The Jerusalem Post, August 28, 2002
THEY HATE CHRISTIANS, TOO
by Michael Freund
The fact that America's Arab allies often express their hatred for Jews in ways that would make even the most stolid of State Department bureaucrats blush no longer seems to qualify as earth-shattering news.
Calls for waging holy war against Israel, combined with anti-Semitic rantings reminiscent of the Middle Ages, have sadly become all too common in so-called moderate Arab countries ranging from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.
But just in case you thought that America's ostensible Arab partners in the war on terror reserved their nastiest vitriol exclusively for the Children of Israel, consider some of the following recent observations they have made about Christians.
This past Friday, on August 23, Yemen's government-run television station broadcast a prayer sermon delivered at the Grand Mosque in Sanaa, Yemen's capital. Here is what the preacher had to say, "O Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters and the Christians and their supporters and followers. O Allah, destroy the ground under their feet, instill fear in their hearts, and freeze the blood in their veins."
This marked the third week in a row that official Yemeni TV had broadcast a sermon in which the preacher issued a chilling, and decidedly unpleasant, call for the destruction of both Jews and Christians.
Needless to say, America has gone to great lengths to assist Yemen's government in combating Islamic terror groups operating in their territory. Isn't it nice to see just how much the Yemeni government appreciates all that help?
Arab states in the Gulf region, which stand to gain the most from America's impending removal of Saddam, are likewise just as grateful as their Yemeni associates. Take, for instance, the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, where a massive American military base is being built in preparation for the war on Iraq, as the New York Times reported on August 19.
Earlier this month, in a Friday prayer sermon broadcast live on official Qatari TV from the Omar Bin-Khattab Mosque in Doha, the preacher denounced what he termed the "vile Christians" and pleaded with Allah to annihilate them: "O Allah, destroy the usurper Jews and the vile Christians. O Allah, pour out Your anger on them. O Allah, destroy them."
And so, just a few weeks shy of the first anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Qatar's government apparently sees nothing wrong with televising a call to destroy Jews and Christians.
Nor, it seems, does Qatar hesitate to invoke the most abhorrent of anti-Semitic imagery in its denunciations of Jews. On August 16, Qatari television's dose of religious inspiration for its viewers included a sermon delivered by one Sheikh Dr. Anwar al-Badawi, in which he referred to Jews as "grandsons of monkeys and pigs" and said they were "filthy".
In nearby Saudi Arabia, the same government-run hate machine that produced 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers continues to spew out similar venom. A recent homily screened on the official Saudi TV1 network included the following: "O Allah, destroy the tyrant Jews for they are within your power."
Bear in mind that the stations broadcasting this bile are owned, funded and administered by their respective governments. Hence, the hateful messages they propagate are the full and undeniable responsibility of their leaders, the very same leaders now being courted by the US State Department in the hopes they will participate in the war on terror.
And, even though these Arab leaders know quite well that the US Government, through the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), carefully monitors what their media says and how they say it, they do not seem to fear any political or diplomatic backlash over their calls for mass murder. And why should they? After all, rather than confronting Arab leaders about these issues, America's diplomats prefer to look the other way, ignoring the problem in the hopes that perhaps no one will notice.
It is therefore time for the US Congress to step in and take notice. America 's legislators should require the State Department to compile and issue a quarterly report on anti-American and anti-Israel invective in the Arab press, one that documents the phenomenon in a comprehensive and systematic manner.
Such a report would serve two essential purposes: it would raise public awareness about what the Arab states really think of America and Israel, and it would also mark an important first step in highlighting and countering the official hatemongering that takes place so brazenly throughout the Arab world.
Congress should also hold hearings to examine why countries that profess their friendship for America when speaking in English proceed to call for the extermination of Jews and Christians when praying in Arabic. This contradiction can no longer be ignored.
For, as the events of the past year have made abundantly clear, the danger of rabid anti-Western rhetoric in the Arab world is neither latent nor feeble. When they say they are out to kill Christians and Jews, policymakers need to start taking them at their word.
The writer served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999.