June 3, 2008
Textbook Islamic AntisemitismBy Andrew G. Bostom
Palestinian cleric Wael Al-Zarad during a television program which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on February 28, 2008 intoned the following about the Jews of Israel: "By Allah, if each and every Arab spat on them, they would drown in Arab spit." Wael Al-Zarad's seemingly hallucinatory statement also included this allegation,
The reference to Ezra is actually a false, intentionally defamatory Koranic accusation (Koran 9:30) against Jews, citing a claim which Jews, in fact, have never made.
But the crux of Al-Zarad's remarks explained that the Muslims' blood vengeance against the Jews, "will only subside with their [the Jews] annihilation, Allah willing, because they tried to kill our Prophet several times."
These allegations are part of a central antisemitic motif in the Koran which decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews (Koran 2:61/ reiterated at 3:112) for slaying the prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah. It should be noted that Koran 3:112 is featured in the pre-amble to Hamas' foundational Covenant. This central motif is coupled to Koranic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into apes and swine (5:60), or simply apes, (i.e. verses 2:65 and 7:166), having been "...cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary's son" (5:78). Muhammad himself repeats this Koranic curse in a canonical hadith (Sunan Abu Dawoud, Book 37, Number 4322). And the related verse, 5:64, accuses the Jews-as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did in a January 2007 speech, citing Koran 5:64-of being "spreaders of war and corruption," a sort of ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The centrality of the Jews' permanent "abasement and humiliation," and being "laden with God's anger" in the corpus of Muslim exegetic literature on Koran 2:61/3:112, is clear. By nature deceitful and treacherous, the Jews rejected Allah's signs and prophets, including Isa, the Muslim Jesus. Classical Koranic commentators when discussing Koran 5:82, which includes the statement ("Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews.."), concur on the unique animus of the Jews towards the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked to the curse of Koran 2:61/3:112.
Indeed the Koran's overall discussion of the Jews is marked by a litany of their sins and punishments, as if part of a divine indictment, conviction, and punishment process. The Jews' ultimate sin and punishment are made clear: they are the devil's minions (4:60) cursed by Allah, their faces will be obliterated (4:47), and if they do not accept the true faith of Islam-the Jews who understand their faith become Muslims (3:113)-they will be made into apes (2:65/ 7:166), or apes and swine (5:60), and burn in the Hellfires (4:55, 5:29, 98:6, and 58:14-19).
Unfortunately, the orthodox Islamic archetypes of Jew hatred promulgated by Hamas, are also being disseminated by the most respected, mainstream Islamic institutions. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi wrote these words in his 700 page treatise rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred, [Jews in the Koran and the Traditions], originally published in 1968/69, and then re-issued in 1986:
Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in 1996, a position he still holds. These are the expressed, "carefully researched" views on Jews held by the nearest Muslim equivalent to a Pope-the head of the most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, which represents some 90% of the world's Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi has not mollified such hatemongering beliefs since becoming the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on "dialogue" (January 1998) with Jews, the Jews as "enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs" (April 2002), and the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews (April 2002) make clear. Tantawi's statements on dialogue, which were issued shortly after he met with the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Israel Meir Lau, in Cairo, on December 15, 1997, provided him another opportunity to re-affirm his ongoing commitment to the views expressed about Jews in his Ph.D. thesis.
Al-Azhar Grand Imam Tantawi's case illustrates the prevalence and depth of sacralized, "normative" Jew hatred in the contemporary Muslim world. Arnon Groiss' thorough examination of modern Egyptian school textbooks, published in April, 2004, reveals that this sacralized hatred continues to be inculcated among future generations of Egyptian Muslims. Groiss observed, regarding the critical depiction of Muhammad's interactions with the Jews of Arabia,
Once again, in this context Koran 5:82 ("Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews..") is invoked to remind these students, what "God Almighty says about the Jews' hatred toward the Muslims."
And a 3-month long NY Daily News investigation of textbooks widely used in New York city area Islamic schools published March 30, 2003, demonstrated that the same Antisemitic archetypes-based on central motifs in the Koran, hadith, and sira-are being taught to American Muslim students. The report provided these examples:
Finally a review of textbooks from the Islamic Saudi Academy of Fairfax, VA published in October 2007 by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, concluded, according to commissioner Nina Shea, that they contain "...blatant Antisemitism, blaming the Jews even for divisions within Islam.." The latter charge is an allegation made continuously for over a millennium since the earliest Sunni historiographies (for example by al-Tabari, d. 923) that a renegade Yemenite Jew, Abdallah b. Saba, is responsible-identified as a Jew-for promoting the Shi'ite heresy and fomenting the rebellion and internal strife associated with this primary breach in Islam's "political innocence," culminating in the assassination of the third Rightly Guided Caliph Uthman, and the bitter, lasting legacy of Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian strife.
When questioned for the March, 30 2003 NY Daily News story on New York area Islamic school textbooks, Yahiya Emerick, head of a Queens-based nonprofit curriculum development project for the Islamic Foundation of North America, defended the language in these books, denying they were inflammatory. Emerick opined,
Emerick's triumphant denial at once affirms standard Islamic theological supremacism, while deliberately ignoring Islam's intrinsic, virulent Antisemitism-the latter denial being pathognomonic of the mindset of its Jewish victims, past and present.
Almost 850 years ago, elaborating on the depth of Muslim hatred for the Jews in his era, Maimonides (in ~ 1172 C.E.) made this profound observation regarding the Jewish predilection for denial, a feature that he insists will hasten their destruction.
The Jews and their communal leaders like Maimonides living under Islamic rule in the Middle Ages-vanquished by jihad, isolated, and well-nigh defenseless under the repressive system of dhimmitude-can be excused for their submissive denial. There is no such excuse in our era given the existence of an autonomous Jewish State of Israel, and a thriving Western Jewish diaspora living under the blanket of hard won protections for their religious freedom, physical security, and dignity.
When the late 23 year-old Parisian Jew Ilan Halimi was being tortured to death in February 2006, his Muslim torturers, as Nidra Poller wrote in the Wall Street Journal "...phoned the family on several occasions and made them listen to the recitation of verses from the Koran, while Ilan's tortured screams could be heard in the background." In the heart of Western Europe, Ilan Halimi's torturers/murderers did not invoke any non-Islamic sources of anti-Jewish hate, only the Koran.
As a pre-condition to real dialogue-not its miserable simulacrum-Jews and their leadership-religious, political, and intellectual-must demand a mea culpa from their Muslim counterparts for the sacralized Islamic Jew hatred which is still being taught in Islamic schools, and contributed to Ilan Halimi's death, and countless other similar atrocities across space and time, since the advent of Islam.
Let us demonstrate as Jews that we are no longer living with 12th century expectations of Muslims, otherwise they will oblige us.