March Not-So-Madness: Hamas’ Traditionalist Koranic Jew-Hatred on Hamas-Owned Al-Aqsa TV

During a recent address which aired March 6, 2014, on Hamas-owned Al-Aqsa TV, broadcasting from Gaza, Hamas cleric and MP Yunis Al-Astal concisely demonstrated some of the traditionalist Jew-hatred redolent within the Koran.  These motifs must be identified in their mainstream context if there is to be any hope of understanding them with the requisite intellectual honesty. Here are the relevant extracts that the invaluable MEMRI provided. I have annotated the specific Koranic citations, followed by my analysis of the traditional Islamic exegeses of these verses:  

In today’s show, we will discuss the demand that the Palestinian people recognize [Israel] as a Jewish state, so that the occupation will graciously hand them out scraps. I would like to begin by quoting what Allah said about them: “The worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are those who disbelieve. [Koran 8:55] They are the ones with whom you made a covenant, but they break their covenant every time. [Koran 8:56] ” […] The obvious question is: What is the solution to this gang of people? The Al-Anfal chapter [Sura 8] of the Koran provides us with the answer. After He said: “They are the ones with whom you made a covenant, but they break their covenant every time,” [Koran 8:56]  Allah added: “If you gain mastery over them in a war, use them to disperse those who follow them that they may remember.” [Koran 8:57; Note: Koran 8:588:59 warn of the Jews’ treachery, which will be recompensed by Allah’s just punishment] This indicates that we must massacre them, in order to break them down and prevent them from sowing corruption in the world.  They are the ones who still spark the flame of war, but Allah has taken it upon Himself to extinguish it. [Koran 5:64; sewing corruption; i.e., the Koranic Protocols of the Elders of Zion] …We must restore them to the state of humiliation imposed upon them [Koran 2:61/3:112]. They should be dhimmi citizens. This status must be imposed upon them by war [jihad; Koran 9:29]. They must pay the jizya [“aljizyata”; Koran 9:29; ] security tax while they live in our midst. […] However, in Palestine, where they are occupiers and invaders, they cannot have the status of dhimmis.

Koran 8:55 to 8:59, as per the gloss on these verses in the still widely studied and authoritative classical Koranic commentary Tafsir al-Jalayan, were “revealed about the Banu Qurayza”—the Medinan Jewish tribe Muhammad subdued, followed by a massacre of the tribe’s adult males, enslavement of their surviving women and children, and capture of their possessions as “booty”—the very title of sura (chapter) 8 “Al Anfal,” i.e., “booty.”   Koran 5:64, which Al-Astal cites next, is an overt Koranic warning of “Jewish conspiracism”—the ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. “Moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also invoked  Koran 5:64 during a January, 2007 speech which accused the Jews of “corrupting humanity on earth.” Hamas MP and cleric Al-Astal next alludes to the curse of Koran 2:61 (i.e., for killing prophets, and transgressing against the will of Allah, repeated at verses including 2:90-91, 3:112, 3:181, and 4:155) The centrality of the Jews’ “abasement and humiliation,” and being “laden with God’s anger” in the corpus of Muslim exegetic literature on Qur’an 2:61, including the hadith and Koranic commentaries, is well-established. Modern Islamologist Haggai Ben-Shammai observed in 1988 that despite the literal reference of 2:61 to the Israelites in the wilderness during their exodus from Egypt,

to all of the Muslim exegetes, without exception, it was absolutely clear that the reference was to the Jews of their day. The Arabic word translated as “pitched upon them” also means, literally, that the “abasement and poverty” were decreed for them forever. The “abasement” is the payment of the poll tax [jizya] and the humiliating ceremony involved. As for the “poverty,” this insured their remaining impoverished forever. There are traditions which attribute this interpretation to Muhammad himself.

The great Muslim historian and Koranic exegete Tabari (d. 923), for example, interpreted the Koranic curse upon the Jews in 2:61 as follows:

“[A]basement 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.” (Qur’an 9:29) Ibn Zaid said about His words “and abasement and poverty were imposed upon them,” “These are the Jews of the Children of Israel.” I said: “Are they the Copts of Egypt?” He said: “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.

Tabari’s own related commentary on the posture to be assumed by a tributary during jizya collection (derived from Koran 9:29) underscores the deliberately humiliating character of this Koranic poll tax:

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

Finally al-Astal’s annihilationist rhetoric directed at the Jews of Israel—who liberated themselves from the system of dhimm­itude in their indigenous homeland, 13 centuries after its jihad conquest and occupation—also has a sound basis in Islamic theology (and “law”).

Various anti-dhimmi regulations became integral to the permanent “humiliation and wretchedness” prescribed for the Jews, specifically, by the Koranic curse of 2:61. Breaches of this regulatory pact (or dhimma) by Jews— whether real or imagined—had disastrous consequences, including fully sanctioned jihad violence directed at them. Thus when the Jews were perceived as having exceeded the rightful bounds of this subjected relationship, as in mythically “tolerant” Muslim Spain, the results were predictably tragic. The Granadan Jewish viziers Samuel Ibn Naghrela, and his son Joseph, who protected the Jewish community, were both assassinated between 1056 to 1066, and in the aftermath, the Jewish population was annihilated by the local Muslims. It is estimated that up to four thousand Jews perished in the pogrom by Muslims that accompanied the 1066 assassination. This figure equals or exceeds the number of Jews reportedly killed by the Crusaders during their pillage of the Rhineland, some thirty years later, at the outset of the First Crusade. The inciting “rationale” for this Granadan pogrom is made clear in the bitter anti-Jewish ode of Abu Ishaq, a well-known Muslim jurist and poet of the times, who wrote:

Bring them down to their place and return them to the most abject station. They used to roam around us in tatters covered with contempt, humiliation, and scorn. They used to rummage amongst the dung heaps for a bit of a filthy rag to serve as a shroud for a man to be buried in…Do not consider that  killing them is treachery. Nay, it would be treachery to leave them scoffing.

A contemporary chronicle written by sultan Abd Allah (who became Sultan of Granada in 1073) confirms that a breach in the system of dhimmitude precipitated the outburst of anti-Jewish violence by the Muslims of Granada:

Both the common people and the nobles were disgusted by the cunning of the Jews, the notorious changes they had brought in the order of things, and the positions they occupied in violation of their pact [i.e., the dhimma]. Allah decreed their destruction on Saturday 10 Safar 459 (December 31, 1066). . . . The Jew [Joseph Ibn Naghrela] fled into the interior of the palace, but the mob pursued him there, seized him, and killed him. They then put every Jew in the city to the sword


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