“Are we Jews forever doomed to live in fear?”
At a time when Jews were being held hostage in the US, a Jewish follower on my Facebook, Daniel Netz, asked: “Are we Jews forever doomed to live in fear?”
This not only brought tears to my eyes, but I was also left speechless as I considered the intense pain and fear that Daniel felt for his community.
His fear is not irrational, and I am sure he witnessed many antisemitic incidents in his life.
Jews have remained and still are, a soft target for Islamists in the West because they consider Jews a “mastermind” behind all the problems Muslims have faced over the decades. Almost all of the key leaders from major Islamist terrorist organisations have delivered speeches against the Jewish community as well as Israel. Because they cannot fight Israel directly, these so-called ‘leaders’ promote revenge on local Jewish communities by inciting against them in their places of worship, shops, streets and transports, etc.
Let us not forget the toxic hate against Jews spewed out by Osama Bin laden when he said: “The blood pouring out of Palestine must be equally revenged. You must know that the Palestinians do not cry alone; their women are not widowed alone; their sons are not orphaned alone.”
This violent Islamist mindset translates to hurting Jewish communities so that Israel should ultimately feel the pain. In other words, the ultimate target for violent Islamist groups are Jewish communities and inflicting as much horror and pain on them is one way of attacking Israel. This violent antisemitism runs throughout their thinking, their Islamist ideology and their way of seeing the world.
“The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes…..The creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased. Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its price, and pay for it heavily.”
(Osama Bin laden, Head of Al-Qaeda)
Jihadist leaders believe that Jews are at fault for the taking up of arms against them. Intertwined within this thinking is a core belief that ‘Islam is under threat’ and that the main protagonists are Israel and Jews. This conspiratorial thinking is no different to the ideology that pervades far right groups and shows a virtual mirror image in thinking.
Depressingly, many Muslims across the globe buy into this thinking as they read online material that promotes such messages, dressed up as Islamic thought or interpretations. Let us therefore not forget that such ideology creates the mood music that people like Iraq’s one time Al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, wanted to enhance in his murderous drives.
“The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque…”
(Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda leader)
The ideology of antisemitism is key tool of Islamists and at one point, nationalists, to generate hate and violence against Jews, so that it can be used to whip up hatred against Israel. Terrorist attacks against Jews, and the expulsion of Jews in Muslim majority Arab countries have all been examples of this.
Over the course of 2021, there have been a number of violent antisemitic attacks in England, including:
- On the 16th of May, police arrested four men in connection with a video appearing to show antisemitic abuse being shouted from a car in north London.
- On the 5th of July, a Jewish man was subjected to antisemitic abuse twice in an hour in central London, including physical threats, because of his appearance.
- On the 4th of September, a man (Abdullah Qureshi) was charged in connection with a string of antisemitic attacks against a Jewish grandfather in London.
- On the 1st of December, a bus full of Jewish passengers, many of them children and celebrating the festival of Hanukkah, were targeted by a group of “Middle Eastern men” who attacked their vehicle while shouting abuse and spitting at them.
- On the 24th of Dec, a man was injured in an antisemitic attack and received death threats in London during Hanukkah.
Furthermore, according to the Community Security Trust, over 1,300 antisemitic incidents were recorded in the United Kingdom over the first six months of 2021, a 49 percent increase over the same period last year.
And now, in the beginning of 2022, we witnessed another harrowing ordeal after a British man who travelled to Texas to free an Al-Qaeda convicted Antisemitic terrorist, Afia Siddiqui. After a ten hour-long standoff, he was shot by law enforcement agents after the Jewish hostages escaped.
Islamists certainly do not have a monopoly on antisemitic violence and, moreover, Islam is not a historical home to antisemitism. Under the Islamic Caliphate in Spain, Al-Andalus, the Jewish-Muslim community experienced a “Golden Age” of coexistence after Jews sought refuge from European persecution. Jews mingled freely and comfortably with Muslims and were immersed in Arabic Islamic culture including the language, poetry, philosophy, science, medicine and the study of Scripture.
It is important to highlight three Quranic verses in which Allah has not only protected the religious rights of the People of the Book, but also commanded Muslims to eat with them and make close relations (marriages) with Jews and Christians.
Religious rights and protection: “Had Allah not been repelling some people by means of some others, the monasteries, the churches, the synagogues and the mosques where Allah’s name is abundantly recited would have been demolished. Allah will definitely help those who help Him (by defending the religion prescribed by Him.) Surely Allah is Powerful, Mighty.” (Quran: 40:22)
Muslims are also permitted to eat good food of the people of Book, including Jewish meat: “This day [all] good food has been made lawful, and the food of those who give the scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them” (Quran: 5:5)
Intermarriage is permissible among the People of the Book: “And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers (Muslims) and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before you…” (Quran: 5:5)
If Jews were our enemy, Allah would not have commanded us to eat, marry and have close ties with Jews.
As a Muslim I find all hateful attitudes abhorrent. All violence against non-Muslims (particularly Jews) not only hurts innocent souls but also defames Islam. Moreover, militant Islamists who violently attack communities of other faiths are not only against progressive notions like human rights, they are also against the very principles of the Quran.
Noor Dahri is a Patron of Muslims Against Antisemitism and an executive director of Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism (ITCT), a UK based think tank. His opinions can be viewed at @dahrinoor2.