist institution whose speakers have included Saad Al Beraik, a hate preacher who calls for the enslavement of Jewish women.
              2.Islamic Relief – a charity which the Israeli government has designated a “terrorist front”. Ayaz Ali, the head of the charity’s Gaza operations, was deported after being accused of funnelling money to Hamas. Neo-Nazi images were found stored on his computer.
              3.MADE in Europe – a charity whose staff are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist groups, and whose offices are based at the extremist London Muslim Centre.
              4.Human Appeal International – a charity identified by the US Government as one of a number of groups used as conduits for funds to terrorist organisations, including Hamas.
              5.Zaytoun – a trade collective run by members of the anti-Israel, pro-terror International Solidarity Movement. Zaytoun works to promote the boycott of Israeli goods.
              6.Palestine Solidarity Campaign – an anti-Israel lobbying group which the BBC has described as a ‘radical’ organisation that supports Hamas. The Board of Deputies of British Jews has stated the PSC’s views include “racist conspiracy theories, the propagation of antisemitic stereotypes and Holocaust denial”.
              7.Muslim Aid – According to its own accounts, Muslim Aid paid £325,000 to the Islamic University of Gaza, where leading Hamas figures teach; and £13,998 to the al-Ihsan Charitable Society, designated by the US government as a “sponsor of terrorism” and a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group.
              8.Federation of Student Islamic Societies – a radical student movement which has, in the past, promoted Al Qaeda recruiter Anwar Awlawki and has provided a platform to hate preachers such as Haitham Al-Haddad, who has said that Jews are “apes and pigs” and that the Gaza war made him happy because “it clearly encouraged Muslims to prepare themselves for jihad, all over the world”.

              • I’m sorry, that’s still not good enough. I don’t buy the lazy rhetoric that ISM are, at a organisational level, “anti-Israel, pro-terror”, nor do I buy the equally lazy assumption that anyone with any links with Hamas are instantly “pro-terror”, or that Hamas themselves are wholly “pro-terror” and “anti-Israel”, any more than the Israeli government is wholly “anti-Palestine” and “pro-terror” because some of its members have stated that they are: fundamentally opposed to the existence of a Palestinian state; convinced that the “land of Israel” (i.e. all Israeli and Palestinian territory) belongs exclusively to the Jewish people – which is a claim that when voiced by Palestinians is called “annihilationist”; in favour of bombing Gaza “back to the Middle Ages; expelling all Palestinians to Jordan and Egypt; and that they believe, in any case, that the Palestinians “don’t exist”.

                (Sources for all those MK attributions available here: http://blog.thejerusalemfund.org/2013/01/your-scary-israeli-candidates.html)

                • Well, buying is an activity which always implies a certain part of lazyness due to our specialised economy.
                  In a neoliberal notion you certainly can buy rhetoric and lazyness for yourself, but neiter facts, nor truth or thinking for yourself. If you cannot work hard and analyse properly, you depend on buying some rhetoric from a Palestinian site for your ideology of hatred.
                  And that`s what we see here:
                  Equalizing the Israeli government with Hamas, relativise terror, denying the antisemitic wish of annihilation., etc.

              • “.Zaytoun – a trade collective run by members of the anti-Israel, pro-terror International Solidarity Movement. Zaytoun works to promote the boycott of Israeli goods.”

                Boycott is not “terror”.

                Boycott is a peaceful weapon, used by Martin Luther King in the USA, Gandhi in India and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

                • So the makes has finally slipped, eh, troll?
                  You support boycotts of Israel?
                  Martin Luther King, whose name you sully, never called for economic warfare — terrorism — against the United States.
                  It’s now evident(not that there was any doubt about it) just how anti-Israel you are.

                • 101, Boycott is neither “terrorism”, nor “economic warfare”. Boycott is the act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest. It’s a non-violent way of achieving political goals., which was previously used by Martin Luther King in the USA, Gandhi in India and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

                • Boycott was repeatedly used by peoples who were seeking to fulfill their rights. We can mention the American boycott of British goods at the time of the American Revolution; the Indian boycott of British goods organized by Gandhi; the Jewish boycott organized against Henry Ford in the USA as part of a campaign protesting antisemitism in the 1920s; the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott of German goods in Lithuania, the USA, Britain and Poland in 1933; the US-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow; the movement that advocated “disinvestment” in South Africa during the 1980s in opposition to that country’s regime.

                • Answer the question, troll:
                  When did MLK call for the complete boycott of the United States, as you’re call for Israel?
                  You really are a moronic propagandist.
                  Are you also comparing Israel with Nazi Germany?

                • 101,

                  1 – BE POLITE WITH OTHERS, BE RESPECTFUL AND STOP LAUNCHING PERSONAL ATTACKS which are childish and reveal your inability to articulate your thoughts

                  2 – Boycott is neither “terrorism”, nor “economic warfare”. Boycott is a non-violent way of achieving political goals. That’s why it was used by Martin Luther King in the USA, Gandhi in India, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, the Jewish community against Henry Ford in the USA…

                • 1- STOP TROLLING. It exposes you for the paid shill you are.
                  2 – You still haven’t answered two simple queries: When did MLK call for a complete boycott of the United States(like you’re advocating, of Israel);
                  And by conflating Jewish response to anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany, are you equating Israel with Nazi Germany?
                  You’re a disgusting, revolting troll, all around.

                • Once again, no sign of sanitarium, aka The Knight of Hypocrishire, showing his outrage at yet another disgusting display of “nat”s racism.

                • 101, boycott is not and never was “terror”. Terror kills people, while boycott is a non violent method, used by Martin Luther King and Gandhi.

                • You’re not going to get away with this, troll:
                  Where/when did Martin Luther King advocate a boycott of the entire United States?
                  Well?!
                  The fact is, you’re a Dutch terrorist. You despise Israel, and so you vent your gutted hatred through Boycotts(since you’re obviously scared of blowing yourself up, like most terrorists).
                  You’re a despicable troll. No amount of posting inane, copy-and-paste comments, is going to change that.

                • “Boycott is a peaceful weapon, used by Martin Luther King in the USA, Gandhi in India and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.” – ‘nat’
                  You forgot to mention the Arab States also use boycott, and of course, peace loving Nazi Germany used it – the latter against Jews, the former against the survival of a Jewish state.
                  You and your “friends” also regularly “forget” to mention that an arms embargo is a peaceful weapon, i.e., a benign form of warfare, rather than an effort to terrorize, punish or otherwise lay siege.

            • You mean the Times` readers and the Soil Association awarded Antisemitism and Terrrorism?
              Why do you believe that?

      • “Oxfam which lends tacit support to Islamist and other Jew-hating organisations”

        Oxfam is a charity that works to alleviate poverty worldwide.

        Serendipity, you need urgent help.

        • No no no, Nat – Oxfam is at the epicentre of a global antisemitic Islamist movement, a fact which it ingeniously covers up by PRETENDING to fight poverty worldwide.

          I know, it was news to me too. But on the strength of the evidence that has been put forward here, I am now thoroughly converted, and will no longer be buying second-hand jumpers from my local Oxfam in London, nor donating to them my unwanted books and records. In fact, I may start standing outside the shop with a placard that says, “Support Israel. Boycott Oxfam.”

          • Being a troll, “Nat” is immune to sarcasm. Wrong move on your part.
            Though the virulently anti-Israel bent is something you both share, so perhaps birds of a feather do flock together.
            Now, if you only you were Dutch, like “Nat” here…

            • 101, your appetite for conspiracy theories is very telling.

              Oxfam is one of the world’s leading charities, a confederation of organizations from 17 different countries, networked together in more than 90 countries to fight poverty.

              • My appetite for what?
                You imbecile, you’re addressing this to the wrong poster.
                There was a study, you know, proving that trolling addles one’s mind
                “Nat”, quit while you can still save what’s left of your brain.

    • Romain is the most judaism-hating of reform ‘Rabbi’s’, a movement itself based on the making up a ‘judaism’ which fits their own personal veiws rather than something to follow. He has campaigned against faith schools so great is his hatred of that which he purports to represent.

  6. As with Jonathan Freedland’s recent essay at Open Zion, which CiF Watch and Simply Jews posted about, Romain suggests some sort of moral parity between the two groups’ reaction to the “Israeli-Arab” conflict.

    It is distorting Freedland’s words beyond belief to produce such a “suggestion.”

    And in Romain’s case it is simply a lie.

    The rest of the article constitutes anti-Muslim propaganda. By the author’s own logic, it also “suggests” that Jews-can-do-no-wrong.

    • The first thing you learn in journalism school is to report facts, not distort them.

      I assume Mr Levick never went to journalism school, as he is distorting Freeland’s words beyond belief.

Comments are closed.