The Divergence of Judaism and Islam. Interdependence, Modernity, and Political Turmoil

(Joyce) #1
Introduction · 7

Jewish compatriots, notably in Berlin, where attempts were made to forge
an alliance against discrimination. The situation in Germany is different
than in France, where Muslim-Jewish tensions in the past ran high and
even resulted in violence. Anti-Muslim activity following 9/11 attributed
to racist elements reinforced fears—real or imaginary—that the fate of the
country’s Turkish Muslim minority in the twenty-first century might not
differ from the Jewish tragedies of the previous century.
Rutland presents a less idyllic appraisal of Muslim-Jewish interaction
in Australia and relates more to latent and overt tensions. In the first thor-
ough study of its kind, she engenders aspects of this relationship based
on vast field research. As in the European Union, Australia has absorbed
numerous Jewish immigrants after World War II and, since 1970, major
waves of Muslim immigrants. A country that prior to 1945 implemented
tough immigration policies and remained relatively homogeneous for
hundreds of years now confronted the challenges of multiculturalism.
The Jews, as a group, are largely of European origins. The Muslims,
however, were far more heterogeneous coming from Malaysia, Indone-
sia, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iran, being both
Sunnis and Shi ̔ites. Rutland addresses the problems of Muslim integra-
tion, anti-Muslim sentiments, and the concurrent increase of anti-Jewish
trends among both Muslims and the extreme right occurring since the
early 1990s. Despite the goodwill of some Australian political leaders, the
authorities failed to cope successfully with the animosities nurtured by
the growing Muslim population toward the Jews as well as the hatred of
the Australian Christian majority against Muslims.
The efforts and resources channeled to soothe tensions were meager.
Australian multiculturalism today is not one of accommodation but of
aggression. In this sense, as late as 2011, there are no better prospects
there for accommodation than in the Netherlands, which in the past en-
couraged Christian-Jewish-Muslim multicultural dialogue. In France, as-
similation of all elements of the population to the society, promoted long
ago as an alternative to the multicultural model, has thus far failed, too.
The Christian animosity toward Muslims is one thing. The main reason
for Muslim-Jewish tensions, as in France, has probably less to do with
the Israel-Palestine issue than with Muslim frustration over low socio-
economic burdens. The Muslims resent the privileged social position
of Australian Jews, and young Muslims, radicalized by militant imāms
and inspired by Islamist philosophies of the Saudi Arabian Wahhabi and

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