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The Threat of Islamophobia

Part of the reason these mobs have been able to riot illegally is because of the threat of one word: Islamophobia.
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April 24, 2024
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest during a ‘Strike for Gaza’ protest in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

After 9/11, President George W. Bush repeatedly said that the war against terrorism is not a war against Islam. “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” Bush said at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. a week later. “That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.”

At the time it seemed to make sense for Bush to take that route. It very much felt like all Americans were united against terrorism, and focusing on Islam would distract and perhaps undermine the war against terror. Most people understood that demonizing innocent Muslims for the actions of a small minority would be a grave injustice. There were no mobs of rioters on the streets or on our campuses rationalizing 9/11, much less calling for more attacks.

That’s not the case today. New York City, most especially Columbia University, has been a cauldron of Hamas “disrupters” calling for repeated attacks on Israel, Jews in the diaspora, and Americans in general. From Oct. 8 on, “Globalize the Intifada” became the main chant of global Hamas supporters.

In the past week alone:

• Rioters at Columbia have screamed: “Al-Qassam you make us proud!” “Hamas we love you!” “Burn Tel Aviv to the ground!” and “The 7th of October is going to be every day for you.”

• Arab Israeli journalist Yoseph Haddad was assaulted at Columbia.

• The Orthodox Rabbi at Columbia/Barnard urged Jewish students to go home until the campus unrest settles down.

• A Jewish student at Yale was stabbed in the eye.

• A group of Yale students formed a human chain to block a Jewish student from entering the university.

• Five windows were smashed at Kehillat Shaarei Torah synagogue in north Toronto. 

Part of the reason these mobs have been able to riot illegally is because of the threat of one word: Islamophobia. Although the first recorded use of the term in English was in 1923, it came into popular use after 9/11 as a way to quash any criticism of actions by Muslims — including honor killings, child marriage, hanging of gays, the ongoing slavery of Africans and, yes, terrorism. When cancel culture went into high gear around 2015, it became the ultimate smear tactic, even more powerful than “racist.” 

There is no question that fear of being accused of that word has prevented cities all over the world—but most especially New York City — from responding to violent rioters the way they should. I have been told by multiple alumni that the Columbia Board of Trustees fears being called Islamophobic. As Bill Ackman tweeted: “How would @Columbia respond if the students took over campus in support of the KKK and called for the genocide of other ethnic minorities? Would …. the University’s code of conduct suddenly have operative impact?”

As Bill Ackman tweeted: “How would @Columbia respond if the students took over campus in support of the KKK and called for the genocide of other ethnic minorities? Would …. the University’s code of conduct suddenly have operative impact?”

Islamic terrorists use verses from the Koran to justify their killings. Such as: 

“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” —Quran 8:12

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” —Quran 9:29

It’s not Islamophobic to point this out. It’s also not Islamophobic to show that jihad — military struggle against the Kafir (non-Muslim) by any means necessary — is part of Islam’s foundational texts. The word “jihad” can be found more than 160 times in the Koran. Most important for today, jihad is not just physical conflict but what could be called “civilizational war,” utilizing all aspects of civilization to defeat non-Islam. Not all Muslims adhere to these particular passages, but many do. It is impossible to recognize the danger the latter pose if we denounce attempts to describe their beliefs.

The great crusades ended in 1291; jihad continues to this day. Fifty-seven percent of American Muslims have said that the Oct. 7 attack against Israel was “justified.” It’s not Islamophobic to point any of this out.

It’s also not Islamophobic to fear honor killings, persecution of gays, and the ongoing enslavement of Africans. In fact, it’s illiberal to hide these facts — which leftist media have done for decades.

An Israeli friend once said to me: “Israelis have to believe that there’s a difference between Islam and Islamism, the radicalization of Islam. We have no choice.” I understand that. Not believing in a distinction quashes all hope for peace in the Middle East. And the Abraham Accords as well as the help from Jordan and Saudi Arabia against Iran gives reason to provide hope.

But none of this means that we have no right to fear the millions who want to “globalize the Intifada.” We would be fools not to fear them. Most important, city governments and university administrations need to stop fearing the word Islamophobia and begin to act with moral clarity. The alternative goes against everything this country stands for.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is editor in chief of White Rose Magazine.

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