Zionism: Israeli Flag

Report: Arab Anti-Semitism 2008

Zionism Web definitions issues Timeline history documents links photos contact help Zionism

This is one of a series of reports prepared by the Stephen Roth Institute relating to Arab Anti-Semitism.

The Reports:

Arab Anti-semitism 1997, Arab Anti-semitism 1998, Arab Anti-semitism 1999, Arab Anti-semitism 2001, Arab Anti-semitism 2002, Arab Anti-semitism 2003 Arab Anti-semitism 2004, Arab Anti-semitism 2005, Arab Anti-semitism 2006, Arab Anti-semitism 2007

 

Report: Arab Anti-Semitism 2008

 
The demonization and de-humanization of Israel, Zionism and the Jews continued unabated in Arab countries in the course of 2008. Classical antisemitic motifs, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and demonic imagery, as well as Nazi and Holocaust terminology, conveying their vicious traits, were accompanied by Islamist assertions that Israel was doomed to extinction and by calls to kill Jews wherever they were. Up until the end of December, when Operation Cast Lead was launched, there was no change or significant increase in antisemitic manifestations. Issues that triggered such expressions were the continuing confrontations between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza during the year, Israel's celebration of its 60th anniversary in parallel with the Palestinian nakba, and the world economic crisis. The Israeli operation in Gaza, which began on December 27, sparked an intense wave of antisemitic writing and incitement, previously witnessed in other periods of crisis, such as the 2006 Second Lebanon War and the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000.

            The cohesion and resilience of Israel and Israeli society have preoccupied Arab public discourse since the establishment of the state. Renewed discussion of this issue was prompted by its 60th anniversary and new publications on Israel and Zionism by Arab as well as Jewish and Israeli writers. In the article "Is Israel's Existence Legitimate?" Egyptian intellectual Hasan Hanafi assessed that "Israel’s excessive festivities were covering up a crisis," casting doubt on the legitimacy of its existence. He claimed that sympathy toward the tragedy of European Jews was diminishing and sound historical studies had begun to question "the Holocaust" [sic] narrative and the Zionists’ resort to Nazi methods against the Palestinians.[1] Hanafi's logic testifies to the prevailing attitude toward Israel and Zionism among Arab intellectuals, despite the peace process and the common strategic interests that have emerged between Israel and moderate Arab regimes. Although Hanafi’s language cannot be labeled antisemitic, it conveys the sense that "the return of Arab revival is conditioned by the defeat of the Zionist project," as expressed by another Egyptian writer, Adib Dimitri [2] and which less inhibited observers defined as the inevitable demise of Israel[3]; others bluntly used antisemitic motifs to describe Israel: "this beast, cancerous entity and germ,"[4] emphasizing that Arabs were not the only ones who harbored hatred toward "international Jewry" and its occupying state.[5]

            In the wake of Israel’s 60th anniversary festivities, statements vowing to liberate Palestine and editorials predicting Israel's demise abounded. Most notorious was Usama Bin Ladin's audio cassette released on May 16, calling to wage jihad against Israel and describing the Palestinian cause as the heart of al-Qa‘ida's holy war against the West, which always sided with Israel against the Palestinians.[6] Abdallah Najib Salim asserted in the Kuwaiti daily al-Qabas that "Israel is not just the enemy of the Palestinians, the Arabs or the Muslims, but the enemy of all mankind, a global cancer centered in Palestine."[7]

            In the 60th anniversary context, several writers referred to Holocaust Memorial Day, which is commemorated in Israel a few days before Independence Day. They accused Zionist organizations and Israel of causing the nakba and carrying out an ongoing holocaust against the Palestinians. In an article titled "The Globalization of the Palestinian 'Holocaust'," published in Jordan’s al-Dustur on May 14, Nawaf al-Zaru claimed that Zionist crimes had reached a "holocaustic" level which had no historical precedents. In a previous article, he contended that the Holocaust had paved the way "politically, morally, and psychologically for the Palestinian nakba," and therefore he admitted, Arabs attach great importance to consistently leaving "the Holocaust file" open for questioning its facts, impact and exploitation.[8]

            The "parade" to Israel by western leaders to mark its anniversary was also heavily criticized by Arab writers. The visit of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel to Israel on March 18, aroused particular anger, especially since she did not include the Palestinian Authority in her agenda. This led to a barrage of articles discussing Germany's "guilt complex" over the Holocaust.[9]

            Israel and Zionism's racism and barbarism were attributed to the teachings of the Talmud and the "falsified Bible,"[10] as well as to a "Shylockian mentality"[11] and the Protocols' conspiratorial schemes.[12] These explained the Israeli personality and mentality, which were characterized by "a hunger and thirst for Arab Palestinian blood." In a similar vein, new books dealing with Israel's alleged racism were published in 2008, among them: Israel's Racism. The Case of the Palestinians of 1948, by ‘Abbas Ismail (Beirut: Zaytuna Center); The Acceptance of the Other in Judaism − a Fact or Illusion, by Jordanian physician Kamil al-‘Ajluni, and The Encyclopedia of the Open Palestinian Holocaust, vol. 1, by Jordanian journalist Nawaf al-Zaru (Amman: Dar Majdalawi). In addition, books by Israeli scholars that seek to challenge Zionism and its precepts continued to attract Arab interest. UK-based Israeli post-Zionist scholar Ilan Pappe's book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which was translated into Arabic, and Tel Aviv University scholar Shlomo Zand's book When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? were discussed extensively in the media, for allegedly providing further proof of Arab claims.[13]

            Stemming from these views, Jews and Zionists were accused of being behind all the disasters in the world. The crisis in the world economy which began in September triggered a spate of antisemitic publications in the Arab media. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum declared in the movement's daily Filastin that the managerial and monetary corruption of a polluted banking and financial system ruled by "the Jewish lobby" was behind the collapse and wondered whether the American president would have the courage to disclose this to the American people. "Who Is behind the American Crisis?" "Is Zionism behind the Destruction of American Capitalism?" and "The Financial Crisis as a New September 11: A Reading in Conspiracy Theories," were titles indicative of views expressed by Arab commentators and even by an Egyptian parliamentarian, Mustafa al-Fiqqi. In an article published in the London-based liberal daily al-Hayat, al-Fiqqi wrote that in light of the successive collapse of financial and economic institutions in the US and worldwide, he found himself pondering conspiracy theories. He compared the crisis to the September 11 attacks that "changed the world” and compelled Arabs and Muslims "to pay the bill.” He also alleged that the economic crisis was the result of conservative American and Jewish manipulations to achieve two global goals: one political in 2001 and the other economic in 2008. Similarly Lebanese columnist Fu'ad Matar in the Lebanese daily al-Liwa' and Saudi scholar Umaya Ahmad al-Jalahma in the Saudi al-Watan bluntly pointed to the Jews and Zionism as the instigators of the crisis, which was intended to divert attention from the main issue of solving the Middle East conflict and establishing a Palestinian state. Syrian economist Muhammad Sharif Mazlum also considered that the "whims and schemes of the Zionist lobby, whose goal was, and still is, to take control of the world’s gold," were behind the crisis, whereas Ahmad ‘Umarabi, columnist in the Qatari daily al-Watan, referred to chapters from Hitler's Mein Kampf, allegedly exposing the Jews’ systematic plunder of Germany’s national economic resources through their control over the banks and stock markets. Asking whether history was repeating itself, he suggested that the crisis was a Jewish conspiracy aimed at "ruining the global economy in order to realize the hidden interests of a small group of Jewish tycoons."[14]

            The terrorist attacks by Pakistani Islamists from the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous), in Mumbai, India, on November 26, which targeted among others a Jewish center, causing the death of six Jews and Israelis, were also seen by a few Arab writers, especially in Syria, as the result of Jewish machinations. Hasan Hasan and Ahmad Hamada in al-Thawra claimed that "hidden Zionist fingers and their heinous role in the explosions" were apparent, whereas Ghasan Yususf in al-Watan noted that Israel customarily "profits" from terrorist attacks and exploited them to cause suffering to the Palestinians. Pakistani security expert, Zayd Hamid, too, accused "western Zionists and Hindu Zionists" of planning the attacks in an interview to a Pakistani TV channel. He claimed that "the Indians have themselves always wanted to orchestrate a 9/11, to create the same drama in which they could include Americans and Israelis."[15]

            Similarly, Zionists and Jews were implicated in the re-publication in March of one of the Danish cartoons first published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005, causing a Muslim outcry (see Denmark), and in criticism of the film Fitna (Sedition) by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, released in March. Although Arab and Muslim reactions to the cartoons were much milder than in 2006 (see ASW 2006)), writers such as Muhammad Hasan al-Tal in Jordan’s al-Dustur repeated the allegation that the infiltration of the Jews into Europe and their control over its media and political and intellectual institutions paved the way for publication of the cartoons. Saudi commentator Muhammad al-Hirfi in al-Watan warned that the cartoons, the film attacking the Qur'an, which he compared to Hitler's Mein Kampf, and the "gruesome massacres" by the Zionists in Palestine were symptomatic of "the bad times" for Arabs and Muslims and their lack of confidence. Asad Mahid in Qatari al-Watan considered that the phenomenon of abusive films was not new, and was the result of Zionist meddling which excelled “in causing sedition between peoples."[16] Several articles angrily repeated the criticism expressed in 2006 of the western idea of freedom of expression, claiming that it was reserved mainly for offending and denigrating Islam, whereas doubting the Holocaust – its occurrence, the number of victims, the gas chambers – was considered a violation of the law and not included under the definition of freedom of expression.[17] Similar claims were raised regarding Wilders' film.[18]

            Calls to attack Crusader and Jewish interests were issued by Usama bin Ladin's right-hand man Ayman al-Zawahiri, on March 24, and by other Islamists such as the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Shaykh Himam Sa‘id in December.[19] Yemen’s fewer than 400 Jews, remnants of a thriving community, continued to be embroiled in the conflict between rebellious Shi‘ite Islamists and the Sunni central government (see Arab Countries 2007). In April 2008, rebel Shi‘ite Huti militiamen looted and partly destroyed several homes belonging to Jews who were forced to evacuate them in 2007 in the northwestern Sa‘ada province.[20] On December 11, Moshe Ya‘ish-Nahari, brother of a prominent rabbi, was shot to death in Rida, a city in ‘Amran province, north of the capital San‘a. The suspected killer, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-‘Abadi, a former pilot in Yemen’s air force, had reportedly called upon Nahari at the market to convert to Islam and then opened fire and killed him. A few days later, on December 15, two petrol bombs were thrown at the home of another Yemeni Jew, Sa‘adiya Ya‘aqub. In response to the plight of Nahari's brother, Rabbi Yihya Yehuda, Yemeni President ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Salah, promised to relocate the Jews from Rida to San‘a.[21]

 

Antisemitic Motifs in Hamas Indoctrination

Since Hamas took over Gaza in June 2007, its "sermons and media reports preaching violence and hatred have become more pervasive, extreme and sophisticated," reported New York Times correspondent Steven Erlanger from Gaza in April. Adopting the model of Hizballah and its television station al-Manar in Lebanon, Hamas intensified the indoctrination of its brand of radical Islam, which combines politics, social work and military resistance, through adult and children’s programs on al-Aqsa television and radio. Imams refer frequently in their sermons to Jews and their early encounter with Islam to show their alleged vileness. A political scientist from the local al-Azhar university admitted to Erlanger that Friday prayers and imams’ sermons were bound to incite against the Jews, since they used verses from the Qur'an "to say how the Jews were the enemies of the prophet and did not keep their promises to him 1,400 years ago." Imam Yusuf al-Zahhar preached that "Jews are people who cannot be trusted," for they have been traitors, breaching all agreements with them. Another imam reportedly cursed the Jews and "the Crusaders" describing them as "brothers of apes and pigs." On March 13, a Hamas legislator and imam, Shaykh Yunus al-Astal, discussed in the Hamas weekly al-Risala, the Qur'anic verse: "You [Jews] will taste the punishment of Scorching Fire" [Quran 3:181], suggesting that this was the Jews’ destiny in this world and in the next. The fire punishment was fitting retribution for what they had done, he claimed, concluding that "we are certain that the Holocaust is still to come upon the Jews."[22]

            On April 9, Hamas Culture Minister ‘Atallah Abu al-Subh contended in an interview with al-Aqsa TV that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were “the faith that every Jew harbors in his heart." Everything we see in the Arab region and around the world, he continued − "the evil of the Jews, their deceit, their cunning, their warmongering, their control of the world, and their contempt and scorn for all the peoples of the world" − was based on the Protocols and proved their goal to control the world. Salih Riqab, Hamas deputy minister of religious endowment, also referred to the Protocols in an interview broadcast a month later. The goal of the Zionist movement, he declared, was to establish a state in Palestine, "which would become a base for ruling the entire world," destroy the religions it opposes, particularly Islam; corrupt values and morality; spread permissiveness and sex; and generate moral decline.[23] Explaining references to the Jews in the Qur'an, in an interview broadcast on July 13, another Hamas cleric, Muhsin Abu ‘Ita, said that they had incurred Allah's wrath and that the Qur'an foresaw the demise of the state of Israel. The "most splendid blessings of Palestine" which would be followed by the establishment of the Caliphate, he predicted, would come with the annihilation of the Jews in Palestine, “when the head of the serpent of corruption is cut off here in Palestine, and its octopus tentacles are severed throughout the world."[24]

            The Holocaust, too, was discussed on Hamas’s al-Aqsa television station. In a lecture aired on February 29, Saudi scholar Walid al-Rashudi, head of the department of Islamic Studies at King Saud University, challenged the use of the term “Holocaust” for describing what happened to the Jews. We believe, he said, "that there was indeed a holocaust, but how many died?… A holocaust is not the burning of 50-60 Jews in Germany or Switzerland, but the Jews continue to call it the Holocaust," and to use it to blackmail these countries. In conclusion, he wondered what should be said in the face of the Gaza holocaust, vowing that "we [Arabs] will not be satisfied even if all the Jews are killed."[25] In a documentary aired in April, Jewish leaders were accused of concocting the mass murder of handicapped Jews, "and this murder is what the Jews term "'the Holocaust'." Moreover, Amin Dabbur, head of the Center for Strategic Research in Gaza, defined the Holocaust as "a complete farce," explaining that it was "part of a show orchestrated by Ben Gurion, the head of the Zionist political movement, in order to drag the Jews of the world to Palestine." The documentary also claimed that Jewish leaders blamed the Nazis for their own massacres of Jews "so the Jews would seem persecuted and try to benefit from international sympathy."[26]

            Indoctrination of children to hatred toward Israel and Jews through television persisted as well. The program "Tomorrow’s Pioneers," which caused an uproar in 2007 for its unlawful use of a Mickey Mouse character, Farfur, who encouraged the annihilation of the Jews (see Arab Countries 2007), continued to be broadcast, conveying the same messages of hatred, resistance and martyrdom through construction of a narrative of suffering which would be relieved only by sacrifice and fighting till liberation and "eradication of the Jews." Back in June 2007, Farfur was replaced by the bee Nahul, who died a few months later and was replaced by his brother Assud the Bunny, because he could not get to a hospital in Egypt for surgery. Assud, who returned from "the diaspora," says: "We will sacrifice our souls and everything we own for the homeland," and vows to get rid of the Jews and eat them up. "I come from the diaspora, bearing the key of return…Allah willing, we will use this key to liberate our al-Aqsa Mosque… from the filth of those Zionists." According to political scientist Matthias Küntzel, antisemitic propaganda broadcast via satellite channels like the Hamas-run al-Aqsa is helping to bring a message of hate to Europe and affects Muslim immigrant thinking and behavior in Germany.[27]

 

Gaza under Hamas – Continuing Military Escalation

The situation in the Gaza Strip under Hamas control and the continuing rocket attacks on Israeli towns deteriorated steadily during 2008. In response to the military escalation between 27 February and 3 March, the Arab media launched a massive attack on Israel, mincing no words in portraying its alleged brutality and making extensive use of the term "holocaust" and other related terms such as "massacre" and "annihilation." Moreover, the use made by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai on February 29, of the Hebrew word "shoah" to threaten the catastrophe that would befall the Palestinians if they continued their attacks on Israel, gave the Arab media further legitimization for their comparisons between the Holocaust and Palestinian suffering and between Nazi and Israeli conduct, and for minimizing and relativizing the Jewish tragedy in WWII. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmud ‘Abbas stated on March 1 that "what is actually going on is more than a holocaust," while Khalid Mash‘al, head of Hamas political bureau, said that it was "the real holocaust."[28]

            Egyptian columnist Salama Ahmad Salama, writing in al-Ahram Weekly on these "semantic squabbles," defined the situation in Gaza as a "slaughter," warning that "soon it will be too late to worry about whether to call it genocide or a holocaust." Another Egyptian writer Muhammad Jamal ‘Arafa claimed in an article published in Filastin on 2 March and titled "the Nazi Holocaust Forbidden… the Israeli 'Holocaust' Allowed," that Vilnai's threat was not a slip of tongue but a Zionist precept guiding its attitude toward non-Jews, and which was reflected in endless political statements and rabbis’ edicts licensing the killing of Palestinians.[29]

            Similarly, the leading Saudi dailies, al-Watan, al-Riyadh and the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat, reported that Saudi Arabia viewed Israel’s acts as an "imitation of Nazi crimes," since they were causing a "holocaust disaster" reminiscent of "the false holocaust in Germany, where it is claimed that a few Jews were cremated."[30] Muwafaq Muhadin claimed in Jordan’s daily al-‘Arab al-Yawm on March 8 that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the myth of "the matza of Zion" and other Jewish legends lay at the core of the state of Israel. The death of Arab children caused by the IDF, he said, was not a mistake but part of the Jewish faith. Moreover, the kidnapping and killing of Christian children by Jews was still alive in the memory of residents of Christian neighborhoods in Damascus, Buenos Aires and Lithuania.[31]

            The Arab media was filled with cartoons conveying similar messages. Israeli soldiers were portrayed as bloodthirsty Nazi soldiers;[32] and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was depicted as a modern-day Hitler.[33] A cartoon in the London-based al-Quds al-‘Arabi showed four Israeli helicopters in the shape of a swastika, with the caption "The Gaza Holocaust," and the Hamas Filastin stuck a swastika over a helicopter dropping missiles over a baby’s bottle floating in a puddle of blood.[34] Another caricature in al-Dustur depicted Israeli soldiers raising the Nazi flag over the dead bodies of Palestinians in Gaza. The cartoon mimics the famous photo of US Marines raising the flag after the battle of Iwo Jima in Japan in March 1945.[35]

            Even those who acknowledged the Holocaust, such as Ziyad bin ‘Abdallah al-Daris, a Saudi living in France, who considers the Holocaust an inhuman crime, believed that it was legitimate to compare the "old Holocaust" with the "new holocaust," and that Israel like the Third Reich was responsible for "its continuing holocaust" against the Palestinians, which had lasted for over sixty years.[36]

            During a closed meeting of the UN Security Council on April 23, 2008, Libyan Deputy UN Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi compared the situation in the Gaza Strip to Nazi concentration camps. In response, diplomats of the United States, Britain, France, Belgium and other members walked out. Telling reporters that he agreed with the Libyan ambassador, Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja‘fari said, "those who complain of being victims of some kind of genocide are repeating the same kind of genocide against the Palestinians."[37] A Palestinian group called the National Committee for Defense of Children from the Holocaust unveiled in Gaza its first display in mid-March, entitled "Gaza: An Exhibit Describing the Suffering of the [Palestinian] Children of the Holocaust." It reportedly included a large oven within which small children were being burned. The Zionist Organization of America condemned the exhibit, stating that there seemed “to be no limit to the depravity of Palestinian hate education and incitement." In March, IslamOnline.net also launched the Palestinian Holocaust Memorial Museum (PHMM), a virtual museum featuring photos, names and stories of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces "in the context of a new holocaust," and highlighting the locations, weapons and impact as well as testimonies of survivors.[38]

            Several officials and columnists, however, were highly critical of Hamas, accusing it of responsibility for escalating the situation in Gaza. PA Information Minister Riyadh al-Maliki claimed Hamas was giving Israel a pretext to attack, while Egypt’s Shaykh al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, asserted that Hamas rockets were useless and only brought trouble upon the Palestinians. Similarly, in the March 1 issue of in the Kuwaiti al-Siyasa, local reformist Ahmad al-Baghdadi criticized Palestinian society for supporting Hamas and refusing to see that their daily suffering was the result of the movement's arrogance. Another writer from the same paper (March 10), Nasir al-‘Utaybi, and Tariq al-Humayyid in al-Sharq al-Awsat (March 2), accused Syria and Iran of exploiting the Palestinian problem by funding Hamas and pressuring it to escalate the fighting.[39] The only clear voice denouncing both the Palestinians and Israelis for the events in Gaza, as well as Holocaust denial, was that of Syrian-American psychiatrist Wafa Sultan. She participated in a debate with Egyptian Islamist Tal‘at Rumayh on western-Islamic relations, the Danish cartoon crisis, Islamic teachings, the situation in Gaza and the Holocaust, on al-Jazeera's program "The Opposite Direction" (March 4). Sultan attacked the narrow-minded Muslim response to the cartoons and islamization in the Arab and Muslim worlds. One issue exemplifying the absurdity of Arab beliefs, she said, was the attitude toward the Holocaust, the existence of which has been established by historical documents, yet the Arabs continued to deny it. The impact of her words was so strong that Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi accused her of "publicly cursing Allah, his Prophet, the Qur'an, the history of Islam, and the Islamic nation," in his program aired on March 16, and the Qatari satellite network had to issue an apology for Sultan's offensive remarks because of the furor they aroused among Arab and Muslim viewers.[40]

 

"From the Holocaust in Auschwitz to the 'Holocausts' in Gaza"[41]

Operation Cast Lead, launched at the end of December by the IDF in response to continuing rocket attacks on Israeli towns, marked yet another peak in the anti-Israel discourse in the Arab media. Although hardly a new phenomenon, the usage of Holocaust metaphors for demonizing Israel and Zionism seemed increasingly to dominate texts and the imagery in caricatures (for further details, see General Analysis). But even this issue could not conceal the controversies and deep schisms dividing Arab countries and societies, especially the Palestinians. The rift between Fatah and Hamas, which exacerbated after the Hamas takeover in Gaza in June 2007, was reflected in mutual attacks during the war. While the PA and Fatah officials held Hamas responsible for the bloodshed because of its arrogance and blindness, Hamas accused Mahmud ‘Abbas and his government of betraying the Palestinian cause, and of succumbing to and collaborating with Israel and the US.[42]

            A glaring manifestation of such differences was Hizballah Secretary General’s Hasan Nasrallah's criticism of Arab regimes, particularly Egypt, for supporting Israel in crushing Hamas. He urged Egyptian officers to rebel against the regime and Arab people to take to the streets to pressure their governments to act.[43] Another sign was the debate over the description of the war and its victims. Whereas Hamas supporters spoke of the "Zionist entity's warplanes" and of "martyrs," opponents spoke of "Israeli warplanes" and of "casualties," or of "the killed and wounded." These disparities were especially conspicuous in the reporting of the two competing satellite channels, al-Jazeera and al-‘Arabiyya, representing two opposite poles: al-Jazeera identified completely with the Islamists and hence was considered by al-‘Arabiyya to be broadcasting "propaganda." Al-‘Arabiyya, in turn, was defined as "the Hebrew channel" for its identification with moderate Arab regimes and relative neutrality in reporting.[44] Another example was the gloating of some Arab writers, such as Muhammad Abu Rumman in Jordan’s al-Ghadd, that Gaza was creating a new spirit of struggle through which the Palestinian cause was regaining its “respected place" and the victory declaration of Khalid Mash‘al's (and of other Hamas members in Gaza),[45] compared to the gloomy realization of others, such as Kuwait’s Sajid al-‘Abdali, who wrote an article titled "Sorry, Muhammad's Army won't Return Soon," or Youssef Ibrahim's address to the Palestinian Arab brethren that "the war with Israel is over − and they won."[46]

            In addition to mass demonstrations against Israel in the major capitals of the Arab and Muslim world, angry reactions were voiced by Arab leaders, clerics and commentators. Israel was accused by Syrian President Bashar al-Asad of building its existence on massacres and mass extermination, and of speaking and understanding only the language of bloodshed. Israeli aggression, he said at the Arab summit held in Doha, Qatar, on January 16, was not a response to rockets but part of a process of establishing a pure Jewish state by displacing non-Jews from Palestine and exterminating what remained of them.[47] Kuwaiti Head of Parliament Jasim al-Kharafi joined those who termed the operation in Gaza "a Jewish holocaust" against the Arabs, whereas Egyptian Minister of Culture Faruq Husni was quoted by Jordanian al-‘Arab al-Yawm as saying that Israel's deeds were a crime "no less barbaric than the Holocaust."[48]

            Egyptian clerics also directed their anger and hatred at the Jews. Shaykh Muhammad Hasan explained on al-Rahma TV on December 29 that the Jews "specialize[d] in the shedding of blood, in crime, and in killing – even the killing of prophets." Also referring to this theme, Shaykh Amin al-Ansari claimed that Jews viewed themselves as superior and saw other human beings as pigs and as their servants, whose backs they could ride on and blood they could suck. On the same day but on another Egyptian TV channel, another cleric, Salah Sultan, invoked The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the frequently quoted hadith about Judgement Day: "Oh Muslim, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."[49]

            Despite the schisms, commentators were unanimous in their depiction of the Israeli operation as "a crime against humanity," "a premeditated war of annihilation," "an ethnic cleansing project," and "a new holocaust." Seeking to understand "the real” aim of the Israeli operation, Galal Nassar in al-Ahram Weekly saw it as a "Nazi-inspired onslaught" and "a re-enactment of the Holocaust."[50] Rasim al-Madhun, in the Lebanese daily al-Mustaqbal, defined it "as a hysteria of collective killing," which can only be termed "a holocaust."[51] Yasin al-Hajj Salih explained the meaning of the "Final Solution" in order to show that the establishment of Israel at the Palestinians' expense and without asking their opinion was “the real final solution to the Jewish question in Europe." He accused Israel of refusing to integrate into the region, not only because of its demand to be recognized as a Jewish state, but because it wished to be perceived as a "superior state for a superior people."[52] Other commentators, conspicuously Islamist, attributed Israel's deeds to the so-called Zionist mentality derived from the Jewish scriptures the Torah and the Talmud, which allegedly instruct the Jews to destroy and annihilate their enemies.[53]

            In addition to the calls for jihad against Israel issued by Islamist clerics and posted on Islamist websites, Arab leaders and the international community were urged to condemn Israel for its deeds. Even before the end of the Gaza operation, the PA, possibly in an attempt to stem criticism of its initial reaction, revealed that it was planning to seek the prosecution of Israeli leaders for war crimes in the international courts. "If Israel is not effectively sanctioned for its Gaza holocaust, the whole world will stand complicit by omission," wrote political science lecturer at the British University in Egypt, Bassem Ahmed in al-Ahram Weekly.[54] In an article published by the Muslim Brothers’ site ikhwan online, former Egyptian diplomat ‘Abdallah al-Ash‘al recalled the Nuremberg trials after World War II, which sentenced prominent Nazi leaders for crimes committed also against the Jews. Since, he claimed, no one had seen the crematoria and all the accounts were by Jewish sources, Ash‘al wondered whether the West was ready to expose and sentence Israel for the "Palestinian holocaust" witnessed for over three weeks by the whole world.[55] Once the operation ended, Prime Minister of the Hamas Administration in Gaza Isma‘il Haniyya urged the international community to investigate Israeli deeds during the war, and appointed an ad hoc committee to document and collect evidence of "Israel's crimes."[56]

 

Conclusion

In an article on global reactions to the Gaza war, Efraim Karsh, head of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Studies at King's College, stated that "the Palestinians are the lightning rod unleashed against the Jews, their supposed victimization reaffirming the millenarian demonization of the Jews in general, and the medieval blood libel – that Jews delight in the blood of others – in particular."[57] Karsh's conclusion derives from the extent and ferocity of criticism of Israel during the war. Muslim antisemitism was growing in scope and extremism to the point that it had become a credible strategic threat to Israel, and increasingly found its own Islamic reasons for anti-Jewish hatred through new interpretations of Islamic history and scripture, according to a new report by the Israeli semi-official Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center released in April.[58] The report's basic premise, however, that antisemitic sentiments were basically injected into Muslim lands and spurred by opposition to Zionism and by Nazi rhetoric was contested by Andrew G. Bostom, an American physician who became involved in the study of antisemitism in the wake of the rise of Muslim antisemitic manifestations. In his book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, Bostom, challenged "the conventional academic and journalistic wisdom which continues to assert Muslim Jew hatred is only a recent phenomenon that began in the late 19th or early 20th centuries," and was a mere by-product of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Refuting also the claim that this strand of antisemitism was an amalgam of re-cycled medieval Christian Judeophobic motifs and European racist propaganda, he attempted to prove by meticulous documentation of texts that Muslim hatred of Jews was not a "borrowed phenomenon" but a legacy deep-rooted in Islam’s sacred texts which affected Jewish life in Muslim lands.[59]

            Arab commentators reject such charges. In reaction to the US State Department's global report on antisemitism, published in March, they claimed that the term the "new antisemitism" it employed encompassed any criticism of Israeli policy. They challenged the need for monitoring antisemitism by a governmental agency, especially when the really disquieting phenomena were the Israeli "massacres" and "ethnic cleansing." "Israeli crimes," they charged, were the real cause for the increase of antisemitism.[60]

            Yet, despite this gloomy picture, it should be noted that the interfaith dialogue continued in the course of the year, promoting principles of human rights, freedom of expression and religious tolerance.[61] Discussing the difference between Jew-hatred and hostility toward Israel, Lebanese commentator Joseph Bishara on the liberal website elaph, criticized the Islamist and particularly Hamas discourse for intentionally confounding the terms Jews and Israel, and channeling their hostility from Israel's deeds to the Jewish religion and to Jews at large. If the Arabs and Muslims, he concluded, called on the world to distinguish between Muslims and terrorism, it was incumbent upon them to stop confusing their enmity toward the Israeli occupation with the Jews.[62]

            Moreover, in parallel to the traditional discourse on the Holocaust, the limits of Muslim/Arab Holocaust representation were tested with the publication of a novel published in French by Algerian author Boualem Sansal, "The Village of the German, or the Journal of the Schiller Brothers" (Le village de l'Allemand ou le journal des Frères Schiller), which centers on the Holocaust and the Algerian attitude toward the Nazis during WWII.[63] On November 20, the film of Jewish French filmmaker Claude Miller, The Secret, dealing with the shattered life of a Jewish family in occupied France, opened the Tunis European Film Festival. Although both the book (in the Algerian daily al-Bilad), and screening of the film were criticized in the Arab media, they reflect a change and a degree of courage on the part of some Arab intellectuals in dealing with the issue since, as film critic Khamis al-Khayyati claimed, they treated the Holocaust as a real historic event that had nothing to do with the situation in Gaza.[64]

 


 

[1] Al-Dustur, 4 Sept.; al-Sharq, 6 Sept.

[2] Al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 26 July.

[3] Al-Bayan, 18 May; al-Hayat, 19 May; al-‘Arab al-Yawm, 25 June; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 29 June; al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 3 July.

[4] Al-Safir, 29 Feb.

[5] Al-‘Arab al-Yawm, 26 April.

[6] Memri, Special Dispatch (Islamist Websites Monitor Project), no. 1931, 16 May; Reuters, al-Sharq, 17 May; Ha'aretz, New York Times, 18 May.

[7] Al-Qabas, 23 May. See also al-Hayat, 15 May.

[8] Al-Khalij, 5 May; al-Dustur, 11, 14 May.

[9] See for example al-Sharq, al-Kalij, al-Dustur, al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 20 March; Filatin, al-Watan (Oman), 21 March; al-Hayat, 24 March; al-‘Arab al-Yawm, 26 March.

[10] Al-Dustur, 7 May; al-Ra'y, 25 June.

[11]‘Ukaz, 3 March.

[12] Al-Ra'y, 25 June.

[13] Al-Dustur, 6 Jan.; al-Sharq, 11 Jan., 12 March; al-Ayyam, 22 March; al-Raya, 30 March; Aafaq, 23 Oct. – www.aafaq.org/masahas.aspx?id_mas=2599#; al-Masri al-Yawm, 7 Nov.; al-Quds, al-Sharq al-Awsat, 13 Nov.; al-Khalij, 16 Nov.

[14] Al-Liwa' (Lebanon), 3 Oct.; al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 5 Oct.; Filastin, al-Hayat, 7 Oct.; al-Watan (Qatar), 21 Oct.; Memri, clip No. 1886, 10 Oct., Special Dispatch No. 2091, 22 Oct.

[15] Al-Thawra, 30 Nov., 3 Dec.; al-Watan (Syria), 1 Dec.; Memri, Special Dispatch Series No. 2140, 4 Dec. See also Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, "Anti-Israeli and antisemitic incitement in the Syrian media accuse Israel, the Zionist movement and the Jewish people of responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai," 8 Dec.

[16] Al-Dustur, 21 Feb.; al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 5 March; Jerusalem Post, 1 April; al-Watan (Qatar), 2 April. See also al-Ittihad, 14 March; Tishrin, 1 May.

[17] See for example: al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 18, 22, 24 Feb.; al-Qabas, 14 April; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 3 March; al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 8, 11 March; al-Sharq, 29 Feb., 16 March;

[18] Al-Riyadh, 31 March; al-Watan (Kuwait), al-Sharq al-Awsat, al-Watan (Qatar), 31 March; see also al-Bayan, al-Safir, 1 April; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 1, 2, 4 April.

[19] www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/8361EFF6-87B0-43A5-85D6-CA5E605870B8.htm − 3 April.; Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 6 April, 15 Dec.; Memri, Clip No. 1940, 3-5 Dec.

[20] Ha'aretz, 6, 7 April.

[21] Aafaq, 11 Dec. − www.aafaq.org; Ha'aretz, 12, 18 Dec.; al-Sharq al-Awsat, al-‘Arabiya, 12 Dec. – www.alarabiya.net/articles/2008/12/12/61866.html; The National (UAE), 16 Dec.; al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 20 Dec.; al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 23 Dec.

[22] Al-Risala, 13 March - http://www.palwatch.org/pages/news_archive.aspx?doc_id=530; New York Times, 1 April.

[23] Memri, Special Dispatch Nos. 1905, 1944, 22 April, 30 May.

[24] Memri, Special Dispatch, No. 2087, 28 Oct.

[25] Memri, Clip No. 1711, 29 Feb.

[26] Memri, Clip No. 1756, 22 April; Ha'aretz, 1 May; Jerusalem Post, 5 May; Guardian, 8 May.

[27] Memri, Special Dispatch, No. 1841, 13 Feb.; Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, 11 Feb.; Matthias Küntzel, "Antisemitic Hate Speech in the Name of Islam," Der Spiegel, 16 May.

[28] Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, al-Safir, al-Akhbar, al-Thawra, 1 March; Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 12 March –

www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/htm/hi_090308e.htm.

[29] Al-Ahram Weekly, 6 March; Filastin, 2, 3 March; al-Jumhuriyya, 8 March. For further references in the same vein, see al-Sharq, 1, 4, 5 March; Tishrin, al-Raya, Akhbar al-Sharq, al-Ayyam, 2 March; al-Dustur, 3, 6 March; al-Thawra, 6 March; al-Ittihad, 7, 9 March.

[30] Al-Watan, al-Riyadh, al-Sharq al-Awsat, 3 March.

[31] Al-‘Arab al-Yawm, 8 March; www.aljazeera.net, 4 March

[32] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 3 March.

[34] Al-Quds al-‘Arabi, Filastin , 3 March.

[35] Al-Dustur, 4 March. For an extensive review of caricatures see http://www.adl.org/Anti_semitism/gaza_cartoons.asp.

[36] Al-Hayat, 19 March.

[37] Jerusalem Post, 25 April; al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 25 April; www.ikhwansyria.com, 26 April; al-Sharq, al-Ahram, al-Safir, 29 April.

[39] Quoted from Memri, Special Dispatch No. 1879, 25 March.

[40] Memri, Special Dispatch, Nos. 1864, 1976 – 7, 26 March; al-Watan (Qatar), 7 March; Ynet, 9 March; al-Sabil, 11 March; al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 1 April.

[42] On the rifts between Arab countries and between societies and leaders see, for example, al-Quds, 28 Dec.; al-Ahram Weekly, 1 Jan. 2009; Washington Post, 4 Jan. 2009; al-Ra'y, 5, 14 Jan. 2009; Memri, Special Dispatch, No. 2174, 5 Jan. 2009; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 14 Jan. 2009; al-Khalij, al-Raya, al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 15 Jan. 2009; http://electronicintifada.net/v2/printer10218.shtml, 19 Jan. 2009. On the rift between the Palestinians see al-Ahram, 29 Dec.; Memri, Special Dispatch, No. 2164, 29 Dec.; New York Times, 6 Jan. 2009; al-Ahram Weekly, 15 Jan. 2009.

[43] Memri, Special Dispatch No. 2172, 2 Jan. 2009.

[44] Ha'aretz, 2 Jan. 2009; Memri, Special Dispatch No. 2205, 23 Jan. 2009.

[45] Al-Ghadd, 5 Jan. 2009; Memri, Special Dispatch No. 2204, 22 Jan. 2009.

[46] Al-Quds, 31 Dec. This is a pun on the slogan "Khaybar, khaybar ya yahud, jaysh Muhammad sawfa ya‘ud," often chanted in demonstrations warning Israel of their approaching defeat by Muslim forces, as in the 638 battle of Khaybar in the Arabian Peninsula. http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.com/2009/01/youssef-m-ibrahim-to-my-arab-brothers.html, 13 Jan. 2009.

[47] http://reformsyria.com, 17 Jan.; Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Operation Cast Lead – Update No. 17, 19 Jan. 2009.

[48] Al-Siyasa (Kuwait), 12 Jan. 2009; al-‘Arab al-Yawm, 13 Jan. 2009.

[49] Memri, Special Dispatch, No. 2165, 30 Dec.

[50] See for example al-Dustur, 28, 29 Dec.; al-Thawra, 1 Jan. 2009; al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 8, 12 Jan. 2009; al-Ghadd, 13 Jan. 2009; al-Ahram Weekly, 15 Jan. 2009.

[51] Al-Mustaqbal, 11 Jan. 2009.

[52] Al-Hayat, 4 Jan. 2009; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 7 Jan. 2009.

[54] Jonathan Cook, "Human Rights Criticism of Israel's War Crimes Mounts," The Electronic Intifada, 9 Jan. 2009; al-Ahram Weekly, 22 Jan. 2009. See also al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 12 Jan. 2009; New York Times, 11 Feb. 2009.

[55] www.ikhwanonline.com/Article.asp?ArtID=45010&SecID=0, 4 Feb. 2009. See also al-Akhbar, 11 Feb. 2009.

[56] PalMedia website, Gaza, 26 Jan., as quoted from Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, The Battle for Hearts and Minds, 27 Jan. 2009.

[57] Efraim Karsh, "What's Behind Western Condemnation of Israel's War Against Hamas?" Jerusalem Issue Brief 8, no. 17, 11 Jan. 2009.

[58] Jerusalem Post, 22 April; Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Contemporary Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism, its Significance and Implications, 17 April.

[59] Andrew G. Bostom, "Misunderstanding Islamic Antisemitism," American Thinker, 11 May; Andrew G. Bostom, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism (Amherst, NY, 2007).

[60] Al-Watan, 15 March; al-Ahram, 17 March.

[61] In mid-November, for instance, a meeting was held in New York between representatives of the three monotheistic religions – al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 29 Nov, 2008.

[63] Al-Bilad, 13 Jan.; La-Crois, 16 Jan.; Le Monde, 17 Jan.; Ha'aretz, 18 Jan.

[64] Filastin, 22 Nov.; al-Jazeera.net, 23 Nov.; al-Arabiya.net, 28 Nov.; al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 30 Nov; MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 2155, 17 Dec.

 

Source: http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2008/arab.html

You are reading this article at E-Zion - The Zionism and Israel Viewpoints Online Magazine

External Zionism Links

This site provides resources about Zionism and Israeli history, including links to source documents. We are not responsible for the information content of these sites.

Please do copy these links, and tell your friends about  http://www.zionism-israel.comZionism Website

 Thank you.

Sister sites http://zionism.netfirms.com Zionism Pages  and Zionism and Israel On the Web

Friends and informative sites:

Zionism - Definition and Brief History - A balanced article that covers the definitions and history of Zionism as well as opposition to Zionism and criticisms by Arabs,  Jewish anti-Zionists.

Labor Zionism - Early History and Critique - Contribution of Labor Zionism to the creation of the Jewish state, and problems of Labor Zionism in a changing reality.

Dvar Dea - Israel and Zionism advocacy

La Bibliothèque Proche Orientale- Le Grand Mufti Husseini

The Grand Mufti Haj Amin El Husseini

Israel-Palestina - (Dutch) Middle East Conflict, Israel, Palestine,Zionism... Israël-Palestina Informatie -gids Israël, Zionisme Palestijnen en Midden-Oosten conflict... Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a European perspective - Dutch and English.

Zionisme - israelinformatie- Zionisme Israel/Jodendom Israelisch-Palestijns Conflict Anti-Semitisme Shoa - a Dutch Web site with many useful Jewish, Zionism and Israel links (in English too).