BOOK REVIEW reprinted form The Jerusalem Post of November 23, 1999
OF RACIAL VIOLENCE
By Yosef Yaakov
ISLAMIC ANTI-SEMITISM AS A POLITICAL INSTRUMENT by Yossef Bodansky. Shaarei Tikva, The Ariel Center for Policy Research, and Houston, The Freeman Center for Strategic Studies. 200 pp. Price not stated. The thesis of this book is that antisemitism, i.e. anti-Jewishness, is intensifying throughout the Moslem world, ranging from Morocco to Malaysia, promoted by governments, Islamic terrorist organizations, and the media.
The evidence cited is chilling and goes beyond Arab populist agitation for the destruction of Israel, to a campaign to demonize all Jews. There is a highly detailed reference of sources by the author, who is the director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. The Islamists, he writes, are at present the most vibrant and rapidly expanding segment of the Moslem world, and assert that the very existence of the independent Jewish state of Israel constitutes a contradiction of major Koranic tenets. Jews (and, for that matter, Christians) are categorized as inferior-status "dhimmis" who, while coexisting in Moslem-ruled states, recognize the superiority of Islam.
The book quotes Maryam Jameelah, an American-Jewish woman who converted to Islam and now lives in Pakistan, as writing that the rise of the modern Zionist movement brought more than a thousand years of friendly Moslem-Jewish
relations to an abrupt end. In contrast, Professor Bernard Lewis observed that, under Islam, Jews "were never free from discrimination." Today, Islamist leaders cite "the Jewish global conspiracy" as their excuse and justification for the backwardness of the Moslem world, the loss of power and economic failures vis--vis the West. Mohammed Heikal, the noted Egyptian journalist and confidant of Nasser, said the acceptance and legitimation of Israel is simply inconceivable, irrespective of diplomatic treaties, while the former Jordanian officer Abdullah el-Tal wrote that the Arab-Israeli conflict is an extension or aspect of the profound struggle between Judaism and Islam.
With the rise and spread of Islam, the Arab armies established a huge empire and imposed Islamic civilization. Hostile relations ensued with the Jews, the specific hatred against them deriving from the legacy of the experience of the Prophet Mohammed who fought the Jewish tribes of Arabia that refused to regard him as a prophet. The Moslems also turned their violence against the Hindus of India, subjecting them to extreme cruelties. The Koran accused the Jews and the Christians of tampering with their holy books so that the text of the Bible is corrupt, and vilified Judeo-Christian traditions and historical events.
Islam took on the role not just of a religion but a way of life encompassing statehood. As such, the Jewish dhimmis during Islam's Golden Age, who reached unprecedented levels of education and professional status, were still never accorded equal rights. In modern times, European and American missionary and educational work among the Arab middle classes had an impact on the political fabric; the most important and influential nationalist intellectuals in the Levant were Christian Arabs. The influence of Christian European antisemitism burst into the open in 1840 during the Damascus blood libel when Christian officials, supported by the French consul-general, accused leaders of the local Jewish community of killing a Christian and using his blood for baking matzot. (In recent times, the current Syrian defense minister, Tlas, wrote a book endorsing the blood libel and said the matzot, made from Christian and Moslem blood, were for the Jewish Yom Kippur [sic!]).
In order to gain popularity and acceptance for their pan-Arab doctrines, the author writes, the Arab Christian activists emphasized the low common denominator they shared with the Moslem population - with anti-Judaism and anti-Jewish postures emerging as central themes. In Palestine, during the British Mandate, the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, engaged in virulent anti-Jewish incitement, as distinct from anti-Zionism, and called for the slaughter of the Jews, while in Egypt the Moslem Brotherhood called for boycotting Jewish-owned stores and "casting them out, for they have corrupted Egypt and its population."
The Arabs expected Nazi Germany to defeat the British and the French, and to annihilate the Jews, and the mufti sought support from Hitler and the Bosnian Moslems for a jihad to wipe out the Jews of Palestine. The mufti spent the Second World War in Germany and Italy. The author comments that it is not by accident that Yasser Arafat considers Haj Amin an inspiration and claims to be a relative of his.
The establishment of Israel and the Arab defeat - the "naqba" - were a shock prompting the anti-Israel/Jewish cause to become the one absolute subject that unified regimes, leaders, the masses, and the Islamists.
The Zionists in Israel are regarded as the forward post and vanguard of a global conspiracy. A Moroccan writer, Sa'id Ghallab, wrote that "the worst insult a Moroccan can make to another is to call him a Jew." A wide variety of anti-Jewish literature - books, newspaper articles, movies - flooded the Arab world. Abdullah el-Tal said that Zionism and the Jewish religion were based on two firm foundations, the Torah and the Talmud, while he considered the third to be the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
On the eve of the Six Day War, Heikal stressed the urgency of destroying Israel before it destroyed the Arab world, since the Jews were the implacable enemies of all humanity and therefore the Arabs were actually fighting in the name of all humanity. Without indigenous roots of anti-Jewish sentiment, the Arab governments introduced it to serve their political interests, and this fell on fertile ground given Islamic incitement and hostility toward Israel.
Another theme of Arab thought was that the Jews were inherently responsible for what was coming to them - from the Holocaust to Arab hostility. The Egyptian Anis Mansour, in Sadat's time, wrote that "instead of avenging themselves on the Germans [the Jews] picked on the Arabs." He added that "if five million Jews have succeeded in dominating the US, they can certainly control the entire Western world." To intensify the struggle against Jews, extremist Arabs and Moslems turned to terrorism. Wadi'a Haddad of the Popular Front sent the terrorist Carlos to London, where he attempted to assassinate Lord Sieff, a Jewish community leader. In addition, there were attacks on distinctly Jewish objectives (synagogues and schools), and not only on Israeli targets.
In the cold peace between Egypt and Israel, there has been a distinct increase of antisemitic propaganda in the state-controlled media; this is no coincidence. Anis Mansour explained: "We have cultivated hatred of the Jews." Much the same prevails in the state-controlled media throughout the Arab world, with the distinction between Zionism and Judaism blurred. The rector of Al-Azhar University in Cairo identified the Jews as Islam's "worst enemies...the friends of Satan, indeed his best friends in our age." In Iran, after the Islamic Revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini ordered his aides to verify that certain foreign high officials were Jews, to explain their hostility toward Iran. A Saudi paper said the idea of Communism began with a Jew, Karl Marx, "and the Red Revolution in Russia was begun by the Jews....We know that Communism and Zionism are two sides of the same coin." Arab and Moslem leaders and regimes that feel compelled to follow Washington's lead, demonstrate their real attitudes to the masses by their anti-Jewishness and allegations of Jewish international control; in this way, they can blame the Jews for all the trials and crises afflicting the Arab world.
Jewish "blackmail" was typified by Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. And in our day, Jewish Americans are behind the conspiracy. Monica Lewinsky is Jewish, an Egyptian commentator pointed out - therefore international Zionism was behind the conspiracy to further Jewish objectives beyond the Arab-Israeli issue. Arab governments prefer to fuel grassroots hostility by using virulent anti-Jewish incitement as an excuse for not pursuing normalization of relations with Israel.
The overall Jewish threat affects the world according to the Islamists and is perpetrated clandestinely through the Freemasons with the declared goal of destroying Christianity. Professor Dr. Salih Hassan al-Maslut, of Al-Azhar, considers the Masons to be "a clandestine Jewish organization" whose primary objective is to destroy non-Jewish nations and governments in order to establish a global Jewish government.
The Istanbul synagogue and the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires were targets of state-sponsored Iranian Islamic anti-Jewish terrorism. Meanwhile, in this decade, Arab governments and Moslem organizations from all over the world have been flooding the UN and affiliated international organizations with memos and complaints, often quoting from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and including allegations that Israel sponsored the spread of AIDS. There is no Jewish community in Moslem Malaysia, but educated Malays and the media voice hatred of Jews.
This is a thought-provoking book. Policymakers in the West would be well advised to peruse it.
ISLAMIC ANTI-SEMITISM AS A POLITICAL INSTRUMENT is published by:
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