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Islam and antisemitism

Islam and antisemitism looks at the teaching of Islam relating to Jews and Judaism and the attitudes of the Muslim world in history to Jews as a people, and the treatment of Jews in Muslim countries.

With the origin of Islam in the 7th century AD and its rapid spread in the Arabian peninsula and beyond, Jews (and many other peoples) came to be subject to the rule of Muslim rulers. The quality of the rule varied considerably in different periods, as did the attitudes of the rulers, government officials, clergy and general population to various subject peoples from time to time; which was reflected in their treatment of these subjects. This article looks at the attitude of Muslims in general to Jews and their treatment in the context of the social order in history, as well as to the continued implications of those attitudes in the contemporary world situation.

The nature and extent of antisemitism in Islam and the Muslim world are hotly-debated issues in contemporary Middle East politics, with various scholars viewing the issues in differing ways:

  • Scholars like Claude Cahen and Shelomo Dov Goitein deny the existence of antisemitism in Muslim lands, on the basis that any discrimination which was practiced against non-Muslims was of general nature, and not directed specifically at Jews. For these scholars, antisemitism in Medieval Islam was local and sporadic rather than general and endemic. For Goitein antisemitism was not present at all, and for Cahen it was rarely present.
  • According to Bernard Lewis, while Muslims held negative stereotypes regarding Jews, these stereotypes were not indicative of antisemitism because, unlike Christians, Muslims viewed Jews as objects of ridicule, not fear, as Muslims did not attribute "cosmic evil" to Jews. In Lewis' view, it was only in the late nineteenth century that movements first appeared among Muslims that can legitimately be described as antisemitic.
  • Frederick M. Schweitzer and Marvin Perry state that there are mostly negative references to Jews in the Qur'an and Hadith, and that Islamic regimes treated Jews in degrading ways. Jews (and Christians) had the status of dhimmis. They state that throughout much of history Christians treated Jews worse, saying that Jews in Christian lands were subjected to worse polemics, persecutions and massacres than under Muslim rule.
  • According to Walter Laqueur, the varying interpretations of the Qur'an is important to Muslim attitudes. Many Quranic verses preach tolerance towards the Jews; others make hostile remarks about them (which are similar to hostile remarks made against those who didn't accept Islam); still another promises Jerusalem to the Jews. The Islamic prophet Muhammad interacted with Jews that lived in Arabia: he preached to them in hopes of conversion, he fought against and killed many Jews, while he made friends with other Jews.
  • For Martin Kramer, the idea that contemporary antisemitism by Muslims is authentically Islamic "touches on some truths, yet it misses many others". Kramer believes that contemporary antisemitism is due only partially to Israeli policies, about which Muslims may have a deep sense of injustice and loss. But Kramer attributes the primary causes of Muslim antisemitism to modern European ideologies, which have infected the Muslim world.

Qur'an

In the Qur'an there are forty-three specific references to "Banū Isrāīl" (meaning the Children of Israel). The Arabic term yahud, denoting Jews, and its variants ("hud", "yahudi") occur eleven times and the verbal form hāda (meaning "to be a Jew/Jewish") occurs ten times. Jews are not mentioned at all in verses dating from the Meccan period. According to Bernard Lewis, the coverage given to Jews is relatively insignificant.

The references in the Qur'an to Jews are interpreted in different ways. According to Frederick M. Schweitzer and Marvin Perry, these references are "mostly negative" According to Tahir Abbas the general references to Jews are favorable, with only those addressed to particular groups of Jews containing harsh criticisms.

According to Bernard Lewis, many of these passages reflect the struggles Muhammad had with the Jews of Medina, depicting negative images of the Jews. Other passages, however, speak more respectfully of them as the possessors of an earlier divine revelation and accord them with a degree of tolerance. According to Laqueur, conflicting statements about Jews in the Qur'an have defined Muslim attitudes towards Jews to this day, especially during periods of rising Islamic fundamentalism.

According to Bernard Lewis, there is nothing in Muslim theology (with a single exception) that can be considered refutations of Judaism or ferocious anti-Jewish diatribes. Lewis and Chanes suggest that Muslims were not antisemitic for the most part, due to various reasons. The Qur'an, like Judaism, orders Muslims to profess strict monotheism. The Qur'an also rejects the stories of Jewish deicide as a blasphemous absurdity, and other similar stories in the gospels are not part of the educational system in Muslim society. The Qur'an does not present itself as a fulfillment of the Hebrew Bible but rather a restorer of its original message - thus no clash of interpretations between Judaism and Islam can arise.

In addition Lewis argues that the Qur'an lacks popular western traditions of "guilt and betrayal". Rosenblatt and Pinson suggest that the Qur'an teaches the toleration of Judaism as a fellow monotheistic faith.

Lewis adds, negative attributes ascribed to subject religions (in this case Judaism and Christianity) are usually expressed in religious and social terms, but very rarely in ethnic or racial terms. However, this does sometimes occur. The language of abuse is often quite strong. The conventional epithets in the qur'an are apes for Jews and pigs for Christians. (, )

According to Stillman, the Qur'an praises Moses, and depicts the Israelites as the recipients of divine favour. The Qur'an dedicates many verses to the glorification of Hebrew prophets, says Leon Poliakov. He quotes verse as an example,

We gave him Isaac and Jacob: all (three) guided: and before him, We guided Noah, and among his progeny, David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron: thus do We reward those who do good: And Zakariya and John, and Jesus and Elias: all in the ranks of the righteous: And Isma'il and Elisha, and Jonas, and Lot: and to all We gave favour above the nations.

Leon Poliakov, Walter Laqueur, and Jane Gerber, argue that passages in the Qur'an reproach Jews for their refusal to recognize Muhammad as a prophet of God. "The Quran is engaged mainly in dealing with the sinners among the Jews and the attack on them is shaped according to models that one encounters in the New Testament." The Muslim holy text defined the Arab and Muslim attitude towards Jews to this day, especially in the periods when Islamic fundamentalism was on the rise.

Walter Laqueur states that the Qur'an and its interpreters has a great many conflicting things to say about the Jews. It is really easy to find quotations stating that jihad (holy war) is the sacred duty of every Muslim, that Jews and Christians should be killed, and that this fight should continue until only the Muslim religion is left (). Al-Baqara says about the Jews, slay them (the sons of apes and pigs) whenever you catch them. Jews are said to be treacherous and hypocritical and could never be friends with a Muslim.

Frederick M. Schweitzer and Marvin Perry state that References to Jews in the Koran are mostly negative. The Qur'an states that Wretchedness and baseness were stamped upon the Jews, and they were visited with wrath from Allah, That was because they disbelieved in Allah's revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully. And for their taking usury, which was prohibited for them, and because of their consuming people's wealth under false pretense, a painful punishment was prepared for them. The Qur'an requires their "abasement and poverty" in the form of the poll tax jizya. In his "wrath" God has "cursed" the Jews and will turn them into apes/monkeys and swine and idol worshipers because they are "infidels." Yet ordinarily, "the Jews" could not be said to have "killed" Muhammad. There is no accusation of decide, no appropriation of the Jewish bible as an Islamic sacred text, and "virtuous Hebrews" is not translated into "virtuous Muslims" in contrast to the "stiff-necked, criminal Jews."

According to Martin Kramer, the Qur'an speaks of Jews in a negative way and reports instances of Jewish treachery against the Islamic prophet Muhammad. However, Islam didn't hold up those Jews who practiced treachery against Muhammad as archetypes nor did it portray treachery as the embodiment of Jews in all times and places. The Qur'an also attests to Muhammad's amicable relations with Jews.

While traditional religious supremacism played a role in the Islamic view of Jews, the same attitude applied to Christians and other non-Muslims. Islamic tradition regards Jews as a legitimate community of believers in God (called "people of the Book") legally entitled to sufferance.

The Qur'an clears Jews from the accusation of deicide, and states "they [Jews] killed him [Jesus] not". They also argue that the Jewish Bible has not been incorporated in the Islamic text, and "virtuous Muslims" are not contrasted with "stiff-necked, criminal Jews".

The standard Qur'anic reference to Jews is the verse . It says:

And abasement and poverty were pitched upon them, and they were laden with the burden of God's anger; that, because they had disbelieved the signs of God and slain the Prophets unrightfully; that, because they disobeyed, and were transgressors.

Cowardice, greed, and chicanery are a few of the characteristics that the Qur'an ascribes to the Jews. The Qur'an further associates Jews with inter-confessional strife and rivalry (). It claims that Jews believe that they alone are beloved of God (Qur'an ), and that only they will achieve salvation ().

The Qur'an gives credence to the Christian claim of Jews scheming against Jesus, " ... but God also schemed, and God is the best of schemers."(Qur'an ) In the Muslim view, the crucifixion of Jesus was an illusion, and thus the Jewish plots against him ended in failure. According to Gerber, in numerous verses (; ; ; , , ; ) the Qur'an accuses Jews of altering the Scripture.

But the Qur'an differentiates between "good and bad" Jews. The criticisms deal mainly "with the sinners among the Jews and the attack on them is shaped according to models that one encounters in the New Testament."

The Qur'an also speaks favorably of Jews. Though it also criticizes them for not being grateful of God's blessing on them, the harsh criticisms, are only addressed towards a particular group of Jews, as it is clear from the context of the Qur'anic verses, but the translations usually confuse this by using the general term "Jews". To judge Jews based on the deeds of some of their ancestors is an anti-Qur'anic idea.

Ali S. Asani suggests that the Qur'an endorses the establishment of religiously and culturally plural societies and this endorsement has affected the treatment of religious minorities in Muslim lands throughout history. He cites the endorsement of pluralism to explain why violent forms of anti-Semitism generated in medieval and modern Europe, culminating in the Holocaust, never occurred in regions under Muslim rule.

Some verses of the Qur'an, notably , preach tolerance towards members of the Jewish faith. According to Kramer, Jews are regarded as members of a legitimate community of believers in God, "people of the Book," and therefore legally entitled to sufferance.

Martin Kramer argues that for Muslims to arrive at the concept of the "eternal Jew", there must be more at work than the Islamic tradition. Islamic tradition does, however, provide the sources for islamic antisemitism. The fact that many Islamic thinkers have spent time in the West has resulted in the absorption of antisemitism, he says. Modern texts further distort the Qur'an by quoting it besides texts such as the Protocols of Zion. Thus, Kramer concludes that there is no doubt modern Muslims (such as Hizbullah, Ayatollah Fadlallah) effectively make use of the Qur'an, using Islamic tradition as a source on which antisemitism today feeds, but it is also a selective and distorting use.

Muhammad

During Muhammad's life, Jews lived in the Arabian Peninsula, especially in and around Medina. According to Koppel Pinson and Samuel Rosenblatt, although they initially swore friendship and peace with Muhammad, they later taunted and mocked him, charging him with ignorance. According to Pinson, Rosenblatt and F.E. Peters, they also began to connive with Muhammad's enemies in Mecca to overthrow him (despite having signed a peace treaty). After each major battle, Muhammad accused one of the Jewish tribes of treachery and attacked it. Two Jewish tribes were expelled and the last one was wiped out. These incidents were not part of policies directed exclusively against Jews, and Muhammad was more severe with his pagan Arab kinsmen than foreigner monotheists. In addition Muhammad's conflict with Jews was considered of rather minor importance. According to Lewis, since the clash of Judaism and Islam was resolved and ended during Muhammad's lifetime with Muslim victory, no Muslim equivalent of the still unresolved theological dispute between Church and Israel fueled antisemitism. There is also a difference between Jewish denial of Christian and Muslim messages, since Muhammad never claimed to be a Messiah or Son of God. It is significant that the death of Muhammad was not caused by Jews.

Muhammad is also known to have Jewish friends, and had a Jewish wife (Safiyya). According to Poliakov, "the degree to which Muhammad shows his respect for each religion [Jews and Christians] is remarkable".

Muhammad's disputes with his neighboring Jewish tribes left no marked traces on his immediate successors (known as Caliphs). The first Caliphs based their treatment upon the Qur'anic verses encouraging tolerance. Classical commentators viewed Muhammad's struggle with Jews as a minor episode in his career, but this has changed in modern times due to external influences. Poliakov opines that Muhammad's actions and teachings gave rise to an open and more conciliatory society, where the Muslims were compelled to protect the lives and religion of the Jews.

Hadith

The hadith (recordings of deeds and sayings attributed to Muhammad) use both the terms Banu Israil and Yahud in relation to Jews, the latter term becoming ever more frequent and appearing mostly in negative context. According to Norman Stillman:

Jews in Medina are singled out as "men whose malice and enmity was aimed at the Apostle of God". The Yahūd in this literature appear not only as malicious, but also deceitful, cowardly and totally lacking resolve. However, they have none of the demonic qualities attributed to them in mediaeval Christian literature, neither is there anything comparable to the overwhelming preoccupation with Jews and Judaism (except perhaps in the narratives on Muhammad's encounters with Medinan Jewry) in Muslim traditional literature. Except for a few notable exceptions... the Jews in the Sira and the Maghazi are even heroic villains. Their ignominy stands in marked contrast to Muslim heroism, and in general, conforms to the Qura'nic image of "wretchedness and baseness stamped upon them"

Muhammad said, "He who wrongs a Jew or Christian will have myself as his indicter on the Day of Judgment."

Another hadith says: "A Jew will not be found alone with a Muslim without plotting to kill him." According to another hadith, Muhammad said: "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. 'O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him'".() This hadith has been quoted countless times, and it has become a part of the charter of Hamas.

According to Schweitzer and Perry, the hadith are "even more scathing (than the Qur'an) in attacking the Jews":

They are debased, cursed, anathematized forever by God and so can never repent and be forgiven; they are cheats and traitors; defiant and stubborn; they killed the prophets; they are liars who falsify scripture and take bribes; as infidels they are ritually unclean, a foul odor emanating from them - such is the image of the Jew in classical Islam, degraded and malevolent.

Pre-modern Islam

Jerome Chanes, Pinson, Rosenblatt, Mark Cohen, Norman Stillman, Uri Avnery, M. Klien and Bernard Lewis argue that antisemitism in pre-modern Islam is rare, and did not emerge until modern times. Lewis argues that there is little sign any deep-rooted emotional hostility directed against Jews, or any other group, that can be characterized as antisemitism. There were, however, clearly negative attitudes, which were in part the "normal" feelings of a dominant group towards subject groups (which exists in virtually any society). More specifically, the contempt consisted of Muslim contempt for disbelievers.

Literature

According to Lewis, the outstanding characteristic of the classical Islamic view of Jews is their unimportance. The religious, philosophical, and literary Islamic writings tended to ignore Jews and focused more on Christianity. Although, the Jews received little praise or even respect, and were sometimes blamed for various misdeed but there were no fears of Jewish conspiracy and domination, nor any charges of diabolic evil nor accusations of poisoning the wells nor spreading the plague nor were even accused of engaging in blood libels until Ottomans learned the concept from their Greek subjects in 15th century.

The famous Islamic theologian al-Ghazali praised the piety of Jews, and described them as "steadfast in faith".

Poliakov writes that various examples of medieval Muslim literature portray Judaism as an exemplary pinnacle of faith, and Israel being destined by this virtue. He quotes stories from the The Book of One Thousand and One Nights that portray Jews as pious, virtuous and devoted to God, and seem to borrow plots from midrashim. However, Poliakov writes that treatment of Jews in Muslim literature varies, and the tales are meant for pure entertainment, with no didactic aim.

After Ibn Nagraela, a Jew, attacked the Quran by alleging various contradictions in it, Ibn Hazm, a Moor, criticized him furiously. Ibn Hazm wrote that Ibn Nagraela was "filled with hatred" and "conceited in his vile soul.

According to Schweitzer and Perry, some literature during the tenth and eleventh century "made Jews out to be untrustworthy, treacherous oppressors, and exploiters of Muslims". This propaganda sometimes even resulted in outbreaks of violence against the Jews. An eleventh century Moorish poem describes Jews as "a criminal people" and blames them for causing social decay, betraying Muslims and poisoning food and water.

Martin Kramer writes that in Islamic tradition, in striking contrast with the Christian concept of the eternal Jew, the contemporary Jews were not presented as archetypes—as the embodiment of Jews in all times and places.

Life under Muslim rule

Jews living under Muslim rule were known as dhimmis. Under this, they were to be tolerated, and entitled to the protection and resources of the Ummah, the Muslim commonwealth. In return they had to pay tribute known as the jizya in accordance with Qur'an. Lewis and Poliakov argue that Jewish communities enjoyed toleration and limited rights as long as they accepted Muslim superiority. These rights were legally established and enforced. The restrictions were:

  • Jews had to pay heavier taxes,
  • Jews had to wear clothes and insignia distinguishing them from Muslims,
  • Jews were barred from holding public office, bearing arms, riding a horse or mule
  • Jews could not intermarry with Muslims;
  • Jews were disqualified as witnesses in litigation involving Muslims and having to swear a demeaning tag
  • Jews could not erect new or repair old synagogues or proselytize.

Later additions to the code included prohibitions on adopting Arab names, studying the Koran, selling alcoholic beverages. Abdul Aziz Said writes that the Islamic concept of dhimmi, when applied, allowed other cultures to flourish and prevented the general rise of antisemitism.

Schweitzer and Perry give as examples of early Muslim antisemitism: 9th century "persecution and outbreaks of violence"; 10th and 11th century antisemitic propaganda that "made Jews out to be untrustworthy, treacherous oppressors, and exploiters of Muslims". This propaganda "inspired outbreaks of violence and caused many casualties in Egypt". An eleventh century Moorish poem describes Jews as "a criminal people" and alleges that "society is nearing collapse on account of Jewish wealth and domination, their exploitation and betrayal of Muslims; that Jews worship the devil, physicians poison their patients, and Jews poison food and water as required by Judaism, and so on."

Jews under the Muslim rule rarely faced martyrdom or exile, or forced conversion and they were fairly free to choose their residence and profession. Their freedom and economic condition varied from time to time and place to place. Forced conversions occurred mostly in the Maghreb, especially under the Almohads, a militant dynasty with messianic claims, as well as in Persia, where Shi'a Muslims were generally less tolerant than their Sunni counterparts. Notable examples of the cases where the choice of residence was taken away from them includes confining Jews to walled quarters (mellahs) in Morocco beginning from the 15th century and especially since the early 19th century.

Egypt

The caliphs of Fatimid dynasty in Egypt were known to be Judeophiles, according to Leon Poliakov. They paid regularly to support the Jewish institutions (such as the rabbinical academy of Jerusalem). A significant number of their ministers and counselors were Jews. Benjamin of Tuleda, a famous 12th century Jewish explorer, described the Caliph al Abbasi as a "great king...kind unto Israel". He further mentions Muslims and Jews being involved in common devotions, such as visiting the grave of Ezekiel, whom both religions regard as a prophet.

Spain

With the Muslim conquest of Spain, Spanish Judaism flourished for several centuries. Thus, what some refer to as the "golden age" for Jews began. During this period the Muslims (at least in Spain) tolerated other religions, including Judaism, and created a heterodox society.

Muslim relations with Jews in Spain were not always peaceful, however. The eleventh century saw Muslim pogroms against Jews in Spain; those occurred in Cordoba in 1011 and in Granada in 1066. In the 1066 Granada massacre, a Muslim mob crucified the Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela and massacred about 4,000 Jews. The Muslim grievance involved was that some Jews had become wealthy, and others had advanced to positions of power.

The Almohad dynasty, which overthrew the dynasty that ran Spain during the early Muslim era, offered Christians and Jews the choice of conversion or expulsion; in 1165, one of their rulers ordered that all Jews in the country convert on pain of death (forcing the Jewish rabbi, theologian, philosopher, and physician Maimonides to feign conversion to Islam before fleeing the country). In Egypt, Maimonides resumed practicing Judaism openly only to be accused of apostasy. He was saved from death by Saladin's chief administrator, who held that conversion under coercion is invalid.

During his wanderings, Maimonides also wrote the The Yemen Epistle, a famous letter to the Jews of Yemen, who were then experiencing severe persecution at the hands of their Muslim rulers. In it, Maimonides describes his assessment of the treatment of the Jews at the hands of Muslims:

... on account of our sins God has cast us into the midst of this people, the nation of Ishmael [that is, Muslims], who persecute us severely, and who devise ways to harm us and to debase us.... No nation has ever done more harm to Israel. None has matched it in debasing and humiliating us. None has been able to reduce us as they have.... We have borne their imposed degradation, their lies, their absurdities, which are beyond human power to bear.... We have done as our sages of blessed memory have instructed us, bearing the lies and absurdities of Ishmael.... In spite of all this, we are not spared from the ferocity of their wickedness and their outbursts at any time. On the contrary, the more we suffer and choose to conciliate them, the more they choose to act belligerently toward us.

Mark Cohen quotes Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson, a specialist in medieval European Jewish history, who cautioned that Maimonides' condemnation of Islam should be understood "in the context of the harsh persecutions of the twelfth century and that furthermore one may say that he was insufficiently aware of the status of the Jews in Christian lands, or did not pay attention to this, when he wrote the letter." Cohen continues by quoting Ben-Sasson, who argues that Jews generally had a better legal and security situation in the Muslim countries than in Christendom.

Ottoman Empire

While some Muslim states declined, the Ottoman Empire rose as the "greatest Muslim state in history". As long as the empire flourished, the Jews did as well, according to Schwietzer and Perry. The Ottomans were more tolerant of Jews and promoted their economic development. The Jews flourished as great merchants, financiers, government officials, traders and artisans.

Contrast with Christian Europe

Lewis states that in contrast to Christian antisemitism, the attitude of Muslims toward non-Muslims is not one of hate, fear, or envy, but rather simply contempt. This contempt is expressed in various ways, such as abundance of polemic literature attacking the Christians and occasionally also the Jews. "The negative attributes ascribed to the subject religions and their followers are usually expressed in religious and social terms, very rarely in ethnic or racial terms, though this does sometimes occur." The language of abuse is often quite strong. The conventional epithets are apes for Jews, and pigs for Christians. Lewis continues with several examples of regulations which were symbolizing the inferiority that non-Muslims living under Muslim rule had to live with, such as different formulae of greeting when addressing Jews and Christians than when addressing Muslims (both in conversations or correspondences), and forbidding Jews and Christians to choose names used by Muslims for their children by the Ottoman times.

Schweitzer and Perry argue that there are two general views of the status of Jews under Islam, the traditional "golden age" and the revisionist "persecution and pogrom" interpretations. The former was first promulgated by Jewish historians in the 19th century as a rebuke of the Christian treatment of Jews, and taken up by Arab Muslims after 1948 as "an Arab-Islamist weapon in what is primarily an ideological and political struggle against Israel". They argue that this idealized view ignores "a catalog of lesser-known hatred and massacres". Mark Cohen concurs with this view, arguing that the "myth of an interfaith utopia" went unchallenged until it was adopted by Arabs as a "propaganda weapon against Zionism", and that this "Arab polemical exploitation" was met with the "counter-myth" of the "neo-lachrymose conception of Jewish-Arab history", which also "cannot be maintained in the light of historical reality".

Antisemitism in the Islamic Middle East

Most scholars agree that antisemitism increased in the Muslim world during modern times. While Bernard Lewis and Uri Avnery date the rise of antisemitism to the establishment of Israel, M. Klein suggests the antisemitism could have been present in the mid-19th century.

Scholars point out European influence, including that of Nazis, and the establishment of Israel as the root causes for antisemitism. Norman Stillman explains that increased European commercial, missionary and imperialist activities during the 19th and 20th centuries brought anti-Semitic ideas to the Muslim world. Initially these prejudices only found a reception among Arab Christians and were too foreign for any widespread acceptance among Muslims. However, with the rise of the Arab-Israeli conflict, European anti-Semitism began to gain acceptance in modern literature.

Nineteenth century

According to Mark Cohen, Arab anti-Semitism in the modern world arose relatively recently, in the nineteenth century, against the backdrop of conflicting Jewish and Arab nationalism, and was imported into the Arab world primarily by nationalistically minded Christian Arabs (and only subsequently was it "Islamized").

The Damascus affair occurred in 1840, when an Italian monk and his servant disappeared in Damascus. Immediately following, a charge of ritual murder was brought against a large number of Jews in the city. All were found guilty. The consuls of England, France and Austria as well as Ottoman authorities, Christians, Muslims and Jews all played a great role in this affair. Following the Damascus affair, Pogroms spread through the Middle East and North Africa. Pogroms occurred in: Aleppo (1850, 1875), Damascus (1840, 1848, 1890), Beirut (1862, 1874), Dayr al-Qamar (1847), Jerusalem (1847), Cairo (1844, 1890, 1901-02), Mansura (1877), Alexandria (1870, 1882, 1901-07), Port Said (1903, 1908), Damanhur (1871, 1873, 1877, 1891), Istanbul (1870, 1874), Buyukdere (1864), Kuzguncuk (1866), Eyub (1868), Edirne (1872), Izmir (1872, 1874). There was a massacre of Jews in Baghdad in 1828. There was another massacre in Barfurush in 1867.

In 1839, in the eastern Persian city of Meshed, a mob burst into the Jewish Quarter, burned the synagogue, and destroyed the Torah scrolls. Known as the Allahdad incident. It was only by forcible conversion that a massacre was averted.

Benny Morris writes that one symbol of Jewish degradation was the phenomenon of stone-throwing at Jews by Muslim children. Morris quotes a 19th century traveler: "I have seen a little fellow of six years old, with a troop of fat toddlers of only three and four, teaching [them] to throw stones at a Jew, and one little urchin would, with the greatest coolness, waddle up to the man and literally spit upon his Jewish gaberdine. To all this the Jew is obliged to submit; it would be more than his life was worth to offer to strike a Mahommedan."

Twentieth century

M. Klein suggests that Arab antisemitism differs from European antisemitism in that it "is not distinguished by personal animosity towards Jews, nor do publications stress Judaism as an internal threat, to the majority population. This is basically political, ideological, intellectual, and literary antisemitism that focuses on the external threat which the State of Israel represents for the Arab countries...

The massacres of Jews in Muslim countries continued into the 20th century. The Jewish quarter in Fez was almost destroyed by a Muslim mob in 1912. There were Nazi-inspired pogroms in Algeria in the 1930s, and massive attacks on the Jews in Iraq and Libya in the 1940s (see Farhud). Pro-Nazi Muslims slaughtered dozens of Jews in Baghdad in 1941.

Standard antisemitic themes have become commonplace in the propaganda of Arab Islamic movements such as Hizbullah and Hamas, in the pronouncements of various agencies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and even in the newspapers and other publications of Refah Partisi, the Turkish Islamic party whose head served as prime minister in 1996-97."

The language of abuse is often quite strong. For example, the conventional epithets for Jews and Christians are apes and pigs, respectively.

Support for the Third Reich

The first attempts at an Arab Nazi movement occurred in 1933, when a Jaffa correspondent of the Cairo newspaper Al-Ahram applied to the German council for help. Many of the Arabs were in full support of Nazi Germany, and believed that if Hitler won the war, the Arab cause would prosper. The influence of the Nazis in the Arab world continued to grow though the 1930s. Nazi influenced political parties arose in the 1930s and 1940s, many of which played an important role in the leadership of the Arab world post-World War II. Egypt, Syria, and Iran are believed to have harbored Nazi war criminals, though they deny it. Mein Kampf has been published and was 6th on the Palestinian best-seller list in 1999.
Mohammad Amin al-Husayni

The Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni attempted to create an alliance with Nazi Germany for the purpose of an Islamic holy war against the entire Jewish population.

Historians debate to what extent al-Husayni's fierce opposition to Zionism was grounded in nationalism or antisemitism or a combination of both.

On March 31, 1933, within weeks of Hitler's rise to power in Germany, al-Husayni sent a telegram to Berlin addressed to the German Consul-General in the British Mandate of Palestine saying muslims in Palestine and elsewhere looked forward to spreading their ideology in the Middle East. Al-Husayni secretly met the German Consul-General near the Dead Sea in 1933 and expressed his approval of the anti-Jewish boycott in Germany and asked him not to send any Jews to Palestine. Later that year, the Mufti's assistants approached Wolff, seeking his help in establishing an Arab National Socialist party in Palestine. Reports reaching the foreign offices in Berlin showed high levels of Arab admiration of Hitler.

Al-Husayni met the German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop on November 20 1941 and was officially received by Adolf Hitler on November 30 1941 in Berlin. He asked Hitler for a public declaration that "recognized and sympathized with the Arab struggles for independence and liberation, and that it would support the elimination of a national Jewish homeland", and he submitted to the German government a draft of such a declaration, containing the clause.

Husayni aided the Axis cause in the Middle East by issuing a fatwa for a holy war against Britain in May 1941. The Mufti's widely heralded proclamation against Britain was declared in Iraq, where he was instrumental in the anti-British Iraqi revolt of 1941. During the war, the Mufti repeatedly made requests to "the German government to bomb Tel Aviv.

Al-Husayni was involved in the organization and recruitment of Bosnian Muslims into several divisions of the Waffen SS and other units. and also blessed sabotage teams trained by Germans before they were dispatched to Palestine, Iraq, and Transjordan.

On March 1, 1944, while speaking on Radio Berlin, al-Husayni said:

Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.
Iraq
In March 1940, General Rashid Ali, a nationalist Iraqi officer forced the pro-British Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said Pasha, to resign. In May, he declared jihad against Great Britain. Forty days later, British troops occupied the country. The 1941 Iraqi coup d'état occurred on April 3, 1941 when the regime of the Regent 'Abd al-Ilah was overthrown, and Rashid Ali was installed as Prime Minister.

In 1941, following Rashid Ali's pro-Axis coup, riots known as the Farhud broke out in Baghdad in which approximately 180 Jews were killed and about 240 were wounded, 586 Jewish-owned businesses were looted and 99 Jewish houses were destroyed.

Iraq initially forbade the emigration of its Jews after the 1948 war on the grounds that allowing them to go to Israel would strengthen that state, but they were allowed to emigrate again after 1950, if they agreed to forgo their assets.

Iran

In Iran, Reza Shah sympathized with Nazi Germany, making the Jewish community fearful of possible persecutions. Although these fears did not materialise, anti-Jewish articles were published in the Irani media. A rumor that Hitler converted to Islam led to a marriage between the Shia clergy and the nascent, ultra-nationalist secularized prejudices in Iran.

Egypt
In Egypt, Ahmad Husayn founded the Young Egypt Party in 1934. He immediately expressed his sympathy for Nazi Germany to the German ambassador to Egypt. Husayn sent a delegation to the Nuremberg rally and returned with enthusiasm. After the Sudenten Crisis, the party leaders denounced Germany for aggression against small nations, but nonetheless retained elements similar to Nazism or Fascism, e.g. salutes, torchlight parades, leader worship, and antisemitism and racism. The party's impact before 1939 was minimal, and their espionage efforts were of little value to the Germans.

During World War II, Cairo was a heaven for agents and spies thoughtout the war. Egyptian nationalists were active, with many Egyptians, including Farouk of Egypt and prime minister Ali Mahir Pasha, all of whom hoped for an Axis victory, and full independence of Egypt from Britain.

Islamist groups

Many Islamic terrorist groups have openly expressed anti-Semitic views.

Lashkar-e-Toiba's propaganda arm has declared the Jews to be "Enemies of Islam," and Israel to be the "Enemy of Pakistan".

Hamas has been widely described as antisemitic. It has issued antisemitic leaflets, and its writings and manifestos rely upon antisemitic documents (the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and other European Christian literature), exhibiting antisemitic themes. In 1998, Esther Webman of the Project for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Tel Aviv University wrote that although the above is true, anti-Semitism was not the main tenet of Hamas ideology. In an editorial in The Guardian in January 2006, Khaled Meshaal, the chief of Hamas's political bureau denied antisemitism, on Hamas' part, and said that the nature of Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not religious but political. He also said that Hamas has "no problem with Jews who have not attacked us.

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Shiite scholar and assistant professor at the Lebanese American University has written that Hezbollah is not Anti-Zionist, but rather Anti-Jewish. She quoted Hassan Nasrallah as saying: "If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli." Regarding the official public stance of Hezbollah as a whole, she said that while Hezbollah, "tries to mask its anti-Judaism for public-relations reasons ... a study of its language, spoken and written, reveals an underlying truth." In her book, Hezbollah: Politics & Religion, she explored the anti-Jewish roots of Hezbollah ideology, arguing that Hezbollah "believes that Jews, by the nature of Judaism, possess fatal character flaws." Saad-Ghorayeb also said that "Hezbollah's Quranic reading of Jewish history has led its leaders to believe that Jewish theology is evil."

21st century

France is home to Europe's largest population of Muslims — about 6 million — as well as the continent's largest community of Jews, about 600,000. In 2000, Muslims attacked synagogues in retaliation for damage done to their Muslim brethren in the Palestinian territories. (See also: Second Intifada) Many Jews protested, the acts were declared "Muslim antisemitism". By 2007, however, attacks were much less severe, and an "all-clear" was perceived.

On July 28, 2006, at around 4:00 p.m. Pacific time, the Seattle Jewish Federation shooting occurred when Naveed Afzal Haq shot six women, one fatally, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, United States. He shouted, "I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel" before he began his shooting spree. Police have classified the shooting as a hate crime based on what Haq said during a 9-1-1 call.

In Egypt, Dar al-Fadhilah published a translation of Henry Ford's antisemitic treatise, The International Jew, complete with distinctly antisemitic imagery on the cover.

Sermons

Palestinian preacher Ibrahim Mahdi said in a sermon: "Palestine will be, as it was in the past, a graveyard for the invaders - just as it was a graveyard for the Tatars and to the Crusader invaders, [and for the invaders] of the old and new colonialism... A reliable Hadith [tradition] says: 'The Jews will fight you, but you will be set to rule over them.' What could be more beautiful than this tradition? 'The Jews will fight you' - that is, the Jews have begun to fight us. 'You will be set to rule over them' - Who will set the Muslim to rule over the Jew? Allah... Until the Jew hides behind the rock and the tree. But the rock and tree will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, a Jew hides behind me, come and kill him.' Except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews. We believe in this Hadith. We are convinced also that this Hadith heralds the spread of Islam and its rule over all the land... Oh Allah, accept our martyrs in the highest heavens... Oh Allah, show the Jews a black day... Oh Allah, annihilate the Jews and their supporters... Oh Allah, raise the flag of Jihad across the land... Oh Allah, forgive our sins...

In sermons, Jews are commonly referred to as the descendants of pigs and apes, and as calf-worshippers. As Ibrahim Madhi stated, "All spears should be directed at the Jews, at the enemies of Allah, the nation that was cursed in Allah's book. Allah has described them as apes and pigs, the calf-worshipers, idol-worshipers... Whoever can fight them with his weapons, should go out [to the battle]; whoever can fight them with a machinegun, should go out; whoever can fight them with a sword or a knife, should go out; whoever can fight them with his hands, should go out; This is our destiny... The Jews have exposed their fangs. Nothing will deter them, except the color of their filthy people's blood; nothing will deter them except for us voluntarily detonating ourselves in their midst. They have nuclear power, but we have the power of the belief in Allah... We blow them up in Hadera, we blow them up in Tel Aviv and in Netanya."

Hamas says:

Allah did not mete out the punishment of transformation on any nation except the Jews. The significance of it is actual change in the appearance of the Jew and perfect transformation from human to bestial condition... from human appearance to the form of genuine apes, pigs, mice, and lizards....

Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais is the leading imam of the Grand mosque located in the Islamic holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The BBC aired a Panorama episode, entitled A Question of Leadership, which reported that al-Sudais referred to Jews as "the scum of the human race" and "offspring of apes and pigs", and stated, "the worst ... of the enemies of Islam are those ... whom he ... made monkeys and pigs, the aggressive Jews and oppressive Zionists and those that follow them ... Monkeys and pigs and worshippers of false Gods who are the Jews and the Zionists."

In another sermon, on April 19, 2002, he declared:

Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring, infidels, distorters of [others'] words, calf-worshippers, prophet-murderers, prophecy-deniers... the scum of the human race whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs...

According to Dr. Leah Kinberg, "Saudi Sheikh Ba'd bin Abdallah Al-Ajameh Al-Ghamidi, in a sermon in Taif, explained":

The current behavior of the brothers of apes and pigs, their treachery, violation of agreements, and defiling of holy places ... is connected with the deeds of their forefathers during the early period of Islam – which proves the great similarity between all the Jews living today and the Jews who lived at the dawn of Islam.

He also said Jews are "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs. In April 2002, Egyptian Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque and Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University, and "perhaps the foremost Sunni Arab authority", described Jews in his weekly sermon as "the enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs." Unreferenced

On May 7, 2002, in a Saudi state-controlled TV station talk show entitled "Modern Muslim Woman" on channel Iqraa, broadcast around the world, a three-and-a-half year old girl was interviewed. In the interview, she said she doesn't like Jews because they are apes and pigs, and it says so in the qur'an. According to Daniel Pipes, "[t]he little girl is wrong, but her words show that, contrary to Condoleezza Rice's analysis, Muslim antisemitism extends even to the youngest children.

On May 5, 2001, after Shimon Peres visited Egypt, the Egyptian al-Akhbar internet paper stated that: "lies and deceit are not foreign to Jews.... For this reason, Allah changed their shape and made them into monkeys and pigs.

Erel Shalit writes:

We need to bear to listen to the accusations from the Arab world, however outrageous and anti-Semitic many of them are, for instance,
The Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring ... the cum of the human race 'whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs...' These are the Jews, an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption... {The Imam of the Al-Haraam mosque in Mecca; the same words of incitement repeated time and again in the mosques of Gaza and Ramallah.)

On July 21, 2006 Syrian Deputy Minister of Religious Endowment Dr. Muhammad 'Abd Al-Sattar stated on Syrian TV.

The Koran used terms that are closer to animals than to humans only with regard to those people. Look at the bestiality they demonstrate in the destruction of the Arab, Lebanese, and Palestinian people. This is why the people who were given the Torah were likened to a donkey carrying books. They were also likened to apes and pigs, and they are, indeed, the descendants of apes and pigs, as the Koran teaches us.
This followed a broadcast on November 8, 2005 in which 'Abd Al-Sattar similarly referred to Jews as "those whom the Koran called the descendants of apes and pigs".

A May 2006 study of Saudi Arabia's revised schoolbook curriculum discovered that the eighth grade books included the following statements,

They are the people of the Sabbath, whose young people God turned into apes, and whose old people God turned into swine to punish them. As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the keepers of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christian infidels of the communion of Jesus.

Some of the people of the Sabbath were punished by being turned into apes and swine. Some of them were made to worship the devil, and not God, through consecration, sacrifice, prayer, appeals for help, and other types of worship. Some of the Jews worship the devil. Likewise, some members of this nation worship devil, and not God.

On another occasion, Sheikh Madhi added: "Oh beloved of Allah... One of the Jews' evil deeds is what has come to be called 'the Holocaust,' that is, the slaughter of the Jews by Nazism. However, revisionist [historians] have proven that this crime, carried out against some of the Jews, was planned by the Jews' leaders, and was part of their policy... These are the Jews against whom we fight, oh beloved of Allah. On the other hand, [what is our belief] about the Jews? Allah has described them as donkeys.

Reconciliation efforts

In Western countries, some Islamic groups and individual Muslims have made scattered efforts to reconcile with the Jewish community through dialogue and to oppose Antisemitism. For instance, in Britain there is the group Muslims Against Anti-Semitism. Islamic studies scholar Tariq Ramadan has been outspoken against Anti-Semitism, stating: "In the name of their faith and conscience, Muslims must take a clear position so that a pernicious atmosphere does not take hold in the Western countries. Nothing in Islam can legitimize xenophobia or the rejection of a human being due to his/her religious creed or ethnicity. One must say unequivocally, with force, that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and indefensible. Mohammad Khatami, former president of Iran, declared antisemitism to be a "Western phenomena", having no precedents in Islam and stating the Muslims and Jews had lived harmoniously in the past. An Iranian newspaper stated that has been hatred and hostility in history, but conceded that one must distinguish Jews from Zionists.

In North America, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has spoken against some antisemitic violence, such as the 2006 Seattle Jewish Federation shooting. According to the Anti-Defamation League, CAIR has also been affiliated with antisemitic oganizations such as Hamas and Hizbollah.

The Saudi mufti, Shaykh Abd al-Aziz Bin Baz, gave a fatwa ruling that negotiating peace with Israel is permissible, as is the cist to Jerusalem by Muslims. He specifically said:

The Prophet made absolute peace with the Jews of Medina when he went there an an immigrant. That did not entail any love for them or amiability with them. But the Prophet dealt with them, buying from them, talking to them, calling them to God and Islam. When he died, his shield was mortgaged to a Jew, for he had mortgaged it to buy food for his family.
Martin Kramer considers that as "an explicit endorsement of normal relations with Jews".

Trends

According to Norman Stillman, Antisemitism in Muslim world increased greatly for more than two decades following 1948 but "peaked by the 1970s, and declined somewhat as the slow process of rapprochement between the Arab world and the state of Israel evolved in the 1980s and 1990s. It remains to be seen how the tensions arising in 2000 will affect the trend. Johannes J. G. Jansen believes that antisemitism will have no future in the Arab world in the long run. In his view, like other imports from the Western World, antisemitism is unable to establish itself in the private lives of Muslims. In 2004 Khaleel Mohammed said that "Anti-Semitism has become an entrenched tenet of Muslim theology, taught to 95 per cent of the religion's adherents in the Islamic world," a claim immediately dismissed as false and racist by Muslim leaders, who accused Mohammed of destroying efforts at relationship building between Jews and Muslims.

According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project released on August 14, 2005, high percentages of the populations of six Muslim-majority countries have negative views of Jews. To a questionnaire asking respondents to give their views of members of various religions along a spectrum from "very favorable" to "very unfavorable," 60% of Turks, 74% of Pakistanis, 76% of Indonesians, 88% of Moroccans, 99% of Lebanese Muslims and 100% of Jordanians checked either "somewhat unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" for Jews.

See also

Notes

References

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