Milstein: Condemn Anti-Semitism Without Equivocation to Islamophobia

Let’s get the terms right.

In 2020, Americans took the streets to protest the death of George Floyd. The phrase “Black lives matter” was born. This chant and slogan is now recognized throughout the world to represent a stance against Black intolerance. When some tried to counter it with “all lives matter” they were perceived as dismissive of the unique struggles of the Black community. One of the better arguments is that universalizing a concept when a specific group of people are harmed, is tantamount to an empty platitude or even a bigoted retort.

Following October 7th Hamas massacre of more than 1,200 Israelis, injuring 7,000 more, the Jewish community is asking the same: condemn antisemitism. Condemn it without caveat and without universal language of “standing against all forms of hate”. Yet, time and time again, “Islamophobia” is evoked as a counterpart of antisemitism. This is misguided. It’s unproductive. And it’s unfair.Let me be clear.Bigotry, prejudice, and violence must be called out and combatted forcefully – whether it is directed at Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or anyone else. Anyone who traffics in hatred must be condemned, and when necessary, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.That said, by definition, antisemitism and Islamophobia refer to two very different phenomena that have no connections to one another. When lumped together, the message is muddled at best and offensive at worst.

The term Islamophobia does not mean hate against Muslims

First, it’s important to define that despite common misconception, the term Islamophobia doesn’t represent hate against Muslims but rather irrational fear of Muslims. “Islamophobia” as a term has existed since the nineteenth century, but became prominent in 1989 when Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie following his publication of The Satanic Verses. The fatwa not only imposed a death penalty on Rushdie, but also criminalized all the publishers and translators of the book. When Rushdie was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2007 for his services to literature, Iran accused Britain of “Islamophobia”.

Since then, the Islamophobic label has been used increasingly to deter and ultimately criminalize any scrutiny of the behavior any groups or individuals who happen to be Muslim, even when those are committing atrocities like Hamas, or advancing radical or harmful ideas, like Iran’s Mullahs.

Hatred toward Muslim is real, but it doesn’t equal Islamophobia. The Australian man who killed 51 Muslims in 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand was an extremist bigot who hated Muslims. He did not irrationally fear them.

Thus, the better term to use is Muslim-hate and not Islamophobia.

Muslims are often the perpetrators of Antisemitism

Second, the threat to the Muslim community has one clear culprit – far right white supremacism. While these same supremacists often include antisemitism in their ideology, Jews also face threats from every ideological and political direction, including Muslims who harbor antisemitic views more than any other religious community. Therefore, the treatment of hate against Muslims is not and cannot be similar to the treatment of antisemitism.

Since October 7th, anti-Israel and antisemitic rallies led by Muslims have been held around the world. Calls to kill Jews and eliminate the Jewish state spread widely across the Muslim world. Many featured explicit support for Hamas’ atrocious actions. Pro-Hamas imagery was displayed in Tunisia and antisemitic chants rained from Cairo to Italy. These demonstrations are no surprise, given that:

The simple truth is, many Muslims hold bigoted views towards Jews. Stating this truth is not Islamophobic nor rooted in Muslim hate. Ignoring this truth appeases antisemites.

Therefore, lumping antisemitism and Islamophobia together creates a bizarre and ironic situation where the victims and perpetrators are treated the same and looked at from the same lens.

Islamophobia is used as a weapon against those who call out anti-Semitism

Third, accusations of Islamophobia are often used by extremists to whitewash, obfuscate, and distract from dangerous and growing radical movements in the Muslim world.

Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015, the prime minister of France, Manuel Valls, refused to use the term “Islamophobia” to describe the phenomenon of anti-Muslim prejudice, because, he said, the accusation of Islamophobia is often used as a weapon by apologists for radical Islamists to silence critics.

Few stand up publicly today against radical Islam and those who do risk being silenced under the label of Islamophobes. The sword of Islamophobia is wielded to deliberately chill discourse and narrow the public marketplace of ideas.

We cannot let accusations of Islamophobia silence us when we confront and defend ourselves against the radical ideologies that exist in the Muslim communities and are now growing in Europe and America. Ideologies that undermine our values and seek to target the Jewish people in Israel and worldwide.

The Muslim Brotherhood, its Palestinian wing—Hamas, and its American wing— CAIR, are designated as terrorist organizations by many countries around the world. Confronting CAIR, whose director said he was “happy to see” Palestinians break out of Gaza on October 7th, is not Islamophobic. Luckily, the White House now agrees.

Confronting Mehdi Hasan, the former MSNBC and Al Jazeera journalist, who pushes conspiracy theories about Israel and defended Rep, Ilhan Omar’s antisemitic comments, is not Islamophobic.

Confronting Rep. Tlaib, who called the 10/7 attack “resistance”, lies about Israel regularly, and invokes “from the river to the sea”, is not Islamophobic.

And most importantly, calling out the heinous crimes committed by Hamas against Jews is not Islamophobic. As a matter of fact, standing against Hamas – an organization with complete disregard to Christian, Jewish and Muslim lives and freedoms – is neither Islamophobic nor Muslim hate.

These individuals and organizations deserve to be publicly criticized and discredited not because they are Muslim, but because they are guilty of antisemitism and hate.

In the wake of October 7th, it’s time for our leaders and community to recognize that antisemitism and Islamophobia don’t go hand in hand, have nothing in common, and lumping them together leads to more divisiveness and misunderstanding of both communities.

I stand in solidarity with everyone who faces prejudice and discrimination because of their ethnicity or beliefs. Any decent person ought to. That’s why I will continue speaking out against radical Islam and other extremist movements. That’s why I will not stay silent in the face of phony accusations of Islamophobia.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post. 


Adam Milstein is an Israeli-American “Venture Philanthropist.” He can be reached at, on Twitter @AdamMilstein, and on Facebook

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EDITORS NOTE: This Glazov Gang column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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