On January 29, 2010, U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones alluded to a “heightened risk” that Iran will react to increasing pressure over its nuclear program by orchestrating violence against Israel through its jihadist proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas. Eighteen months ago, during July 2008, professors Moshe Sharon 1 and Benny Morris 2 both opined solemnly about an inevitable Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. These two respected Israeli academicians, despite holding very disparate political views, also concurred on the moral justification for such preemptive action: the genocidal threat to Israel posed by a Shi’ite Iranian regime gripped with an apocalyptic, Jew-hating fervor.
For example, in a recent televised address that aired September 18, 2009, 3 “Secretary General” of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah referred to Jews as “the criminal and murderous limb of Abraham’s progeny [who] killed the prophets, spread corruption in the land, and committed atrocities and sins.” He concluded the speech by reminding his audience: 4
Imam (Ayatollah Khomeini) was straightforward from day one when he said: “This ‘Israel’ is a cancer gland that must be removed from existence.” President Ahmadinejad said nothing new — he only revived what the late Imam Khomeini (May God honor his soul) said: “Israel must be removed from existence.”
The so-called “Khomeini revolution,” which deposed the secular, Western-oriented regime of Mohammad Reza Shah, was in reality a return to oppressive Shi’ite theocratic rule — the predominant form of Iranian governance since 1502. 5 Khomeini’s views were the most influential in shaping the ideology of the revitalized Shi’ite theocracy, and his attitudes towards Jews — both before and after he assumed power — were particularly negative. Khomeini’s speeches and writings invoked a panoply of Judenhass motifs, including orthodox interpretations of sacralized Muslim texts, and the Shi’ite conception of najis, ritual uncleanliness. More ominously, Khomeini’s rhetoric blurred the distinction between Jews and Israelis, reiterated paranoid conspiracy theories about Jews (both within Iran, and beyond), and endorsed the annihilation of the Jewish state. 6
Since 1979, the restored Iranian theocracy — in parallel with returning, brutally, their small remnant Jewish community to a state of obsequious dhimmitude, through execution and intimidation — has always focused its obsessive anti-Jewish animus on the autonomous Jewish state of Israel. 7 For current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the destruction of Israel is an openly avowed policy driven by his eschatological beliefs. Mohammad Hassan Rahimian, a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, summarized this annihilationist eschatology redolent with Koranic Jew-hatred (Koran 5:82) — which pertains to Jews generally, not “Zionists” — on November 16, 2006:
The Jew is the most obstinate enemy (Koran 5:82) of the devout. And the main war will determine the destiny of mankind. … The reappearance of the Twelfth Imam will lead to a war between Israel and the Shia. 8
Important scholars of Islamic anti-Semitism — from Hartwig Hirschfeld in the mid 1880s, Georges Vajda in the late 1930s, S.D. Goitein in 1971, and Haggai Ben-Shammai in 1988 — have demonstrated, collectively, all of the following:
– Clear historical evidence of specific Islamic antisemitism, from the Geniza record of the high Middle Ages — including the coinage of a unique Hebrew word to characterize such Muslim Jew hatred, sin’ūth — published in full by Goitein as of 1971
– The content of foundational Muslim sources detailing the sacralized rationale for Islam’s anti-Jewish bigotry, including Hartwig Hirschfeld’s mid-1880s essay series on Muhammad’s subjugation of the Jews of Medina, based upon the earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad
– George Vajda’s elegant, comprehensive 1937 analysis focusing primarily on the hadith (the putative words and deeds of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, as recorded by pious transmitters)
– Haggai Ben-Shammai’s concise 1988 study of key examples of Jew-hatred in the Koran and Koranic exegesis 9
My presentation will introduce evidence compiled from the seminal works of these scholars, Islam’s own foundational texts, and historical eyewitness accounts (adduced to considerably greater extent in The Legacy of Jihad 10 and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism 11). These sources elucidate how Islam’s primal anti-Jewish animus — specific antisemitic motifs in Islamic theology, including Islamic eschatology, the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad war, and its corollary institution, dhimmitude — operate in tandem with regard to the annihilationist Muslim Jew-hatred directed at the Jews of Israel, in particular by the Shi’ite Islamic Republic of Iran.