Rosalyn Pine, a member of the Jewish Board Of Deputies (JBOD), has been accused of sharing hate-filled Islamophobic and anti-Arab messages via twitter. The tweets shared describe Muslims as the ‘vilest of animals’ and Arabs as ‘so evil’ and an ‘invading army’.
Surprisingly, she has not been removed from her position in the organisation. In light of the allegations, Mrs Pine spoke to the Jewish Chronicle, defending herself as having the right to ‘hold views against Islam’, a creed she ‘detests’. The reality is, of course, that the tweets clearly attack and incite hatred toward Muslims rather than merely opposing the Islamic creed itself, as she claims. She went on to attest that:
“There is no such word as Islamophobic. ‘Islamophobia’ is trying to shut down criticism of Islam…I have an issue with Arabs and Muslims who want to kill us, who want to destroy Israel. And that is an Islamic fundamental if you know anything about what the Koran is.”
Her words are worryingly reminiscent of some far-right groups ideas about Islamophobia being merely a myth constructed by a state infiltrated by Muslims, as a mechanism of veiling the inherent evil of Islam. Such an outright denial of the existence of Islamophobia is all the more dangerous when it comes from places of influence and status, rather than just marginalised voices on the sidelines.
Her unapologetic tone is deeply troubling since it comes from a prominent Jewish deputy, one who formerly ran for president of the Board. Since the JBOD is the main representative body of British Jews in the UK, it would be expected that such blatant anti-Muslim bigotry should result in her being removed from her position.
It raises the question as to whether Islamophobia is treated with the same seriousness as other hate speech in the UK. Ironically, the JBOD recently made headlines for its allegations of antisemitism against the Labour party; news that was splashed across virtually all mainstream news sites, whilst this controversy has not had anything close to the same scrutiny and widespread discussions.
A deputy who wished to remain anonymous told the Jewish Chronicle that Mrs Pine had not been removed from her position because the JBOD is “like an old-time synagogue where problems are hidden or brushed under the carpet”. Indeed, there seems to have been a long-standing awareness of her views within the organisation; according to another deputy she had regularly used “racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic language.”
On Twitter, some reaction also suggests this wasn’t the first time:
ah Roslyn Pine, this bigot has been around for years – lots of letters to the Jewish Chronicle have been printed – can't believe they've only just caught up with this racist. still they tolerated fascist supporter @jhoffman1 for years too https://t.co/TaYLojN5BP
— Tony Greenstein (@TonyGreenstein) June 15, 2018
— Daniel Vulkan (@DanielVulkan) June 14, 2018