Abrahamic cousins hand in hand towards the future
Anti-Semitism is a phenomenon that resurges through the waves of history. Previously, until the middle of the 20th century, it was mainly Christian Europe that stood guilty of discrimination, abuse and murder, and still the danger is not over yet, despite the lessons learned. Today, anti-Semitism has instead largely been inherited from Europe by the former protectors of the Jewish people and religion, the Muslim world. From protecting and safeguarding Jewish well-being during empires such as al Andalus, the Abbasids and the Ottomans, when Jewish religious and cultural life flourished and is also known as the “golden age” in Jewish historiography, several of these countries became among the top producers of anti-Semites and anti-Semitism. Somewhere something went terribly wrong, with political and defeatist motives to bring in this kind of foreign thoughts to the region’s history.
Today, the Jews, the Abrahamic cousins of the Muslims, live under threat and anxiety in the Nordic countries. Both from right-wing extremists and left-wing extremists, but unfortunately much of the problem has come to eminate from Muslims. Anger over the Palestinian issue and political agitators disguising themselves as religious leaders recycling European ideas from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the 19th century have taken root among some Muslim communities and groups. Often these sentiments remain within the concerned communities, but sometimes they unfortunately emerges into society, both verbally and physically. This is when abuse is thrown, synagogues are attacked or conspiracy theories thrive on social media. Things that just triggers a negative downward spiral.
Because the threat to Judaism comes so extensively from the Muslim side, Muslim representatives who do not share those values or views also have a key responsibility in seeking to counter this development. There are also those who do, and the importance of their work cannot be measured. They have the responsibility to initiate and engage in dialogue with the Jewish communities and interests and seek to influence their own communities in a positive and constructive direction regarding these matters. Initiatives are needed for various forms of dialogue and cooperation, and we on the Muslim side have a special responsibility to be the outstretched hand. Understandably, the infected situation has resulted in prejudices on the other side as well, which must nevertheless be addressed. In this, Jews and Muslims should be able to work together for both short-term and long-term results and gains.
The situation in the Nordic countries has been extremely distressing and precarious specifically when it comes to the situations of the Jewish groups. Governments and government initiatives have also failed in their handling of the issues or proved incapable of the task, thus in practice leaving the issues to reasonable private actors, such as associations, religious communities, NGO:s and organizations, to try to solve them. Therefore, it is also important not to attempt to derail those initiatives through undue interference or due to prestige, envy or moralizing. Solving these types of issues is urgent. Both groups also have similar interests in matters of representation, education, rights regarding the expression of faith, citizenship and other things where one should be each other’s support, not opponents. It is our hope that both ours and others’ positive initiatives will be able to continue and lead to goodness, security and tolerance, and not hatred or discrimination, into this new as yet unknown year 2021.