Myths/Facts: Israel & the Middle East May/Jun 2004
MYTH: Modern Arab nations are only anti-Israel and have never been anti-Jewish.
FACT: Arab leaders have repeatedly made clear their animosity toward Jews and Judaism. For example, on November 23, 1937, Saudi Arabia’s King Ibn Saud told British Colonel H.R.P. Dickson: “Our hatred for the Jews dates from God’s condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus) and their subsequent rejection of His chosen Prophet.”
He added, “For a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew, ensures him an immediate entry into heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty.”1
When Hitler introduced the Nuremberg racial laws in 1935, he received telegrams of congratulation from all corners of the Arab world.2 Later, during the war, one of his most ardent supporters was the Mufti of Jerusalem.
Jews were never permitted to live in Jordan. Civil Law No. 6, which governed the Jordanian-occupied West Bank, states explicitly, “Any man will be a Jordanian subject if he is not Jewish.”3
The Arab countries see to it that even young schoolchildren are taught to hate Jews. The Syrian Minister of Education wrote in 1968, “The hatred which we indoctrinate into the minds of our children from their birth is sacred.”4
After the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israelis found public school textbooks that had been used to educate Arab children in the West Bank. They were replete with racist and hateful portrayals of Jews:
The Jews are scattered to the ends of the earth, where they live exiled and despised, since by their nature they are vile, greedy and enemies of mankind, by their nature they were tempted to steal a land as asylum for their disgrace.5
Analyze the following sentences:
1. The merchant himself traveled to the African continent.
2. We shall expel all the Jews from the Arab countries.6
The Jews of our time are the descendants of the Jews who harmed the Prophet Muhammad. They betrayed him, they broke the treaty with him and joined sides with his enemies to fight him.7
The Jews in Europe were persecuted and despised because of their corruption, meanness and treachery.8
A 1977 Jordanian teachers’ manual
for first graders used on the West Bank instructs educators to “implant in the soul of the pupil the rule of Islam that if the enemies occupy even one inch of the Islamic lands, jihad (holy war) becomes imperative for every Muslim.” It also says the Jews plotted to assassinate Muhammad when he was a child.
According to a study of Syrian textbooks, “the Syrian educational system expands hatred of Israel and Zionism to anti-Semitism directed at all Jews. That anti-Semitism evokes ancient Islamic motifs to describe the so-called unchangeable and treacherous nature of the Jews. Its inevitable conclusion is that all Jews must be annihilated.”9 To cite one example, an eleventh grade textbook claims that Jews hated Muslims and were driven by envy to incite hostility against them:
The Jews spare no effort to deceive us, deny our Prophet, incite against us, and distort the holy scriptures.
The Jews cooperate with the Polytheist and the infidels against the Muslims because they know Islam reveals their crafty ways and abject characteristics.10
An Arabic translation of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf has been distributed in East Jerusalem and territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and became a bestseller.11
Occasionally, Arab anti-Semitism surfaces at the United Nations. In March 1991, for example, a Syrian delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission read a statement recommending that commission members read “a valuable book” called The Matzoh of Zion, written by Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas. The book justifies ritual murder charges brought against the Jews in the Damascus blood libel of 1840.12 (The phrase blood libel refers to accusations that Jews kill Christian children to use their blood for the ritual of making matzoh at Passover.)
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia uttered a similar slander in a 1972 interview:
Israel has had malicious intentions since ancient times. Its objective is the destruction of all other religions. . . . They regard the other religions as lower than their own and other peoples as inferior to their level. And on the subject of vengeance—they have a certain day on which they mix the blood of non-Jews into their bread and eat it. It happened that two years ago, while I was in Paris on a visit, that the police discovered five murdered children. Their blood had been drained, and it turned out that some Jews had murdered them in order to take their blood and mix it with the bread that they eat on this day. This shows you what is the extent of their hatred and malice toward non-Jewish peoples.13
On November 11, 1999, during a Gaza appearance with then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Suha Arafat, wife of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, stated, “Our people have been subjected to the daily and extensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children.” Similar specious allegations have been made by other Palestinian officials.14 The Arab-Muslim press, which is almost exclusively controlled by the governments in each Middle Eastern nation, regularly publishes anti-Semitic articles and cartoons. Today it remains common to find anti-Semitic publications in Egypt. For example, the establishment Al-Ahram newspaper published an article giving the “historical” background of the blood libel tradition while accusing Israel of using the blood of Palestinian children to bake matzohs up to the present time.15 Anti-Semitic articles also regularly appear in the press in Jordan and Syria. Many of the attacks deal with denial of the Holocaust, its “exploitation” by Zionism, and a comparison of Zionism and Israel to Nazism.
In November 2001, a satirical skit aired on the second most popular television station in the Arab world, which depicted a character meant to be Ariel Sharon drinking the blood of Arab children as a grotesque-looking Orthodox Jew looked on.
Abu Dhabi Television also aired a skit in which Dracula appears to take a bite out of Sharon, but dies because Sharon’s blood is polluted. Protests that these shows were anti-Semitic were ignored by the network.16
The PA’s media have also contained inflammatory and anti-Semitic material. A Friday sermon in the Zayed bin Sultan Aal Nahyan mosque in Gaza calling for the murder of Jews and Americans was broadcast live on the official PA television:
Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them and those who stand by them they are all in one trench, against the Arabs and the Muslims because they established Israel here, in the beating heart of the Arab world, in Palestine.17
Even Palestinian crossword puzzles are used to delegitimize Israel and attack Jews, providing clues, for example, suggesting the Jewish trait is “treachery.”18
From Myths & Facts Online—A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard [www.JewishVirtualLibrary.org].
Used by permission
- Official British document, Foreign Office File No. 371/20822 E 7201/22/31; Elie Kedourie, Islam in the Modern World (London: Mansell, 1980), 69–72.
- Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), 196.
- Jordanian Nationality Law, Official Gazette, No. 1171, Article 3(3) of Law No. 6, 1954 (February 16, 1954), 105.
- From a letter sent to M. Rene Mheu, Director General of UNESCO, and reproduced in Al-Thawra (May 3, 1968).
- The Religious Ordinances Reader (Syrian Ministry of Education, 1963–1964), 138.
- Basic Syntax and Spelling, Syrian Ministry of Education, 1963.
- Religious Teaching, Egyptian Ministry of Education, 1966.
- Modern World History, Jordanian Ministry of Education, 1966, 150.
- Meyrav Wurmser, The Schools of Ba’athism: A Study of Syrian Schoolbooks (Washington, D.C.: Middle East Media and Research Institute, 2000), xiii.
- Wurmser, 51.
- Middle East Media and Research Institute, Parade (June 23, 2002), 13.
- Jewish Telegraphic Agency (March 4, 1991)
- Al-Mussawar (August 4, 1972)
- Middle East Media and Research Institute.
- Al-Ahram (October 28, 2000)
- The Jerusalem Post (November 19, 2001)
- Palestinian Authority television (October 12, 2000)
- Palestinian Media Watch, [www.pmw.org] (March 15, 2000).