Intolerance or rationality?

By Vic Rosenthal

An Israeli professor has generated a storm of criticism in Australia:

According to [Prof. Raphael] Israeli [of the Hebrew University], who didn’t back down when he was approached by the national press, the experience of the West proves that when a Muslim minority becomes more than one-tenth of a country’s population, it bodes ill. “When the Muslim population gets to a critical mass you have problems. That is a general rule, so if it applies everywhere it applies in Australia.” Even though their numbers are still well below that in Australia, complained Israeli, “they are so vocal, and they make so much noise,” that it’s incumbent on the state to implement a “preventative policy” that will leave the Muslim citizens as a “marginal minority” before life becomes “untenable.”

Dr. Colin Rubenstein, president of the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) [the “establishment” so roundly criticized recently by left-wing Jews! — ed], harshly criticized Israeli’s “unacceptable and unhelpful” views, saying that the Council “will not be co-hosting any of his further appearances in Australia.” — Ha’aretz

Is this a racist or “islamophobic” (I hate this word) sentiment that should be shouted down, or is it a political statement that can be true or false?

Today there’s no greater sin than “intolerance” in all of its forms. And everyone can think of plenty of examples, from apartheid in South Africa, to lynching in the American South, to the Holocaust. This is a relatively recent development in the West. I can remember a time when a certain amount of antisemitic prejudice or white racism was acceptable in polite society and in literature. No longer. We hope that this change in attitudes will prevent future lynchings and Holocausts.

On the other hand, we have to be careful about applying the concept of intolerance too broadly. Suppose Prof. Israeli had said “when the population of radical Islamists gets to a critical mass, you have problems”. A ‘radical Islamist’ is someone who believes, in part, that states in which Muslims live should be governed by Sharia law, and that violent jihad is an acceptable way to get there. I think that everyone would agree that in a place like Australia one would not like to have a lot of radical Islamists, and that this isn’t an intolerant remark.

A recent Pew Global Attitudes poll — despite the fact that the methods, summaries and explanations are all designed to stress an increase in ‘moderation’ among Muslims in at least some countries — indicates that there is a very significant percentage of Muslims that could be classed as radical Islamists, and who approve of violent activities to achieve political goals.

The question for Australians to consider then, is how to limit immigration of radical Islamists. If they choose to do it by limiting Muslim immigration, they are accepting a possibility of doing injustice to some moderate Muslims against the danger of absorbing radical Islamists. However, a selective policy that would try to determine whether prospective Muslim immigrants are radical Islamists would reduce the probability of such injustice. I believe it could be a trade-off that would be moral.

If, on the other hand, they take the view that any limitation of immigration that specifically applies to Muslims is racist and unacceptable, there is no question that in the future the number of radical Islamists in Australia will grow to the point that it will have negative consequences for the nation as a whole.

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