More Offensive than Hilali?


In the last week or so I’ve made an important discovery. Believe it or not, I’ve discovered that it is easier to slaughter a halal goose than a kosher one.

Not that I am too fond of eating geese. I’m not even sure if Islamic or Jewish dietary laws would allow me to eat a goose. So why on earth am I talking about this subject?


Some months back, I was among a large number of Muslims prepared to join mainstream media in Australia and New Zealand in issuing a stern fatwa  against the offensive remarks of Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, the self-proclaimed Mufti of Australia and New Zealand.

Readers might recall the enormous fuss made over Sheik Hilali’s comparison of women to meat and men to cats. These were grossly offensive remarks. Later, he made remarks insulting to Anglo-Australians.

In fact, we’ve been forced to criticise a few Sheiks over the years. There was the young Sheik from Liverpool in South Western Sydney who pronounced that certain women are eligible for rape. Then there were the thick-Sheiks calling bin Laden a nice bloke.

There were the crazy Sheiks and Muslim politicians who encouraged Muslims to burn embassies in response to a dozen Danish cartoons; the Afghan judge who wanted to sentence some poor Afghan to death because he wanted to convert to Christianity; and the Muslims behaving atrociously in response to some papal comments.

On all such occasions, a large number of Muslims went on the record to criticise these halal geese. We did this because we believed what they said and did was offensive and wrong. And we’ve been pilloried for it from various sources of ghetto thinking.

In my own case, I’ve been banned from the Muslim Village internet forums, and have had persons from those forums make crude remarks because they did not like the way I criticised the Sheiks. And I’ve had an editorial in The Australian make an issue of my alleged non-Australian (and presumably un-Australian) ethnicity.

I’ve been happy to join the chorus of people calling a spade a spade, even if it has meant being pilloried by those pretending it’s either a golden nugget or a terrorist’s bomb.

The dogs bark, but the caravan must move on. Some Muslims will continue to be defensive even when reality slaps them in the face. I just have to ignore my co-religionists whose idea of getting even is just to get angry. But I would like to ask some questions of those of my fellow critics who choose to turn around and criticise me.

Last week, a Jewish community newspaper did a very brave thing. They did something I doubt the Muslim Village idiots or any other Australian Muslim media would ever do.

On Thursday 16 February, the Australian Jewish News exposed the racism of a visiting Israeli academic, Professor Raphael Israeli. AJN broke the story of Dr Israeli making offensive and derogatory comments about the 360,000 Australians who ticked the ‘Muslim’ box on their census forms. Here’s part of what they caught Dr Israeli saying:

You have to adopt some kind of preventative policy. In order not to get there, limit the immigration and therefore you keep them a marginal minority, which will be a nuisance, but cannot pose a threat to the demographic and security aspects of a country. And one of the big possibilities is Australia, so they will continue to come legally, or illegally, and settle here, and when they get to the rate of the 10 per cent like in France, then you will see life will become untenable.

Then they control whole sections of the economy, there are areas in France where you cannot be elected to Parliament without the support of the Muslims and so on. And therefore, by increasing their numbers they start to have an impact on the social, economic, political and cultural nature of the country.

Muslim populations, which are very often minorities, very often abuse that hospitality and use democracy, openness and tolerance to their benefit, to spread their faith and to intimidate their hosts, and very often, to impose their standards and values upon them.

Thanks to Sharyn Raggett

AJN ‘s story was a brave one in the circumstances. Dr Israeli was invited to be a scholar-in-residence at a mainstream and respected institution of Jewish education linked to a major Australian university.

Within 24 hours, the Fairfax Press ran the scoop as a front page story. Their websites also carried blogs on the story where readers could comment. Fairfax sought clarification from Dr Israeli after he claimed to be misunderstood. He responded by claiming that all he had suggested was that countries whose Muslim populations reached a ‘critical mass’ would ‘have problems,’ and that this was ‘the general rule, so if it applies everywhere, it applies in Australia.’

To make matters worse, Israeli has now gone to a far-Right website and effectively accused Muslim Australians (and indeed Muslims everywhere) of being ‘thugs.’  He also spoke in a Hilali-esque fashion of the ‘provinciality’ of Australia and of the Cronulla riots as ‘Muslim riots.’

The Fairfax Press ran this story hard, just as they had run the Hilali story hard. It was also run by at least one tabloid current affairs show.

Yet for some reason, one sector of the print media behaved as though they wanted the story to go away. Those media outlets that were so critical of Sheik Hilali are now strangely silent about Dr Israeli.

The Daily Telegraph‘s Friday edition devoted enormous space to some woman in a headscarf attacking their cameraman. The Saturday Daily Telegraph ran a tiny item at the bottom of page seven. I’m not aware if the Weekend Australian ran anything in its print edition. The story didn’t reach The Oz‘s website on Friday until after midday.

I wonder if The Oz will devote seven entire pages of its broadsheet to Dr Israeli’s comments or indeed his track record of saying and writing similar comments for over a decade. I wonder if regular writers for The Oz will declare Jews to be a bigger threat to Australia than climate change, or will hold all Jews collectively responsible for what Dr Israeli said notwithstanding the fact that Jewish leaders have dissociated themselves from him.

I would be int
erested to know whether a junior Oz editor will be standing up at a journalism conference in the NSW Parliament and using the Dr Israeli incident to talk about the importance of Australia addressing its ‘Jewish question,’ just as he used the Hilali incident to talk about the ‘Muslim question.’ (If he does, he can be sure I’ll be a smartarse and ask what his proposal is for a ‘Final Solution’!)

So why do certain newspapers refrain from making an issue about Dr Israeli’s offensive remarks? I think the answer is quite straightforward. There was a time when conservatives sympathised with anti-Semitism. Hardly any Nazi troops entered the Netherlands, yet hundreds of Dutch Jewish families (including Anne Frank’s) were sent to the death camps of Nazi Germany.

Many such families could have fled to the United States or other Western countries, but were hindered by immigration laws that discriminated against them. Recently released letters show that Anne Frank’s father tried desperately to get his family to the United States. He was unable to thanks to a conservative government placing restrictions on the migration of refugees from Europe. Although not stated, these restrictions were targeted at Jewish refugees.

In his comments, Dr Israeli has called for even more blatantly discriminatory immigration policies. He expressed certain attitudes toward Muslim migrants. And, dare I say, the reason certain newspapers refuse to run so hard against him is because his comments almost coincide with comments made by their employer.

The sad reality is that in conservative circles we have seen one form of anti-Semitism being replaced by another. Conservatives are adopting the logic of White-Pride and neo-Nazi groups. Yesterday’s Jews are today’s Muslims. So will today’s conservatives be tomorrow’s Nazis?

It saddens me to say this because deep down inside I still regard myself as a conservative. There was a time when I suspected such prejudices may have existed within the conservative camp. Yet, given the muted response from conservative sections of the media to Dr Israeli’s offensive remarks, it’s clear that racism and prejudice are alive and well on John Howard’s side.

Which I guess is how he’d like it.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.