Extended Interview: The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism


Frontpage Interview’s guest today (June 13, 2008) is Andrew G. Bostom, M.D., M.S. and the author of the highly acclaimed The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims. He is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Renal Diseases at Rhode Island Hospital, the major teaching affiliate of Brown University Medical School. Dr. Bostom has published numerous articles and commentaries on Islam in the The New York Daily News, Washington Times, National Review Online, Revue Politique, FrontPage Magazine.com, American Thinker, and other print and online publications. More on Andrew Bostom’s work can be found at www.andrewbostom.org, including a preview of his new book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History.


FP: Andrew G. Bostom, welcome to Frontpage Interview.


Bostom: Thanks very much for the opportunity, Jamie.


FP: What inspired you to write this book?


Bostom: Nearing completion of my first book compendium, The Legacy of Jihad, in early 2005, specifically the section about jihad on the Indian subcontinent, I came across a remarkable comment by the Indian Sufi theologian Sirhindi (d. 1624). Typical of the mainstream Muslim clerics of his era, Sirhindi was viscerally opposed to the reforms which characterized the latter ecumenical phase of Akbar’s 16th century reign (when Akbar became almost a Muslim-Hindu syncretist), particularly the abolition of the humiliating jizya (Koranic poll tax, as per Koran 9:29) upon the subjugated infidel Hindus. In the midst of an anti-Hindu tract Sirhindi wrote, motivated by Akbar’s pro-Hindu reforms, Sirhindi observes, “Whenever a Jew is killed, it is for the benefit of Islam.”


The biographical information I could glean about Sirhindi provided, among other things, no evidence he was ever in direct contact with Jews, so his very hateful remark suggested to me that the attitudes it reflected must have a theological basis in Islam—contra the prevailing, widely accepted “wisdom” that Islam, unlike Christianity was devoid of such theological Antisemitism.  Having originally intended to introduce, edit, and compile a broader compendium on dhimmitude in follow-up to The Legacy of Jihad, this stunning observation inspired me instead to change course and focus on the interplay between Islamic Antisemitism, and the intimately related phenomenon of jihad imposed dhimmitude for Jews, specifically.


FP: How is the book—a very large compendium—arranged?


Bostom: The book opens with an extended discussion of Alfred Dehodencq’s 1860 “Execution of a Moroccan Jewess,” a striking painting which dominates the cover design. Many of the book’s themes are introduced in this historical background analysis of the 1834 event depicted by Dehodencq—the young Moroccan Jewess Sol Hachuel’s public execution in Fez on contrived charges of “apostasy” from Islam.


The cover art description is followed by Ibn Warraq’s Foreword. Warraq explores and debunks the specific “Andalusian Golden Age for Jews” myth, while also acquainting the reader with some of the more salient Antisemitic verses from the Koran, and their gloss in the major classical Koranic commentaries.


Next comes my own extensive survey (of some 180,000 words, including ~ 1000, often detailed annotations), which first introduces the reader to the main Antisemitic motifs in Islam’s foundational texts—the Koran, and the gloss on its Antisemitic verses as discussed at some length by the major classical and modern Koranic commentators; the hadith (the words, deeds, and even unspoken physical gestures of Muhammad as noted by his companions); and the sira (earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad, especially those by Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Saad). Key illustrations of how such Antisemitic motifs were applied across space and time are also provided. These subsections are followed in turn by an analysis of the conjoined effects of jihad imposed dhimmitude, and Islamic Antisemitism using four historical examples: Palestine, Muslim Spain, the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic, and Iran. Such diverse geographical and sociopolitical settings illustrate shared realities intrinsic to jihad imposed dhimmitude, and the expression of Islam’s Antisemitic motifs, both “acutely,” and on a chronic basis. Moreover conditions in Muslim Spain and the Ottoman Empire (as well as the modern Turkish Republic) were emphasized deliberately, to refute ahistorical conceptions about these environments which persist, and continue to distort overall understanding of both the dhimmi condition for Jews, and the conjoined phenomenon of Muslim Antisemitism. The survey continues with a discussion of the impact of Nazism during the World War II era, the post World War II founding of Israel, and the modern exodus of Jews from Islamic countries, both Arab and non-Arab. A summary recapitulation at the end of the survey culminates with this final assessment:


The two false pillars (“[Islamic] hostility to the Jew is non-theological.”; “ ‘dhimmi’-tude [derisively hyphenated]…is a myth.”] upon which the prevailing construct of Islamic Antisemitism stands—this sham castle of glib affirmations—must be swept away if the enduring phenomenon of Islamic Antisemitism is to be properly understood.


The remainder of the book consists of eight additional sections (Parts 2 through 9).


Part 2 includes three simultaneous translations of a range of Antisemitic Koranic verses, and ends with Haggai Ben Shammai’s 1988 essay examining the major Antisemitic motifs in the Koran and the Koranic exegesis.


Part 3 consists of extracts from the canonical hadith collections illustrating a broad range of Antisemitic motifs. George Vajda’s magisterial 1937 essay on the Antisemitic hadith literature—presented in full English translation for the first time, along with its 202 annotations—concludes this section.


Part 4 illustrates, again via extensive extracts, the major Antisemitic themes in the early Muslim biographies of Muhammad (i.e., the sira), and closes with the first time English translation of Hartwig Hirschfeld’s mid 1880s analysis of Muhammad’s subjugation of the Jews of Medina.


Part 5 includes numerous extracts from writings on Jews by Muslim jurists, theologians, and scholars during Islam’s classical and pre-modern eras. This section concludes with a reproduction of Moshe Perlmann’s seminal analysis of the 11th century anti-Jewish polemic in Muslim Spain, and another first time English translation—Vajda’s important study of the late 15th century Moroccan theologian, al-Maghili.


Part 6 contains full essays or extensive extracts from writings on Jews by modern era Muslim jurists, theologians, and scholars. It includes, importantly, major first time Arabic to English translations of materials by current Al-Azhar Grand Imam Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, popular Koranic exegete ‘Afif ‘Abd al-Fattah Tabbara, and Hamas “Koranic scholar” Salah ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Khalidi.


Part 7 reproduces twelve annotated maps of the history of the Jews from the Islamic Near east originally published in a collection by Sir Martin Gilbert.


Part 8 contains numerous analyses by major contemporary scholars of Islam on the dhimmi condition for Jews, and Muslim Antisemitism, across space and time, from early Islam, through the present era. First time English translations from both European languages, i.e., French and German, as well as Hebrew, are included. The French to English translations are: Edmond Fagnan’s early 20th century essay on the plight of North African Jewry, with some emphasis on their forced dress regulations, during the Middle Ages; a 1908 analysis by Jacques Chalom of the ongoing late 19th/early 20th century dhimmi condition for Tunisian Jews despite attempted French reforms under France’s colonial administration; Bat Ye’or’s seminal chapter, “Modern Egyptian Jew Hatred,” translated from the original French, prior to its publication in Hebrew (in 1974); and a short essay by Vajda on the dhimmi condition for Jews and Christians in early 12th century Seville, Spain.  The three German to English translations are: Moritz Levy’s 1911 analysis (i.e., a chapter from this work) of Bosnian Jewish dhimmitude during the 18th century; Nazi propagandist and eventual convert to Islam Johannes (Omar Amin) von Leers’ 1942 essay “Judasim and Islam as Opposites”; and modern German scholar Hans Peter Raddatz’s analysis of present day Islamic Antisemitism. The four Hebrew to English translations include: Eliezer Bashan’s study of late 19th century Moroccan Jewry; Yehuda Ratzaby’s study of the catastrophic late 17th century Mawza exile of Yemen’s Jews; Yosef Tobi’s analysis of ongoing conversion pressures throughout the history of the Jews of Yemen; and E.R. Malachi’s discussion of the plight of Palestinian Jewry under the 19th century rule of Ibrahim Pasha. Finally, this section also reproduces important essays originally published in English by noted scholars such as S.D. Goitein, Alexander Scheiber, Jacob Mann, H.Z. Hirschberg, Jane S. Gerber, Laurence Loeb, Norman Stillman, Emmanuel Sivan, and David Littman.


The final section, Part 9, includes documents and eyewitness accounts which illustrate the impact of Islam’s anti-dhimmi and more specifically Antisemitic dogma, with a particular emphasis on the past 200 years, through the present. Part 9 includes evidence of rarely discussed phenomena such as chattel slavery for Jews under Muslim rule through the mid 19th century in Kurdistan, and into the early 20th century (at least) in both the Atlas mountain regions of North Africa, and in Yemen. This closing section end, perhaps appropriately, with multiple examples of the modern rhetoric of Antisemitic jihad genocide.



FP: Tell us about the origins of Islamic Antisemitism.


Bostom: Islamic Antisemitism has a heritage independent of Europe, arose as an entirely indigenous phenomenon that dates from the advent of Islam, and originates in Islam’s virulently Antisemitic foundational texts—the Koran, most importantly, and the gloss on its myriad Antisemitic verses by the greatest classical (and modern) Muslim exegetes of the Koran, the hadith (which include in addition to corporeal Antisemitic motifs, critical Antisemitic motifs in Islamic eschatology), and the further elaboration, or embodiment of many of these themes in the sira, the early pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad, particularly the works of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Saad.


The hatemongering impact of these purely Islamic motifs (derived from Islam’s foundational texts) on Muslim attitudes towards Jews was already evident, for example, in the major early Islamic community of Abbasid Baghdad during the mid 9th century. A remarkable essay by the polymath Arabic writer al-Jahiz (d. 869), illustrates the Antisemitic attitudes widely prevalent in this era.


Al-Jahiz’s full essay was actually an anti-Christian polemic believed to have been commissioned by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mutawakkil (d. 861), who inaugurated a literary campaign against the Christians. The author examines why the Muslim masses prefer the Christians to the Jews. This empirical preference (although decried by the author) is acknowledged by al-Jahiz from the outset:


I shall begin to enumerate the causes which made the Christians more liked by the masses than the Magians [Zoroastrians], and made men consider them more sincere than the Jews, more endeared, less treacherous, less unbelieving, and less deserving of punishment. For all this there are manifold and evident causes.


Al-Jahiz offers two primary explanations for this abiding hostility of the Muslim rank and file towards the Jews. First was the “rancorous” relationship between the early Muslim community, exiles from Mecca, relocated among Jewish neighbors in Medina.


When the [Muslim] Emigrants [from Mecca] became the neighbors of the Jews [in Medina]…the Jews began to envy the Muslims the blessings of their new faith, and the union which resulted after dissension. They proceeded to undermine the belief of our [i.e., the Muslim] masses, and to lead them astray. They aided our enemies and those envious of us. From mere misleading speech and stinging words they plunged into an open declaration of enmity, so that the Muslims mobilized their forces, exerting themselves morally and materially to banish the Jews and destroy them. Their strife became long-drawn and widespread, so that it worked itself up into a rage, and created yet greater animosity and more intensified rancor. The Christians, however, because of their remoteness from Mecca and Medina, did not have to put up with religious controversies, and did not have occasion to stir up trouble, and be involved in war. That was the first cause of our dislike of the Jews, and our partiality toward the Christians.


However, al-Jahiz then identifies as “the most potent cause” of this particular animus towards the Jews, Koran  5:82 [“Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews and the idolaters; and thou wilt surely find the nearest of them in love to the believers are those who say ‘We are Christians’; that, because some of them are priests and monks, and they wax not proud.”], and its interpretation by the contemporary (i.e., mid-9th century) Muslim masses. 


Al-Jahiz’s contention that the Muslims harbored greater enmity towards the Jews than the Christians is supported by the independent observations of another Arab author active during the beginning of the 9th century in Iraq, the Sufi theologian al-Harith al-Muhasibi (d. 857). He maintained that because the Jews stubbornly denied Muhammad’s truth, they were “…in the eyes of the Muslims worse than the Christians.”


The impact upon Jews of such distinctly Antisemitic attitudes by Muslims in the specific context of the Arab Muslim world during the high Middle Ages (circa 950-1250 C.E.) is evident in S.D. Goitein’ s seminal analyses of the primary source Geniza documentary record. Goitein’s research caused him to employ the term Antisemitism,


…in order to differentiate animosity against Jews from the discrimination practiced by Islam against non-Muslims in general. Our scrutiny of the Geniza material has proved the existence of ‘antisemitism’ in the time and the area considered here…


Goitein cites as one important concrete proof of his assertion that a unique strain of Islamic Jew hatred was extant at this time (i.e., up to a millennium ago)—exploding the common assumption of its absence—the fact that letters from the Cairo Geniza  material,


…have a special word for it and, most significantly, one not found in the Bible or in Talmudic literature (nor registered in any Hebrew dictionary), but one much used and obviously coined in the Geniza period. It is sin’ūth, “hatred”, a Jew-baiter being called sōnē, “a hater”.


Incidents of such Muslim Jew hatred documented by Goitein in the Geniza come from northern Syria (Salamiyya and al-Mar‘arra), Morocco (Fez), and Egypt (Alexandria), with references to the latter being particularly frequent.


One thousand years later, various eyewitness accounts written throughout the 19th century illustrated the prolonged historical continuity of this theological Islamic Antisemitism. Edward William Lane, the renowned Arabic lexiocographer, recorded his observations of Egyptian society in 1835. Lane’s testimony on the difference between the attitude of Egyptian Muslims toward the Jews and the Christians again highlights the influence of Koran 5:82:


They [the Jews] are held in the utmost contempt and abhorrence by the Muslims in general, and they are said to bear a more inveterate hatred than any other people to the Muslims and the Muslim religion. It is said, in the Koran [quoting 5:82] “Thou shalt surely find the most violent all men to those who have believed to be the Jews…”


Lane further notes,


It is a common saying among the Muslims in this country, “Such one hates me with the hate of the Jews.” We cannot wonder, then, that the Jews are detested far more than are the Christians. Not long ago, they used often to be jostled in the streets of Cairo, and sometimes beaten for merely passing on the right hand of a Muslim. At present, they are less oppressed: but still they scarcely ever dare to utter a word of abuse when reviled or beaten unjustly by the meanest Arab or Turk; for many a Jew has been put to death upon a false and malicious accusation of uttering disrespectful words against the Koran or the Prophet. It is common to hear an Arab abuse his jaded ass, and, after applying to him various opprobrious epithets, end by calling the beast a Jew.



FP: Tell us some of the major, specific Antisemitic motifs in Islamic theology.


Bostom: The central Antisemitic motif in the Koran decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews (Koran 2:61/ reiterated at 3:112) for slaying the prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah. It should be noted that Koran 3:112 is featured in the pre-amble to Hamas’ foundational Covenant.  This central motif is coupled to Koranic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into apes and swine (5:60), or simply apes, (i.e. verses 2:65 and 7:166), having been “…cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). Muhammad himself repeats this Koranic curse in a canonical hadith (Sunan Abu Dawoud, Book 37, Number 4322), “He [Muhammad] then recited the verse [5:78]: ‘…curses were pronounced on those among the children of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary’. ”And the related verse, 5:64, accuses the Jews—as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did in a January 2007 speech, citing Koran 5:64—of being “spreaders of war and corruption,” a sort of ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.


The centrality of the Jews’ permanent “abasement and humiliation,” and being “laden with God’s anger” in the corpus of Muslim exegetic literature on Koran 2:61/3:112, is clear. By nature deceitful and treacherous, the Jews rejected Allah’s signs and prophets, including Isa, the Muslim Jesus. Classical Koranic commentators such as Tabari (d. 923), Zamakshari (d. 1143), Baydawi (d. 1316), and Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), when discussing Koran 5:82, which includes the statement (“Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews..” , concur on the unique animus of the Jews towards the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked to the curse of  Koran 2:61/3:112. For example, in his commentary on 5:82, Tabari writes,


In my opinion, [the Christians] are not like the Jews who always scheme in order to murder the emissaries and the prophets, and who oppose God in his positive and negative commandments, and who corrupt His scripture which He revealed in His books.


Tabari’s classical interpretations of Koran 5:82 and 2:61,  as well as his discussion of the related verse 9:29 mandating the Jews payment of the jizya (Koranic poll-tax), represent both Antisemitic and more general anti-dhimmi views that became, and remain, intrinsic to Islam to this day. Here is Tabari’s discussion of 2:61 and its relationship to verse 9:29, which emphasizes the purposely debasing nature of the Koranic poll tax:


…“abasement and poverty were imposed and laid down upon them”, as when someone says “the imam imposed the poll tax (jizya)on free non-Muslim subjects”, or “The man imposed land tax on his slave”, meaning thereby that he obliged him [to pay ] it, or, “The commander imposed a sortie on his troops”, meaning he made it their duty.…God commanded His believing servants not to give them [i.e., the non-Muslim people of the scripture] security—as long as they continued to disbelieve in Him and his Messenger—unless they paid the poll tax to them; God said: “Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden—such men as practice not the religion of truth [Islam], being of those who have been given the Book [Bible]—until they pay the poll tax, being humble” (Koran 9:29)..


The dhimmis [non-Muslim tributary’s] posture during the collection of the jizya- “[lowering themselves] by walking on their hand, …reluctantly


… His words “and abasement and poverty were imposed upon them”, ‘These are the Jews of the Children of Israel’. ..‘Are they the Copts of Egypt?’…“What have the Copts of Egypt to do with this? No, by God, they are not; but they are the Jews, the Children of Israel.…By “and slain the prophets unrightfully” He means that they used to kill the Messengers of God without God’s leave, denying their messages and rejecting their prophethood.



Indeed the Koran’s overall discussion of the Jews is marked by a litany of their sins and punishments, as if part of a divine indictment, conviction, and punishment process. The Jews wronged themselves (16:118) by losing faith (7:168) and breaking their covenant (5:13). The Jews (echoing an ante-Nicaean, Marcionite polemic) are a nation that has passed away (2:134; repeated in 2:141). Twice Allah sent his instruments (the Assyrians/or Babylonians, and Romans) to punish this perverse people (17:4-5)—their dispersal over the earth is proof of Allah’s rejection (7:168). The Jews are further warned about both their arrogant claim that they remain Allah’s chosen people (62:6), and continued disobedience and “corruption” (5:32-33) Other sins, some repeated, are enumerated: abuse, even killing of prophets (4:155; 2:91), including Isa [Jesus] (3:55; 4:157), is a consistent theme. The Jews ridiculed  Muhammad as Ra’ina (the evil one, in 2:104; 4:46), and  they are also accused of lack of faith, taking words out of context, disobedience, and distortion (4:46). Precious few of them are believers (also 4:46). These “perverse” creatures also claim that Ezra is the messiah and they worship rabbis who defraud men of their possessions (9:30). Additional sins are described: the Jews are typified as an “envious” people (2:109), whose hearts are as hardened as rocks (2:74). They are further accused of confounding the truth (2:42), deliberately perverting scripture (2:75), and being liars (2:78). Ill-informed people of little faith (2:89), they pursue vague and wishful fancies (2:111). Other sins have contributed to their being stamped (see 2:61/ 3:112 above) with “wretchedness/abasement and humiliation,” including—usury (2:275), sorcery (2:102), hedonism (2:96), and idol worship (2:53). More (and repeat) sins, are described still: the Jews’ idol worship is again mentioned (4:51), then linked and followed by charges of other (often repeat) iniquities—the “tremendous calumny” against Mary (4:156), as well as usury and cheating (4:161). Most Jews are accused of being “evil-livers” /“transgressors” /“ungodly” (3:110), who, deceived by their own lies (3:24), try to turn Muslims from Islam (3:99). Jews are blind and deaf to the truth (5:71), and what they have not forgotten they have perverted—they mislead (3:69), confound the truth (3:71), twist tongues (3:79), and cheat Gentiles without remorse (3:75). Muslims are advised not to take the Jews as friends (5:51), and to beware of the inveterate hatred that Jews bear towards them (5:82). The Jews’ ultimate sin and punishment are made clear: they are the devil’s minions (4:60) cursed by Allah, their faces will be obliterated (4:47), and if they do not accept the true faith of Islam—the Jews who understand their faith become Muslims (3:113)—they will be made into apes (2:65/ 7:166), or apes and swine (5:60), and burn in the Hellfires (4:55, 5:29, 98:6, and 58:14-19).


The Koranic curse (verses 2:61/3:112) upon the Jews for (primarily) rejecting, even slaying Allah’s prophets, including Isa/Jesus (or at least his “body double” 4:157-4:158), is updated with perfect archetypal logic in the canonical hadith: following the Muslims’ initial conquest of the Jewish farming oasis of Khaybar, one of the vanquished Jewesses reportedly served Muhammad poisoned mutton (or goat), which resulted, ultimately, in his protracted, agonizing death. And Ibn Saad’s sira account maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish conspiracy.


Muhammad’s brutal conquest and subjugation of the Medinan and Khaybar Jews, and their subsequent expulsion by one of his companions, the (second) “Rightly Guided” Caliph Umar, epitomize permanent, archetypal behavior patterns Islamic Law deemed appropriate to Muslim interactions with Jews. George Vajda’s seminal analysis of the anti-Jewish motifs in the hadith remains the definitive work on this subject. (The first full English translation of this 1937 essay, previously available only in the original French—70 pp., with 202 references—is included in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.)  Vajda concluded that according to the hadith stubborn malevolence is the Jews defining worldly characteristic: rejecting Muhammad and refusing to convert to Islam out of jealousy, envy and even selfish personal interest, lead them to acts of treachery, in keeping with their inveterate nature: “…sorcery, poisoning, assassination held no scruples for them.” These archetypes sanction Muslim hatred towards the Jews, and the admonition to at best, “subject [the Jews] to Muslim domination,” as dhimmis, treated “with contempt,” under certain “humiliating arrangements.”


The annihilationist sentiments regarding Jews, incorporated permanently into the foundational 1988 Hamas Charter, for example, are rooted in Islamic eschatology. As characterized in the hadith, Muslim eschatology highlights the Jews’ supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl—the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ—or according to another tradition, the Dajjâl is himself Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions maintain that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered— everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree, as per the canonical hadith included in the 1988 Hamas Charter (in article 7). Another hadith variant, which takes place in Jerusalem, has Isa (the Muslim Jesus) leading the Arabs in a rout of the Dajjâl and his company of 70,000 armed Jews. And the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even into Islamic eschatology—on the day of resurrection the vanquished Jews will be consigned to Hellfire, and this will expiate Muslims who have sinned, sparing them from this fate.


Finally, a  profoundly Antisemitic motif occurring after the events recorded in the hadith and sira,  put forth in early Muslim historiography (for example, by Tabari), is most assuredly a part of “the birth pangs” of Islam: the story of Abd Allah b. Saba, an alleged renegade Yemenite Jew, and founder of the heterodox Shi’ite sect. He is held responsible—identified as a Jew—for promoting the Shi’ite heresy and fomenting the rebellion and internal strife associated with this primary breach in Islam’s “political innocence”, culminating in the assassination of the third Rightly Guided Caliph Uthman, and the bitter, lasting legacy of Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian strife.


FP: Can you talk a bit about how these Antisemitic motifs have been expressed in Muslim societies, across space and time, continually, from Muhammad’s era, through the present.


Bostom: A mid-19th century eyewitness account from Jerusalem by the missionary Gregory Wortabet, (published in 1856) captures these routine sentiments, which Wortabet attributes to Koranic verses referring to the Jews as apes and pigs (Koran 2:65, 5:60, and 7:166), as well as the canonical hadith about Muhammad’s reputed poisoning by an ancient Khaybar Jewess:


The Jew is still an object of scorn, and nowhere is the name of “Yahoodi (Jew)”more looked down upon than here in the city of his fathers. One day, as I was passing the Damascus gate, I saw an Arab hurrying on his donkey amid imprecations such as the following:“Emshi ya Ibn-el-Yahoodi (Walk, thou son of a Jew)! Yulaan abuk ya Ibn-el-Yahoodi (Cursed be thy father, thou son of a Jew)!”


I need not give any more illustrations of the manner in which the man went on. The reader will observe, that the man did not curse the donkey, but the Jew, the father of the donkey. Walking up to him, I said, “Why do you curse the Jew? What harm has he done you?”

“El Yahoodi khanzeer (the Jew is a hog)!”, answered the man.

“How do you make that out?”, I said. “Is not the Jew as good as you or I?”

“Ogh!”, ejaculated the man, his eyes twinkling with fierce rage, and his brow knitting.


By this time he was getting out of my hearing. I was pursuing my walk, when he turned round, and said, “El Yahoodi khanzeer! Khanzeer el Yahoodi! (The Jew is a hog! A hog is a Jew!)”


Now I must tell the reader, that, in the Mahomedan vocabulary, there is no word lower than a hog, that animal being in their estimation the most defiled of animals; and good Mahomedans are prohibited by the Koran from eating it. The Jew, in their estimation, is the vilest of the human family, and is the object of their pious hatred, perhaps from the recollection that a Jewess of Khaibar first undermined the health of the prophet by infusing poison into his food. Hence a hog and a Jew are esteemed alike in the eye of a Moslem, both being the lowest of their kind; and now the reader will better understand the meaning of the man’s words, “El Yahoodi khanzeer!”


With regard to the tangible Antisemitism engendered by Koran 5:82, mid to late 19th century accounts validate and expand upon al-Jahiz’s 9th century observations, as well as Lane’s 1835 narrative, discussed in brief, earlier. For example, the French surgeon A.B. Clot who resided in Egypt from 1825 to1848, and served Muhammad Ali as a medical adviser, earning the honorific title, “Bey,” made these confirmatory observations written in 1840, five years after Lane’s travelogue first appeared in 1835:


The Israelite race is the one that the Muslims hate the most. They think that the Jews hate Islam more than any other nation…Speaking of a fierce enemy, the Muslims say: “He hates me the way the Jews hate us.” During the past century, the Israelites were often put to death because they were accused rightly or wrongly to have something disrespectful about the Koran.


Such hateful attitudes directed at the Jews specifically, persisted among Egyptian Muslims, as recorded in 1873 by Moritz Lüttke:


The Muslim hates no other religion as he hates that of the Jews…even now that all forms of political oppression have ceased, at a time when such great tolerance is shown to the Christian population, the Arabs still bear the same contemptuous hatred of the Jews. It is a commonplace occurrence, for example, for two Arabs reviling each other to call each other Ibn Yahūdī (or “son of a Jew”) as the supreme insult…it should be mentioned that in these cases, they pronounce the word Yahūdī in a violent and contemptuous tone that would be hard to reproduce.


Jacob Landau’s modern analysis of Egyptian Jewry in the 19th century elucidates the predictable outcome of these bigoted archetypes “constantly repeated in various forms”—the escalation from rhetorical to physical violence against Jews:


…it is interesting to note that even the fallāhīn, the Egyptian peasantry (almost all of them Muslim) certainly did not know many Jews at close quarters, but nevertheless would revile them. The enmity some Muslims felt for the Jews incited them to violence, persecution, and physical assault, as in 1882…Hostility was not necessarily the result of envy, for many Jews were poverty-stricken and even destitute and were sometimes forced to apply for financial assistance to their co-religionists abroad.


Although Antisemitic Islamic motifs from the Koran, hadith, and sira were much more commonly employed in daily life as a form of chronic discrimination against Jews, they have also been used to incite, more extensive persecutions, including mass violence against Jewish communities.


Rigid conformity to a motif in the hadith (and sira) based on the putative death bed wish of Muhammad himself, as recorded by Umar (the second Rightly Guided Caliph), “Two religions shall not remain together in the peninsula of the Arabs,” had tragic consequences for the Jews of Yemen. (The hadith and sira further maintain that Umar did eventually expel the Jews of Khaybar.)  Thus a pious 17th century Yemenite ruler,  Al-Mahdi wishing to fulfill the mandate of this hadith in Yemen,  as well, in 1679-1680, expelled the entire Jewish population of Yemen – men, women and children— deporting them to the inhospitable wastelands of the plain of Tihama. This expulsion was accompanied by the destruction of synagogues, desecration of Torah scrolls, and inducements for conversion to Islam. Three-quarters of the thousands of Jews  expelled perished from exposure to the intense daytime heat (and evening cold),  absence of potable water, and the subsequent spread of epidemic disease. The major Yemenite Jewish community in San’a experienced a 90 percent mortality rate from this catastrophic exile—of about 10,000 persons exiled, only about one tenth, i.e., 1,000, survived.


References to the Jews transformation into apes (Koran 2:65 and 7:166), or apes and swine (Koran 5:60)—perhaps the most striking Koranic motifs for the Jews debasement, which have always transcended any mere application to “Sabbath breakers”—have also been exploited in polemical incitement against Jews, or odes celebrating their having been disgraced and slaughtered. Here again, the sacralized prototype is clear: right before subduing the Banu Qurayza and orchestrating the mass execution of the adult males from the besieged Medinan Jewish tribe, Muhammad addressed these Jews with hateful disparagement, as “You brothers of monkeys.” Some 3000 to 4000 Jews were massacred in the 1066 Granada pogrom, inspired in part by an anti-Jewish ode containing the line, “Many a pious Muslim is in awe of the vilest infidel ape,” referring to the Jewish communal leader, the vizier Joseph b. Samuel Naghrela. More Jews were killed in this one pogrom than in the Crusaders’ much more infamous ravages through the Rhineland 30 years later. Anti-Jewish riots and massacres by Muslims accompanied the 1291 death of Jewish physician-vizier Sa’d ad-Daula in Baghdad—the plundering and killing of Jews, which extended throughout Iraq (and likely into Persia)—were celebrated in a verse by the Muslim preacher Zaynu’d-Din ‘Ali b. Said, which begins with this debasing reference to the Jews as apes: “His name we praise who rules the firmament./These apish Jews are done away and shent [ruined].” Referring to the Jews as “brothers of apes”, who repeatedly blasphemed the prophet Muhammad, and whose overall conduct reflected their hatred of Muslims, the Moroccan cleric Al-Maghili (d. 1505) fomented, and then personally lead, a Muslim pogrom (in ~ 1490) against the Jews of  the southern Moroccan  oasis of Touat, plundering and killing Jews en masse, and destroying their synagogue in neighboring Tamantit. Each of these massacres was incited and/or celebrated by depictions of Jews as apes in verses by popular clerics—in the case of Touat, the “composer” of such a verse al-Maghili (d. 1505), an important Muslim theologian whose writings influenced Moroccan religious attitudes towards Jews into the 20th century—led the pogrom himself. Maghili also declared in verse, “Love of the Prophet, requires hatred of the Jews.”


Currently the invocation of Koranic references to the Jews as apes and pigs pervades Muslim (especially Arab Muslim) religious and political discourse in print, audio, video, and internet venues. Young children are targeted with these messages, and even encouraged to repeat them by approving adults during additional media coverage. Menachem Milson recently warned that repeated invocation of these motifs cannot be “dismissed as mere vulgar invective”, or “primitive magical thinking”. Rather, these recurring expressions need to be understood as a form of dehumanization serving as a pretext for the destruction of Jews. Given the murderous historical legacy of Muslim societies that invoked these Koranic motifs (i.e., in Granada, Baghdad, and Touat, Morocco) his concern is not alarmist.  



Two particularly humiliating “vocations” that were imposed upon Jews by their Muslim overlords (consistent with Koran 2:61/3:112) in Yemen, and Morocco—where Jews formed the only substantive non-Muslim dhimmi populations—merit elaboration.


Moroccan Jews were confined to ghettos in the major cities, such as Fez (since the 13th century) called mellah(s) (salty earth) which derives from the fact it was here that they were forced to salt the decapitated heads of executed rebels for public exposition. This brutally imposed humiliating practice—which could be enforced even on the Jewish Sabbath—persisted through the late 19th century, as described by Eliezer Bashan:


In the 1870’s, Jews were forced to salt the decapitated heads of rebels on the Sabbath. For example, Berber tribes frequently revolted against Sultan Muhammad XVIII. In order to force them to accept his authority, he would engage in punitive military campaigns. Among the tribes were the Musa, located south of Marrakesh.  In 1872, the Sultan succeeded in quelling their revolt and forty-eight of their captives were condemned to death. In October 1872, on the order of the Sultan, they were dispatched to Rabat for beheading. Their decapitated heads were to be exposed on the gates of the town for three days. Since the heads were to be sent to Fez, Jewish ritual slaughterers [of livestock] were forced to salt them and hang them for exposure on the Sabbath. Despite threats by the governor of Rabat, the Jews refused to do so.  He then ordered soldiers to enter the homes of those who refused and drag them outside. After they were flogged, the Jews complied and performed the task and the heads of the rebels were exposed in public.


Yemenite Jews had to remove human feces and other waste matter (urine which failed to evaporate, etc.) from Muslim areas, initially in Sanaa, and later in other communities such as Shibam, Yarim, and Dhamar. Decrees requiring this obligation were issued in the late 18th or early 19th century, and re-introduced in 1913. Yehuda Nini reproduces an 1874 letter written by a Yemenite Jew to the Alliance Israelite in Paris, lamenting the practice:


…it is 86 years since our forefathers suffered the cruel decree and great shame to the nation of Israel from the east to sundown…for in the days of our fathers, 86 years ago, there arose a judge known as Qadi, and said unto the king and his ministers who lived in that time that the Lord, Blessed be He, had only created the Jews out of love of the other nations, to do their work and be enslaved by them at their will, and to do the most contemptible and lowly of tasks. And of them all…the greatest contamination of all, to clear their privies and streets and pathways of the filthy dung and the great filth in that place and to collect all that is left of the dung, may your Honor pardon the expression.


Even after the mass exodus of  some 900,000 Jews from Muslims lands throughout the Near East—spurred by anti-Jewish pogroms, expropriations, and other chronic persecutions, following the creation of Israel in 1948—vestigial Jewish populations in Muslim countries far removed from the battlegrounds of the Arab-Israeli conflict continue to be targeted with attacks—recent examples being the jihadist bombings of the ancient al-Ghariba synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia on April 11, 2002 (which killed 21, and seriously wounded many others, most being elderly German tourists), and the simultaneous jihadist bombings of two Istanbul synagogues in November 2003. And during January 2007, even the infinitesimal remnant population of Yemenite Jews (some 200 or less) living in the province of Sa’ada, was under duress. Reports indicated that these Jews were being forced to make apparent jizya payments, had been falsely accused of selling wine to Muslims, and were threatened with killings, abductions, and lootings. A letter delivered to the Jewish communal leader, believed to have been composed by disciples of the Yemenite Shi’ite cleric Hossein Bader a-Din al Khouty, stated:


Islam calls upon us to fight against the disseminators of decay…After accurate surveillance over the Jews [in Sa’ada province]…it has become clear to us that they were doing things which serve mainly global Zionism, which seeks to corrupt the people and distance them from their principles, their values, their morals, and their religion.


Georges Vajda’s 1937 analysis of the portrayal of the Jews in the hadith remains the definitive treatment of this subject matter. Vajda (d. 1981) made these sadly prescient observations in 1968 regarding Islamic doctrines which continue to shape the behaviors of Muslim governments and societies towards any Jewish communities remaining in their midst, no matter how small or unobtrusive.


…it seems clear that, unless it changes its principles, goes against the deepest feelings of its coreligionists and calls in question its own raison d’être, no Muslim power, however “liberal” it may like to think itself…could depart from the line of conduct followed in the past and continued de facto in the present [emphasis added], in conferring on Jews anything but the historic status of “protection”, patched up with ill-digested and unassimilated Western phraseology.



The intervening forty years of evidence—both Islamic doctrinal expressions, and resultant Muslim actions towards Jews—have only bolstered Vajda’s conclusions from 1968. And the seeds of this virulently Antisemitic Islamic doctrine continue to be sewn, at present. Palestinian cleric Wael Al-Zarad during a television program which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on February 28, 2008 intoned the following about the Jews of Israel: “By Allah, if each and every Arab spat on them, they would drown in Arab spit.” Wael Al-Zarad’s seemingly hallucinatory statement also included this allegation,


From the dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, they proclaim that Ezra the Scribe is the son of God.


The reference to Ezra is of course a false, intentionally defamatory Koranic accusation (Koran 9:30) against Jews, citing a claim which Jews, in fact, have never made. But the crux of Al-Zarad’s remarks explained that the Muslims’ blood vengeance against the Jews, “will only subside with their [the Jews] annihilation, Allah willing, because they tried to kill our Prophet several times.” These allegations are part of the central antisemitic motif in the Koran decreeing an eternal curse upon the Jews (Koran 2:61/ reiterated at 3:112), discussed at length earlier.


Unfortunately, the orthodox Islamic archetypes of Jew hatred promulgated by such Palestinian clerics, are also being disseminated by the most respected, mainstream Islamic institutions. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi wrote these words in his 700 page treatise rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred, [Jews in the Koran and the Traditions], originally published in 1968/69, and then re-issued in 1986:


[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61/ 3:112], corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness…only a minority of the Jews keep their word….[A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims {Koran 3:113], the bad ones do not.


Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in 1996, a position he still holds. These are the expressed, “carefully researched” views on Jews held by the nearest Muslim equivalent to a Pope—the head of the most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, which represents some 90% of the world’s Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi has not mollified such hatemongering beliefs since becoming the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on “dialogue” (January 1998) with Jews, the Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs” (April 2002), and the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews (April 2002) make clear. Tantawi’s statements on dialogue, which were issued shortly after he met with the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Israel Meir Lau, in Cairo, on December 15, 1997, provided him another opportunity to re-affirm his ongoing commitment to the views expressed about Jews in his Ph.D. thesis.


Al-Azhar Grand Imam Tantawi’s case illustrates the prevalence and depth of sacralized, “normative” Jew hatred in the contemporary Muslim world. Arnon Groiss’ thorough examination of modern Egyptian school textbooks, published in April, 2004, reveals that this sacralized hatred continues to be inculcated among future generations of Egyptian Muslims. Groiss observed, regarding the critical depiction of Muhammad’s interactions with the Jews of Arabia,


The Jews are stereotyped and presented in a prejudiced manner, and the themes of treachery and hostility on the part of the Jews toward the Muslims are present here…


Once again, in this context Koran 5:82 (“Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews..”)  is invoked to remind these students, what “God Almighty says about the Jews’ hatred toward the Muslims.”


And a 3-month long NY Daily News investigation of textbooks widely used in New York city area Islamic schools published March 30, 2003, demonstrated that the same Antisemitic archetypes—based on central motifs in the Koran, hadith, and sira—are being taught to American Muslim students. The report provided these examples:


In Long Island City, Queens, for example, fifth- and sixth-graders at the Ideal Islamic School on 12th St. learn that Allah has revealed [pace Koran 2:61/3:112] that “the Jews killed their own prophets and disobeyed Allah.”…Yet a third book, in use at the Ideal school, describes the hostile relations between Jews and the [Muslim prophet] Muhammad in Medina in the 7th century. “The reasons for Jewish hostility lies in their general characteristics,” the book says. Numerous Koranic citations follow with negative references to Jews – for example, “You will ever find them deceitful, except for a few of them.” [3:71; 4:46]


On Jewish hostility to Islam: “The reasons for Jewish hostility toward the Muslims of 7th century Medina lies in their general characteristics described in the Koran.” Example: “You will find the most implacable of men in their enmity to the faithful are the Jews and the pagans.” [Koran 5:82; from a textbook “The Messenger of Allah,” p. 34; targeting Grades 6-9]


Finally a review of textbooks from the Islamic Saudi Academy of Fairfax, VA published in October 2007 by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, concluded, according to commissioner Nina Shea, that they contain “…blatant Antisemitism, blaming the Jews even for divisions within Islam..” The latter charge repeats an allegation made continuously for over a millennium since the earliest Sunni historiographies (for example by al-Tabari, d. 923) that a renegade Yemenite Jew, Abdallah b. Saba, is responsible—identified as a Jew—for promoting the Shi’ite heresy (as mentioned earlier) and fomenting the rebellion and internal strife associated with this primary breach in Islam’s “political innocence,” culminating in the assassination of the third Rightly Guided Caliph Uthman, and the bitter, lasting legacy of Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian strife.


When questioned for the March, 30 2003 NY Daily News story on New York area Islamic school textbooks, Yahiya Emerick, head of a Queens-based nonprofit curriculum development project for the Islamic Foundation of North America, defended the language in these books, denying they were inflammatory. Emerick opined,


Islam, like any belief system, believes its program is better than others. I don’t feel embarrassed to say that…[The books] are directed to kids in a Muslim educational environment. They must learn and appreciate there are differences between what they have and what other religions teach. It’s telling kids that we have our own tradition.


Emerick’s triumphant denial at once affirms standard Islamic theological supremacism, while deliberately ignoring Islam’s intrinsic, virulent Antisemitism.


FP: Isn’t this phenomenon, at least in part, a European import?


Bostom: Voluminous evidence I adduce in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism soundly debunks the widely accepted tropes on this matter—tropes your question as framed does not accept—which is major progress in and of itself! But I think it is helpful (and sobering) to illustrate the still dominant understanding of so-called “Islamic” Antisemitism that persists in the public domain, as expressed, for example, by journalist Lawrence Wright in The Looming Tower, his widely acclaimed investigative account of the events leading to the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism on September 11, 2001.


Until the end of World War II…Jews lived safely –although submissively—under Muslim rule for 1,200 years, enjoying full religious freedom; but in the 1930s, Nazi propaganda on Arabic-language shortwave radio, coupled with slanders by Christian missionaries in the region, infected the area with this ancient Western prejudice [antisemitism].  After the war, Cairo became a sanctuary for Nazis, who advised the military and the government.  The rise of the Islamist movement coincided with the decline of fascism, but they overlapped in Egypt, and the germ passed into a new carrier.


Wright’s statement was not accompanied by documentation—this was the accepted “wisdom” after all, promoted, sadly, even by historian Bernard Lewis. And as recently as Thursday, June 5, 2008 during an interview on the National Public Radio Boston affiliate (WBUR) program “Here and Now,” with Robin Young, author James Carroll opined with distressingly ignorant certitude, “The Christian tradition of antisemitism has spread like a virus and it has been picked up—caught by segments of Arab, Islamic culture but one of the things to be quite aware of is that there is nothing endemic to the religion of Islam or to certainly the text of the Koran that leads to Antisemitism.” [emphasis added].


However, the much more modest claim suggested by your question still begs other fundamental questions that are never considered, let alone addressed: Why are these (admittedly) imported motifs considered “Islamic,” and what is their impact, relative to the Jew hatred engendered amongst Muslims, for over a millennium, by indigenous, motifs from Islam’s foundational texts?


The infamous 1840 Damascus blood libel represents a classic Christian Antisemitic motif transferred to the Islamic world. One cannot simply affirm (while grossly exaggerating) the “catastrophic effect” of  Christian motifs “at work” in Islamdom, relative to Islam’s own intrinsic Antisemitic motifs—the impact of the former has to be proven, and the historical “proof” is a negative proof, by any objective standard.


For example, morbid as such comparisons may be, the actual body count from the “watershed” 1840 Damascus event was paltry in comparison to the numerous Muslim anti-Jewish pogroms precipitated by purely Islamic motifs, like  Koran 2:61 and the related apes (2:65 and 7:166) or apes/pigs (5:60) verses used to incite great massacres in Granada (1066), Baghdad (1291), and Touat, Morocco (~1490). Hundreds to thousands died in these earlier pogroms; despite the heinous accusations of the Damascus blood libel, only four of the thirteen Jews imprisoned for the 1840 Damascus blood libel died during their incarceration and torture. The other nine were released unconditionally, and one of these survivors, Moses Abulafia, became a Muslim in order to escape his torture.


Historical analyses of the 1840 Damascus blood libel by Tudor Parfitt and Jonathan Frankel emphasize these two key features which were independent of Christian anti-Jewish motifs, per se: the general support that the persecution of the Jews was given by the Arab Muslim population at large, in reaction against the various reforms introduced (under Muhammad Ali) which sought to ameliorate some of the most oppressive aspects of dhimmitude; the fact that this negative reaction by the Muslim masses to these reforms had much more serious repercussions—against Christians—during the anti-Christian pogroms which marred Damascus in the 1860s. Indeed as Frankel observes, despite their own bigoted anti-Jewish attitudes, it was the European consuls who drew the line in 1840,


… when it came to the threat of wholesale massacre…advising that the Jewish communities receive military protection. Just how real that danger was would become apparent twenty years later, when the Christian population of Damascus was decimated in a Muslim, primarily Druse, slaughter


With regard to the later impact of Nazism in the Muslim Middle East, thirty-fours years ago (in 1974) Bat Ye’or published a remarkably foresighted analysis of the Islamic Antisemitism and resurgent jihadism in her native Egypt, being packaged for dissemination throughout the Islamic world. (A full English translation of this book chapter, till now only available in Hebrew, is included in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.) Bat Ye’or demonstrated that the primary, core Antisemitic and jihadist motifs were Islamic, derived from Islam’s foundational texts, on to which European, especially Nazi elements were grafted.


The pejorative characteristics of Jews as they are described in Muslim religious texts are applied to modern Jews.  Anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism are equivalent—due to the inferior status of Jews in Islam, and because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery, the Jewish state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad. Here the Pan-Arab and anti-Western theses that consider Israel as an advanced instrument of the West in the Islamic world, come to reinforce religious anti-Judaism. The religious and political fuse in a purely Islamic context onto which are grafted foreign elements. If, on the doctrinal level, Nazi influence is secondary to the Islamic base, the technique with which the Antisemitic material has been reworked, and the political purposes being pursued, present striking similarites with Hitler’s Germany.


That anti-Jewish opinions have been widely spread in Arab nationalist circles since the 1930s is not in doubt. But their confirmation at [Al] Azhar [University] by the most important authorities of Islam enabled them to be definitively imposed, with the cachet of infallible authenticity, upon illiterate masses that were strongly attached to religious traditions.


In The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, I have elaborated on how the earlier tragic mass killings—in Bat Ye’or’s accurate parlance, these decimations by Jihad—for “breaching” the dhimma, which afflicted the Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire (Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians, and Armenians) throughout the 19th century, culminating in the jihad genocide of the Armenians during World War I (and documented, by historian Vahakn Dadrian [pp. 403ff] to have inspired Hitler to express the notion of predictable impunity with regard to future genocides), were nearly replicated in historical Palestine, but for the advance of the British army.


During World War I in Palestine, between 1915 and 1917, the New York Times published a series of reports on Ottoman-inspired and local Arab Muslim assisted antisemitic persecution which affected Jerusalem, and the other major Jewish population centers. For example, by the end of January, 1915, 7000 Palestinian Jewish refugees—men, women, and children—had fled to British-controlled Alexandria, Egypt. Three New York Times accounts from January/February, 1915 (reproduced in the book) provide details of the earlier (i.e., 1915) period.


By April of 1917, conditions deteriorated further for Palestinian Jewry, which faced threats of annihilation from the Ottoman government. Many Jews were in fact deported, expropriated, and starved, in an ominous parallel to the genocidal deportations of the Armenian dhimmi communities throughout Anatolia. Indeed, as related by historian Yair Auron,


Fear of the Turkish actions was bound up with alarm that the Turks might do to the Jewish community in Palestine, or at least to the Zionist elements within it, what they had done to the Armenians. This concern was expressed in additional evidence from the early days of the war, from which we can conclude that the Armenian tragedy was known in the Yishuv [Jewish community in Palestine]


A mass expulsion of the Jews of Jerusalem, although ordered twice by Djemal Pasha, was averted only through the efforts of [the Ottoman Turks World War I allies] the German government which sought to avoid international condemnation. The 8000 Jews of Jaffa, however, were expelled quite brutally, a cruel fate the Arab Muslims and the Christians of the city did not share. Moreover, these deportations took place months before the small pro-British Nili spy ring of Zionist Jews was discovered by the Turks in October, 1917, and its leading figures killed. A report by United States Consul Garrels (in Alexandria, Egypt) describing the Jaffa deportation of early April 1917 (published in the June 3, 1917 New York Times), included details of the Jews plight, and this ominous warning:


The same fate awaits all Jews in Palestine. Djemal Pasha is too cunning to order cold-blooded massacres. His method is to drive the population to starvation and to death by thirst, epidemics, etc, which according to himself, are merely calamities sent by God.


Yair Auron cites a very tenable hypothesis put forth at that time in a journal of the British Zionist movement as to why the looming slaughter of the Jews of Palestine did not occur—the advance of the British army (from immediately adjacent Egypt) and its potential willingness “..to hold the military and Turkish authorities directly responsible for a policy of slaughter and destruction of the Jews”—may have averted this disaster.


On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States unanimously endorsed the “Mandate for Palestine,” confirming the irrevocable right of Jews to settle in the area of Palestine—anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The Congressional Record contains a statement of support from New York Rep. Walter Chandler which includes an observation, about “Turkish and Arab agitators… preaching a kind of holy war [jihad] against…the Jews” of Palestine. Earlier, in 1921, leaders of the Indian Khilafat (Caliphate) movement made clear at conferences held in (far removed) India that Islamic suzerainty must prevail over all of historical Palestine. And in 1920, at the local level, within British controlled Palestine, Musa Kazem el-Husseini, former governor of Jaffa during the final years of Ottoman rule, and president of the Arab (primarily Muslim) Palestinian Congress, in a letter to the British High Commissioner, Herbert Samuels, demanded restoration of the Shari’a—which had only been fully abrogated two years earlier when Britain ended four centuries of Ottoman Muslim rule of Palestine—stating that this Religious Law, was “… engraved in the very hearts of the Arabs and has been assimilated in their customs and that has been applied …in the modern [Arab] states…” During this same era within Palestine, a strong Arab Muslim irredentist current –epitomized by both Hajj Amin el-Husseini and shortly afterward, Izz ad din al-Qassam—promulgated the forcible restoration of Shari’a-mandated dhimmitude via jihad. Indeed, two years before he orchestrated the murderous anti-Jewish riots of 1920, i.e., in 1918—ten years before the advent of the Muslim Brotherhood—Hajj Amin el-Husseini stated plainly to a Jewish co-worker (at the Jerusalem Governorate), I.A. Abbady, “This was and will remain an Arab land…the Zionists will be massacred to the last man…Nothing but the sword will decide the future of this country.”


Nazi academic and propagandist of extermination Johannes von Leers’ writings and personal career trajectory—as a favored contributor in Goebbel’s propaganda ministry, to his eventual adoption of Islam (as Omar Amin von Leers) while working as an anti-Western, and antisemitic/anti-Zionist propagandist under Nasser’s regime from the mid-1950s, until his death in 1965—epitomizes this convergence of jihad, Islamic antisemitism, and racist, Nazi antisemitism, as described by Bat Ye’or, in 1974.  Already in essays published during 1938 and 1942, the first dating back almost two decades before his formal conversion to Islam while in Egypt, von Leers produced  analyses focused primarily on Muhammad’s interactions with the Jews of Medina. These essays reveal his pious reverence for Islam and its prophet, and a thorough understanding of the sacralized Islamic sources for this narrative, i.e., the Koran, hadith, and sira, which is entirely consistent with standard Muslim apologetics.


Citing (or referring to) the relevant foundational text sources (i.e., Koran 13:36; 8:55-58; 59:1-15; the sira and canonical hadith descriptions of the fate of individual Jews such as Abu Afak and Ka’b ibn Ashraf, and the Jewish tribes Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Nadir, Banu Qurayzah, as well as the Jews of the Khaybar oasis), von Leers in his 1942 essay “Judiasm and Islam as Opposites,”—fully translated and annotated for the first time in English in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism—chronicles Muhammad’s successful campaigns which vanquished these Jews, killing and dispersing them, “…or at most allow[ing] them to remain in certain places if they paid a poll tax.” Von Leers further describes the accounts (from the hadith, and more elaborately, the sira) of Muhammad’s poisoning by a Khaybar Jewess, and also notes the canonical hadith which records Caliph Umar’s rationale for his putative expulsion from northern Arabia of those remaining Jews who survived Muhammad’s earlier campaigns:


On his deathbed Mohammed is supposed to have said:  “There must not be two religions in Arabia.” One of his successors, the caliph Omar, resolutely drove the Jews out of Arabia.


And von Leers even invokes the apocalyptic canonical hadith which 46 years later became the keystone of Hamas’ 1988 charter sanctioning a jihad genocide against the Jewish State of Israel:


Ibn Huraira even communicates to us the following assertion of the great man of God: “Judgment Day will come only when the Moslems have inflicted an annihilating defeat on the Jews, when every stone and every tree behind which a Jew has hidden says to believers: ‘Behind me stands a Jew, smite him.’” 


Von Leers’ 1942 essay concludes by simultaneously extolling the “model” of oppression the Jews experienced under Islamic suzerainty, and the nobility of Muhammad, Islam, and the contemporary Muslims of the World War II era, foreshadowing his own conversion to Islam just over a decade later:


They [the Jews] were subjected to a very restrictive and oppressive special regulation that completely crippled Jewish activities.  All reporters of the time when the Islamic lands still completely obeyed their own laws agree that the Jews were particularly despised…


Mohammed’s opposition to the Jews undoubtedly had an effect—oriental Jewry was completely paralyzed by Islam.  Its back was broken.  Oriental Jewry has played almost no role in Judaism’s massive rise to power over the last two centuries.  Scorned, the Jews vegetated in the dirty alleys of the mellah, and were subject to a special regulation that did not allow them to profiteer, as they did in Europe, or even to receive stolen goods, but instead kept them fearful and under pressure.  Had the rest of the world adopted a similar method, today we would have no Jewish question—and here we must absolutely note that there were also Islamic rulers, among them especially the Spanish caliphs of the House of Muawiyah, who did not adhere to Islam’s traditional hostility to Jews—to their own disadvantage.  However, as a religion Islam has performed the immortal service of preventing the Jews from carrying out their threatened conquest of Arabia and of defeating the dreadful doctrine of Jehovah through a pure faith that opened the way to higher culture for many peoples and gave them an education and humane training, so that still today a Moslem who takes his religion seriously is one of the most worthy phenomena in this world in turmoil. 


And even earlier, in a 1938 essay, von Leers further sympathized with, “the leading role of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem [Hajj Amin el-Husseini] in the Arabians’ battles against the Jewish invasion in Palestine.” Von Leers observes that to the pious Muslim, “…the Jew is an enemy, not simply an ‘unbeliever’ who might perhaps be converted or, despite the fact that he does not belong to Islam, might still be a person of some estimation.  Rather, the Jew is the predestined opponent of the Muslim, one who desired to bring down the work of the Prophet.”  Leers’ description of the origins of the Muslim “forename,” Omar Amin he adopted as part of his formal conversion to Islam in a November, 1957 letter to American Nazi H. Keith Thompson,  highlights his personal and doctrinal connections to the Mufti, with whom he engaged in a longstanding collaboration:


I myself have embraced Islam and accepted the new forename Omar Amin, Omar according to the great Caliph Omar who was a grim enemy of the Jews, Amin in honor of my friend Hadj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti.


This October 1957 US intelligence report on von Leers’ writings and activities for Egypt and the Arab League confirmed his complete adoption of the triumphalist Muslim worldview, desirous of nothing less than the destruction of Judeo-Christian civilization by jihad—a vision all too prevalent today:


He [Dr. Omar Amin von Leers] is becoming more and more a religious zealot, even to the extent of advocating an expansion of Islam in Europe in order to bring about stronger unity through a common religion. This expansion he believes can come not only from contact with the Arabs in the Near East and Africa but with Islamic elements in the USSR. The results he envisions as the formation of a political bloc against which neither East nor West could prevail.


The hypothesis that Nazism, as imbibed and promulgated by the Muslim Brotherhood is somehow the penultimate source of all “genocidal” Jew hatred in the modern Middle East, is completely untenable, as revealed in this simple exchange. I posed the following basic question to one of the champions of this Nazi-centric viewpoint, and recorded their reply:


[Question]  “…what would have happened, say in late 1922—the Muslim Brothers were not formed until 1928; the Nazis do not come to power until 1933—with regard to Islamic jihad and Islamic Jew hatred, specifically, if the British had created some rump state Jewish homeland, actually governed by Jews, and rapidly departed, bearing in mind both the fate of other dhimmi nationalisms in the 19th and early 20th centuries (Serb, Greek, Bulgarian, Armenian), and the special place occupied by dhimmi Jews in Islamic eschatology?”


[Reply] “Yes. They [the Jews] would have been slaughtered, possibly to the last man, woman and child.”


Even data from Europe’s own growing Muslim communities and enclaves do not support the Nazi-centric conception of present day Islamic Antisemitism. European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Security, Franco Frattini, who is the European Union (EU) official responsible “for combating racism and Antisemitism in Europe,” as reported by The Jerusalem Post 2/2/08, has revealed  that Muslims are responsible for fully half (50%) of the documented Antisemitic incidents on the European continent.


Demographic data from 2007 indicate that the total number of Europeans is 494.8 million; estimates of the number of Muslims in Europe range from 15-20 million, or some ~3.0—4.0% of the total European population. Thus, on a population percentage basis, Muslims in Europe account for roughly 24.0 to 32.3 times the number of Antisemitic incidents as their non-Muslim European counterparts.


These 2007/2008 data are in turn consistent with previous findings from 2006 on the excess prevalence of frank Antisemitism reported amongst European Muslims, published in The Journal of Conflict Resolution by Yale University biostatistician Dr. Edward H. Kaplan, and Dr. Charles A. Small of the Yale Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism. (“Anti-Israel Sentiment Predicts Antisemitism in Europe” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2006, Vol. 50, pp. 548-561.) 


Drs. Kaplan and Small examined the views of 5004 Europeans, roughly 500 individuals sampled from each of 10 European Union countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom). The authors’ main publicized results confirmed their (rather commonsensical) a priori hypothesis: anti-Israel sentiments strongly and independently predicted the likelihood that an individual was Antisemitic in a graded manner, i.e., the more anti-Israel (on a scale of zero to 4), the more a person was likely to be Antisemitic.


But a much more striking and relevant finding in light of the burgeoning Jew hatred now evident in Europe’s Muslim communities, received much less attention: in a controlled comparison to European Christians (as the “referent” group), European Muslims were nearly eightfold (i.e., 800%) more likely to be overtly Antisemitic. [emphasis added] (“Anti-Israel Sentiment Predicts Antisemitism in Europe,” p. 557 and Table 3, p. 558.) Furthermore, in light of the Pew Global Attitudes Project data on Muslim attitudes toward Jews in Islamic countries, the Yale study likely underestimated the extent of Antisemitism amongst Europe’s Muslim communities, had more poorly educated, less acclimated European Muslims been sampled. Pew’s earlier international survey indicated (“The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other”, Pew Global Attitudes Project, June 22, 2006.),



In the Muslim world, attitudes toward Jews remain starkly negative, including virtually unanimous unfavorable ratings of 98% in Jordan and 97% in Egypt. Muslims living in Western countries have a more moderate view of Jews – still more negative than positive, but not nearly by the lopsided margins that prevail in Muslim countries.


A British television investigation reported on January 11, 2007 revealed that the eschatological theme of the apocalyptic canonical hadith (“The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.”) was part of a video sermon during which a Sheikh (Feiz) could be seen, “…imitating the noise of a pig  when referring to Jewish people [consistent with Qur’an 5:60], who he says will be killed (in a mass extermination) on the ‘day of judgment’”. A digital video disc (DVD) format recording of this sermon was sold at the London Central Mosque, “one of London’s most established mosques,” in Regents Park.  And when the late 23 year-old Parisian Jew Ilan Halimi was being tortured to death in February 2006, his Muslim torturers, as Nidra Poller wrote in the Wall Street Journal “…phoned the family on several occasions and made them listen to the recitation of verses from the Koran, while Ilan’s tortured screams could be heard in the background.” In the heart of Western Europe, Ilan Halimi’s torturers/murderers did not invoke any non-Islamic sources of anti-Jewish hate, only the Koran.


The clear excess virulence of the Antisemitism in Europe’s Muslim versus Christian populations, combined with the evidence that globally, Muslims in Islamic countries exhibit even more fanatical Jew hatred than their European co-religionists, defies the “conventional wisdom” regarding the ultimate origins of Muslim Jew hatred in Western Europe, and beyond. This very flawed construct—that  Muslim Jew hatred is merely a loose amalgam of re-cycled medieval Christian Judeophobic motifs, calumnies from the Czarist Russian “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, and standard Nazi propaganda—continually ignores both empirical contemporary observations, and primary, uniquely Islamic components of Jew hatred, both past and present.



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