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February 17, 2011
Lara Logan and Egyptian Muslim Jew-Hatred
Last Friday (2/11/11), Lara Logan, chief foreign correspondent for CBS News, was beaten and sexually assaulted in Cairo during a thirty minute assault by a frenzied throng of over 200 Egyptians. According to a report in today's New York Post, Logan's attackers were shrieking, "Jew! Jew!," while they assaulted her. Moreover, the day before the assault, Logan informed Esquire.com that she and her crew were harassed by Egyptian soldiers who had accused them of "being Israeli spies." The 39 year-old Logan -- who is based in Washington, where she lives with her 2-year-old daughter, and husband -- is not Jewish.
The horrific fate of Ms. Logan -- as a woman in misogynistic Egypt she fared worse, and was sexually assaulted -- reminded me of a plaintive letter published in the Egyptian newspaper Akhir Sa'a during 1948 by a "light-skinned" Egyptian Muslim man.
Such virulent Muslim Jew-hatred, inspired by the core, profoundly Antisemitic motifs of Islam's foundational texts -- the Koran hadith, and sira -- dates from at least the 11th century as documented by Jews under living Muslim rule then, in Egypt, and neighboring areas of the Middle East. S.D. Goitein's seminal analyses of this primary source documentary record of letters revealed a unique strain of Islamic Jew hatred was extant at this time (i.e., up to a millennium ago). The Jewish victims of this Muslim hatred created
Incidents of such Muslim Jew-hatred documented by Goitein were particularly frequent in Egypt.
All of the following events which wrought tremendous devastation to Egyptian Jewry under Muslim rule, up to a millennium before the advent of the modern bogeymen of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928: the murderous persecutions of al-Hakim during the early 11th century, one of which was timed for Passover in 1012; Jews in Alexandria and Cairo being pogromed and plundered in 1047, 1168, 1265, and 1324; and Sultan Baybars in the 13th century blaming Jews for starting a plague, and subjecting them to extortion, massacre, and expulsion.
Five hundred years later, the great scholar of Arabic E. W. Lane reported after nearly a decade of residence in both Cairo and Luxor (through 1835), on the difference between the attitude of Egyptian Muslims toward Jews and Christians, highlighting the influence of Koran 5:82:
Lane further notes,
Subsequent 19th century accounts validate and expand upon Lane's narrative regarding the pervasive Egyptian Muslim Jew hatred which was endemic well before the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. For example, the French surgeon A.B. Clot who resided in Egypt from 1825 to1848, and served Muhammad Ali as a medical adviser, earning the honorific title, "Bey", made these confirmatory observations written in 1840, five years after Lane's travelogue first appeared in 1835:
And three decades later, such hateful attitudes directed at the Jews specifically, persisted among Egyptian Muslims, as recorded in 1873 by Moritz Lüttke:
Jacob Landau's modern analysis of Egyptian Jewry in the 19th century elucidates the predictable outcome of these bigoted archetypes "constantly repeated in various forms" -- the escalation from rhetorical to physical violence against Jews:
From the 1930s onward, traditional Egyptian Islamic Jew-hatred was complemented by the influx of European Antisemitism, especially Nazi motifs, which resonated with the Muslim masses. During World War II, after the creation of Israel in 1947-48, and following the Suez war of 1956, anti-Jewish pogroms, riots, and finally government expropriations and expulsions caused the final liquidation of the Egyptian Jewish community.
Jihad and traditional Islamic Jew-hatred in Egypt during the contemporary era have of course been re-focused on the neighboring Jewish State of Israel. Consider a fatwa written January 5, 1956 by then Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Hasan Ma'moun, and signed by the leading members of the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar University -- Sunni Islam's Vatican -- and the major representatives of all four Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. The January, 1956 Al Azhar fatwa's language and arguments are indistinguishable from those employed by Hamas (in its Covenant), revealing the same conjoined motivations of jihad, and conspiratorial Islamic Jew hatred:
A front page New York Times story published January 10, 2009, included extracts from the Friday sermon (of 1/9/09) at Al Azhar mosque pronounced by Egyptian-government appointed cleric Sheik Eid Abdel Hamid Youssef. Referencing well-established Antisemitic motifs from the Koran (citations provided, below), Sheikh Youssef intoned,
Earlier, on March 22, 2004, Sheikh Atiyyah Saqr, former head of the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, who previously issued a fatwa (April 15, 2002) declaring Jews "apes and pigs," was asked the following question in an online chat room: "What, according to the Koran, are the Jews' main characteristics and qualities?" Sheikh Saqr answered by highlighting 20 negative, inveterate traits of the Jews as described by the Koran: fabricating (Koran 3:75; 5:64); listening to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and supporting deception (3:78); rebelling against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); hypocrisy (2:44); selfishness (2:87); wishing evil on people (2:105); feeling pain at others' happiness and feeling happiness at others' afflictions (2:120); arrogance and haughtiness (5:18); utilitarianism and opportunism (4:161); rudeness and vulgarity (4:46); murder of innocents, especially prophets (2:61; 3:112); mercilessness and heartlessness (2:74); breaking promises (2:100); rushing to sin and transgress (5:79); cowardice and greed (59:13; 2:96); miserliness (4:53); and distorting divine revelation (2:79). He prefaced this defamatory litany with an upbeat assurance that the perfidious Jews would be vanquished by the Muslim umma:
The continual, monotonous invocation by Al Azhar clerics of such antisemitic motifs from the Koran (and other foundational Muslim texts) is entirely consistent with the published writings and statements of the late Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi-Grand Imam of this pre-eminent Islamic religious institution from1996, till his death in March 2010.
My book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism includes extensive first time English translations of Tantawi's academic magnum opus, Jews in the Koran and the Traditions. Tantawi wrote these words in his 700 page treatise, rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred:
Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, a position he held for 14-years. These were 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 85 to 90% of the world's Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi never 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 Israel's Chief Rabbi, 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:
Not surprisingly, according to Pew polling data, at least 95% of Egyptian Muslims currently view Jews "unfavorably."
This is the irrefragable, mainstream Islamic doctrinal and historical context -- uninterrupted for over a millennium -- which explains why those throngs of Muslim men who sexually assaulted Lara Logan shouted, "Jew! Jew!"
Revised 2/17/11 to replace "rape" with "sexual assault"