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Friday, June 14, 2024
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Muslim mushrooms

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PEOPLE are occasionally described as ‘mushrooms’, meaning that they have been kept in the dark and fed on manure (that’s the polite version). It is not a very polite way to refer to someone and, without doubt, will seem like an insult to our Muslim compatriots. But then again, almost anything can be considered an insult to them so there seems little point in holding back.

I refer here specifically to the opinion on the current conflict in Gaza. For the record, I am opposed to the course of action taken by Israel, which may not endear me to many readers of TCW, but hear me out as I have no time for Hamas either.

My point is that, notwithstanding my expressed sympathy for the plight of the ordinary Palestinian people (Muslim and Christian), it has proved impossible to have a reasonable conversation with the few Muslim friends and colleagues with whom I have discussed the situation. The topic has come up in the UK and, very recently, in Jordan.

Trying to suggest that perhaps Hamas ought not to have entered Israel in the first place on October 7 is to evoke such histrionics that it is all but impossible to stop the flow of invective for long enough to qualify that statement. There is no question that the massacre was morally inexcusable but I also firmly believe that it was strategically stupid in that Israel’s response was predictable. Hamas have achieved nothing but rain down death and destruction on the people whom they purport to represent.

It is notable that the destruction is inflicted on the ordinary people of Gaza while Hamas are undoubtedly holed up in bunkers below ground or living in council flats in west London. Nevertheless, no reason is to be found among those to whom I have made my point, and it is notable that these are moderate Muslims with no brief for extremists. Yet there is such visceral hatred of the Israelis that the inevitable response is Pavlovian in nature.

Clearly there is a level of brainwashing across the Muslim diaspora which travels fast. It leads to extraordinary claims such as ‘Hamas never killed any civilians’ from a colleague in Jordan, despite the copious evidence from the GoPro cameras removed from dead Hamas fighters themselves, to ‘does Hamas even exist?’ from a colleague in the UK. A rather extraordinary suggestion, given that they are the group which claimed responsibility and are currently trying to get Israel to the negotiating table.

I believe that there has been misinformation from both sides over the details of October 7 and subsequent events. But the above claims take the biscuit in no uncertain terms, and protesters on our own streets, mainly useful idiots for Hamas, have even celebrated the slaughter of Israeli civilians.

A Jordanian colleague told me, regarding the Israelis, that ‘we hate them, and they should not even be there’, a point which at least opens up a discussion about the rights and wrongs of the Balfour declaration. But the most staggering point was made to me by a Muslim in the UK, a citizen of our country, who said: ‘What are they even doing there? They were never there before.’

The dinar dropped at this point: I realised it is eminently likely that my Muslim colleagues have no idea about the history of the Jews and have no desire to find out. Despite being ‘People of The Book’ who claim to have respect for the Old Testament, essentially a history of the Jewish people and the Israelis in that region, they have probably never read the Old Testament or had the facts laid out there explained to them. It is eminently likely that they have no idea that the ‘Prophet Jesus’, for whom they claim ‘respect’, was himself a Jew and that the Jews had centuries of history prior to the arrival of the Romans and the spread of Islam.

There may be an excuse for my Muslim colleagues and many like them who have been brought up simply to believe what they are told by their clergy. But there can be no excuse for Muslim Islamic scholars and clergy who must be well aware of the Old Testament. It may well be a case that my colleagues have been reared in the dark and inadequately nourished. If this is so, we have a responsibility to educate them. If this is not the reason and their hatred defies the facts, there is little hope of peace in Gaza.

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Roger Watson
Roger Watson
Roger Watson is a Professor of Nursing.

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