¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Although not restricted to Islamist movements, Islamic anti-Semitism, is a key factor in the Islamists’ war against the modern world. It lies behind Tehran’s desire to destroy the “cancerous tumor” of Israel and inspires Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threat that Israelis won’t be able “to find a tree to hide behind”, a clear allusion to a hadith that demands the killing of Jews. It causes Mahmoud Abbas to deny any connection between Jerusalem and the Jews and transforms the political conflict between Israel and the Arabs into a religious struggle between good and evil.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Islamic antisemitism mobilizes the terrorists of the Islamic State to murder Jews in Europe and it ensures that not only in Amman, but also in Berlin and Malmo Arabs threaten Jews with this particular war cry: Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews; the army of Muhammad will return. Khaybar is the name of an oasis inhabited by Jews that Mohammed conquered in blood in 628. It is also the name of an assault rifle made in Iran and a type of rocket used by Hezbollah to fire at Israeli cities in 2006.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 In this paper, I will discuss four topics: 1. What distinguishes Islamic antisemitism from other forms of Jew-hatred? 2. Why and when did this ideology come about? 3. Why is it particularly difficult to fight Islamic antisemitism? 4. How can we challenge Islamic antisemitism?
What does the term „Islamic antisemitism“ mean?
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 This term is neither a general attack on Islam, whose texts also include Jew-friendly passages, nor a general accusation against Muslims, quite a few of whom are against antisemitism. Instead, it refers to a specific kind of antisemitism based on a fusion of two sources: The anti-Judaism of early Islam and the modern antisemitism of Europe.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 European antisemitism, as manifested in the phantasm of the Jewish world conspiracy, was alien to the original image of the Jews in Islam. Only in the Christian tradition do Jews appear as a deadly and powerful force capable of killing even God’s only son. They were able to bring death and ruin on humanity – being held responsible for outbreaks of the plague. The Nazis believed in the phantasm of the Jews as the rulers of the world, who were thus also responsible for all its misfortunes. There was, according to their phantasm, only one way to the redemption of the world: the systematic annihilation of the Jews.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Not so in Islam. Here, it was not the Jews who murdered the Prophet, but the Prophet who murdered Jews: In the years 623 to 627, Mohammed had all the Jewish tribes in Medina enslaved, expelled or killed. Therefore, some typical features of Christian antisemitism did not appear in the Muslim world: “There were no fears of Jewish conspiracy and domination, no charges of diabolic evil. Jews were not accused of poisoning wells or spreading the plague.“
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Instead, Muslims used to treat the Jews with contempt or condescending toleration. The hatred of Jews fostered in the Qur’an and in the Sunnah pursued the goal of keeping them down as dhimmis: hostility was accompanied by devaluation.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 In Shiite Iran Jews were even perceived as being unclean. When it was raining, they were forbidden to take to the streets so that their “impurity“ would not be transferred to Muslims. This cultural imprint made the idea of Christian antisemites, that Jews of all people could represent a permanent threat to the world, seem absurd.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 This, however, changed with the emergence of Islamic antisemitism. Its essence is the fusion of Islamic anti-Judaism from the old scriptures with modern European antisemitism – hence the combination of the worst Islamic and the worst Christian images of the Jews.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 A case in point is the Charter of Hamas. In Article 7, this Charter cites a hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad says that the Muslims will kill the Jews “when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. Then stones and trees will say: O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 At the same time, Article 22 of the same Charter states that the Jews “were behind World War I … [and] were behind World War II … There is no war going on anywhere without having their finger in it.”
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 This Charter simultaneously portrays the Jews on the one hand as degraded, fleeing and hiding, and, on the other, as the secret and true rulers of the world. Logically, this combination is as absurd as the Nazi belief that Jews simultaneously control Communism and the Wall Street.
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 However, through this very mixture, both components become radicalized: European antisemitism becomes recharged by the religious and fanatical moment of radical Islam, while the old anti-Judaism of the Qur’an – supplemented by the world conspiracy theory – receives a new and eliminatory quality.
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 One prominent feature of this new quality is the conviction that Jews everywhere, in league with Israel, are behind a sinister plot to undermine and eradicate Islam.
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 As early as during the 1930s, Amin el-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, claimed that the Jews were eager to destroy the holy Muslim sites in Jerusalem. In the 1950s, Sayyid Qutb continued this propaganda in his pamphlet, “Our Struggle With the Jews”: The “bitter war which the Jews launched against Islam … has not been extinguished, even for one moment, for close on fourteen centuries until this moment, its blaze raging in all corners of the earth.”
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 The seventh century is here again associated with the twentieth century and Qur’anic statements about Jews mixed with the phantasm of a worldwide conspiracy. This viewpoint excludes compromises: “Muslims and Jews [are] locked in a timeless and total confrontation, until one completely subjugates the other“. Thus, the political conflict between Arabs and Zionists about Palestine became Islamized and changed into a religious struggle of life and death. How and when did this kind of Jew-hatred come about?
The origins of Islamic antisemitism
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Islamic antisemitism is not simply a continuation of tradition or a response to injustice; in fact it is the product of a process of deliberate fusion of old Islamic scriptures and new conspiracy theories which started only 80 years ago.
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Surprisingly, Nazi Germany’s Arabic-speaking propaganda played an important role. This fact is little known, but has been confirmed by recent seminal studies such as Jeffrey Herf’s “Nazi Propaganda in the Arab World” of 2009 and David Motadel’s “Islam and Nazi Germany’s War” of 2014.
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Since 1937, the Nazis sought to radicalize the latent anti-Judaism of Muslims in order to destroy the British plan for a two-state solution for Palestine – the so-called Peel Plan, which provided for the creation of a small Jewish state. However, initial Nazi attempts to export their racist antisemitism into the Islamic world failed. As a consequence, the Nazis discovered the Islamic creed as a door opener to gain access to the Muslim masses. There is a whole lot antisemitic potential in Islamic scriptures if you read them selectively. To quote David Motadel:
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 “Berlin made explicit use of religious rhetoric, terminology, and imagery and sought to engage with and reinterpret religious doctrine and concepts. … Sacred texts such as the Qur’an … were politicized to incite religious violence against alleged common enemies. … German propaganda combined Islam with anti-Jewish agitation to an extent that had not hitherto been known in the modern Muslim world.”
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 The first text that propagated sheer Jew-hatred in an Islamic context by mixing selected anti-Jewish episodes of Mohammed’s life with the so-called wickedness of Jews in the 20th century was the 31-page pamphlet „Islam – Jewry: Call by the Grand Mufti to the Islamic World“, published on in 1937 in Cairo.
¶ 22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 On the one hand, this text builds on the traditions of early Islam: “The battle between the Jews and Islam began when Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina”, we read here.
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 “At that time the Jewish methods were already the same as today. Their weapon as ever was defamation. … They said Muhammad was a swindler…, they tried to undermine Muhammad’s honor…, they began to ask Muhammad senseless and unsolvable questions. … But with this method too, as before, they had no success. So they … tried to eradicate the Muslims.”
¶ 24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 At the same time, the text attacks the Jews in the diction of European antisemitism as “great businessmen”, “exploiters”,”microbes” and as the perpetrators of the plague. Since Muhammad’s days, we read here, the Jews have been constantly trying to “destroy Muslims.” “The verses from the Qur’an and hadith,” the brochure concludes,
¶ 25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 “prove to you that the Jews have been the bitterest enemies of Islam and continue to try to destroy it. Do not believe them, they only know hypocrisy and cunning. Hold together, fight for the Islamic thought, fight for your religion and your existence! Do not rest until your land is free of the Jews.”
¶ 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 During the Second World War, the Nazis distributed this pamphlet in several languages within the Arabic-Islamic world and thus confronted the Jews with the perspective of total war: If the evil of the Jews is immutable and permanent, transcending time and circumstances, there is only one way to cleanse the world of them – by their complete expulsion or annihilation.
¶ 27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 Nazi Germany propagated this idea also by using radio programs in the Arabic language that were broadcast three times a day and seven times a week between April 1939 and April 1945.
¶ 28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 For example, in a speech broadcast in March 1944, the Mufti of Jerusalem termed the Jews “bacilli” and “microbes” and called on Muslims “to drive all Jews out of Palestine and the other Arab and Islamic countries with determination and strength. Spend all efforts to ensure that there is no longer a single Jew or single colonialist left in these countries.”
¶ 29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 This long-lasting propaganda strengthened an exclusively anti-Jewish reading of the Islamic scriptures, popularized European conspiracy theories and agitated in an antisemitic manner against the Zionist project. It gradually changed the perception of Jews within Islamic societies and contributed to the fact that Jews were more and more seen as a kind of “race” and that hostility to Jews became far more intense than in past eras of Islamic history.
¶ 30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 The pamphlet “Islam – Judaism“ was followed in the early 1950s by Sayyid Qutb’s “Our Struggle with the Jews” – a deeply religious pamphlet which Saudi Arabia disseminated in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. Then, in 1988, came the Charter of Hamas.
Why is it so difficult to fight this particular form of antisemitism?
¶ 32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 One main reason is obvious: Islamic antisemitism is connected to the Muslim creed. Western societies, however, are split when it comes to the question of Islam. One side tends to downplay Islamism and Islamic antisemitism, while the other side seeks to demonize Islam as a whole.
¶ 33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 The successes of Marine le Pen, Geert Wilders, Germany’s AfD and others have shown that racism against Muslims has become a mass phenomenon. These movements mix up Islamism and Islam in a populist way and tend to use it to place every dark-skinned Muslim under general suspicion.
¶ 34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 It would be a mistake to expect these movements to help in the fight against Islamic Jew-hatred. They create, on the contrary, detrimental effects because, first of all, they lead this alleged fight under a racist banner and tend to label all Muslims as potential or real antisemites. They thus endorse “the Islamist claim that Islamists alone are true Muslims, while waving away the modernizers [among them] as outliers, fabulists, and frauds,” to quote Daniel Pipes.
¶ 35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 Second, they want to “liberate” their own countries from Muslims, but not the Muslims in other parts of the world from the terror of Islamism and the idiocy of antisemitism. Third, they tolerate and even support antisemites within their own ranks.
¶ 36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 The emergence of these racist movements is, however, partly caused by the downplaying of Islamism and Islamic antisemitism by the political and media elite in the West. This leads us to the second stupid approach to Islamic antisemitism – to treat it with “ignorance, avoidance, minimization, denial or misinterpretation.” Neil J. Kressel wrote a whole book about this “conspiracy of silence”.
¶ 37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 Few would openly say that they are willing to tolerate or ignore Jew-hatred among Muslims. Instead, as an excuse they claim “that whatever happens now in the Muslim and Arab world by definition bears no resemblance to the … history of Jew-hatred in the Christian world.”
¶ 38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 A case in point is Gilbert Achcar, a professor at the London School of Oriental and African Studies. Achcar does not deny that “antisemitism … has grown spectacularly in Arab political statements and Arab media.” Yet, he then goes on to excuse it by asking rhetorically: “Is the fantasy-based hatred of the Jews that was and still is typical of European racists … the equivalent of the hatred felt by Arabs enraged by the occupation and/or destruction of Arab lands…?”
¶ 39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 His answer is a definite no. “The antisemitic statements now heard in Arab countries”, he maintains, “are fantasy-laden expressions – due, as a rule to cultural backwardness – of an intense national frustration and oppression for which ’the Jews’ of Palestine in their majority, as well as Israel, the ‘Jewish state’ they founded, must, in fact, be held responsible.”
¶ 40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 This statement presents a two-pronged apology for Islamic antisemitism. The first is the idea that such antisemitism is the antisemitism of the oppressed and that, since Israel is responsible for the oppression, it is responsible for this antisemitism as well.
¶ 41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 This assumption is highly problematic since those “fantasy-laden” expressions are directed at the destruction of the Jews or Israel. They, as a rule, do not address real deeds or misdeeds of Israel’s governments. Otherwise, the response would not be antisemitism aimed at annihilation, but justified or unjustified indignation over a misguided policy aimed at changing it.
¶ 42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 Achcar’s second excuse is that Arab antisemitism is “due … to cultural backwardness.” This is, firstly, factually wrong: the message of hate is spread by members of the cultural elite such as academics, journalists, publishers and clerics.
¶ 43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 It has, secondly, a racist undertone. Achcar claims that, when Arabs deny the Holocaust, “it has nothing to do with any conviction. It’s just a way of people venting their anger, venting their frustration, in the only means that they feel is available to them.” Achcar thus gives the antisemites, as long as they belong to what he considers an oppressed group, a moral carte blanche.
¶ 44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 Achcar, like many of his colleagues, infantilizes Muslims by branding them as essentially stupid people who cannot be held to Western standards of decency and who cannot be expected to know what they are doing. Maajid Nawaz, a prominent British Muslim, derides this undertone: “A credible Muslim can only be inarticulate” and “requires an intermediary to ‘explain’ his anger.”
¶ 45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 We are dealing here with what I call the “orientalization” of antisemitism in the Arab or Muslim world which is of course a kind of racism in itself – albeit an apparently benevolent type of racism in the eyes of its upholders. Some might call it a “racism of low expectations,” as if a Muslim person is supposed to uphold appalling views, while others might call it “paternalistic racism.”
¶ 46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 In addition, there is the charge of Islamophobia. This term is highly misleading because it mixes two different phenomena – unjust hatred against Muslims and necessary criticism of Islamism, Islam and the Koran – and condemns both equally. Words are crucial; this word was promoted in order to counter the critique of Islamic antisemitism – first by intimidating those who refuse to ignore or downplay the hatred of Jews among Muslims and second by introducing a counter-term to antisemitism.
¶ 47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 The invention of opposite terms in order to parallel and downplay Nazism, antisemitism or the Holocaust is nothing new. Some always combine the word “Nazism” with “Zionism”, others do not mention the term “Holocaust” without the counter- term “nakba” while the opposite term to antisemitism is, of course, Islamophobia.
¶ 48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 It is true that racism is a component of antisemitism. Antisemitism, however, is not a component of racism, but a specific ideology with elements not known in the field of racism. This peculiarity is ignored in the listing of “antisemitism” and “Islamophobia”. It was, by the way, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who more than anyone else made sure that the term “antisemitism” was always followed by the term “Islamophobia” in declarations by the Council of Europe or the OSCE.
¶ 49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 Both – the downplayers of Islamism and the demonizers of each and every Muslim – have a biased point of view. The influence of one side, however, strengthens the influence of the other side and vice versa. Both betray the minority of modern Muslims who actively oppose Islamism and Islamic antisemitism. This betrayal is inexcusable since Islamists fight this minority of modern Muslims tooth and nail.
What needs to be done to break out of this vicious circle?
¶ 50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 My first suggestion is easier said than done: There is the need to develop a political movement against right-wing populists and against appeasers of the Left; a movement which brings together those Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims, who want to fight Islamic antisemitism and Islamism and who want to change the attitudes of governments and media in this respect. An international conference somewhere in Europe together with individuals from the MENA-region could be a starting point.
¶ 51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 Today, Muslims who seek good relations with Jews are often treated as lepers. This has to end. It is therefore the first and most important step “to make the world safe for Muslim critics of antisemitism – physically safe, socially safe, organizationally safe, even academically safe.” These critics must not exclude the Qur’an. The Tunisian philosopher Mezri Haddad, for example, refuses to gloss over what the Qur’an says. Since “Islamic thinkers … cannot purge the Qur’an of its potentially antisemitic dross” wrote Haddad, “they must closely examine this corpus with hermeneutical reason” and have to “show intellectual audacity.”
¶ 52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 The time is ripe for this kind of endeavor. The intellectual climate within the Arab world has partly changed. More and more people have recognized that the dangers that threaten this region do not come from Israel, but from Sunni jihadists and Iran’s theocracy. This experience seems today to be triggering a period of thaw in parts of the Arab world, and notably Saudi Arabia, not only with respect to Israel and the Jews, but also with regard to the debate about political and religious affairs.
¶ 53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 Recently, for example, ‘Abd Al-Hamid Al-Hakim, a prominent Saudi intellectual, called via Twitter “to uproot the culture of hatred for Jews” while his colleage Mash’al Al-Sudairi blamed Amin el-Husseini in the London based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al Awsat: “He was the one who tried to combine the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nazi-ideology” and “damaged the [Palestinian] cause more than anyone else.”
¶ 54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 This dynamic contradicts both the malignant and the benevolent racists who try to construct a kind of homo islamicus to keep Muslims trapped in the cage of an immutable culture. It creates at the same time an opportunity to promote an alliance between Islamic and non-Islamic critics of Islamic antisemitism.
¶ 55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 My second suggestion relates to the state level. Whether we are successful or unsuccessful in our fight against Islamic antisemitism depends crucially on the actions of governments.
¶ 56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 In Germany, for example, there are various attempts to contain Islamic antisemitism with a mixture of pedagogy and state prohibitions. These attempts are honorable, but they remain pointless as long as this antisemitism is not contained at its source – that is in Tehran, Beirut, Gaza or Ankara. They remain pointless as long as Jew-hatred incessantly manipulates the Muslims in Germany via social networks in the Turkish, Arabic or Persian languages.
¶ 57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 This proves: Islamic antisemitism is a major foreign policy issue. Only governments can stop this flow of hate messages by denouncing and punishing state or non-state actors that allow Islamic antisemitism to spread in textbooks, mosques, and media.
¶ 58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 Regrettably, most Western governments ignore Islamic antisemitism in other parts of the world. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, for example, does not want to jeopardize Germany’s privileged relations with Ankara and Tehran.
Why is it especially important to challenge Islamic antisemitism?
¶ 60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 While conventional war – such as the ongoing war in the Ukraine or the many wars in Syria – is aimed at gaining territory and influence, the antisemitic war is aimed at extermination.
¶ 61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 Take as an example the jihad warriors of the Islamic State: In Europe they especially target Jewish institutions such as the Jewish school in Toulouse, the kosher market in Paris, the Jewish museum in Brussels or the synagogue in Copenhagen. They want to kill Jews. It does not matter if those Jews are Zionists or anti-Zionists, if they are supporters or opponents of Israeli policies. The only thing that matters is that Jews are killed.
¶ 62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 The same is true with Israel. For Hezbollah or Hamas, it does not matter if the Qassam rocket or a suicide bomber kills a baby or an old person, a supporter of Netanyahu or a foe. What matters is that Jews are being killed. More than a few Islamists today believe that if you annihilate the Jewish state you will redeem the world. To quote just a few recent statements by officials of the Iranian regime: “We will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes”, “Israel must be wiped off the earth!”, “In 25 years Israel will no longer be on the map.”
¶ 63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 Let us assume for a moment that a nuclear power such as Pakistan told another nuclear power, such as India: “In 25 years, India will no longer be on the map.” There would be an outcry all over the world. For it would be clear to everyone: Whoever threatens a nuclear power with destruction is provoking a nuclear exchange, a nuclear disaster.
¶ 64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 Israel is certainly a nuclear power and Iran has the ability to construct a nuclear weapon as well. Amazingly, there was no outcry when Teheran proclaimed: “Israel must be wiped off the map!” This battle cry, however, confronts us with a new kind of total war: the antisemitic nuclear war.
¶ 65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 Thus, challenging Islamic antisemitism effectively is not only about protecting the Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East. It is crucial to peace in the world.
¶ 66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0  A. Gruber, “Erdogans Erlösungsantisemitismus:,Kein Baum wird die Juden schützen,” MENA-WATCH, December 15, 2017, accessed May 3, 2018, https://www.mena-watch.com/mena-analysen-beitraege/erdogans-erloesungsantisemitismus-kein-baum-wird-die-juden-schuetzen/.
¶ 67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0  “Abbas at OIC summit: Israel‘s violations absolve us from our commitments,” WAFA-News-Agency, Dec. 13, 2017, accessed May 3, 2018, http://iinanews.org/page/public/news_details.aspx?id=226907#.WurNEpdCTcs.
¶ 71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0  M..Kramer, “The Jihad Against the Jews,” Commentary, March 14, 2004, accessed May 3, 2018, https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/the-jihad-against-the-jews/.
¶ 72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0  J. Herf, Nazi Propaganda in the Arab World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009); D. Motadel, Islam and Nazi Germany’s War (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014).
¶ 74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0  Translated from the German version of “Islam-Judentum. Aufruf des Großmufti an die islamische Welt im Jahre 1937” in: M. Sabry, Islam-Judentum-Bolschewismus (Berlin: Junker & Dünnhaupt, 1938) 22-32.
¶ 84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0  M. Nawaz,“The British Left’s Hypocritical Embrace of Islamism,” Daily Beast, 8 August, 2015. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/08/08/the-british-left-s-hypocritical-embrace-of-islamism.html.
¶ 87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0  Z. Harel, “Shift In Saudi Media’s Attitude To Israel – Part II: Saudi Writer Who Visited Israel: We Want An Israeli Embassy in Riyadh; We Should Make Peace With Israel, Uproot Culture of Hatred For Jews”, MEMRI, May 29, 2018, Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1399 and “Saudi Writer: The Arab League Summits Are Completely Pointless; Palestinian Leaders – First And Foremost Jerusalem Mufti Al-Husseini and PLO Leader Arafat – Damaged the Palestinian Cause The Most”, MEMRI, Mai 31, 2018, Special Dispatch No. 7499.