Immigration and Integration

Lugosi, Going Postal

It’s so difficult to write this article. I have never gone through so many re-writes. Then I came across this article that sums up what I was trying to say. It goes back to something an Imam said about ten years ago when he complained that Muslims were becoming the new Jews in terms of suffering prejudice.

My mental reply to that was:-

“In that case why don’t Muslims behave like Jews”

I then came across this:-

Have Muslims Replaced Jews as the Other of the Twenty-First Century?

An excerpt from ‘Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought’

“Today, the ‘Jewish Question’ in Europe has largely been ‘solved,’” sociologist Krishan Kumar has declared, “mainly by getting rid of the Jews. But Muslims present a different problem…. Muslims are not only the most numerous of the new immigrant populations, but culturally they seem the most distinctive, and to many (in the host cultures, at least) they seem the most difficult to absorb. As such, they have become the new ‘other’ of Europe, replacing the Jews of an earlier era.”[1] David Theo Goldberg has described a similar “shift in Europe’s dominant fixation of concern and resentment” from Jews before World War II to Muslims today.[2] Likewise, Aziz Al-Azmeh has suggested that a negative stereotype of Muslims as homogeneous, “innocent of modernity,” “obsessed with prayer, fasting, veiling, medieval social and penal arrangements,” and incapable of reconstruction has “gathered force” in Europe “now that the previous internal enemy — the Jew — could no longer legitimately be conceived as such.”[3] Political scientist Amikam Nachmani concurs: “Without doubt, a strong parallel can be drawn between Europe’s ‘Jewish question’ and its mirror image, the ‘Muslim migrant question.’ In fact, the question ‘Are Muslims the Jews of Europe Today?’ is at the heart of an oft-heard debate nowadays argued by the three interested parties: the Muslim migrant minority, the European majority and the Jewish world.” Staking out his own position in this debate, Nachmani has concluded: “In the past Europe’s salient migratory grouping — one that has profoundly coloured its culture and civilization — was the Jew who was always branded the ‘foreigner,’ the ‘other,’ a threatening presence…. Today, the Wandering Jew is no longer the issue…. Now [Europe] is preparing to defend itself against … the immigrant, more specifically, the Muslim immigrant…. The Jew, Europe’s prototypal ‘other,’ has now largely been replaced by the Muslim ‘other.’ … Prejudice and discrimination once directed at European Jewry is now aimed at European Muslims.”[4] Jonathan Laurence has also drawn analogies between Jewish emancipation in the nineteenth century and the European integration of Muslims in the twenty-first century. He points out that contemporary European politicians themselves make such analogies, while the opponents of Muslim integration question the civic fitness of Muslims with arguments that resemble those previously used against Jews.[5] In sum, this scholarship suggests that Muslims are the new Israel, if by Israel is meant a pariah rather than a chosen people….

I grew up in a condemned slum in Hackney. I know poverty, deprivation, charity and racial hatred. I suffered anti-Semitism as a 5 year old being kicked on the ground by other kids. Today, the areas of traditional immigrant Jews are replaced by Muslims. The East End, Tower Hamlets, is an obvious example.

Jews of my generation stood on the shoulders of parents who had little or nothing, to reach for something more than they had. If we could do it then anyone can. My school contemporaries are all in professions as doctors, accountants, solicitors, lawyers, media, arts and politics. None are without a decent job and income as well as raising families. None have groomed children or plotted to blow up fellow citizens. They haven’t suggested that “One day Judaism will dominate”.

I’ve contributed to the discussion about immigration often. I will be frank. The current negatives about immigration broadly derives from the Muslim immigrant population and the current generation. Because of their religion they stand out in a way that Poles and Romanians don’t.

It was the same with Jews who in their initial Orthodoxy stood out because of their clothing and appearance. Over 100 years Orthodoxy has split into three main classes :-

  • Ultra-Orthodox
  • Orthodox/Observant
  • Liberal/Reform – “I’m off to Spurs on Saturday and buying a hot-dog” and “I don’t like it my bacon too streaky”.

I can visit Stamford Hill and Clapton and see members of the Ultra-Orthodox Haredi community. If they walked down Oxford Street you would know they were Jews from their clothes. But take your average Barnet, Cockfosters Jew you wouldn’t know. Many years ago observant and even liberal Jews might wear a Star of David. Today they don’t. Too worried about “You Know Who and You Know What”

In no way do I intend to be or imply abuse towards Muslims. They are only doing what every other immigrant group has done. But, then there are, unfortunately, places where being Muslim has taken us to new and dark places that impact our society.

Immigration by distinct religious groups initially creates ghettos. Most notably you can see that with Jewish immigration. When we think of turn of the 20th century immigration of European Jewry we can think of Brooklyn and the East End. Religion aligned with culture creates the need for somewhere to pray and somewhere to buy your food, both on a religious as well as traditional ethnic food-stuffs.

Lugosi, Going Postal
East End
Lugosi, Going Postal
Lugosi, Going Postal
Brick Lane Today

The same is true for Muslims as it is for Afro-Caribbean and Polish food shops. Visiting a large Morrissons supermarket through the “World Foods” aisle gives you an immigrant spectrum.

I think that Muslims have an integration/identity crisis. There is a tension between assimilation and maintaining orthodoxy. To assimilate you have to adopt an acknowledgement of Western Judaeo-Christian ethic and lean towards it and away from the orthodoxy of your religion/culture. The best place to see this is in the professions. Surely, you cannot operate effectively as a politician, doctor, scientist, entrepreneur without moving into a non-Muslim environment. I don’t understand how you can be an effective politician or a surgeon while insisting on praying five times a day or fasting during daylight during Ramadan. Recently, Mo Salah made the decision that to be an effective footballer during the European Cup final he couldn’t fast for Ramadan. As a diabetic who is required to test my blood sugar before driving I worry that some taxi drivers may be experiencing low blood sugar. And, for some, low blood sugar isn’t detected. You may not get an alert. You might drive erratically.

There is conflict between religion and assimilation. The assimilation model may be something like this:-

“I know what is expected of me but I choose to suppress that with the greater need to assimilate. I have done things I know I am not supposed to do against my religion, an  yet, I am still standing. No thunderbolts.”

To me, assimilation means:-

 “I’m not thinking about my religion all day and putting it in the way of my job or my life. It doesn’t mean I abandon my ethno-religious roots but they don’t stand in the way of what I want to do and, neither, does it impact on anyone else.”

You want to make the best of the opportunities offered to you by the host country so you may have to compromise a little. You discover that maybe there is something pleasurable and relaxing to be eating a Sunday roast, near a stream, in the pub garden with a pint. Fish & Chips on a Friday. Warm beer. A Full English. God Save The Queen. Queuing. Giving up your seat on the bus. Letting the woman go first. It’s part of the British fabric.

Did you know that in every synagogue in the land there is a plaque with a prayer to the Monarch of the time, the Royal Family, the Government and its ministers that they should be blessed with health and wisdom ?

Lugosi, Going Postal

Religion should be a private affair that you should have the right to celebrate and observe but not to impinge it on people who don’t share your religion. For example,  I am 100% against schools having a “halal only” policy but I am 100% supportive if Muslim groups wish to fund a Halal School Meals service for school-kids. In the 1960’s Jewish charities funded a Kosher Meals service. Why can’t Muslim charities do the same? No! Suddenly it’s a “right” and non-Muslim kids are denied pork, ham, bacon etc.

Telling us that we can’t publish a cartoon about Mohammed is an impingement of our hard-fought civil liberties and freedom to satirise. Implementing segregation in public meetings is an infringement of equalities acts, openly hostile to gay people infringes current laws refusing to carry a guide-dog in a taxi is infringement of bye-laws applying to taxi licensing, and so on. I submit that these infringements all derive from following Islam.

Lugosi, Going Postal

In “History of The World Part III” Mel Brooks as Moses descends from the mountain and declares:-

“Children of Israel! The Lord has given you these fifteen commandments……… oops!…….Ten Commandments…..” – as he dropped one of the tablets.

Were there protests? Threats of death?

If we are told that under Islam it is not permissible to make images of Mohammed then the answer is obvious:-

“Muslims don’t make an image of Mohammed”

But, why should we, in the West, where satire is a centuries old tradition, be held to such a condition?

If its “out of Respect” then what about respecting the satirical, blasphemous traditions of the country in which you, or your parents chose to live?

What we see is fundamental. radical, Islam being used by some Muslims to assert constraints on their host society. It is actions like these that have created a tension with Muslims that manifest in conclusions that they don’t wish to assimilate/integrate. Religious orthodoxy/fundamentalism drives a wedge between Muslim communities and the rest.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews, like those in Golders Green and Stamford Hill keep themselves to themselves. They tend to do business with each other. They don’t go to Employment Agencies or Jobcentres. They have established self-supporting enclaves and bother no-one.

Partially orthodox and liberal Jews are invisible. They are known for their passive, “don’t-rock-the-boat” attitudes. That they protested outside Parliament recently about anti-semitism was quite remarkable.

Most definitely there are Muslims who have assimilated like the Jewish model. It’s just that they seem to also have that militant/radical/orthodox wing that consumes a lot of media bandwidth. Its Terrorism, Grooming Gangs and support for the terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah that make the waves.

I understood why EDL arose. It’s that “I feel a stranger in my own country” syndrome. But, it will be argued that the people who you say make you “feel a stranger” are also British Citizens so how could you possibly say that. You must be racist.

There is a big difference in your attitude depending on age. At 67 I can remember when communities were mostly white and black (Windrush Generation). The only divergence from my childhood environment was that Ridley Road market started to have Afro-Caribbean traders and greengrocer stalls that sold black skinned bananas (plantains).

In  the late ’70’s I ate at one of the first in Indian Restaurants in Britain, Meghna Grill, South Woodford. Kebab take-away’s started to appear down Lea Bridge Road from a growing Turkish community. It was a slow osmosis. There was no ethno-religious antagonism. No waves. Terrorism in those days was IRA. Immigrant communities were kind of hidden. Niqabs and Hijabs on the street were unknown.

Lugosi, Going Postal

It was all Salman Rushdie’s fault. He wrote a book called “The Satanic Verses” and suddenly Muslims were very pissed-off. Iran issued a fatwa calling for him to be killed. I distinctly remember a James Whale radio programme where he interviewed a member of The Muslim Parliament who said that if he saw Rushdie walking in the street he would have to cross over and kill him.

WTF!! Suddenly, we were made to realise that a non-resident religion could issue a kill order from Iran for a co-religionist in Britain to be prepared to carry out the death sentence. That made us all think.

The concept of The Ummah whereby Muslims were all part of a Borg Hive/Collective results in Brits who would seem to have a dual loyalty.

How can it be wrong for a majority population to feel that it doesn’t want a religious group to change the nature and character of our society?

Jews haven’t done that so why can’t the Muslims be more like the Jews?

© Lugosi 2018

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