Why is the “Extremism” Label not being Applied to the Orthodox Jewish Community?

Photo: ALAMY

A religious group in Britain has decreed that, “no child will be allowed to learn in our school” if their mother drives because women driving “goes against the laws of modesty within our society”

The Community has been robust in its responses, defending the practice:

“We are proud of what we stand for and we do not feel the need to excuse ourselves for our deeply held beliefs and staunchly maintained way of life. It has withstood the test of time and is not prone to the vagaries of passing fads… It is a fact that most women in our community do not drive cars. It is equally true that a fair number of women do drive cars openly and entirely unhindered…”

The anti-Muslim haters and hate-groups would have jumped on this story like a dog on a bone: Those darn extremist Islamical Islamists, they wanna take ova R country! Those extremists are oppressing their women! They want a dual legal system for their extremism! Reform! Extremists! Extremists! Extremists!

Douglas Murray would have written a diatribe piece in the Spectator. Citing the fact the community is doubling every eight years, Murray would probably call for the deportation of all Muslims in Britain, while Caroline Cox would perhaps submit another Bill banning Shari’ah courts.  Theresa May would have once again attacked Islam in a speech on new powers to ban, well Islam, and to tackle “extremism”, arguing that,

“there is increasing evidence that a small but significant number of people living in Britain – almost all of whom are British citizens – reject our values… [For example] Shari’a law being used to discriminate against women.”

The separatist, “us and them” narrative as exemplified by the reference to the “laws of modesty within our society”, and the fact that community regards their religion as a “defining part of their identity”, would have also been attacked. Theresa May would have said,

“They promote a fundamental incompatibility between Islamic and Western values, an inevitable divide between “them and us”.”

David Cameron would have “weighed-in” into the discussion, like he did regarding sex-separated Islamic events on university campuses about a year ago.

Given the fact that notice was issued by a faith school which was previously rated “good” by Ofsted, Ofsted would have stormed the school by now, placing it into special measures. The local council would have removed the governing body with an Interim-Executive Board, comprised of “goyim”, to the shock and horror of the local community.

Michael Gove would be contributing his hate to the chorus of “British values”, “extremism” and the hidden enemy within, the mythical Trojan Horse.

Strangely enough we have not witnessed any such rhetoric or action from any of the abovementioned anti-Muslim bigots.  Silence is the overwhelming reaction.  What happened to the responsibility to promote “British values”? The incident is distinct in that most of the discussion around it has been outside the paradigm of “extremism”, “identity”, and “integration”.

As of writing this piece, only Nicky Morgan, the minister for women and equalities, has spoken out saying that this was, “completely unacceptable in modern Britain”. The Department for Education has launched an investigation into the schools too.

She, and the investigation, however remained aloof of the word “extremism”.

The community of course is not a Muslim one; it is the Belz sect within the Jewish Haredi community of Stamford Hill and the decree has been issued by their spiritual head in the Zionist entity, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach. This explains why the Home Office has remained silent on this precise case, deflecting the incident by stating that it would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases. In fact, it went further, making an excuse for the discriminatory treatment of Jewish female drivers adding that the government “believes everyone in this country is equal and everybody is free to lead their lives as they see fit“. Yes Haredi Jews are free to live their lives as they see fit; Muslims on the other, must dissociate or “reform” their beliefs in order to be freed from the shackles of “extremism”; they must abandon Shari’ah, and have their Shari’ah councils investigated, while Jewish Beth Din Courts are given the green-light to continue their “discrimination”.  This is state-level, structural Muslim minority discrimination.  This is neoconservative Britain.

Religious Freedom vs. Extremism

Those who have joined the “Islamism”-bandwagon, far from calling the practice “extremism” have defended it using liberalism itself. Brendan O’Neill, the editor of Spiked Online and a person who has no problems sharing a discussion panel with the bigoted neocon Douglas Murray, gave an interesting analysis. But before looking at this analysis it is worth noting his recent views in the context of Muslims.  In an article, which I like to call the “Kant rant”, he argues that “Islamism” on campus must be dealt with by making a robust defence of Enlightenment and “rational knowledge”. What is this “Islamism”? For O’Neill the libertarian, it is the shocking revelation that a “student in niqab” said, “As a Muslim, I don’t believe in democracy”.

Further examples are crystallised in the following passage:

“I have been pretty disturbed by what I have seen and heard. I’ve seen row after row of British-born kids trying to look as foreign as possible, the men in smocks (their Nike trainers sticking out the bottom), and the women in fashion-conscious veils, the really edgy ones covering up everything but their eyes. It’s fashion as f***-you, where the aim is to appear as ostentatiously non-Western as possible, so that your very presence becomes a challenge to any speaker who was thinking of asserting his secular beliefs over your religious ones. And I’ve heard these Brits-in-desert-dress argue that freedom is overrated…”

The Kant rant descends into a condescending diatribe as religious Muslim wear and beliefs are viewed from the prism of “us and them” – the supreme Western and the non-Western.  These “dangerous and discriminatory beliefs”, are manifest because, according to O’Neill,

“they are trying their hand, seeing how far they can go in dissing what they see as Western ideas and texts and the old, apparently fake ideals of freedom and rationalism.”

Recall, that the “us and them” sentiment is regarded by neoconservative assumptions on counter-extremism as a sign of radicalisation – clearly mixing with Douglas Murray and his side kick Maajid Nawaz has had an effect.

Now, returning to the edict banning women in Britain from driving, note that the school had further placed pressure on parents by stating that they should not come to the school.  As already highlighted, religious identity is “defining” for the Belz Orthodoxy.  In defending the practice a spokesperson from the Belz community stated,

 “We are proud of what we stand for and we do not feel the need to excuse ourselves for our deeply held beliefs and staunchly maintained way of life… It has withstood the test of time and is not prone to the vagaries of passing fads.”

These “passing fads” presumably include liberal, “Western” notions of “equality” and non-discrimination. I completely understand their view.  O’Neill, who calls for institutions to make a robust defence of Enlightenment and “rational knowledge”, and who categorises religious beliefs of Muslims as “Islamism” which is associated with terrorism, takes a completely different angle when it comes to the Haredi Jews:

“Nicky Morgan has no right to tell Orthodox Jews how to behave.”

He places Morgan’s words into the context of the Inquisition.  After comparing the practice to taking shoes off in mosque or a depiction of Jesus (peace be upon him) on a crucifix, he sets aside issues around discrimination and equality, by invoking “choice”, i.e. that the society chooses to live by such rules. Religious freedom, “is the liberty liberals forgot”, we are told.  He then cites Locke, and argues in what seems like a tinge of relativism, that religious groups should be free to write their own rules and that it was “tyrannical” people who expected non-mainstream religious people to oppose their own faith.

The previous O’Neill, who presumptuously categorised traditional Muslim practices as fashion as f***-you, where the aim is to appear as ostentatiously non-Western as possible, is suddenly tolerant and calls others to tolerate religious freedom of Jews. There are no concerns here about “us and them”, the West and non-West, despite the fact that the “desert” religion is the defining identity for this particular group of people. Moreover, the passionate libertarian has no problem with the fact that it was an educational institution (albeit faith-based) in Britain from which such a demand emanated. Neither is there a reference to the “cult of relativism”.

Muslims are discussed through the “extremism” discourse underscored by a presumption of anti-Westernism; Jewish practices are discussed within the framework of religious freedom.

Discussion of “Extremism”

Only one comment piece referred to the practice as “extremism”, and that too was by a former Orthodox Jew. Where an article does discuss “extremism” it fails to apply it to the practice, instead drawing the reader’s attention to the legal conundrum the proposed Extremism Bill will have to face.  Clive Coleman, the legal affairs correspondent for the BBC almost jubilantly says,

“This goes to the heart of what is a fantastically difficult problem now facing the government in drafting a counter-extremism bill that protects against extremism, but also safeguards religious freedom… It throws up the question, is a religious ban on women driving active opposition to the British value of individual liberty? And how do you square that with the other British value of mutual respect and tolerance for different faiths and beliefs?”

Yes, all “jubilantly” interesting questions, which I have been elucidating for over a year as Muslims have been feeling the extra-legal, perhaps even illegal application of the “extremism” definition in various cases involving bodies as disparate as the police to the Charity Commission, but there is no declaration of the Orthodox Jewish practice as “extremism”.

Do we need any further proof that the Orwellian “extremism” labelling is targeted at the Muslim minority?

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