Orthodox Fraternities and Contingent Equalities: Muslims and Jews between Public (Health) Policy Discourse and Experience
Topics: Main Topic: Other, Jewish - Muslim Relations, Orthodox Judaism, Minorities, Politics, Policy, Health
Abstract: This paper critiques representations of observant Muslims and Jews in Britain as constituting an ‘Orthodox fraternity’ when it comes to equality discourse by drawing on policy activism around autopsy, COVID-19 protocols, and sexuality education. The Equality Act (2010) aims to protect people with ‘protected characteristics’ from discrimination, which include (but are not limited to) religion and sexual orientation. I suggest that religious minorities are presented in policy discourse as mobilizing the Equality Act to collaboratively defend their rights to protection of difference. Similarly, anthropological and sociological attention to organised interfaith activism reifies representations of collaborations between religious minorities but obscures situated valuations of equality. I instead examine the contingent value of equality by highlighting opposition to LGBT inclusion. The trope of ‘Orthodox fraternities’ emerges as a useful tool to critique the construction of collaborations between minorities in the context of ‘multiculturalism,’ while masking everyday experiences of prejudice and xenophobia.
“This Is Just Where We Are in History” Jewish-Muslim Dialogue, Temporality, and Modalities of Solidarity
Abstract: Building upon an ethnographic study of initiatives in Jewish-Muslim dialogue in the UK, I explore the way Muslim participants in such initiatives conceptualise the position of their community in the UK in relation to that of their Jewish co-citizens. I argue that while at first blush my Muslim interlocutors appear to read their community, in some historical time-frames, as being in a position of relative disadvantage in comparison to that of their Jewish counterparts, further analysis of their understanding of the positionalities of British Jews and British Muslims reveals a theorization that conveys a strong sense of solidarity with British Jewish citizens and unequivocally conceptualizes them as a political minority. I also suggest that these comparative reflections on the minority condition bear a productive potential for drawing public attention to specific challenges that different minority groups face.
Abstract: From an intergroup conflict perspective, this paper studies cross perceptions and patterns of sociability between Jews and Muslims in a French suburban multicultural context, the town of Sarcelles ( Val d’Oise), where violent anti-Semitic riots took place in July 2014. Drawing on a sample representative of the town’s adult population from an experimental telephone survey conducted in January 2019, we show that everyday relations between Jews and Muslims do not show any particular tension, and that antisemitism is massively condemned. However there is a strong feeling of insecurity among Jews who both tend to be closest to their own group, and are seen as a separate group, with more social and political influence locally than other groups.
Abstract: Drawing on original interviews conducted between 2016 and 2018, this article explores understandings of Muslim-Jewish relations among Jews who immigrated from Morocco to France after 1945. These interviews suggest that the weight of currently circulating meta-discourses can lead to dissonances between individuals’ personal memories and the collective memories that they invoke in regard to Jewish-Muslim relations. As these interviews were conducted as part of a larger study of graduates of the schools of the Alliance Israelite Universelle in the MENA who immigrated to France, Canada and the United States after 1945, the author places these French findings in a larger comparative context, considering how the memories and perspectives of Moroccan Jews who immigrated to France converge and diverge from those who emigrated to North America.
Topics: Main Topic: Other, Interfaith Dialogue, Jewish - Muslim Relations, Dialogue, Language, Education: Adult Education, Ethnography
Abstract: This paper analyses interactions between Jews and Muslims in Paris through a case-study of two Parisian not for profit organizations: Centre Culturel Dalâla and Parler en Paix. The aim of both organizations is to teach Hebrew and Arabic language to students of all levels. Based on fieldwork carried out within these organizations and through participant observation of their classes and cultural activities, I investigate the interpersonal relationships they create between Jews and Muslims on the one hand, and within each group on the other. Using a comparative approach, the paper discusses Jewish-Muslim relations, an often overlooked field within interreligious studies. It proposes an investigation through three perspectives: the generational, the memorial and post-colonial, and finally the transnational into which the Muslim-Jewish relationship in France is embedded allowing us to go beyond both irenic or binary visions of the relationship between Jews and Muslims in France, leaving behind a vision marked by an often tragic present.
Precarious Companionship: Discourses of Adversity and Commonality in Jewish-Muslim Dialogue Initiatives in Germany
Abstract: Muslims and Jews are an integral part of interreligious activism in Germany. They share a stricter notion of monotheism as compared to Christians. Local Jewish-Muslim dialogue takes place in the shadow of the Middle East conflict as well as radical Islamic terror attacks, and both pursue similar interests, i.e. regarding circumcision and halal or kosher butchering. We explore how the multi-layered setting shapes Jewish-Muslim encounters within interreligious initiatives in Germany. We analyse discourses in two spheres of interreligious dialogue. The first is local in-person dialogue initiatives that took place in the years 2011/12 during the circumcision debate. The second is translocal dialogue activities presented in social media that took place in 2020 when dialogue had moved to digital frameworks and social media due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The focal point of our comparative analysis is the discourses of adversity and commonality shaping these conversations and the narratives of difference and unity they produce.
Topics: Main Topic: Other, Islamophobia, Minorities, Israeli Expatriates, National Identity, Nationalism
Abstract: Around 2011 Israeli (Jewish) immigration to Germany became a recurring subject in public discourse. Reflecting ideological investments, the migration was reported with curiosity. Israeli migrants turned into Jews in German imagination, contradicting their self-definition of being primarily Israelis. As Jews they were welcome, but within limits. If the ‘guests’ expressed too much agency and challenged the status quo of German/Jewish and more so Jewish/Muslim and Israeli/Palestinian relations, things could become complicated. While Palestinian issues are met with increasing support across the social, media, and political spheres, Palestinians are not that welcome as (Muslim) migrants. They are suspected of importing a ‘new antisemitism.’ This paper seeks to unravel the conflicting attitudes towards the interlinked categories Israelis/Jews and Muslims/Palestinians, by focussing on the issue of the politics of hospitality. These reveal how agentic presences of those categorised as others destabilise the assumed ethnic, and ethno-religious boundaries of the German, nominally Christian, majority.
Topics: Main Topic: Other, Islamophobia, Holocaust Memorials, Holocaust Education, Holocaust, Holocaust Commemoration, Citizenship, Secularity, Minorities
Abstract: Germany is hailed as a successful model of facing difficult pasts. Based on ethnographic research in civic education, this article situates Holocaust commemoration within German secularism. It brings together memory, Palestine and African-American studies to articulate how Holocaust memory manages an enduring crisis of citizenship. This crisis is predicated upon the disparity between the ideal of freedom and the reality of ethno-religious difference. The article demonstrates how Holocaust memory has been institutionally folded into secular time leading to a more liberal nation-state. It further explores memorial sites as extensions of secular governance, but also spaces in which embodied forms of memory, such as the Palestinian experience of catastrophe enter and desire an extension of this humanity. This notion of humanity co-produces the figure of the “anti-human.” This figure is enabled by an older strand of antisemitism and has an “afterlife” in the real or imagined body of the “Palestinian-Muslim troublemaker.”
Abrahamic Stranger: Muslim German Intellectuals on Jewish German Intellectuals and Questions of Belonging
Topics: Jewish - Muslim Relations, Main Topic: Other, Multiculturalism, Antisemitism, Islamophobia, Universities / Higher Education
Abstract: Religious minorities have always been at the centre of the German nation-state’s self-understanding, as it came to define itself vis a vis, and often against, them. Historically, this can be seen specifically in the Jewish experience, and today reverberates in the experience of Muslims grappling with a position of alterity in German society. We will move beyond the scholarship on these two religious minority groups to that of these two religious minority groups—that is the intellectual milieu of German Jews and German Muslims. Both have confronted the insider-outsider status of religious minorities in Germany, while themselves occupying—and thinking from—this position of alterity. As Jewish intellectuals a century prior, Muslim intellectuals are confronting the (im)possibility of fully belonging to the society at hand. In so doing, they are, at times inadvertently, coming into conversation with Jewish intellectuals past on ideas surrounding the practice of religion, pluralism, minority-state relations, and social ethics.
Topics: Jewish - Muslim Relations, Main Topic: Other, Care and Welfare, Haredi / Strictly Orthodox Jews, Ethnography, Jewish Women, Multiculturalism
Abstract: Drawing on ethnographic research with Haredi women in Stamford Hill to explore the limits of the secular vocabularies which dominate sociological diversity discourse, I ask why an assumed Jewish-Muslim enmity became its focus. First my response explores how a political theology of European Christendom, and a particular conjuncture of its race-religion constellation (Topolski 2018) finds expression in a secular concept of conviviality that regulates possibilities for intimacy in Hackney. I develop the claim that rationalist ideals of liberal sociality are in part mobilized to repress and contain violent histories of assimilation and exclusion in the borough. Second, I turn to Haredi women’s expression of an alternative Jewish-Muslim picture through intimacies that diverge from a convivial grammar. This leads me to tentatively explore how a vernacular Hasidic concept of chesed might hold together antinomies of care and violence, and offer alternatives for being-with, and mourning-with the neighbour in violent times.
Abstract: The Jew and the Muslim are historically among the primary figures of alterity in Europe, the constitutive outsiders who have shaped what Europe is, notably around questions of conflict, migration and integration. However, on the ground contemporary Jewish and Muslim communities have often been at the forefront of critical engagement with these questions, for example with regard to the Mediterranean migration crisis and heightened societal security concerns. This introduction sets out the main questions and themes of this volume.
Abstract: Antisemitism and Islamophobia are two phenomena that have seemingly been growing in parallel across the globe in the period since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. As discussed in other chapters of this book, the question of whether they are essentially similar to one another or fundamentally different is highly controversial. This chapter will examine the question from the perspective of the Balkans. There, violence and chauvinism against Jews and against Muslims have frequently gone hand in hand, but have also diverged at times from one another. The relationship of state policy and nationalist ideology towards Muslims and Jews has been shaped by a common framework, but varied according to political circumstances
Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Search for Common Ground in French Antiracist Movements since 1898
Topics: Antisemitism, Islamophobia, Jewish - Muslim Relations, Main Topic: Antisemitism, Anti-Zionism, Politics, Racism
Abstract: The dawn of the twenty-first century was a testing time for ideals of a united front against racism in France, witnessing sharp disagreement among antiracists about the relative importance of antisemitism and post-colonial racism, including Islamophobia. A flashpoint for this debate was in 2004, when France’s best-known antiracist groups—Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP), Ligue des droits de l’homme (LDH), Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme (LICRA) and SOS Racisme—publicly broke ranks over precisely such a fault-line. This chapter aims to set this acrimonious debate in a much longer-term historical context, by asking whether the opposing positions of what have been termed the ‘Four Sisters’ of French antiracism can be explained by truly irreconcilable approaches.