Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism in the British Pakistani Muslim community




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Antisemitism is often described as an irrational, age-old prejudice that must be eradicated, while in many social and political contexts anti-Zionism tends to be discussed in terms of a legitimate stance on Israel, a “rogue state.” Antisemitism evokes images of fascism, extremism and genocide. Conversely, anti-Zionism is often represented in relation to anti-fascism, anti-racism and minority rights. Yet, both in fact constitute forms of prejudice – antisemitism targets Jews, while anti-Zionism targets the Jewish State. Correlational and discursive empirical research suggests that antisemitism and anti-Zionism often become blurred in the minds and rhetoric of individuals - they can become less delineable than is often argued to be the case (see Cohen, Jussim, Harber & Bhasin, 2009; Jaspal, 2015). Over seventy years after the discovery of the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, antisemitism continues to bedevil contemporary European societies. There have been many empirical studies of antisemitism and, more recently, of anti-Zionism, focussing largely on the correlates and predictors of these forms of prejudice (e.g. Baum, 2009; Cohen et al., 2009; Konig, Eisinga & Scheepers, 2000). It has been observed in several writings that acts of antisemitism in Europe are increasingly perpetrated by disaffected Muslim youths, who may cite anti-Zionist causes for their actions. Accordingly, some recent research into antisemitism and anti-Zionism in contemporary European societies have focused on Muslim communities (Jaspal, 2014a; 2015; Jikeli & Allouche-Benayoun, 2013; Kressel, 2012), particularly in the context of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which remains a pressing political issue among many Muslims in Europe (Ahmed, 2005; Ansari, 2005). Contemporary debates have sought to explore convergences and divergences between antisemitism, which most rational people would recognise as a social evil, and anti-Zionism, which many view as a legitimate political position. Some commentators assert that it is perfectly reasonable to espouse an anti-Zionist position and that this is unrelated to antisemitism (Corrigan, 2009), while others argue that anti-Zionism does indeed amount to “new antisemitism” (Chesler, 2003). These debates have been covered elsewhere (see Jaspal, 2014a) and, thus, will not be repeated in this chapter. Rather, the chapter focuses on the nature of, and the inter-relations between, antisemitism and anti-Zionism in the British Pakistani Muslim community – one of the largest Muslim communities in Britain. More specifically, the aim of the chapter is to describe how a sample of British Pakistani Muslims think and talk about Jews and Israel, as well as the role that identity processes play in the formation and maintenance of outgroup attitudes in this context.




Jaspal, R. (2018) Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism in the British Pakistani Muslim community J.G. Campbell andL.D. Klaff (eds) Unity and Diversity in Contemporary Antisemitism: The Bristol-Sheffield Hallam Colloquium on Contemporary Antisemitism. Brighton, MA., Academic Studies Press.


Research Institute

Media Discourse Centre (MDC)
Mary Seacole Research Centre