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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Monday, May 02, 2005

Being Jewish in Bangladesh

The lack of understanding of Judaism and Israel in Bangladesh is examined by writer Tanveer Ahmed in the country's leading English language paper (scroll down the page.)

Ahmed reckons the reason behind ignorance in the community is simply because so few Jews have ever lived in Bangladesh:

"An interesting fact is that the Bangladeshi passport is accepted in every country in the world except for Israel. There was also the notable incident in 2003 where journalist Mr Salah Choudhury was arrested for anti-religious activities and accused of treason for daring to board a plane in Dhaka that was bound ultimately to Israel. He was going to address a human rights conference in Tel Aviv to help encourage tolerance between Muslims and Jews."

Sadly, anti-Semitism knows no bounds.


Blogger syed-m said...

Anti-semitism, like all racism, is not something to take lightly. 'Jewish Lobby' conspiracy theories abound amongst many Muslims, particularly amongst the middle classes. The poor are too busy trying to survive, the rich are too busy making money to care about such things. At least, that's my impression from visiting Pakistan and the Gulf and from speaking to expatriate Muslims in Australia. I recently spoke to a family friend who was quite sure that reports of TNI massacres of Acehnese were fabrications made by the global zionist conspiracy (presumably based in New York, but don't hold me to that. I haven't checked the white pages recently). I agree that the main problem is a lack of interaction between Muslims and Jews. Further, on the Muslim side of things, I think there's a distinct lack of leadership. Yes, many well known Muslim leaders have openly condemned anti-semitism. But I think a great deal of this condemnation has been a PR exercise.

Dare I say it, if we want to educate people about anti-semitism as we would any other form of racism, perhaps it is worthwhile to simply describe it as racism. For the same reason that I don't like the term 'Islamaphobia', I think describing anti-semitism as that moves away from the fundamental causes of it. In the end, it has everything to do with the manipulating people's insecurity into a fear of a convenient other.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005 5:30:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Ignorance remains huge on all sides. Many Jews hold highly racist views on the Arab world and Palestinians. Equally, anti-Semitism is rife in the Middle East and within many Muslim communities.
Sadly, since 9/11, Western govts have used fear and hatred against 'them' to silence dissent. By all means examine the Islamic world, but take a good, long look at Western racism and responsibility.
Why has it become so hard to discuss these issues with maturity in Australia?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005 6:49:00 pm  

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