Should "Arab Muslim Extremists" be called "anti-semites" when Arabs are Semites themselves?
I'm bothered by the USA mainstream media referring to "Muslim Extremists" as anti-Semites, because, Arabs (which make up the major part of Islam) are Semites themselves....
Just thought I'd ask for your opinion, since you've written some excellent articles about the Nazi Holocaust
Hi John- Good question. It is certainly true that if you go far enough back in history both the Jews and the Arabs descend from Semitic tribes that migrated into the Middle east. I am not sure why the Jewish people, exclusively, started being referred to as Semites (I obviously need to do some research over the next few days).
When the Hebrew tribes, many of whom lived in Judah (today Judea). embraced monotheism and began to worship Yahweh (YHWH) a clear separation emerged between them and all the other Semitic tribes who still practiced polytheism. Of course the Arab Semitic peoples of Saudi Arabia embraced monotheism when Muhammed and his followers introduced Islam.
I think the current mainstream media may be unaware of all the historical particulars and I think they are continuing to use the nomenclature that has been in place at least since shortly after World War II. I am not sure why the Arabic peoples never adopted the term Semite for their own use. I do know that the Nazis referred to the Jews as Semites, but I am not sure when that term was first introduced or by whom.
this is a tangential issue , but it is worth mentioning because it adds to the confusion. Catholicism is a religion whose adherents are of many different races and nationalities. Being Jewish is not so simple. There are Israeli Jews (as well as non-Israeli) (Semites by blood) who are secular - professing no faith and who do not observe the tenets of Judaism.
On the other hand, it is possible for people of any racial or national background to study, practice, and be accepted into a Jewish synagogue and practice the Jewish faith, in other words convert to Judaism. But are they then considered Semites? More importantly, do Arabs consider them Semites?
So what does anti-Semitism actually mean? What are we to make of this confusing and overlapping set of terms? I am sorry I don't have a simple clear cut answer; it is a complicated and confusing situation. But thnak you for an interesting and important question.
Thank you for the history lesson. And, you make a very good point about the Arabs not referring to themselves as semites when in fact they are...
Take care and thanks again
The three major religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have the same basic roots. They are all branches of the same tree. This should mean that they all get along famously but this isn't the case. Over the centuries there has been wars fought between Christians over what Christianity could and should be. There has also been fighting over the centuries between various different kinds of Muslim as well.
Muslim extremists in Australia have caused quite a few problems for both Muslims and Christians of late. The media, being very politically correct, means that Australians born in Australia of non-Muslim background are sometimes not allowed a strong enough voice in the affairs of their own country. When young women women on Australian beaches were being picked on by Muslim extremists for wearing bikinis the police were helpless to intervene. The result was an uprising in which decent as well as guilty Muslims were attacked by a hostile crowd fed up with young women being abused. This happened some years ago now but every time the media mentions the Cronulla riot they conveniently leave out the way young women in bikinis were being treated. Violence begets violence. If the Muslim extremists could have been treated to some justice the situation would have been diffused.
As for anti-Semitism against the Jews brought about by Muslims, it exists from time to time in Australia but, in a sense, you could say anti-Semitism against Christians brought about by Extremist Muslims is somewhat less rare.
As previously mentioned, the term Semites is not really used anywhere except as the the anchor part of the term "anti-Semite". It is most likely a euphemistic invention to avoid the term "anti-Jew".
People divide terms and use them to convey a meaning they intend, but which may not necessarily utilize the word correctly. Another example is "hispanic". Hispania was a southern European nation which encompassed Portugal as well as Spain. However, in modern use, the term Hispanic is largely used in a way that excludes Portuguese people. However, Portuguese are also, technically, descendants of Hispania, and therefore Hispanic. This also makes Brazilians Hispanics.
I've heard people talk about antisemitism since I was a child. I always thought that they were referring to people of the Jewish faith. Since my German ancestors and relatives included people of the Jewish faith, I never understood this discrimination. My immediate family were German Lutherans or Roman Catholics. There was occasional strife between those two groups. Again, I could not understand why some people thought others were somehow misguided or inferior.
When I grew older and heard or read about Arabs as being anti-Semitic, I thought that was like "the pot calling the kettle black" since the Arabs are Semites themselves. I thought this type of discrimination was just plain stupid! I thought that people should have more sense in this day and age.
History is full of examples of fighting between different groups of people (Homo sapiens). But then, we have just observed a revolution between Libyan Arabs (Semites) and Libyan Berbers (Hamites). There has been historic and recent open warfare between two different sects (Sunni and Shia) of Islam. Are we truly as wise as our species name (sapiens) infers?
I think we are better than our history would indicate. Or, at least, I think we should try to be.
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