Anti-Semitism, that is, anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism, is intensifying throughout the Muslim World. The significance of this virulent anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism coming from the Muslim World is in that this type of anti-Semitism goes beyond the hatred it espouses. Anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism constitute a major political instrument in the hands of both state governments and Islamist terrorist organizations to mobilize the entire region for the destruction of Israel -- irrespective of diplomatic treaties, including the current peace process. Both governments and terrorist leaders are using anti-Semitic incitement as a most effective instrument of populist agitation in order to reach to the grassroots -- the Arab street -- and get results. This instrument is most effective particularly when state governments need to ignore and reverse declared policies (imposed by international conditions). Therefore, with the spread and expansion of militant radical Islam, anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism will continue to intensify in the Muslim World. Anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism will thus continue to be a most potent instrument of governments throughout the Muslim World.
Among the Islamists, presently the most vibrant and rapidly expanding segment of the Muslim World, the very existence of an independent Jewish state called Israel constitutes a contradiction of major Qur'anic tenets. On the most basic level, the mere existence of an independent political entity run by the Dhimmi, particularly on a land claimed by Islam, is a profound challenge and affront to Islam's claim for supremacy that is political and not only religious in essence. Thus, Israel is unacceptable under any circumstance. Indeed, modern Arab/Muslim propaganda stresses the political aspects of the historical enmity and worsening conflict between Jews and Muslims.
Meanwhile, the Arabs and their apologists continue to insist that Jews, and Christians for that matter, have lived peacefully under Islam until the emergence of modern Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel on a piece of Muslim land (Waqf). (2) Israel, as a political affront to the Arabs, they argue, is the root cause for the flare-up of anti-Semitism throughout the Muslim World. For example: Maryam Jameelah, an American Jewish woman who converted to Islam and now lives in Pakistan, stresses this point: "The rise of the modern Zionist movement brought more than a thousand years of friendly Muslim-Jewish relationships to an abrupt end, with the result that since the days of the Holy Prophet never has Jewish hatred towards Muslims nor Muslim hatred for Jews been more bitter than at the present time."(3)
But this is not accurate depiction of history.
Jews and Muslims have been living close to each other and interacting since the very first days of Islam.(4) As Islam rose in Arabia at the beginning of the 7th Century and spread throughout the region that would become the Hub of Islam, the Arab-led armies encountered well established, developed and relatively affluent Jewish communities wherever they reached. The Muslim occupiers could neither ignore nor reconcile with these communities -- they had to either annihilate or vanquish them. Hence, there developed complex and usually hostile relations between the Jews and their Muslim rulers and neighbors. Professor Bernard Lewis observed that under Islam, Jews "were never free from discrimination, but only rarely subjected to persecution; that their situation was never as bad as in Christendom at its worst, nor ever as good as in Christendom at its best."(5)
Indeed, from the very beginning, discrimination and hostility were institutionalized under the rule of Islam. The relations between Muslims and non-Muslims were codified under Caliph Umar (634-644). The Umariyah set the legal framework for the discrimination against Jews and Christians under the rule of Islam. Indeed, Jews and Christians were never accorded equal rights -- the were Dhimmi. By law, Dhimmitude is a state of patronage. In other words, the extent of freedom and prosperity accorded to the Dhimmi population is an act of charity of the Muslim ruler, not an obligation, and definitely not a right of the Dhimmi themselves.
The law -- Shari'a law -- only stipulated the inferiority of Jews and Christians. Moreover, because of the religious connotations of Islamic governance, the law gave the Muslim ruler free hand to implement the law as he wished, and consequently, the extent of the discrimination against the Dhimmi varied from period to period and from ruler to ruler. Moreover, the essence of the special taxation -- Jizya -- imposed on the Dhimmi is expression of complete surrender to the supremacy of Islam -- loss of all freedoms. Essentially, the Jizya was considered a ransom Jews paid for permission to maintain hold over property (never a permanent right, can be abolished at will by ruler) and practice their religion.(6)
The Muslim World could not escape the impact of modernization and urbanization since the mid 19th Century. Exposure to European traditions led to the emergence of Muslim nationalism. The political dynamics in the early 20th Century were characterized by the rise of Arab nationalism and its confrontation with the penetration of West, including the emergence of nationalist Zionism at the heart of the Hub of Islam. Moreover, the growing European influence introduced the Arab World to the European traditional anti-Semitic literature and conceptualizations -- from the blood libel to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.(7)
The collapse of the Turkish Empire in the wake of the First World War and the establishment of European colonies (Mandate areas) in most of the Arab World shocked both traditionalist Islam and Arab nationalism. The reaction to all these trends had strong anti-Jewish sentiments as unifying factors -- the lowest common denominator -- that was not lost on aspirant populist politicians. The intensification of Muslim anti-Semitism following the rise of Nazi Germany was only natural for the Arabs expected Nazi Germany to defeat the British and French, as well as annihilate the Jews. Most effective, therefore, was the reliance on anti-Semitism by Hajj Amin al-Hussayni and his followers in order to get support from the Arab World, and later from Hitler's Germany and the Bosnian Muslims, for a Jihad to annihilate the Jews of Palestine.(8) Yassir Arafat considers Hajj Amin an inspiration and claims to be a relative of his.
The Arab World considers the establishment of the State of Israel to be a Naqbah -- a holocaust and calamity of historical proportions. In the aftermath of the Naqbah, and the rise of Arab nationalism -- Muslim regimes used the hatred to Jews to further their own causes and objectives.
This rise of government sanctioned anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism was the response to, as well as the rationalization of, the enduring humiliation of the Naqbah despite the inherent despicable character of the Jews that should not enable them to defeat the mighty Arab Armies. Therefore, the Arab Governments argue that the Zionist Jews in Israel are but the spearhead of the world Zionist movement that, in turn, has taken over the entire Jewish people. This rationale enables the Arabs to bring to the fore the plethora of classic Anti-Semitic conspiracies of the Jewish control of the world, etc. The logic behind this evolution is simple -- it is not the few Zionists in Israel that the Arab/Muslim World is confronting in Israel, but the forward post of a global conspiracy that had already devoured Western countries. Moreover, in order to continuously enhance its power and posture, Zionism transforms Judaism into a nationalist chauvinist movement, and twists the religious essence of Judaism. In so doing Zionism is destroying the Jewish communities world wide and through this afflicts the other peoples and religions the Jews are neighbors of. Thus, in confronting Zionism, the Arabs in effect are defending the real Judaism from the evils of Zionism.(9)
Ultimately, this logic led to the blurring of the distinction between "International Judaism" and "International Zionism" as the arch-nemesis of Arabness and the driving force behind, as well as facilitating the continued existence of Israel. Since the international anti-Semitic conceptualization stresses the omnipotence and viciousness of the International Jewry/Judaism as the source of all evil, the Arabs began shifting their presentation of the relationship between "International Judaism" and "International Zionism" accordingly. They were now portraying "International Zionism" as a choice instrument of "International Judaism". "Many think that Zionism is significantly different from Judaism. Actually they are one and the same, for Zionism is the implementing mechanism/machination of international Judaism that is, in turn, striving to destroy the world and control its fate," Abd-Allah al-Thal explained. "Zionism, in my opinion, is the rooted violent despotic Judaism from the days of Moses to our time."(10)
In adopting and increasingly relying on these themes, the Arabs adopted and adapted the most traditional themes of the classic European (Christian) anti-Semitism, including the translation and citation of the Anti-Semitic classics of the 19th and first half of the 20th century -- from the Protocols to Nazi era material. Numerous Arab writers, especially these with connections to, and writing on behalf of, Arab governments used this translated material as scientific sources confirming and reaffirming observations made in the Middle East by Arab experts. Nassir's Cairo was at the lead of official anti-Semitism.(11) During this period, 1950s-1960s, Arab and English translations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as well as diversified analytical literature based on them became prevalent throughout the entire Muslim World.(12) For example, Abd-Allah al-Thal argued that the modern Zionism, as depicted in the anti-Semitic literature, is a direct continuation and modernization/up-dating of the classic Judaism: "I enjoin Zionism as a political movement with the Jewish religion that is based on two firm foundations, which are the Torah and the Talmud. I consider The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to be the third firm foundation of the essence of the Jewish belief, the one Jews adhere to." Given these foundations, al-Thal points out, little wonder that Judaism is "the religion that planted in their [the Jews'] souls the seeds of crime, enmity, corruption, evil, savagery, lawlessness, zeal, arrogance, and haughtiness."(13)
Meanwhile, the rise of anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism within the Islamist trend was far more intense during the 1950s-1960s. Islamism was a major grassroots development given the socio-political dynamics in the Arab and Muslim World. It was a popular reaction to modernization and socialism. Like all populist doctrines, Islamism sought a guilty party for the misery in the Muslim World and enemies to hate. The legacy of the Naqbah -- particularly in Egypt, then the epicenter of Islamist theology -- made the intensification of anti-Jewish drives all the more palatable. Mohammed Heikal stressed the unique importance of the legacy of the Naqbah to the Islamists, initially in Egypt and ultimately throughout the entire Middle East: "The [Egyptian] Muslim Brotherhood, many of whose members had died in the fighting, argued that the Arabs had lost not just because of betrayal and incompetent planning but also because of insufficient devotion to Islam, while the Jews won because they had rediscovered their faith. Whatever the merits of this argument, its effect was considerable. Defeat, humiliation, bereavement, betrayal and economic hardship swirled together in the Arab mind, and now the Muslim Brotherhood added a religious dimension. The psychological chemistry of the taboo was becoming ever more complex, a blend of faith and fury, pride and shame, truth and myth, nationalism and mysticism. From now onwards anyone who treated with the enemy would face the implacable anger of the masses."(14)
Indeed, the continued existence of Israel into the early 1950s shocked the Islamists. For the Islamist leaders, the enduring legacy of the Naqbah thus became the first shot in a fateful struggle between Islam and Westernized modernity. The quintessence of the mere existence of the State of Israel was, and still is, a flagrant demonstration of complete Jewish emancipation from Muslim law -- the reversal of Dhimmitude -- and the imposition of Jewish rule over both Muslim land and Muslims -- Israel's Muslim Arab population. Taken together this is a major challenge and affront to Islam at a global-historical level because just as Muhammad's triumph over, and vanquishing of, the Jewish tribes of Arabia is considered the historical turning point in the ascent of Islam into becoming a global power, the opposite is also true: The defeat of the Arabs -- their inability to prevent the establishment of a Jewish State on a land decreed Waqf -- should be considered in comparable terms of historical significance. For the Islamists, therefore, the essence of the Naqbah was, and still is, that Jews defeated Muslims -- a profound theological crisis -- and not a political-military event as ordinary wars are. Hence, the Islamist leaders perceive the mere existence of Israel as a signal for Islam's total collapse unless Israel is destroyed and Muslim control over the territory and social order, that is reimposition of Dhimmitude, are restored. No other solution will provide for the theological blemish/shame on Islam to be reversed resolutely.(15)
Most important in the formulation of this doctrines are the works of Sayyid Muhammad Qutb (1906-1966) and his disciples, mainly in Egypt. They set the tone for the Islamist vision of relations with Jews to this very day. The development of Islamism in Egypt has been quite unique because of the legacy of Egyptian Sunni militant fundamentalism, and especially the coherent doctrines of Qutb, now popularly recognized as Qutbism.(16) A turning point in the Islamist attitude toward the Jews and the Jewish problem as a whole -- as far as intensity of struggle and extent of institutional hatred -- was the publication in the early 1950s of the pamphlet or essay Ma'arakatuna Ma'a al-Yahud [Our Struggle with the Jews] by Sayyid Muhammad Qutb.(17) In this essay, Qutb decreed that the struggle between Islam and the Jews is fateful and uncompromising. "The Jews will not be satisfied until this Religion [=Islam] has been destroyed."(18) Hence, Qutb's essay is of singular importance in the evolution and formulation of the Islamist political movement and its attitude toward Jews and Judaism. Despite the trauma of the Six Day War and the reverberations of Islamic Revolution in Iran, Qutb's Our Struggle with the Jews, although written in the early 1950s, is still considered by the Islamist leadership to be the most authoritative doctrinal work on the relationship between Islam and Judaism.
The Arab defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War stunned the entire Muslim World and turned into a catalyst of extremist politics. The Arabs discussed the defeat in apocalyptic terms, calling it 'The Second Naqbah.' Many of the highly educated Arab intellectuals returned to traditionalist Islam in their search for the roots of the disaster. The Arabs were defeated because "in their apostasy, they rejected the spiritual and moral values, and adopted firstly the ignorant nationalism, and then, the infidel Marxist socialism." The Arab World "was injured by a dangerous ideological disease called 'revolutionary socialism' that is more lethal than the most dangerous of plagues," and which origins are in the West. Further more, Arab leaders sought to present the secular ideologies as answers to popular demands. Little wonder that "the nationalist propaganda remained a hollow call, incited by the crowd's enthusiasm and noise and the widespread hopes for a general vague Arab unity." The defeats resulting from modern ideologies are contrasted with the victories over the Crusaders. Unlike the Jihad against Israel, the Jihad against the Crusaders was so triumphant solely because "the unifying factors of the Arabs at that time, which delivered them victory, was Islam and not Arab nationalism." Therefore, for the Arabs to be able to successfully confront Israel, "there is no escape from spreading the religious culture among the Arab and Muslim soldiers and the military men, so that the spiritual values would constitute impulse to Faith and victory, and for distancing from destructive dogmas."(19) Thus, in the late-1960's, Arab intellectuals began advocating that the socialist regimes in the Muslim World had failed, and that the emergence of Islamist militant revivalism constituted the trend for the future.
Thus, there emerged a need for the formulation of a coherent Islamist doctrine both explaining the Second Naqbah and seeking solutions for the Jewish problem. A turning point in this process was the conduct of the Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research in the al-Azhar Islamic University in Cairo, in September 1968, in which close to a hundred experts from around the Muslim the World defined and legislated an Islamic policy of hate toward the Jews. The conference reaffirmed and stressed the Qu'ranic virulent hostility toward the Jews, and studied the history of continuous Jewish crimes against Islam from the days of the Prophet to the Six Days War. Deliberating on the future of Islam, experts noted that the arrival of "the resurrection i.e. the final salvation" of the Muslim World "is made conditional upon the battle against the Jews that has to precede it." The conference urged Arab and Muslim governments to prepare for the fateful struggle for the destruction of Israel, and, until that day, provide weapons and other support for Islamist "volunteers" so that they can continue the Jihad against Israel [in the form of terrorism] in the meantime. The Conference Conclusion leaves no doubt: "The sacred duty of every Muslim in this Islamic mobilization is two fold: to thwart the destructive falsehoods spread by Zionism and to work for the triumph of Islam and the liberation of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem]."(20)
The early 1980s were dominated by the realization of Khomeyni's vision of an Islamic State and the Islamist trend in the form of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the intensifying Jihad in Afghanistan. The ramifications of these event reverberated throughout the Muslim World. By now, the Muslim World was already preoccupied with the specter of Islamic uprising and defiance against the established political order based on nation-states. Meanwhile, there was an already growing hatred to Israel and Jews in the aftermath of Arab military reversals in the Yom Kippur War (1973) and Anwar Sadat's embarking on a US-dominated political process that would bring him to Jerusalem in 1977. Thus, the early 1980s found the Arab States in a state of crisis vis-a-vis the emerging trends throughout the Muslim World.
The rise of the Jihad in Afghanistan constituted a threshold of resolve. Muslims took on a great modern power -- the USSR. Irrespective of the Mujahedin's failures and losses, they set a precedent to be emulated for their intentions were noble. And the Afghan Jihad was an Islamist challenge to the entire conventional world order, not just the Soviet occupation. "The Afghan resistance movement has not confined itself to a minimum programme of securing the nation's independence and territorial integrity, but openly advocates the creation of an Islamic society. It is in the name of Allah, and not of nationalism in the Western meaning of the term, that Soviet troops are gunned down in the mountains of Afghanistan."(21) Similarly, the Arab World considered the Iranian Revolution an epoch making event because it set a precedent whereupon a Muslim people was able to overthrow and destroy a US-supported Westernized government in the name of Islam (rather another political or nationalist ideology). Thus, in Iran, like in Afghanistan, the masses took charge of their own history and this reverberated throughout the entire Arab World regardless of the Shi'ite character of Khomeyni's Islamic Revolution. "For the Arab world, the drama of Iran was a spectacle of men and women in the street making and remaking their own history. Win or lose, they were there, demanding to be counted or heard. All the Arab elite's attempts to say that Iran's troubles were peculiar to that society and to point out the detailed (and legitimate) differences between their own countries and Iran were beside the point."(22)
Throughout the Arab World, leaders took note of the grassroots reaction to these events and the overall sentiments of the population. Since there has never been any consideration of democratization in any Arab country, and since the likelihood of diverting resources from corruption and military build-up toward betterment of the fate of the average citizen was virtually nil, it became imperative for Arab governments to come up with Satanic enemies of the State in order to legitimize the current state of affairs. Therefore, the Arab State once again adopted harsh anti-Semitism as a rallying cry and instrument of popular mobilization.
Indeed, since the early 1980s there has been a distinct and marked intensification of the most crude anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism propaganda and incitement -- from articles to caricatures -- in the state-controlled media throughout the Arab World. Building on the host of contentious issues between Israel and its neighbors, the Arab media began articulating the conclusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is fast heading toward a climax in which it would be determined "Who would annihilate whom -- the Jews or the Arabs?" With such fateful issues at stake, little wonder that the Arab media increasingly intensified its demonization of the Jews. The distinction between Zionists and Jews blurred and virtually disappeared in the contemporary Arab media. Moreover, in their quest to galvanize hatred to Israel, Arab leaders and intellectuals now openly resort to the most flagrant anti-Semitic themes -- most notably the Blood Libel. Thus, Mustafa Tlass, the Syrian Minister of Defense, authored a book on Damascus blood libel of 1840 entitled, The Matzoth of Zion. The back jacket of the book explains that "The book sets forth in minute detail, and with scientific exactitude, the Jews' blood ritual, in which they slaughter Christians and Muslims so they can mix their blood into matzoth for Yom Kippur." [sic!] Tlass' instigated a revival of studies of, and popular references to, the blood libel issue throughout the region. Classic anti-Semitic works, including Arab translation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, were published in new editions. The overall intensification of most flagrant hatred to Jews in the Arab media, particularly state-controlled organs, still continues.(23)
Of unique importance in this trend are the books published by leading intellectuals -- both religious and academic -- propagating anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism. These works provided confirmation for the anti-Semitic propaganda. Indeed, these sentiments prevail even within the Egyptian religious elite sanctioned by President Sadat himself. For example, at the height of the Camp David process, such luminaries as Shaykh Abd-al-Halim Mahmud, the rector of Al-Azhar University, identified the Jews as Islam's worst enemies. "As for those who struggle against the Faithful [that is, the Muslims], they struggle against the elimination of oppression and enmity. They struggle in the way of Satan. Allah commands the Muslims to fight the friends of Satan wherever they may be found. And among Satan's friends--indeed, his best friends in our age--are the Jews...."(24) Similarly, a Syrian expert, Dr. Salah Khalidi, stressed the enduring characteristics of Jews since the early days of Islam. "Jews are liars, corrupt, jealous, crafty, treacherous, stupid, despicable, coward, and low-life. They violate agreements and contracts and cause all evil in the world." Khalidi points out that the Jews thus constitute a global threat. "The Jews are a mortal danger threatening the world, a lethal plague that dismantles and destroys it. They are a hateful Satan. The Jewish message is hatred and jealousy, lies and deception, vilification, duplicity and ruinous."(25) And with Arab Governments endorsing and publishing this kind of depiction of Jews, their public has no doubt that the often declared commitment to a "peace process" is not sincere.
Meanwhile, Islamism continues to be the most vibrant, growing, dynamic trend in the Muslim World. Inspiring the Muslim youth -- both the downtrodden and the highly educated -- militant Islam is thus the wave of the future. For the Islamists, the growing Westernization of the Muslim World constitutes a new height of affront to Islam, and thus a threat to its ascent -- a crisis made all the worse because the Jews are the perceived winners of this confrontation.
Already in the early 1980s, Imam Khomeyni set the tone for the Islamist theological-ideological attitude toward Israel. He argued that in its existing political order, the Arab World had failed to destroy Israel -- an Islamic sacred objective -- an unacceptable state of affair for Khomeyni. "Arab countries have tried every single nationalistic way in attempts to annihilate Israel, but they have never succeeded. Such nationalistic attempts will never succeed. Now the time has come to try Islam as an alternative and follow the Islamic Republic of Iran," Khomeyni argued. His advise to Arafat and the Palestinian leaders in the early 1980s is still valid. "I advise the Palestinian leaders to stop trying to negotiate and instead fight Israel to death by relying upon God, Most Great, the Palestinian people and their arms; as these negotiations cause the struggling nations to lose faith."(26)
The spread of state-sponsored international terrorism as of the mid 1980s, particularly by Islamist organizations controlled by Iran and Syria, necessitated the formulation of ideological justifications for striking at objectives world wide. While the location and intensity of the spectacular terrorist strikes were, and still are, determined by strategic and political considerations of the sponsoring states, it is imperative to provide theological justification for the perpetrating organizations and the bodies of their supporters. After all, it is in the name of Islam, and not some strategic calculation, that the Islamist terrorists kill, maim and commit martyrdom.
Hence, starting the late 1980s, the leading Islamist terrorist leaders have begun to formulate a global doctrine justifying the expansion of their theater of operations. A crucial component of this doctrine has been the blurring of the distinction between Zionists -- the traditional and localized enemy of the Islamists -- and the Jews of the world. The massive anti-Semitic -- anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism -- propaganda and incitefull material prevalent throughout the Muslim World serves as a convenient bridge connecting the anti-Israel Jihad with a world-wide Jihad against he Jews and their home-governments -- the entire West. Consequently, there has been a distinct blurring of the difference between "Zionists" and "Jews" in the theological literature and populist propaganda of the various Islamist terrorist organizations. While the HizbAllah was the first and most eloquent source of this transformation, other organizations, including Sunni Islamist groups like the HAMAS, quickly adopted these tenets.(27) And these were not empty words for since the late 1980s there have been numerous terrorist attacks against Jewish targets and many more strikes have been prevented and averted virtually all over the world. Among the more lethal terrorist attacks on Jewish targets include the attack on the synagogue in Istanbul (September 1986) and the destruction of the AMIA building in Argentina (February 1994).
In articulating the Islamists' "case" against world Jewry, the spiritual leader of the HizbAllah, Ayatollah Muhammad Hussayn Fadlallah is the most eloquent. Since the late 1980s, he has developed the logic of the continuation of the anti-Jewish Jihad the original confrontation between the Prophet and his foes, through the struggle against the Israel -- now labeled "the Jewish state" -- and on to confronting the Jewish global conspiracy. Fadlallah warns about the magnitude of the Jewish threat: "The Jews want to be a world superpower. This racist circle of Jews wants to take vengeance on the whole world for their history of persecution and humiliation. In this light, the Jews will work on the basis that Jewish interests are above all world interests. No one should imagine that the Jews act on behalf of any super or minor power; it is their personality to make for themselves a future world presence."(28) The intensity and ferocity of the Islamist Jihad must accord with the immensity of the anti-Islamic plot.
Just how fully integrated anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism are in the Islamist struggle against Israel can be best learned from the ideology of the Islamic Resistance Movement -- the HAMAS. By its own definition, the HAMAS is a Palestinian Islamist movement fighting for the liberation of the entire Palestine, the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic State in its stead. However, starting with its most basic ideological literature, most notably the HAMAS' Covenant of August 1988, the organization stresses that its actual struggle is global and as much against the Jews as against Israel or its Zionist inhabitants. The HAMAS ideology has adopted some of the basic claims of international Jewish conspiracy as depicted in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The HAMAS populist propaganda -- slogans and graffiti -- portrays the organizations struggle as a direct continuation of Prophet Muhammad's fight against the Jews in the 7th century A.D. Among these slogans are "O Jews, leave our land," and "Khaibar, Khaibar, O Jews, Muhammad's Army will return." HAMAS leaders insist that their blurring of distinction between Jews and Zionists even when their Jihad is ostensibly confined to Palestine is the outcome of the character of the threat they are facing. "They [the Jews] made their religion their nation and state," argues HAMAS leader Mahmud Zahar. "They have declared war on Islam, closed mosques and massacred defenseless worshipers at al-Aqsa and in Hebron. They are Muslim-killers and under these circumstances we are obliged by our religion to defend ourselves." The spate of martyrdom-terrorism against civilians throughout the heart of Israel is the HAMAS concept of defense against an enemy they define as "Jews or Zionists".(29)
Thus, by the late 1990s, the leading Islamist terrorist organizations -- most notably the HizbAllah and the HAMAS -- have unified the objectives of their Jihad to include both Zionism/Israel and the world Jewry. The ideological justification and elucidation of this move is derived from the classic anti-Semitic literature prevailing in the modern Arab and Muslim World.
Radical militant Islam is on the march, getting ready for what its leaders consider to be a fateful war for the future of Islam. The accumulating frustration and rage throughout the Hub of Islam is about to burst out in a wave of rage and revenge against the Western civilization that is perceived to be the source of all evil. These trends were recognized early on by Ayatollah Muhammad Baqer al-Sadr. He emphasized that the contemporary world as shaped by infidels ["others"] was unacceptable to Islam: "The world as it is today is how others shaped it," he explained. "We have two choices: either to accept it with submission, which means letting Islam die, or to destroy it, so that we can construct the world as Islam requires."(30) Presently, the intensifying anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism incitement plays a crucial role in political Islam on two distinct levels:
1. THE GLOBAL CONSPIRACY. The Jewish conspiracy is the most effective excuse and justification of Islamist leaders about the backwardness of the Muslim World -- the loss of power and economic failures vis-a-vis the West. All of these calamities, they argue, are because of a Jewish-dominated global conspiracy aimed to eradicate Islam. Being a divine way of life, Islam is expected to have an answer to everything. Therefore, the troubles from which the contemporary Muslim society is suffering from must be due to nonbelievers and to plots -- primarily by Zionists. Addressing these issues, attacks against Jews and Christians now appear in the neo-fundamentalist media throughout the world.(31) This development follows into a classic pattern in political Islam for as a rule, Muslims attribute their calamities and failures to external enemies -- the International Zionism and, to a lesser degree, the Christian West. A factor unifying all Islamists is that there is a huge global conspiracy by the Judeo-Christian world in order to erase or eradicate Islam from the face of the earth. (32) Indeed, throughout the Muslim World, both governments' and populist opposition to the West is expressed in religious terms -- outright criticism of Judaism and Christianity -- which accounts for the marked increase in anti-Semitism.(33) Furthermore, the Islamists single out the Jews as their main enemies because of the religious and political aspects of the confrontation between Jews and Muslims. Indeed, Jameelah states, "the Jews are the most implacable enemies of an Islamic revival."(34)
2. IN ARAB-ISRAELI CONNOTATIONS. Anti-Semitism serves as a major political instrument to mobilize the entire region for the destruction of Israel. The noted Egyptian journalist and confidant of numerous Arab leaders, Mohammed Heikal, stresses that the attitude toward Israel cannot be described but by an "inchoate a blend of fury and revulsion." For the vast majority of Arabs, Israel is "taboo"(35) -- the acceptance and legitimization of which simply inconceivable irrespective of diplomatic treaties. The current "peace process" is no different. In principle, the current state of affairs is no different from the fledgling Islamist conceptualization in the wake of the Naqbah. Abd-Allah al-Thal, a former Jordanian General during the War of Independence, stresses that the Arab-Israeli conflict is an extension, or aspect, of the profound struggle between Judaism and Islam. "It is only natural for Jews and Muslims to clash in the wake of the clarification that Islam aspires for higher values that contradict what the Jews call for."(36)
Taken together, governments and leaders of organizations are using anti-Semitism as a most effective instrument of populist agitation in order to reach out to the grassroots -- the Arab street -- and get quick results. The use of blatant anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism is mot tempting particularly when these leaders need to ignore and/or reverse declared policies (imposed by international conditions). Therefore, with the spread and expansion of militant radical Islam, anti-Jewishness and anti-Judaism will continue to grow in the Muslim World, and will continue to be a most potent instrument of governments.
The intensifying Islamist attacks on Judaism should not come as a surprise. They constitute the first overt adoption by the senior political leaders of the Islamist world of principles long studied and advocated by Islamist scholars, especially those preaching to the emigre communities in the West. Maulana Abdul Aziz, "an expert on Jewish affairs" stresses that the history of unrelenting and irreconcilable enmity between Jews and Muslims should dominate polity in the Muslim World. "Unfortunately Islamic history offers many instances where Jews played havoc. In almost all the pitfalls in the long course of our historical past Jews have been active and whenever any misfortune fell on them the Jews have been responsible directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly. The Jews have always helped other nationalities and religions in their fight against Muslims. They have always collaborated with any other power, even with idol worshipers, to inflict injury on the Muslims and their cause. ... Whenever Muslims have suffered any defeat at the hands of their enemies, Jewish conspiracy has been at the back of it."(37)
This is significant because, traditionally, Islam had defined both Jews and Christians as Ahl al-Kitab [People of Scripture or People of the Book], and most Muslims use this definition of the common monotheistic character of the three main religions to justify claims of coexistence and cohabitation. However, since the late 1980s, there has been a growing trend in Islamist thought that seeks to transform this relationship into hostility and confrontation. Maryam Jameelah, an American Jewish woman who converted to Islam and now lives in Pakistan, explains why the prevailing conditions in the modern world make it impossible for Muslims and the Ahl al-Kitab to co-exist: "Jews and Christians share with Muslims a common religious and cultural heritage. ... Tragically, however, our common legacy has never been able to prevent the development of the most hostile feelings of enmity and strife. Although what divides us may be narrow, the gulf that separates us is so deep that as circumstances now stand, I fear it is unbridgeable. Our differences appear to be irreconcilable."
The primary reason for this sudden crisis, according to Jameelah, between the Muslims and the Ahl al-Kitab is the growing spread of Western, that is Judeo-Christian, values into the Muslim world. This onslaught is so pervasive that "every other Muslim country is being increasingly contaminated by the most noxious dirt from Europe and America." However, Islam remains the sole defiant and steadfast force capable of containing and reversing the spread of Western influence. "Even today when Muslims have sunk into the most abysmal depth of degradation and decay, Islam still remains the most formidable potential rival to the modern West, boldly challenging all its hedonistic culture stands for."(38)
Ultimately, Jameelah is very pessimistic about a near term solution to the problem of relations between Islam and Ahl al-Kitab. "On what foundations can a lasting reconciliation between Muslims, Jews, and Christians be based? We must realize that under the existing circumstances, no friendship is possible. Jewry and Christendom have joined hands to destroy us and all we cherish. [They] have combined to annihilate us religiously, culturally and even physically." [Boldface in the original.]
Thus, according to Jameelah, the only viable option is a bold surge of Islam against its foes. "Peaceful relations and mutual respect among us can only be achieved through strength. We must cease indulging in apologetics and present the Islamic message to the world honestly and forthrightly. ... We must establish a full-blooded Islamic state where we will witness our percepts translated into action. Finally, we must crush the conspiracies of Zionism, free-masonry, Orientalism, and foreign missions both with the pen and with the sword. We cannot afford peace and reconciliation with the Ahl al-Kitab until we can humble them and gain the upper hand."(39)
The thesis of Maryam Jameelah is significant because she defines and gives intellectual gravity to the idea of a growing threat to Islam from Western cultural and religious influences. In the practical world, such a perspective is being used by the leaders of Iran, Sudan and numerous Islamist terrorist organizations to justify their own actions and give weight to their cause. That last point is significant because it means that, far from being a mere intellectual exercise, the new anti-Jewish doctrine of radical Islam has a popular appeal and will therefore set the stage for a new wave of terrorism.
As for the Middle East, a most important and politically crucial aspect of contemporary Muslim anti-Semitism is the profound demonisation of Jews because this creates more than counter-balance to the "Peace Process". While "Peace" being instrument of statehood that is alien to Islam, the irreconcilable enmity with the Jews as stipulated in the Qu'ran is unrefutable. Ayatollah Fadlallah is most explicit in defining the role of Islamist anti-Semitism in countering the "peace process": "The battle which will commence after reconciliation with Israel will be the battle against the subjugation of the Arab and Muslim person to Israel, in politics, culture, economics, and security. In the vocabulary of the Qur'an, Islamists have much of what they need to awaken the consciousness of Muslims, relying on the literal text of the Qur'an, because the Qur'an speaks about the Jews in a negative way, concerning both their historical conduct and future schemes. The Islamists must deploy their Qur'anic and Islamic legal culture to combat normalization."(40) Hence, irrespective of what states and their governments say, the public throughout the Arab World will neither make peace with, nor legitimize, recognize and even accept the right to exist of, the demonized State of Israel. Considering that governments are the primary source of anti-Semitism in the Muslim World, the essence of their commitment to the "Peace Process" and even the extent of their willingness to even recognize Israel's right to exist should be doubted.
Indeed, even Yassir Arafat is making use of this contradiction between sacred Islamic obligation to enmity toward Jews and the "peace process" with Israel. On August 6, 1997, an emboldened Arafat called on the Palestinians to prepare for "the great battle" that is coming soon. In a speech delivered to a major conference of Fatah senior officials, mostly senior security, intelligence and military/police officers, Arafat vowed that the struggle will continue until the Palestinian flag is hoisted over Jerusalem. The coming confrontation is a most difficult challenge, Arafat stressed. "The campaigns behind us were relatively easy compared to the campaigns facing us. We are all living martyrs, ready at a moment notice to express our loyalty to the message of the armed struggle we have started many years ago."
Through the speech, Arafat repeated several time a crucial slogan -- "a contract is a contract, and a vow is a vow" -- which the audience chanted with him. The use of this Islamist saying, usually associated with the HAMAS, is most important to understanding Arafat's state of mind. The slogan differentiates between the two forms of agreement acceptable to Muslims. A contract, such as Prophet Muhammad's Treaty of Hudaibiya (that Muhammad unilaterally violated, leading to the slaughter of Jews) or Arafat's own agreements with Israel, is a transient form of agreement signed for its expediency at the time, and which a Believer is not obliged to abide by once it has outlived its usefulness. A vow -- such as the declaration of the entire land of Israel "from the sea to the river" as a sacred Waqf -- is a religious obligation that is eternal and no Muslim can disavow. Thus, by adopting this slogan, Arafat is saying that nobody should confuse between the transient agreements with Israel and the sacred commitment to the entire land of Israel. "Particularly in this hour and under these conditions, we are all obliged to this slogan, and we should comprehend that the campaigns facing us will be far more difficult and thus demand both Palestinian and Arab depth [of commitment]," Arafat concluded his speech.(41)
Should there has been a doubt about Arafat's position and intentions, Hassan al-Turabi clarifies them. Discussing Islam as the key to the future of the world, Turabi touched on the Jewish question. Islam cannot accept the State of Israel as a Jewish State "because this country is based on violence, genocide and aggression." Instead, Turabi envisions a regional entity dominated by Muslims in which Jews and Christians will live as Dhimmis in accordance with the principles of the Umariyah. Turabi does not believe the Jews will rule Israel for long because "God didn't give Israel to the Hebrews for eternity. The Qu'ran explains it clearly." Throughout history, Jews have been evicted and exiled from Palestine several times by armies empowered by God to punish them for their sins. "This lesson is important for the Muslims too," Turabi suggests. Moreover, Jewish transgression against Prophet Muhammad led to their eviction from Arabia, a precedent frequently cited by both Arafat and the Islamists as the justification for the irreconcilable enmity between Muslims and Jews.
Turabi has no doubt about Arafat's position on these issues. Arafat is striving to reach "reconciliation between the PLO which he leads and the Islamist movement HAMAS," and Turabi is assisting him in this regard. The seeming differences between Arafat and the Islamists -- be they the HAMAS or Turabi himself -- are not as big as they seem. Turabi thinks Arafat "was wrong to sign the Oslo accords with the Israelis" but his error lies in the choice of venues to reach their common objective. Turabi has no doubt that "in reality, he [Arafat] aspires to the same thing as I. I'm certain that at the bottom of his heart, nothing separates us with regard to our ultimate aims." Only the strategies of Arafat and the Islamists diverge, their ultimate objective is identical, Turabi insists. As for this ultimate objective -- Turabi has clearly stated his, and thus Arafat's as well.(42)
And these are not empty threats. Recently, in late October 1997, anti-Semitic conspiracy themes identifying the Jews as controlling both the US and Israel constituted the underlining logic of the Communique of the Vanguard of Conquest and the Jihad Group -- both under the command of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, a close protégé of Hassan al-Turabi. "The Islamic Jihad against America's world dominance, the international influence of the Jews, and the US occupation of Muslim lands will continue," the Communique declared. "The United States realizes that its real enemy, as it has declared many times, is Islamic extremism, by which it means the Islamic Jihad, the Jihad of the entire Muslim nation against the world dominance of America, the international influence of the Jews, and the US occupation of Muslim lands. The Islamic Jihad is against the theft of the Muslim Ummah's riches, this disgusting robbery, the like of which has not been witnessed in history." To avert the promised wave of violence against the US and its Middle East allies, the US must evict the region and face the establishment of Islamic governments. Otherwise, the Islamists promise a relentless terrorism campaign against the US. "Yes, America's enemy is Islamic extremism, meaning the Islamic Jihad against America's preeminence ... the Islamic Jihad which stands against Jewish expansion." (43) Zawahiri's terrorists are responsible for the terrorist carnage in Luxor, Egypt.
Meanwhile, in early December 1997, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri's Jihad Group determined that a fateful confrontation between the US and militant Islam, in which the Jihad intends to "offer martyrs", is both inevitable and imminent. "A conflict between the Muslim Ummah [nation] and the United States is unavoidable; in fact we have no other option but to confront atheism and its ringleader, the United States, which is confronting us everywhere." In a special Bulletin, the Jihad identifies Israel as the American spearhead in the Hub of Islam, and offers the only viable solution to this problem. "The Islamic Ummah rejects Israel's existence in the first place, let alone its continuing aggression and repeated massacres against us." However, the forthcoming terroristic Jihad will not be limited to strikes against Israel. "With Allah's help, we know the United States well," the Jihad Bulletin notes, "we also know its weaknesses." The Bulletin stresses that "the most vulnerable spot of the United States and Israel is to send them the bodies of their sons." Therefore, the Jihad declares, "we should throw in their faces the flesh of their sons, minced and grilled. The United States must pay the price; it must pay dearly." Zawahiri's Jihad Group has no doubt about the ultimate objective of the forthcoming confrontation. "The Americans themselves admitted half of the truth when they said that the United States' first enemy is Islamic extremism, but they hid the other half, namely that the United States' destruction will -- InshAllah -- be at the hands of Muslims."(44)
Meanwhile, Arafat's own PLO/PA is not far behind the Islamists' Jihad in both repeating the classic anti-Semitic themes, and in anticipating the resumption of struggle against both Israel and the Jews. PA-controlled media is intensifying its virulent anti-Jewish and anti-Judaism incitement. Thus, for example, in late July, Arafat's own organ -- al-Hayah al-Jadidah -- reported and endorsed the research of one Ahmad al-Awadeh on "The History of the Conflict Between Muslims and Jews". The study ascertains that the Jews still live by the principles of the Talmud and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Hence, Awadeh concludes and al-Hayah al-Jadidah endorses, the conflict between Muslim and Jews is an eternal conflict, similar to the conflict between mankind. For their part, the Palestinians have to serve as the vanguard of the entire Muslim World in this eternal battle of both Muslims and all other nations against the "nation of Jews."(45) And these sentiments are manifested in call for action by senior PA leaders. On December 2, 1997, for example, Saadi al-Karnaz, a member of the PA's Legislative Council, openly called on PA TV for a struggle against the Jews in order to destroy Israel and establish a Palestinian state in its stead. "Our struggle is still necessary, we are still at the beginning of the road. Our war with Israel and the Jews has not ended and will not end until the establishment of a Palestinian state on the entire land of Palestine."(46)
And as history should have taught the Jews, wherever they are, in Israel or in the Diaspora, that the anti-Semites mean what they say and would do their utmost to implement what they preach.
* * *
1. This paper is derived from the author's forthcoming book ISLAMIC ANTI-SEMITISM
AS A POLITICAL INSTRUMENT sponsored by The Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.
The opinions expressed in this paper are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, or any other branch of the U.S. Government.
2. Sharon, Moshe. Preface to Bat Ye'or [pseud.], The Dhimmis -- Proteges: Jews and Christians under the Shadow of Islam, [Hebrew translation], Jerusalem, Kana, 1986, p. 29
3. Jameelah, Maryam. Islam versus Ahl al-Kitab, Delhi, Taj, 1989 (a reprint of a Pakistani edition), p. 11
4. For an overall discussion of the history of Jews under Islam see: Lewis, Bernard. The Jews of Islam, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, 1984; Bat Ye'or [pseud.], The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam, Rutherford NJ, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996 (orig. 1980 & 1985)
5. Lewis, Bernard. Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice, New York NY, W.W.Norton, 1986, p. 121
6. Bat Ye'or [pseud]. The Dhimmi, Rutherford NJ, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996 (1985); Bat Ye'or [pseud]. The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam, Rutherford NJ, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996; Bat Ye'or [pseud]. Juifs et Chrestiens sous l'Islam [Jews and Christians under Islam], Paris, Berg International, 1994.
7. Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites, op.cit., pp. 124-139
8. Elpeleg, Zvi. HaMufti haGadol [Grand Mufti], Tel-Aviv, Misrad Habitakhon -- Hotsaa Laor, 1989; Elpeleg, Zvi (ed.). MiNekudat Reuto shel haMufti [In the Eyes of the Mufti], Tel-Aviv, Hakibutz haMeuhad, 1995; Lebel, Jennie. Hajj Amin veBerlin [Hajj Amin and Berlin], Tel-Aviv, 1996
9. Harkabi, Yehoshafat. Emdat haAravim beSikhsukh Yisrael-Arav [The Arabs' Position in the Arab-Israeli Conflict], Tel Aviv, Dvir, 1968, pp. 173-177
10. al-Thal, Abd-Allah. The Danger of International Judaism to Islam and Christianity. Cairo, Dar al-Qalam, 1964, p. 171; cited in Harkabi, Yehoshafat. Emdat haAravim beSikhsukh Yisrael-Arav [The Arabs' Position in the Arab-Israeli Conflict], Tel Aviv, Dvir, 1968, p. 190
11. Harkabi, Emdat HaAravim, op.cit., pp. 210-212
12. Farooqi, Misbahul Islam. The Jewish Conspiracy and the Muslim World, Kuala Lumpur, Thinker's Library SDN BHD, 1991 (a reprint of a Pakistani edition of 1967). This collection of essays as well as the entire text of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is still being reprinted and distributed throughout the Muslim World.
13. al-Thal, op.cit., pp. 170-171; cited in Harkabi, Emdat HaAravim, op.cit., p. 224
14. Heikal, Mohammed. Secret Channels: The Inside Story of Arab-Israeli Peace Negotiations, London, HarperCollins, 1996, p. 87
15. Nettler, Ronald L. Past Trials and Present Tribulation, Oxford, Pergamon Press, 1987, pp. 19-20
16. Taheri, Amir. Holy Terror, London, Huchinson, 1987, p. 174
17. Qutb, Sayyid Muhammad. Ma'arakatuna Ma'a al-Yahud [Our Struggle with the Jews]; an English translation in Nettler, op.cit., pp. 71-87
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19. Al-Munaged, Dr. Salah Al-Din, The Pillars of Naqbah: A Scientific Discussion in the Roots of the June 5 Defeat, Beirut, 1968; Tr. in cited in Harkabi, Yehoshafat (ed.), Lekakh haAravim miTvusatam [Arab Lessons from their Defeat], Tel Aviv, Am Oved, 1969, pp. 115-183
20. [Proceedings of] The Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research, Cairo, General Organization for Government Printing Offices, 1970; Analyzed in Green D.F. (Ed.), Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel, Geneva, Editions de l'Avenir, 1971.
21. Taheri, Holy Terror, op.cit., p. 206
22. Ajami, Fouad. The Arab Predicament, Cambridge MA, Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 181
23. Yadlin, Rivka. Genius Yahir veOsheq [Arrogant and Oppressive Genious: Anti-Zionism as Anti-Judaism in Egypt], Jerusalem, The Zalman Shazar Center, 1988; Stav, Arie. HaShalom -- Karikatura Aravit [The Peace -- Arab Caricature], Tel-Aviv, Zmora-Bitan, 1996; Israeli, Raphael. Fundamentalist Islam and Israel, Lanham MD, University Press of America, 1993, pp. 73-94
24. Mahmud, Shaykh Abd-al-Halim. Jihad and Victory, Cairo, 1979, p. 150; Cited in Nettler, op.cit., pp. 21-22
25. Khalidi, Dr. Salah. The Jewish Mentality Based on the Qu'ran, Damascus, 1987. Cited in Sharon, Moshe. Judaism in the Context of Diverse Civilizations, Johannesburg, 1993, p. 129.
26. The Imam Versus Zionism, Tehran, Ministry of Islamic Guidance, 1984.
27. Kramer, Martin. Commentary, October 1994; Webman, Esther. Anti-Semitic Motifs in the Ideology of HizbAllah and HAMAS, Tel-Aviv, Tel-Aviv University, 1994
28. Middle East Insight, March-April 1988
29. Raphaeli, op.cit., pp. 123-168; Abu-Amr, Ziad. Islamic Fundamentalism in the West Bank and Gaza: Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad, Bloomington IN, Indiana University Press, 1994, pp. 63-89; Milton-Edwards, Beverley. Islamic Politics in Palestine, London, Tauris Academic Studies, 1966, pp.185-193
30. Ayatollah Muhammad Baqer al-Sadr, Sarcheshmeh Qodarat dar Hokumat Eslami [The Source of Power in the Islamic Government/State], Tehran, 1980, p. 37
31. Roy, Olivier. L'echec de l'Islam politique, Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1992, pp. 112-113 [English tr: Roy, Olivier. The Failure of Political Islam, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, 1994, p. 85]
32. Hoveyda, Fereydoun. L'Islam Bloque [The Blocked Islam], Paris, Robert Laffont, 1992, pp. 13-15
33. Roy, op.cit., p. 153 [Eng. p.120]
34. Jameelah, op.cit., p. 23
35. Heikal, op.cit., pp. 12-13
36. al-Thal, op.cit., p. 66; cited in Harkabi, Emdat HaAravim, op.cit., p. 249
37. Maulana Abdul Aziz, Introduction, in Farooqi, Misbahul Islam. The Jewish Conspiracy and the Muslim World, Kuala Lumpur, Thinker's Library SDN BHD, 1991 (a reprint of a Pakistani edition of 1967), pp. 24-25
38. Jameelah, op.cit., pp. xvii-xviii
39. Jameelah, op.cit., p. 412
40. Shu'un al-Awsat, 14 December 1992
41. Bodansky, Yossef. Arafat's Peace Process, Tel-Aviv, the Ariel Center for Policy Research, 1997, pp. 64-65
42. Al-Tourabi, Hassan. Islam -- Avenir du Monde [Islam -- The Future of the World], Paris, Editions JC Lattes, 1997, pp. 270-277
43. Al-Hayah, 29 October 1997
44. A Jihad Bulletin in Al-Mujahidun, December 1997; Salah, Muhammad. Al-Hayah, 8 December 1997
45. Ha'etzni, Nadav. Ma'ariv, 12 September 1997
46. Palestinian Television, 2 December 1997; Translated in Palestinian Media Review, 2-3 December 1997