Jews and Muslims “Downunder”: Emerging Dialogue and Challenges

Suzanne D. Rutland

in The Divergence of Judaism and Islam

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780813037516
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813042107 | DOI:
Jews and Muslims “Downunder”: Emerging Dialogue and Challenges

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This chapter presents a less-than-idyllic appraisal of Muslim–Jewish interaction in Australia and focuses more on latent than overt tensions, engendering aspects of the Muslim–Jewish relationship based on vast field research. As in the European Union, Australia absorbed numerous Jewish immigrants after World War II and major waves of Muslim immigrants after 1970. As a result, a country that prior to 1945 had implemented tough immigration policies and remained relatively homogeneous for hundreds of years now confronted the challenges of multiculturalism. The Jews, as a group, are largely of European origin, but the Muslims are far more heterogeneous, coming from Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iran, and being both Sunni and Shi'ite. The chapter addresses the problems of Muslim integration, anti-Muslim sentiment, and the concurrent increase in anti-Jewish trends among both Muslims and the extreme right that have occurred since the early 1990s. Australian multiculturalism today is not one of accommodation but of aggression. In this sense, as late as 2011, there were no better prospects there for accommodation than in the Netherlands, which in the past encouraged Christian–Jewish–Muslim multicultural dialogue. The Muslims resent the privileged social position of Australian Jews, and young Muslims, radicalized by militant imams and inspired by Islamist philosophies of the Saudi Arabian Wahhabi and Egyptian streams, regard the Jews as their enemies and allies of the establishment. The case study notes that Australian Muslims have replaced the Jews as the new and mainly undesired “others.”

Keywords: Australia; multiculturalism; anti-Semitism; anti-Israel; anti-Zionism; homogeneity; heterogeneity

Chapter.  9237 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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