'In Context': Muhammad Morsi's (Islamically Correct) Jew-Hatred
Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi doth protest too much.
During a sermon which aired on Egyptian Channel 1 on October 19, 2012, and was delivered in Morsi’s presence by Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour, head of religious endowment, Matrouh governorate, the good cleric pronounced these words:
Oh Allah, absolve us of our sins, strengthen us, and grant us victory over the infidels. Oh Allah, deal with the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, disperse them, rend them asunder. Oh Allah, demonstrate Your might and greatness upon them.
As reported shortly afterward by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) with accompanying video evidence, Morsi appears to responsively mouth the word “Amen” after each of the cleric’s pronouncements.
Some three months later, MEMRI produced irrefragably direct and damning evidence of Morsi’s Jew-hatred (and jihadism), this time in his own words. MEMRI simply translated and reproduced excerpts from archival interviews Morsi had given in March and September of 2010 making plain the implacable Islamic Jew-hatred animating his annihilationist jihadism.
Morsi called unabashedly for the destruction of Israel within its rump state 1949 armistice borders -- “By no means do we recognize their Green Line. The land of Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, not to the Zionists” -- via all forms of “resistance,” i.e., jihad war (see, for example, Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant), uniting the global Muslim umma in this genocidal endeavor:
There should be military resistance within the land of Palestine against those criminal Zionists, who attack Palestine and the Palestinians. There should also be political resistance and economic resistance through a boycott, as well as by supporting the resistance fighters. This should be the practice of the Muslims and the Arabs outside Palestine.
Morsi’s 2010 interviews further characterized “Zionists,” unmistakably Jews in his parlance, as inveterately “hostile in nature,” “fanning the flames of civil strife wherever they were throughout history,” and being “the descendants of apes and pigs.”
Earlier, between 2004 and 2007 as reported by the Muslim Brotherhood’s own Arabic Ikhwanonline.com (translated and published in English on 11/16/12 by The Investigative Project on Terrorism), when serving as an elected Muslim Brotherhood parliamentarian in the Egyptian People’s Assembly, and/or a member of its Guidance Bureau, Morsi had enunciated the same Anti-Semitic and jihadist themes with more specific Koranic references.
Ikhwanonline.com, from November 21, 2004, quoted Morsi stating:
It is confirmed by the Quran that Jews are the most hostile of men to Muslims. The Almighty says: “Certainly you will find the most hostile to those who believe are the Jews and those who are polytheists.” [Koran 5: 82] The verse confirms that Jews are the most hostile enemies of the Muslims, as the Almighty says “and prepare for them all you can of power, including steeds” [Koran 8: 60], [Note: The beginning of the verse is on the Brotherhood logo] a verse which urges preparation for this enemy with all our energy to prepare us to confront him at any time; because Zionists are traitors to every covenant and convention … there is no peace with the descendants of apes and pigs, [Koran 5:60]
According to Ikhwanonline interviews from June 22 and July 14, 2007:
[Morsi] stressed that the Palestinian issue for the Brotherhood is pivotal and essential, and that the Brotherhood offered and still offers full support for the Palestinian resistance to liberate the Holy Land … resistance is the right and only way to liberate the land from the defilement of the Jews.
Confronted at a Wednesday 1/16/13 news conference in Cairo about Morsi’s 2010 rhetoric by a visiting bipartisan delegation of six U.S. senators headed by Arizona Republican John McCain and Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali claimed the Egyptian president’s comments had been taken “out of context” from an address condemning alleged “Israeli aggression against Gaza.”
But what has not been discussed in analyses of the Egyptian president’s remarks, including even trenchant critiques of the disingenuous “out of context” defense proffered by his regime spokesman, is the mainstream, traditionalist Islamic context of Morsi’s 2010 references to Jews as “hostile in nature,” “fanning the flames of civil strife wherever they were throughout history,” and “descendants of ape and pigs.”
As I will demonstrate, Morsi’s characterizations derive from motifs repeated in the Koran, the classical and modern exegeses of these verses by Islam’s most authoritative Koranic commentators, and their elaboration in the canonical traditions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Indeed, as I will also show, the overarching historical “context” within Islamdom and Muslim Egypt, specifically, reveals that this canonical Islamic Jew-hatred and intimately related jihadism has been actualized across a nearly 14-century continuum -- past as prologue to the present.
The theological basis for Morsi’s conspiratorial, dehumanizing allegations against the Jews is a central anti-Semitic motif in the Koran which decrees an eternal curse upon them for purportedly slaying the prophets, and transgressing against the will of Allah (Koran 2:61, and 2:90-91, reiterated at 3:112). It should be noted that Koran 3:112 is featured before the pre-amble to Hamas’ foundational Covenant.
This central motif is coupled to Koranic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into apes and swine (5:60), or simply apes, (i.e. verses 2:65 and 7:166), having been “ … cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). According to the earliest sacralized, pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad (by Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Saad), just before subduing the Medinan Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza and orchestrating the mass execution of their adult males, Islam’s prophet invoked this striking Koranic motif for the Jews debasement, addressing these Jews, with hateful disparagement, as “You brothers of apes.”
Muhammad himself also repeats the Koranic curse upon the Jews in a canonical hadith (Sunan Abu Dawoud, Book 37, Number 4322): “He [Muhammad] then recited the verse [5:78]: ‘ … curses were pronounced on those among the children of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary’ .”
The related verse, Koran 5:64, accuses the Jews of being “spreaders of war and corruption” -- a sort of ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion -- invoked not only by Hamas and Hezbollah leaders, but “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who cited Koran 5:64 during a January 2007 speech which urged Palestinian Muslims to end their internecine strife, and to “aim their rifles at Israel.”
Indeed, the Koran’s overall discussion of the Jews is marked by a litany of their sins and punishments, as if part of a divine indictment, conviction, and punishment process. The Jews’ ultimate sin and punishment are made clear: they are the devil’s minions (4:60) cursed by Allah, their faces will be obliterated (4:47), and if they do not accept the true faith of Islam -- the Jews who understand their faith become Muslims (3:113) -- they will be made into apes (2:65/ 7:166), or apes and swine (5:60), and burn in the Hellfires (4:55, 5:29, 98:6, and 58:14, 15,16,17,18,19).
Classical Koranic commentators such as Tabari (d. 923), Zamakshari (d. 1143), Baydawi (d. 1316), and Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), when discussing Koran 5:82, which includes the statement “Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews,” concur on the unique animus of the Jews towards the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked to the curse of Koran 2:61/2:90-91/3:112.
For example, in his commentary on Koran 5:82, Tabari writes:
In my opinion, [the Christians] are not like the Jews who always scheme in order to murder the emissaries and the prophets, and who oppose God in his positive and negative commandments, and who corrupt His scripture which He revealed in His books.
Morsi’s understanding of these verses comports with their classical exegesis in the seminal Tafsir al-Jalalayn -- meaning “The Commentary of the Two Jalals,” named after its two Egyptian authors: Al-Suyuti (1445-1505), a brilliant multidisciplinary scholar; and his mentor Jalalu’d-Din al-Mahalli (1389-1459). The great contemporary Dutch Islamologist Johannes J.G. Jansen notes in his treatise “The Interpretation of the Koran in Modern Egypt,” Tafsir al-Jalalayn remains one of the most popular as well as the most authoritative Koranic commentaries in Egypt.
[5:60] … those whom Allah has cursed and put far away from His mercy and with whom he is angry -- turning some of them into monkeys and into pigs by transmogrification -- and who worshipped false gods. These are the Jews … “False gods” refers to Shayṭān [Satan]. They [the Jews] worship him by obeying him. Such people are in a worse situation -- because they will be in the Fire -- and further from the right way (the Path of the Truth) [i.e., Islam].
[5:64] When their circumstances became reduced because of their denial of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, after they had previously been the wealthiest of people, the Jews say “Allah’s hand is chained” -- implying that He is unable to send provision to them and that He is miserly. Allah is far exalted above that. Allah continues by saying: Their [the Jews’] hands are chained -- and kept them from performing good actions as a supplication against them -- and they are cursed for what they say! No! Both His hands are open wide -- and emphatic description of generosity, and the hands are singled out for mention since what the generous give of their property, they give with their hands -- and He gives however He wills -- expanding and constricting and no one can object. What has been sent down to you from your Lord increases many of them in insolence and rejection of it. We have cast enmity and hatred between them -- each group opposing the others -- until the Day of Rising. Each time they [the Jews] kindle the fire of war against the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace Allah extinguishes it. Whenever they try to do that, Allah repels them. They [the Jews] rush about the earth corrupting it through acts of disobedience. Allah does not love corrupters and will punish them.
[5:82] You, Muhammad, will find that the most hostile people to those who believe [i.e., the Muslims] are the Jews and the idolaters … on account of the intensity of their unbelief and ignorance and their preoccupation with following their desires.
Morsi’s conjoining of this doctrinal Islamic Jew-hatred to annihilationist jihadism against the Jews of Israel is also entirely consistent with mainstream, classical Islamic tenets.
Muhammad’s brutal conquest and subjugation of the Medinan Jews and their subsequent expulsion by one of his companions, the (second) “Rightly Guided” Caliph Umar, epitomize permanent, archetypal behavior patterns Islamic Law deemed appropriate to Muslim interactions with Jews. George Vajda’s analysis of the anti-Jewish motifs in the hadith remains the definitive work on this subject. Vajda concluded that according to the hadith, stubborn malevolence is the Jews defining worldly characteristic: rejecting Muhammad and refusing to convert to Islam out of jealousy, envy and even selfish personal interest lead them to acts of treachery, in keeping with their inveterate nature: “ … sorcery, poisoning, assassination held no scruples for them.”
These archetypes sanction Muslim hatred towards the Jews, and the admonition to, at best, “subject [the Jews] to Muslim domination,” as dhimmis (as per Koran 9:29), treated “with contempt,” under certain “humiliating arrangements.”
As also characterized in the hadith, and analyzed by Vajda, Muslim eschatology (end of times theology) highlights the Jews’ supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl -- the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ -- or according to another tradition, the Dajjâl is himself Jewish.
At his appearance, other traditions maintain that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered -- everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree, as per the canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985) included in the 1988 Hamas Covenant (in article 7).
Promoters of modern jihad genocide have repeatedly invoked Islam’s Jew-exterminating eschatology. Hajj Amin el-Husseini, ex-Mufti of Jerusalem and Muslim jihadist who became, additionally, a full-fledged Nazi collaborator and ideologue in his endeavors to abort a Jewish homeland and destroy world Jewry, composed a 1943 recruitment pamphlet for Balkan Muslims entitled, “Islam and the Jews.” This incendiary document was rife with the anti-Semitic Koranic verses cited herein, as well as Jew-hating motifs from the hadith, and concluded with the apocalyptic canonical hadith describing the Jews’ annihilation.
Forty-five years later, the same hadith was incorporated into the 1988 Hamas Covenant, making clear its own aspirations for Jew annihilation.
The historical treatment of Jews in Muslim societies, including Egypt, since the advent of Islam -- chronic oppression, punctuated by outbursts of mass anti-Jewish violence, forced conversion to Islam, or expulsion -- has been consistent with such sacralized religious bigotry. Thus the dehumanizing Koranic references to Jews as apes (or apes and pigs) were used explicitly for polemical incitement to large scale, annihilationist pogroms against dhimmi Jewish communities in Granada (within mythically “tolerant” Muslim Spain) during 1066, Baghdad and its environs, proliferating into Iran at the end of the 13th century and southern Morocco at the close of the 15th century.
Furthermore, all of the following events wrought tremendous devastation to Egyptian dhimmi Jews under Muslim rule, up to a millennium before the advent of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928: the murderous persecutions of al-Hakim during the early 11th century, one of which was timed for Passover in 1012; Jews in Alexandria and Cairo being pogromed and plundered in 1047, 1168, 1265, and 1324; and Sultan Baybars in the 13th century blaming Jews for starting a plague, and subjecting them to extortion, massacre, and expulsion.
Centuries later, the great scholar of Arabic E. W. Lane reported after nearly a decade of residence in both Cairo and Luxor (through 1835) on the difference between the attitude of Egyptian Muslims toward Jews and Christians, highlighting the influence of Koran 5:82:
They [the Jews] are held in the utmost contempt and abhorrence by the Muslims in general, and they are said to bear a more inveterate hatred than any other people to the Muslims and the Muslim religion. It is said in the Koran [quoting 5:82]: “Thou shalt surely find the most violent all men to those who have believed to be the Jews.
Lane further notes:
It is a common saying among the Muslims in this country, “Such one hates me with the hate of the Jews.” We cannot wonder, then, that the Jews are detested far more than are the Christians. Not long ago, they used often to be jostled in the streets of Cairo, and sometimes beaten for merely passing on the right hand of a Muslim. At present, they are less oppressed: but still they scarcely ever dare to utter a word of abuse when reviled or beaten unjustly by the meanest Arab or Turk; for many a Jew has been put to death upon a false and malicious accusation of uttering disrespectful words against the Koran or the Prophet. It is common to hear an Arab abuse his jaded ass, and, after applying to him various opprobrious epithets, end by calling the beast a Jew.
Subsequent 19th century accounts validate and expand upon Lane’s narrative regarding the pervasive Egyptian Muslim Jew-hatred which was endemic well before the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. For example, the French surgeon A.B. Clot who resided in Egypt from 1825 to 1848 and served Muhammad Ali as a medical adviser, earning the honorific title, “Bey”, made these confirmatory observations written in 1840 -- five years after Lane’s travelogue first appeared in 1835:
The Israelite race is the one that the Muslims hate the most. They think that the Jews hate Islam more than any other nation … Speaking of a fierce enemy, the Muslims say: “He hates me the way the Jews hate us.” During the past century, the Israelites were often put to death because they were accused rightly or wrongly to have something disrespectful about the Koran.
And three decades later, such hateful attitudes directed at the Jews specifically, persisted among Egyptian Muslims, as recorded in 1873 by Moritz Lüttke:
The Muslim hates no other religion as he hates that of the Jews … even now that all forms of political oppression have ceased, at a time when such great tolerance is shown to the Christian population, the Arabs still bear the same contemptuous hatred of the Jews. It is a commonplace occurrence, for example, for two Arabs reviling each other to call each other Ibn Yahudi (or “son of a Jew”) as the supreme insult … it should be mentioned that in these cases, they pronounce the word Yahudi in a violent and contemptuous tone that would be hard to reproduce.
Jacob Landau’s modern analysis of Egyptian Jewry in the 19th century elucidates the predictable outcome of these bigoted archetypes “constantly repeated in various forms” -- the escalation from rhetorical to physical violence against Jews:
It is interesting to note that even the fallahin, the Egyptian peasantry (almost all of them Muslim) certainly did not know many Jews at close quarters, but nevertheless would revile them. The enmity some Muslims felt for the Jews incited them to violence, persecution, and physical assault, as in 1882 … Hostility was not necessarily the result of envy, for many Jews were poverty-stricken and even destitute and were sometimes forced to apply for financial assistance to their co-religionists abroad.
From the 1930s onward, traditional Egyptian Islamic Jew-hatred was complemented by the influx of European Anti-Semitism, especially Nazi motifs, which resonated with the Muslim masses. During World War II, after the creation of Israel in 1947-48 and following the Suez war of 1956, anti-Jewish pogroms, riots, and finally government expropriations and expulsions caused the final liquidation of the Egyptian Jewish community.
Consider two fatwas, both published January 5, 1956 by then-Grand Mufti of Egypt Sheikh Hasan Ma’moun and another by the leading members of the Fatwa Committee of Sunni Islam’s de facto Vatican, Al Azhar University, representing all four Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. [English translation from State Department Telegram 1763/ Embassy (Cairo) Telegram 1256 D441214] These rulings -- issued nine months before the 1956 Sinai War, and while Israel existed within the 1949 armistice borders -- elaborated the following key initial point: that all of historical Palestine -- modern Jordan, Israel, and the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza -- having been conquered by jihad, was a permanent possession of the global Muslim umma (community), “fay territory” -- booty or spoils -- to be governed eternally by Islamic Law.
The January 1956 Al Azhar fatwas’ language and arguments are indistinguishable from those employed by current Egyptian President Morsi, or Hamas (in its Covenant), revealing the same conjoined motivations of jihad and conspiratorial Islamic Jew-hatred:
Muslims cannot conclude peace with those Jews who have usurped the territory of Palestine and attacked its people and their property in any manner which allows the Jews to continue as a state in that sacred Muslim territory … [as] Jews have taken a part of Palestine and there established their non-Islamic government and have also evacuated from that part most of its Muslim inhabitants … Jihad … to restore the country to its people … is the duty of all Muslims, not just those who can undertake it. And since all Islamic countries constitute the abode of every Muslim, the Jihad is imperative for both the Muslims inhabiting the territory attacked, and Muslims everywhere else because even though some sections have not been attacked directly, the attack nevertheless took place on a part of the Muslim territory which is a legitimate residence for any Muslim … Everyone knows that from the early days of Islam to the present day the Jews have been plotting against Islam and Muslims and the Islamic homeland. They do not propose to be content with the attack they made on Palestine and Al Aqsa Mosque, but they plan for the possession of all Islamic territories from the Nile to the Euphrates.
Despite the Sadat-era peace agreement -- and in direct violation of its principles -- Egypt’s mainstream Islamic institutions, most notably Al-Azhar University itself, have continued to expound unmitigated jihadism against the non-Muslim infidel, and “sacralized” Jew-hatred.
A front page New York Times story published January 10, 2009 included extracts from the Friday sermon (of 1/9/09) at Al Azhar mosque pronounced by Egyptian-government appointed cleric Sheik Eid Abdel Hamid Youssef. Referencing some of the well-established Anti-Semitic motifs from the Koran already discussed, Sheikh Youssef intoned:
Muslim brothers, God has inflicted the Muslim nation with a people whom God has become angry at [Koran 1:7] and whom he cursed [Koran 5:78] so he made monkeys and pigs [Koran 5:60] out of them. They killed prophets and messengers [Koran 2:61 /3:112] and sowed corruption on Earth. [Koran 5:33 / 5:64] They are the most evil on Earth. [5:62/63]
On March 22, 2004, Sheikh Atiyyah Saqr, former head of the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee who had issued a fatwa (April 15, 2002) declaring Jews “apes and pigs,” was asked the following question in an online chat room: “What, according to the Koran, are the Jews’ main characteristics and qualities?” Sheikh Saqr answered by highlighting 20 negative, inveterate traits of the Jews as described by the Koran: fabricating (Koran 3:75; 5:64); listening to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and supporting deception (3:78); rebelling against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); hypocrisy (2:44); selfishness (2:87); wishing evil on people (2:105); feeling pain at others’ happiness and feeling happiness at others’ afflictions (2:120); arrogance and haughtiness (5:18); utilitarianism and opportunism (4:161); rudeness and vulgarity (4:46); murder of innocents, especially prophets (2:61; 3:112); mercilessness and heartlessness (2:74); breaking promises (2:100); rushing to sin and transgress (5:79); cowardice and greed (59:13; 2:96); miserliness (4:53); and distorting divine revelation (2:79). He prefaced this defamatory litany with an upbeat assurance that the perfidious Jews would be vanquished by the Muslim umma:
We would like to note that these are but some of the most famous traits of the Jews as described in the Koran. They have revolted against the divine ordinances, distorted what has been revealed to them and invented new teachings which, they claimed, were much more better [sic] than what has been recorded in the Torah. It was [because of] these traits that they were not warmly received in all the countries where they tried to reside. Instead, they were either driven out, or lived in isolation. It was the Almighty Allah who placed on them His Wrath and [humiliated] them due to their transgression. Almighty Allah told us that He had sent to them those who would pour upon them rain of severe punishment that would last till the Day of Resurrection. All this gives us glad tidings of the coming victory of Muslims over [the Jews], as soon as Muslims cling to strong faith and belief in Allah and adopt modern means of technology.
Such litanies of the Jews’ eternal, pejorative Koranic traits are a long-standing stock-in-trade of modern Al-Azhar teachings. For example, The Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research in Cairo, September 1968, (its 935 pp. Proceedings were published in 1970) rejected the pseudo-secular Arab nationalist campaign to destroy Israel (in reality, as noted by Silvia Haim in 1955 an ideology which was but a forme fruste of jihad), and formally embraced jihad and traditional Islamic Jew-hatred as unifying, hostile ideologies for this purpose.
The seminal 1968 Cairo Conference, which represented the entire global Muslim umma -- both Islamic nations and the major Muslim minority communities of non-Muslim states -- included a presentation by Sheikh Abd Allah Al Meshad entitled “Jews’ Attitude Towards Islam and Muslims in the First Islamic Era.” The good sheikh includes twenty-five “vicious qualities” of the Jews as elucidated by the Koran -- with Koranic citations -- which “define lucidly their personality,” specifically:
 “Telling lies about God” (3:74);  “Their fondness for listening to falsehood (lies)” (5:41/42);  “Mutiny against Allah” (5:13);  “Mutiny against His Messengers” (2:55/5:24/5:70);  “Facility of Assassination” (2:61);  “Confuting the Covenants: (Breaking Promises)” (8:56);  “Hard-heartedness” (2:74);  “Argumentativness and double-facedness” (2:247/70);  “Suppression of the truth and Misguidance” (2:42);  “Hypocrisy” (2:44/4:167);  “Egoism” (2:87);  “Desire for corrupting the people” [5:64];  “Their Lack of good Conscience” (5:79);  “Loving Malignancy for others” (3:69);  “Their Resentment for Benefaction done for people” (3:120);  “Hastening to commit sins and disobedience to Allah’s injunctions” (5:62);  “Self-Conceit and Haughtiness” (5:18/3:75);  “Exploitation and opportunism” (4:161);  “Trickery for Transgression” (2:65);  “Cowardice” (5:24/59:14);  “Indecency in talking” (2:93/4:46);  “Miserliness” (4:53/3:180);  “The most excessive selfishness” (3:119/75);  “Fear of Death” (2:96);  “Garbling of the Holy Books” (4:46/2:79)
The continual, monotonous invocation by Al Azhar clerics of such anti-Semitic motifs from the Koran (and other foundational Muslim texts) is entirely consistent with the published writings and statements of the late Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi -- Grand Imam of this pre-eminent Islamic religious institution from 1996 until his death in March 2010. Tantawi wrote these words in his 700-page treatise (“The Jews in the Koran and Traditions,” originally published in the late 1960s and re-published in 1986), rationalizing Muslim Jew-hatred:
[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61/3:112], [and see Sheikh Saqr’s Koranic citations, above] corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness … only a minority of the Jews keep their word … [A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims [Koran 3:113], the bad ones do not … [T]he Jews always remain maleficent deniers … they should desist from their negative denial … some Jews went way overboard in their denying hostility, so gentle persuasion can do no good with them, so use force with them and treat them in the way you see as effective in ridding them of their evil. One may go so far as to ban their religion, their persons, their wealth, and their villages.
Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by subsequently being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University. These were the expressed, “carefully researched” views on Jews held by the nearest Muslim equivalent to a Pope -- a man who for 14 years headed the most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, which represents some 85 to 90% of the world’s Muslims.
Tantawi’s statements on dialogue, which were issued shortly after he met with Israel’s Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau in Cairo on December 15, 1997 provided him another opportunity to re-affirm his ongoing commitment to the views expressed about Jews in his Ph.D. thesis:
Anyone who avoids meeting with the enemies in order to counter their dubious claims and stick fingers into their eyes, is a coward. My stance stems from Allah’s book [the Koran], more than one-third of which deals with the Jews … [I] wrote a dissertation dealing with them [the Jews], all their false claims and their punishment by Allah. I still believe in everything written in that dissertation. [i.e., Jews in the Koran and the Traditions, cited above]
Sheikh Tantawi never mollified such hatemongering beliefs while Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on the Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs” (April 2002), and the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews (April 2002) made clear.
During November 2002 (“Tantawi: No Antisemitism” Associated Press 11/19/2002; also archived here), Sheikh Tantawi made the following statement in response to criticism over the virulently anti-Semitic Egyptian television series (“Horseman Without a Horse”) based on the Czarist Russia forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion:
Suppose that the series has some criticism or shows some of the Jews’ traits, this doesn’t necessitate an uproar … The accusation of anti-Semitism was invented by the Jews as a means to pressure Arabs and Muslims to implement their schemes in the Arab and Muslim countries, so don’t pay attention to them.
On January 22, 2008 it was reported that Tantawi cancelled what would have been an historic visit to the Rome synagogue by the imam of Rome’s mosque (Ala Eldin Mohammed Ismail al-Ghobash). The putative excuse for this cancellation was Israel’s self-defensive stance -- a blockade -- in response to acts of jihad terrorism (rocket barrages; attempted armed incursions) emanating from Gaza.
The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, commenting aptly about these events, observed that the cancellation proved “even so-called Muslim moderates share the ideology of hate, violence and death towards the Jewish state.”
Al Azhar, Corriere della Sera further argued, which constituted a “Vatican of Sunni Islam,” had in effect issued “a kind of fatwah.” The paper concluded by noting: “What the Cairo statement really means is that Muslim dialogue with Jews in Italy is only possible once Israel has been eliminated.”
Given this toxic milieu of institutional Islamic Jew-hatred and jihadism in Egypt across a millennial continuum through the present, not surprisingly Pew polling data reveal that at least 95% of Egyptian Muslims currently view Jews “unfavorably.”
Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna parlayed these long-standing, bigoted vox populi Muslim sentiments into a traditionalist Islamic religio-political movement with broad appeal in Egypt and throughout the Middle East
A predictable catalyst, which enabled al-Banna to galvanize the Muslim Brotherhood into a mass movement during the mid-1940s, was the jihad against the Jewish community of historical Palestine, which became the nascent State of Israel. Al-Banna, in a November 1945 essay (entitled “Let the Wind of Paradise Blow”) argued that millions of Muslims across the global umma, not just Egyptians or Arabs, were willing to engage in violent jihad and to seek “martyrdom” to re-impose the Sharia upon the Jews of Palestine, who were attempting permanent liberation from dhimmitude.
But al-Banna’s goals -- consistent with the timeless ambitions of Islam -- extended well beyond the annihilation of a fledgling Jewish state in any portion of historical Palestine to the re-creation of a transnational Muslim Caliphate and global hegemony under the Sharia. As described by Brotherhood historian Brynjar Lia:
Quoting the Qur’anic verse [2:193] “And fight them till sedition is no more, and the faith is God’s,” the Muslim Brothers urged their fellow Muslims to restore the bygone greatness of Islam, and to re-establish the Islamic empire … [T]hey even called for the restoration of “former Islamic colonies” in Andalus (Spain), southern Italy, Sicily, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean islands.
Sixty-seven percent of contemporary Egyptian Muslims -- according to polling data released in April 2007 -- share al-Banna’s Caliphate dreams.
Muhammad Morsi invoked al-Banna, jihad, and Sharia supremacism during a May 15, 2012 campaign speech just before his election to the Egyptian Presidency.
Morsi’s own pronouncements over the past decade, as well as those of leading Muslim Brotherhood religious leaders, such as “Spiritual adviser” Yusuf al-Qaradawi and current Brotherhood General Guide Muhammad Badie, represent the living legacy of traditionalist Islamic Jew-hatred and jihadism.
Ignoring this ugly, deeply rooted context is not only morally reprehensible, it will perpetuate current delusive U.S. policies towards Egypt which endanger regional and global security.