It’s complicated, says Jewish academic of Muslim-Jew ties

slezakKUALA LUMPUR: Muslims and Jews have a very “complicated relationship” due to the conflict in Palestine, said Jewish academic and vocal anti-Israel activist, Dr Peter Slezak.

Speaking at an event organised by Boycott, Divestment & Sanction Malaysia, the local chapter of the global movement campaigning for an academic boycott of the Zionist regime, Slezak, whose parents were survivors of the Holocaust, said both communities need to be educated to overcome the assumptions against each other.

“The Jews and the Muslims have a very complicated relationship because of the Palestine-Israel situation,” he said, adding that it was not correct to say all Jews dislike Muslims and vice versa.

“They need to be educated and immunised against these kind of racist assumptions. The causes of this conflict are not the religion of Islam, and it’s not the Palestinians.

“There are political problems that we have to understand. So it all goes together, and our job is to help clarify the real source of the problem, and not be manipulated by the propaganda,” Slezak told reporters after delivering a lecture titled “Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – A proposal from secular Jewish academic.”

Not all Jews support Israel, but…

Slezak also disagreed with the view that all Jews support the state of Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians.

“Unfortunately, Israel is acting in the name of all Jews.

“Therefore, the Jews have a responsibility to stand up, say it’s not in my name and I, as a Jew, do not accept that Israel is committing its crime and stealing the (Palestinians’) land for us, for the Jew,” said Slezak. “But they don’t do that enough.”

He said while Israel and Judaism were clearly two different entities, the confusion was fuelled by the silence of the Jewish communities over the Palestinian conflict.

“On one hand, they (the Jews) will look away, they will be silent when Israel do terrible things to Palestinians,” said Slezak, who co-founded advocacy group Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV), and a member of the Australia-Palestine Advocacy Network .

“I’m fighting against the leading, organised Jewish community in Australia, and we are constantly questioning them on their silence.

“On the other hand, they criticise and vilify the Jews who speak out,” he said.

He said there was a tendency of Jewish groups to dismiss Jews who oppose Israel as “self-hating” and therefore “not to be taken seriously”.

Slezak reminded of the golden rule in Judaism, “Don’t do to somebody else what you would find hateful to you.”

“It’s the universal principle that we should all follow.”