“Anyone who loves freedom and justice must strive for the annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the way for world justice and freedom.” So said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to an audience of ambassadors from Muslim countries last Thursday. The ambassadors had convened in Tehran for Quds Day — Jerusalem Day — an annual airing of Islamic supremacist Jew-hatred and Zionist conspiracy-mongering begun by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.
The world has grown used to the spectacle of a head of government, Ahmadinejad, calling for the destruction of a nation-state that poses no threat to his regime — after all, he has done it so many times before. But Islamic anti-Semitism is also on the rise around the world. Indeed, so many Muslim leaders around the world so routinely call for the destruction of Israel and a new genocide of the Jews (which would almost certainly go hand-in-hand with that destruction, if it ever actually came about), that such calls are becoming as dull with familiarity as Ahmadinejad’s repeated predictions of Israel’s imminent demise.
Last June, a Pakistani Muslim cleric named Pirzada Muhammad Raza Saqib Mustafai said the following in a YouTube video titled “Jews Are the Real Enemy of Islam and Peace”: “And all the troubles that exist around the world are because of the Jews. When the Jews are wiped out, then the world would be purified and the sun of peace would begin to rise on the entire world.”
Such clerics are not obscure eccentrics enunciating a twisted, hijacked version of Islam. In January 2009, the most popular Islamic preacher in the world, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, said on al-Jazeera: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers….”
Qaradawi continued: “I’d like to say that the only thing I hope for is that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of Jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair. I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom.”
This hatred increasingly plays out in attacks on individuals. A few weeks ago, Shasta Khan, a Muslim woman in Britain, received an eight-year prison sentence for her role in plots to target Jews in bomb attacks. During her trial, she stated that her husband had forced her to drive through Jewish areas looking for likely targets. Last week, police in India indicted a Muslim journalist, Syed Mohammad Kazmi, for his role in the bombing of an Israeli diplomat’s car. Also last week, when the Lebanese Olympic judo team discovered that it was training in sight of the Israeli team, it demanded that a barrier be constructed so that they could not see the Jews; the International Olympic Committee complied. Several days ago in the German town of Stein, a Muslim sprayed two women with tear gas because one of them was wearing a Star of David. And last week in Santa Monica, California, the trial began of Tehmina Adaya, the Muslim owner of the Shangri-La resort hotel. Adaya is charged with discrimination against Jewish hotel guests: she allegedly told hotel staff to “Get the [expletive deleted] Jews out of my pool.”
During a July sermon in the Grand Mosque of Srinigar, the Kashmiri Muslim separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq declared: “Muslims all over the world have a problem with Israel due to its aggressive policy towards Palestine.” But even if all the charges against Israel that the Palestinian propaganda machine churns out were true, this would not by any rational standard justify the Muslim attacks on Jews worldwide, or the apocalyptic genocide dreams of Mustafai, Qaradawi, and others like them.
The origin of that hatred lies deeper, within the Islamic religion itself. The Qur’an contains a great deal of material that forms the foundation for a hatred of Jews, portraying them as the craftiest, most persistent, and most implacable enemies of the Muslims – indeed, they are the “the most hostile of men to the believers” (5:82). In 2004 the popular Muslim website Islam Online posted an article titled “Jews as Depicted in the Qur’an,” in which Sheikh ‘Atiyyah Saqr, the former head of the Fatwa Committee at the most respected institution in Sunni Islam, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, depicts Jews in a chillingly negative light, illustrated with abundant quotations from the Qur’an. Among other charges he levels at the Jews, Saqr says that they “used to fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah”; they “love to listen to lies”; they disobey Allah and ignore his commands; they wish “evil for people” and try to “mislead them”; and they “feel pain to see others in happiness and are gleeful when others are afflicted with a calamity.” He adds that “it is easy for them to slay people and kill innocents,” for “they are merciless and heartless.” And each charge he follows with Qur’anic citations.
It is this hatred that lies at the root of the hatred of Israel and of Jews manifested today by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and so many others. Even if Israel were destroyed, their Jew-hatred would not be assuaged, for it is based on Islamic teachings about the nature of the world itself, not on the vagaries of geopolitics. And that is how it must be confronted: until the international human rights community confronts Islamic anti-Semitism as a phenomenon, ever more innocent people will be victimized around the world. But perhaps that community is too consumed with studying the chimerical phenomenon of “Islamophobia” to divert much attention elsewhere.