Daniel Luban argued last week in the Tablet webzine that the old anti-Semitism has transmogrified into Islamophobia:
…many of the tropes of classic anti-Semitism have been revived and given new force on the American right. Once again jingoistic politicians and commentators posit a religious conspiracy breeding within Western society, pledging allegiance to an alien power, conspiring with allies at the highest levels of government to overturn the existing order. Because the propagators of these conspiracy theories are not anti-Semitic but militantly pro-Israel, and because their targets are not Jews but Muslims, the ADL and other Jewish groups have had little to say about them. But since the election of President Barack Obama, this Islamophobic discourse has rapidly intensified.
The trouble with this analysis is that the group of Americans who have the least favorable opinion of Islam–evangelical Christians–also have the most favorable opinion of Jews. By a margin of 57-24, evangelicals have an unfavorable opinion of Muslims. I reviewed these results in a recent Asia Times Online “Spengler” column.
Enlightened opinion, to be sure, no longer peddles racist slurs against the Jews, just blood libels against the State of Israel. The constituencies most hostile to the State of Israel also are the most Islamophilic. Liberal Democrats have a favorable opinion of Islam by a 66-17 margin, for example, and mainline Protestants (whose organizations seem to think that divestment from Israel is the most important thing to do between now and the Apocalypse) have a favorable opinion by a margin of 51 to 30.
Curious, these liberals. The allegedly misogynistic and homophobic evangelicals don’t like the most misogynistic and homophobic societies on earth, while the feminist-and LGT-supporting liberals like them. Maybe the kingdom’s coming, or the Year of Jubilo.
It seems misguided, though, to sound the alarm about anti-Semitic impulses lurking behind Islamophobia when the most pro-Israel segment of the American population is the least friendly to Islam.