Muslim Anti-Semitism: A Clear and Present Danger
By Robert Wistrich
Danish translation: Muslimsk Antisemitisme: En klar og aktuel fare
Source:, American Jewish Committee, 2002
Published on May 25, 2016


(by David A. Harris)

The events of September 11 were a gut-wrenching wake-up call for Americans and the world. As numerous pundits and Monday-night quarterbacks have observed, the warning signs of a terrorist attack on the centers and symbols of American security were evident long before 9/11, both in the rhetoric of the Al-Qaeda movement and in previous smaller-scale attacks.

No less evident for some time—indeed, out in full sight in newspaper articles, television broadcasts, and speeches of government officials— is a virulent strain of anti-Semitism that, in the words of Robert S. Wistrich, the author of this report, “has taken root in the body politic of Islam to an unprecedented degree.” While drawing upon negative stereotypes of Jews that have their origins in the Koran, and fueled by the political dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict, this “present tidal wave of anti-Semitism” blurs any distinctions between “Zionists” and “Jews.” It is global in scope, rearing its head in literature distributed around the world and most recently at the misnamed UN-sponsored Durban Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

What is particularly spine-chilling about the new Muslim anti-Semitism is that it appropriates symbols and motifs from classic European anti-Jewish bigotry and from Nazi propaganda. Thus, in illustrations reproduced in this volume one sees images of Jews with hook noses or as devil figures, Israelis with swastikas or as drinkers of the blood of children. Hate literature, such as the notorious nineteenthcentury forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, has been resurrected and published in numerous editions throughout the Arab world. The blood libel—the calumny that Jews require the blood of non-Jews for ritual purposes—resurfaced from the mouth of the Syrian defense minister, Mustafa Tlas, and most recently from a medical professor in an article in the mainstream Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh. Arabic editions of Mein Kampf are selling briskly in, among other places, London and the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.

If we have learned anything from the past—both the immediate past of 9/11 and the more distant history of Nazi fascism—it is that we must not let such warning signs go unheeded, that we must not blithely dismiss such grotesque distortions of the truth as nothing more than the rantings of madmen.

This publication is intended as the sounding of an alarm bell for a very clear and immediate threat to Jews worldwide—and, by extension, to democratic values as well. Sounding such an alarm in the face of immediate danger to Jews anywhere has been at the core of the mission of the American Jewish Committee since its foundation in 1906. This latest battle is one that we have engaged fully, for it is at our doorstep as well as half a world away in the Middle East, and has also spread to Muslim communities from Europe to South Africa.

We are indebted to Dr. Robert S. Wistrich, Neuberger Professor of Modern European and Jewish History at the Hebrew University, for having meticulously examined this phenomenon and having provided the documentation of its scope and virulence. His research offers abundant evidence—if any were needed—that this new wave of anti-Semitism is not merely a rhetorical by-product of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but has a long history as well as a self-propelling momentum of its own.

Our goals in this effort are clear: to work cooperatively with those Muslims who seek dialogue and harmony, consistent with AJC’s historic commitment to building strong ties of understanding among different faith groups, while shining the spotlight of exposure on those who would spread the poison of hatred.

- David A. Harris, Executive Director of American Jewish Committee, April 2002


Sixteen years ago, the historian Bernard Lewis, a leading authority on Middle Eastern history, chillingly observed:

The volume of anti-Semitic books and articles published, the size and number of editions and impressions, the eminence and authority of those who write, publish and sponsor them, their place in school and college curricula, their role in the mass media, would all seem to suggest that classical anti-Semitism is an essential part of Arab intellectual life at the present time—almost as much as happened in Nazi Germany, and considerably more than in late nineteenth and early twentieth century France. [1]

Despite serious concern at the vast output of anti-Semitic literature in the Arab and Muslim world, Lewis, like most other commentators, believed that this Arab hatred lacked the visceral and intensely intimate quality of Central and East European anti-Semitism. According to the conventional wisdom, anti-Semitism in Arab lands was “still largely political and ideological, intellectual and literary,” lacking any deep personal animosity or popular resonance. [2] Despite its vehemence and ubiquity, Middle Eastern Judeophobia was viewed overwhelmingly (even by Lewis) as a function of the Arab-Israeli conflict, cynically exploited for propaganda reasons by Arab rulers and intellectual elites: It was “something that comes from above, from the leadership, rather than from below, from the society—a political and polemical weapon, to be discarded if and when it is no longer required.” [3]

But this assumption was, in my view, overly optimistic and intellectually questionable even at the time it was made. In recent years this has become increasingly apparent as the anti-Semitic virus has taken root in the body politic of Islam to an unprecedented degree. [4]

The disarming claim is, nonetheless, still to be heard in certain quarters that since Arabs are “Semites,” they cannot, by definition, be regarded as anti-Semites. This always was and is an absurd argument for many reasons. First, the concept “Semite” is a linguistic, not a racial or national, classification that has a precise meaning only in relation to the Semitic family of languages, which includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic. [5] Second, the term “anti-Semitism,” first coined in Germany by Wilhelm Marr in 1879, was never intended to refer to Arabs. It was clearly directed exclusively toward Jews as a weapon against their emancipation. Its obvious racial coloring made it sound like a scientific substitute for the more traditional religious hatred of Jews. Race in the late nineteenth century, it should be remembered, had not yet acquired the opprobrium and stigma that it would later attract.

Third, Hitler and the Nazis were more than happy to invite the grand mufti of Jerusalem and the leader of the Palestinian Arab national movement, Haj Amin al-Husseini, to wartime Berlin as an honored guest and ally, even as they were embarking on the mass murder of European Jewry. That al-Husseini belonged to the Arabic-speaking branch of the “Semitic” linguistic family did not deter Heinrich Himmler, the ruthless head of the SS, from wishing the grand mufti every success in his fight “against the foreign Jew.” [6] Nor, for his part, did any sense of allegiance to “Semitism” prevent al-Husseini from enthusiastically declaring on November 2, 1943, that “the Germans know how to get rid of the Jews.” Indeed, the Palestinian Arab national leader stressed the ideological link between Germans and Muslims:

[T]he Germans have never harmed any Muslim, and they are again fighting our common enemy.... But most of all they have definitely solved the Jewish problem. These ties, and especially the last [the “Final Solution”], made our friendship with Germany not a provisional one, dependent on conditions, but a permanent and lasting friendship based on mutual interest. [7]

But one does not need to recall Arab, Muslim, or Palestinian collaboration with genocidal Nazi Judeophobia to recognize that deeply hostile attitudes to Jews do not cease to be anti-Semitic simply because they are expressed by Arabs in the Arabic language. For example, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a typical product of fin-de-siècle Russian and European anti-Semitism, deriving from a historical and cultural tradition obviously distinct from that of the Muslim Arabs. But when it is published in repeated editions throughout the Arab world, it ceases to be a purely European product and enters into the mainstream of Arab thought. [8] Its appeal becomes all the greater because for many Muslims and Arabs the notion of Jews as embodying an omnipotent, occult force has become more palpable and concretized through viewing the Protocols as a “Zionist manifesto for world conquest.” [9] At the same time, the specter of such a powerful, satanic conspiracy also helps to alleviate the psychological trauma and humiliation of successive Arab defeats at the hands of Israel and the West. Only a few months ago the Protocols was even “dramatized” in a multimillion-dollar thirty-part series produced in Egypt by Arab Radio and Television, featuring a cast of 400. According to a prominent Egyptian weekly, Arab viewers could finally be exposed to the central strategy “that to this very day, dominates Israel’s policy, political aspirations, and racism.” [10]

Arab intellectuals and Western anti-Zionists who, against all the evidence, nevertheless continue to deny the existence of “Semitic” anti-Semitism often pretend that there is a sharp distinction between Jews and Zionists in the relevant literature. In reality, this was rarely the case even in the past, and where such a differentiation might at one time have existed, it has been almost totally eroded. For over fifty years the term “Jews” (Yahûd) has, in fact, been mixed up or used interchangeably with “Zionists” (Sahyûniyyûn), with “Israelis,” or “Children of Israel” (Banû Isrâîl). [11] The mounting scale and sheer extent of this vehemently anti-Semitic literature and commentary in the newspapers, journals, magazines, radio, television, and in the everyday life of the Middle East have swamped that minority of Arabs who did try to separate their attitudes to Jews from their rejection of Zionism. [12] Moreover, the present tidal wave of anti-Semitism has for a number of years been crystallizing into a genuinely mass phenomenon. Five years ago, Daniel Pipes already observed:

In the twenty years since Camp David, Egyptian sentiment against Israel has gone from bad to worse. In overwhelming numbers, politicians, intellectuals, journalists, and religious figures continue to reject Sadat’s legacy and to malign and revile the Jewish state. [13]

The same pattern is true of the Jordanian populace in recent years, despite the peace treaty with Israel. Professional associations and businesses in Jordan maintain official and unofficial boycotts of Israel, while religious leaders spout vicious calumnies about Zionists and Jews in their weekly sermons and public appearances.

Behind this Arab rejection lies a barrage of derogatory and repulsive images of Jews and Judaism to be found both in the government backed and the opposition media, in popular and academic publications, in television images, in caricatures, and in the cassette recordings of clerics who long ago blurred any remaining boundary between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The stream of vitriolic visual and verbal imagery extends from Morocco to the Gulf States and Iran; it is as strong in supposedly “moderate” Egypt as it is in openly hostile Arab nations such as Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

The Jews are portrayed in Arab cartoons as demons and murderers, as a hateful, loathsome people to be feared and avoided. They are invariably seen as the origin of all evil and corruption, authors of a dark, unrelenting conspiracy to infiltrate and destroy Muslim society in order eventually to take over the world. [14] The most common visual distortion of the Jew is to portray him as a stooped, dark, bearded man wearing a black robe, with a long, crooked nose and a devilish appearance—the kind of hideous stereotype familiar from the classic Nazi propaganda rag, Der Stürmer. [15] Judaism itself is presented as a sinister, immoral religion, based on cabals and blood rituals, while Zionists are systematically equated with or identified as criminal racists or Nazis. The aim is not simply to morally delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state and a national entity in the Middle East, but to dehumanize Judaism and the Jewish people as such. No objective observer remotely familiar with this cascade of hate currently attaining new heights of defamation can doubt that it is profoundly and totally anti-Semitic. The flimsy “anti-Zionist” pretext for this gutter material has frankly become an insult to the intelligence of any decent individual. As Hillel Halkin has observed:

Israel is the State of the Jews. Zionism is the belief that the Jews should have a state. To defame Israel is to defame the Jews. To wish it never existed, or would cease to exist, is to wish to destroy the Jews. [16]

The intent to destroy Israel has, however, continued to be a central motivating force in the political outlook of many Arabs. The core premise that Israel must vanish from the map is not only a religious fundamentalist axiom, but one widely shared by most Arab and Palestinian nationalists as well as by a majority of the Arab street. Anti- Semitism has indeed become an integral and organic part of this Arab-Muslim culture of hatred—a potent instrument of incitement, terror, and political manipulation. [17]

The persistence, integrity, and depth of this hatred should not blind us, however, to the fact that, historically speaking, anti-Semitism is a relatively new phenomenon in Arab culture and among Muslims in general. It did not exist as a significant force in the traditional Islamic world, although, as we shall see, some of the seeds of contemporary anti-Jewish attitudes can be found in the Koran and other early Islamic sources. Despite the darkness of the present phase in Muslim-Jewish relations, it is useful to remember that there have been moments of peace and harmony as well as of bitter conflict in this long history of interaction.

Muslim-Jewish Relations in History: Not All “Golden”

Jews and Muslims have coexisted continuously since the emergence of Islam in the seventh century of the Christian era. There were periods when relative tolerance prevailed and Jews were able to make real intellectual advances, to enjoy economic prosperity, and occasionally even to attain some political influence under Islamic rule. [18] However, more often than is generally acknowledged, their existence from Morocco to Iran was punctuated by misery, humiliation, and popular violence. [19] These tribulations, particularly in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, even prompted the greatest of medieval Jewish philosophers, Maimonides, to refer bitterly to the “nation of Ishmael, who persecute us severely, and who devise ways to harm us and debase us.” [20] Indeed, the “Golden Age” of Sephardic Jews, which coincided with one of the high points of medieval Islamic civilization, did not occur without also provoking Muslim envy and hostility at the influence as well as the socioeconomic success of the Jews. [21]

The legal status of Jews and Christians under Islam in the premodern era was essentially that of dhimmis (“protected peoples”), whose religions were officially recognized by the authorities. On payment of a poll tax (jizya), they could freely practice their faiths, enjoy a certain degree of personal security, and have their own communal organizations. But the protection afforded to the “peoples of the Book” (ahl al-kitab) was combined with subjugation; the “tolerance” they benefited from existed within a social framework of discrimination and disabilities that constantly emphasized the superiority of Muslims to both Jews and Christians.

Jews could not, for example, bear arms; they could not ride horses; they were required to wear distinctive clothing (the yellow badge had its origins in Baghdad, not in medieval Europe); and they were forbidden to build new places of worship. [22] Their dhimmi status, as elaborated by Muslim jurists from the inception of Islam until the early twentieth century, has been succinctly summarized as follows:

Dhimmis were often considered impure and had to be segregated from the Muslim community. Entry into holy Muslim towns, mosques, public baths, as well as certain streets was forbidden them. Their turbans—when they were permitted to wear them —their costumes, belts, shoes, the appearance of their wives and their servants had to be different from those of Muslims in order to distinguish and humiliate them; for the dhimmis could never be allowed to forget that they were inferior beings. [23]

True, discriminatory legislation was not always rigorously applied by Muslim rulers when it conflicted with their own political and economic interests. But almost any exercise of authority or of conspicuous influence by dhimmis could arouse the anger of the Muslim masses and ignite demands by religious reformers to restore them to their proper place. Any divergence from the Muslim legal and social norms of humiliation and abasement as applied to Jews and Christians was liable to be seen as a breach of the “Pact of Umar” (the decrees of the eighth-century caliph ‘Umar I, which had first regulated dhimmi status). Any signs of “haughtiness” and “arrogance” by Jews or Christians ran the risk of being punishable by death. [24]

In more remote countries such as Morocco, Iran, and Yemen, where Jews had especially suffered from degradation, contempt, and physical insecurity, dhimmi restrictions were enforced with special rigor. Muslim riots and the killing of Jews were more frequent in such peripheral lands, even into the early twentieth century. [25] Pillaging, looting, and the murder of defenseless Jews also occurred elsewhere in North Africa at fairly regular intervals during the nineteenth century. So, too, did the “blood libel” calumny, which originated in the Muslim Ottoman Empire among Greek Orthodox Christians, leading to pogroms in Smyrna (1872) and in Constantinople two years later.

Earlier instances of the blood libel had been recorded in Beirut (1824), Antioch (1826), Hama (1829), and, above all, the notorious Damascus Affair of 1840. The slander was given wide credence by European Catholics and supported by the French consul himself. [26] This medieval blood libel (accusing Jews of murdering Christian children and using the victims’ blood to bake matzos for Passover) was, in fact, quite alien to the Islamic faith and tradition. Like a number of other classic European anti-Semitic notions, the blood libel fantasy was originally introduced to the Muslim world by native Christians (Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Maronites, etc.) who generally stood in the forefront of the new ideology of modern secular Arab nationalism in the early twentieth century. [27]

Despite the servitude and discrimination implicit in the dhimmi status of the premodern era, Jews under Islam were nonetheless in a relatively better position than their coreligionists in Christian lands. They did not, for instance, carry the theological odium of Christ killers as a mark of Cain on their brows. The more self-confident medieval Muslims did not feel the same compulsion as their Christian counterparts to negate Judaism as a religion, to engage in endless denigratory polemics against its validity, or to replace the “Old Covenant” with a “new” Israel of the spirit. For medieval Muslims, Christianity was, for obvious reasons, a much more serious theological, political, and military challenge than Judaism and also seemed significantly more alien. [28] In comparison, the Jews were scarcely a threat to Muslims and were even possible allies. Moreover, dhimmi status under Islamic rule—in contrast to medieval Christendom—did not usually confine Jews in ghettos, restrict them to usury, or prevent them from owning land and practicing various crafts. The discrimination they did suffer under Islam was qualitatively far more benign than their exclusion and demonization in medieval Christianity. [29]

Nevertheless, the Koranic image of the Jew, which has currently been so greatly exacerbated and radicalized in contemporary Islamic writings, was far from harmless. In the Koran there are some notably harsh passages in which Muhammad brands the Jews as enemies of Islam and depicts them as possessing a malevolent, rebellious spirit. [30] There are also verses that speak of their justified abasement and poverty, of the Jews being “laden with God’s anger” for their disobedience. They had to be humiliated “because they had disbelieved the signs of God and slain the prophets unrightfully” (Sura 2:61/58). According to another verse (Sura 5:78/82), “the unbelievers of the Children of Israel” were cursed by both David and Jesus. The penalty for disbelief in God’s signs and in the miracles performed by the prophets was to be transformed into apes and swine or worshipers of idols (Sura 5:60/65).

The Koran particularly emphasizes that the Jews rejected Muhammad, even though (according to Muslim sources) they knew him to be a prophet—supposedly out of pure jealousy for the Arabs and resentment because he was not a Jew. Such actions are today presented as being typical of the deceitful, treacherous, and scheming nature of the Jews as depicted in the Koranic text. For such evil character traits they were promised “degradation in this world” and a “mighty chastisement” in the world to come. [31]

A variety of verses further charge the Jews with “falsehood” (Sura 3:71), distortion (4:46), cowardice, greed, and being “corrupters of Scripture.” [32] This last accusation relates to a well-entrenched Islamic belief that the original revelations of the Old and New Testaments had been authentic, but that they had subsequently been distorted by their unworthy (Jewish and Christian) custodians. Hence the biblical Scriptures had to be superseded by the Koran, the literal word of God mediated to his prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. [33] This Muslim version of supersessionism regards Muhammad as the last of the prophets, the one who has been granted the final and complete revelation of God in the form of Islam.

The most basic anti-Jewish stereotype fostered by the Koran remains the charge that the Jews have stubbornly and willfully rejected Allah’s truth. [34] Not only that, but according to the sacred text, they have always persecuted his prophets, including Muhammad, who was eventually obliged to expel two major Jewish clans from Medina and to exterminate the third tribe, the Qurayza. The hadith (oral tradition) goes much further and claims that the Jews, in accordance with their perfidious nature, deliberately caused Muhammad’s painful, protracted death from poisoning. Furthermore, malevolent, conspiratorial Jews are to blame for the sectarian strife in early Islam, for heresies and deviations that undermined or endangered the unity of the umma (the Muslim nation). [35] This is a theme that has been picked up and expanded upon by modern fundamentalists who look for inspiration for their war with contemporary Jews to the Prophet’s own struggle against them in seventh-century Arabia. The well-entrenched archetype of a “Jewish threat” or challenge that existed at the very birth of Islam has assumed an increasingly strident and militant form since 1948, and especially in the battle against Israel and world Jewry today.

The notion, for example, that Jews are “arrogant falsifiers,” continuously hatching new plots and conspiracies to sow discord, conflict, and division within the Muslim community, is seen as self-evident and perfectly consistent with Koranic teaching. Only tenacious adherence to true Islamic values, it is constantly repeated, can preserve Muslims against the dire threat represented by Jewish-Zionist and Western imperialist infiltration—a peril allegedly anticipated by the Koranic sacred texts. This is the central message of Sayyid Qutb’s “Our Struggle with the Jews”—a seminal essay written in the mid 1950s by the leading Egyptian Muslim ideologue of his time, who subsequently inspired much of contemporary fundamentalist doctrine.

For Qutb, the Jews and Zionism epitomized a neuralgic point in Islam’s civilizational crisis, magnified still more by Muslim fears and weakness in the face of secular modernity, sexual permissiveness, and the invasive power of American mass culture.

Jewish emancipation from Muslim rule (perceived to be a result of growing Western colonialist involvement in the Islamic world) had been followed by something much more frightening—the establishment of a Jewish state in the very heart of the Arab-Muslim world. The Arab failure to prevent this “disaster” signified to Qutb and his followers the full extent of cultural decay and presaged the possible collapse of Islam after several centuries of decline. [36] In this grimly pessimistic scenario, Jews served primarily as a catalyst for cultural crisis, but “lapsed Muslims” or “unbelievers” (kuffar) and secular Arab nationalist rulers were an equally dangerous fifth column weakening the resistance of the Islamic world to Israel and the West.

For Muslim fundamentalists, Jews have come to represent an “eternal enemy” of Islam from their “double-dealing” intrigues against the Prophet in seventh-century Arabia to the embattled present, committed as they (supposedly) have always been to destroying the Islamic creed. According to Qutb, Jews invented the modern doctrines of “atheistic materialism” (communism, psychoanalysis, and sociology) for precisely this purpose; equally, they stood behind “the destruction of the family and the shattering of sacred relationships in society.” [37] The teachings of Marx, Freud, and Durkheim were classic examples of the subversive Jewish role in sabotaging faith and introducing universal “immorality” into the core areas of Dar al-Islam. It was the Jews’ naturally malevolent disposition, misanthropy, abiding hatred of Muslims (as testified by the Koran) that prompted such actions, but their plots would ultimately fail once the believers returned to the sources of their invincible faith.

Conspiracy Theories: The Protocols and the Blood Libel in Islamic Garb

Qutb’s Islamic Judeophobia, like that of his fundamentalist followers, has blended easily enough with much more modern twentieth-century motifs of racist and political anti-Semitism derived from Western sources. Foremost among these European imports has been The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which provides a complete conspiracy theory of history in which satanic Jews relentlessly strive for world domination. Communism, Freemasonry, Zionism, and the State of Israel are all deemed to be instruments in this diabolical scheme of Jewry. Its attraction for gullible Muslims has grown immensely with each successive defeat by Israel. [38] Anti-Semitic conspiracy theory is, for example, a strikingly important feature of the Palestinian Hamas Covenant of 1988, whose Article 32 states:

For Zionist scheming has no end, and after Palestine they will covet expansion from the Nile to the Euphrates. Only when they have completely digested the area on which they will have laid their hand, they will look forward to more expansion, etc. Their scheme has been laid out in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there. [39]

The Jews are openly accused by Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement) of controlling the world’s wealth and its mass media, and of instigating the French and Russian revolutions and two world wars to cynically promote Zionist objectives. Equally, they are charged with establishing clandestine organizations (e.g., Rotary and Lions Clubs, Freemasonry, etc.) for the purposes of espionage and subversion. [40] The Jews, it is asserted, deliberately wiped out the Islamic caliphate and then established the League of Nations in the 1920s, “in order to rule the world by their intermediary.” [41] According to the Palestinian Muslim fundamentalists, “there was no war that broke out anywhere without their [Jewish] fingerprints on it.” [42]

The word hamas means literally devotion and zeal in the path of Allah. The movement—a Palestinian offshoot of what was originally the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood—has consistently mixed a fiercely Islamic Judeophobia with Western anti-Semitic rhetoric. [43] It makes virtually no distinction between Zionists and Jews in its extremely aggressive leaflets. Characteristically, Hamas literature evokes the conquest by Muhammad in 628 C.E. of Khaibar—an oasis in the Arabian peninsula where the “treacherous” Jews were eliminated by the Prophet—as an inspiration for its current war to destroy Israel.

A similarly radical ideology motivates the Lebanese Shi’a movement, Hizballah (“the Party of God”), which rose to prominence following its resistance to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Its total negation of Israel’s existence and its view of Judaism as the oldest and bitterest enemy of Islam owe much to the Ayatollah Khomeini’s “anti-Zionist” preaching and the movement’s symbiotic relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran. In accordance with this doctrinal source of inspiration, Hizballah opposes nationalism, imperialism, and “Western arrogance” while laying special emphasis on the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem as a major strategic aim. As with the Hamas and other fundamentalist groupings, Israel is depicted as a Western puppet installed in the Middle East to enable imperialism to continue its domination and exploitation of Arab regional resources. Israel is invariably seen as the source of all evil and violence in the area and as the main obstacle to Islamic unity. Hence it must be totally eradicated. [44] The recent Israeli departure from Lebanon is no more than a prelude to this future obliteration of the great “usurping enemy” of Islam—frequently described by Hizballah (as in Iranian propaganda) as a “cancer” and poison that affects the entire world.

Hizballah’s most senior cleric, Sheikh Husayn Fadlallah, continually emphasized through the 1990s that Israel was not just a Jewish state in the formal sense of the word. It was the ultimate expression of the corrupt, treacherous, and aggressive “Jewish” personality. Jews were indeed “the enemy of the entire human race,” congenitally “racist” and condescending in their attitude to other peoples, and ruthlessly bent upon global domination. In an interview in the late 1980s, Fadlallah already expressed a widely held fundamentalist attitude toward allegedly boundless Jewish ambitions:

The Jews want to be a world superpower. This racist circle of Jews wants to take vengeance on the whole world for their history of persecution and humiliation. In this light, the Jews will work on the basis that Jewish interests are above all world interests. [45]

Hizballah’s consistently intransigent philosophy of all-out war against Israel, Zionism, and the Jews has an unmistakably virulent anti-Semitic underpinning linked to its overall pan-Islamic, revolutionary perspective. Its special venom also draws from the traditional Iranian Shi’i attitudes toward Jews as unclean, impure, and corrupt infidels. This is a theme that pervaded the outlook of the Ayatollah Khomeini and still influences the present Iranian leadership. [46] Like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Hizballah engages in a total demonization of the Jewish and Zionist enemy, eagerly embracing violence, “suicide bombings,” martyrdom, and terror as the only path to “liberate” Palestine, destroy Israel, and defeat the West. [47] Everything is made subordinate to the supreme imperative of the jihad—the holy war that must be waged to the death against the infidel—until all Islamic lands are liberated and a truly Islamic state is restored. [48]

The Western media, as is its custom, has been extremely reluctant to relate the current terrorist war against Israel and the West to its ideological roots in Islam or to the sources and meaning of jihad. It is equally averse to connecting terrorism with the anti-Jewish obsessions that currently animate millions of Muslims. [49] Amazingly little attention has been paid to the sheer abundance, energy, and viciousness of contemporary Muslim anti-Semitism from Cairo and Gaza to Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran, and Lahore. The seemingly endless parade of grotesque falsehoods exhibited in Arab and Muslim defamation of Jews and the Jewish state scarcely seems to impinge on Western consciousness. At most it is perceived as a footnote to the raging storm of anti-Americanism or as a form of “political opposition” to Israeli actions. Not even the rampant Arab claims that the Holocaust was a fabrication invented by Zionists and Jews (which attracts much attention in the European media when made by neo-Nazis or far rightists) stir more than the faintest of responses in the West. [50] Nor has there been much interest in the anti-Semitic ravings of the current Syrian defense minister Mustafa Tlas (in his post since 1972!), who has for years been pursuing with zealous determination the medieval accusation that Jews drink the blood of gentile children. In the preface to his by-now “classic” book, The Matzo of Zion, first published in 1983, Tlas wrote:

The Jew can kill you and take your blood in order to make his Zionist bread. Here opens before us a page more ugly than the crime itself: the religious beliefs of the Jews and the perversions they contain, which draw their orientation from a dark hate towards all humankind and all religions. [51]

On February 8, 1991, the Syrian delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva actually urged all the representatives present to read Tlas to better grasp the nature of “Zionist racism.” In 1999 the Syrian defense minister was still repeating his claim in The Matzo of Zion that the 1840 blood libel case in Damascus had been based on the “known fact” that fanatical Jews do commit ritual murder. [52] Later in the same year, a prominent Syrian literary magazine published the following “masterpiece,” which combines several strands in contemporary Arab anti-Semitism, including the blood libel:

The Talmud instructions, soaked in hatred and hostility towards humanity, are stamped in the Jewish soul. Throughout history, the world has known more than one Shylock, more than one Father Thomas [the alleged Christian target of the Damascus Jews in 1840], as victim of these Talmudic instructions and this hatred.... Now Shylock of New York’s time has come.... Israel’s matzo will continue to steep in blood, the spilling of which is permitted in the Talmud, in order to glorify the Jewish military. [53]

This dehumanizing and delirious rhetoric, currently echoed in countless variations throughout much of Arab and Muslim culture, is slowly but surely infecting other parts of the world. The misnamed “conference against racism” in Durban, South Africa (concluded only forty-eight hours before the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York), is a notorious case in point. The nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) at Durban produced perhaps the most brazenly anti-Semitic document at any international gathering since 1945. Led by Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim organizations, they repeatedly accused Israel of genocide against the Palestinian people, ethnic cleansing, and being a purely “racist apartheid state.” The so called Israeli-perpetrated Palestinian “Catastrophe” was labeled at the Durban NGO forum as a “third holocaust.” A key paragraph condemning anti-Semitism was deliberately eliminated from the discussions, but in an act of pure Orwellian doublespeak, “Zionist practices against Semitism” were now elevated into a major form of contemporary racism. [54]

This venomous carnival of incitement, which contributed to an American walkout, soon spilled over from the conference halls into the streets. Hate literature distributed by Arab NGOs did not shrink from portraying Jews with fangs dripping blood and wearing helmets inscribed with Nazi swastikas. Perhaps most telling in all this orgy of hatred was a pamphlet displayed at the Durban Exhibition Center featuring a picture of Adolf Hitler with the caption “If I had won the war there would be no ... Palestinian blood lost.” [55]

“Islamic Fascism”: Ominous Parallels in Light of September 11

Mention of Hitler brings us back full circle to the unmistakable parallels between Nazism and what I have elsewhere called “Islamic fascism”— similarities that have emerged into sharper relief following the Twin Towers attacks of September 11, 2001. [56] More than half a century ago, on November 18, 1947, the führer’s closest confidant, Albert Speer, wrote the following recollection in his Spandau prison diary, which today sounds eerily prophetic:

I recall how [Hitler] would have films shown in the Reich Chancellory about London burning, about the sea of fire over Warsaw, about exploding convoys, and the kind of ravenous joy that would then seize him every time. But I never saw him so beside himself as when, in a delirium, he pictured New York going down in flames. He described how the skyscrapers would be transformed into gigantic burning torches, how they would collapse in confusion, how the bursting city’s reflection would stand against the dark sky. [57]

In September 2001, this frenzied Wagnerian imagery became fact. The Islamic terrorist perpetrators of the September attacks, like the Nazis and fascists of sixty years ago, speak a language of unquenchable hatred, not only for America and the West, but also for Israel and the Jewish people. [58] These Muslim radicals have consciously chosen a cult of death, turning the motif of sacrifice and martyrdom into something urgent, elemental, pseudoreligious, and even mystical. [59] Their bible may be the Koran and not Mein Kampf, but the mental structures and worldview behind their actions do have striking analogies with German National Socialism. [60] The Muslim fundamentalists— like the Nazis before and during the Shoah—rant against the “anonymous powers” of globalization and the plutocratic West (symbolized by the World Trade Center and the city of New York) as fiercely as they battered the citadels of Soviet communism in Afghanistan more than a decade ago. Like their totalitarian predecessors, they (falsely) claim to speak for frustrated, underprivileged, and impoverished masses betrayed by more traditional Arab and Muslim ruling elites and ruthlessly exploited by international capitalism. To the radical Muslims, “Jewish” New York, as much as the Zionist state of Israel, is the incarnation of satanic evil, just as Wall Street embodied the general headquarters of corporate wickedness and cosmopolitan Jewry to the Nazis and other prewar fascist true believers. [61] Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories lie at the very heart of the Muslim fundamentalist and Arab nationalist worldview today—linking plutocratic finance, international Freemasonry, secularism, Zionism, and communism as dark, occult forces led by the giant octopus of international Jewry, whose alleged aim is to destroy Islam and to subvert the cultural identity of Muslim believers. [62]

This mythical structure of thought is in many ways virtually identical with Nazi anti-Semitism, despite its having undergone a process of “Islamicization” and its quotation of verses from the Koran to justify monstrous terrorist acts. Fundamentalist Islam has the same totalitarian, pseudomessianic aspiration to world hegemony as German Nazism or Soviet communism. It also articulates a latent and sometimes explicitly genocidal rhetoric in its assault on “Jewish-Crusader” civilization that conjures up alarming echoes of the past. [63] For militant Islamic groups such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, Hizballah, and many others, anti-Semitic anti-Zionism serves as an intrinsic part of their nihilist-totalitarian mind-set. The jihadist terrorists are committed to violence, bent on total confrontation with the infidels on the either-or politics of victory or death, and embrace an outlook rooted in a Manichaean polarization between the forces of light and darkness. The bin Ladens of this world are driven not only by fanatical extremism—by their loathing of “Christian Crusaders,” heretics, dissenters, Jews, and women and their rejection of America and Western modernity per se—they hate civilization in a way that is radically nihilist.

It is highly characteristic of this worldview that the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States were greeted with such rapture in many parts of the Muslim world, including in the Palestinian Authority. For example, the mufti of Jerusalem, preaching his Friday sermon at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, openly called for the destruction of Israel, Britain, and the United States:

Oh Allah, destroy America, for she is ruled by Zionist Jews.... Allah will paint the White House black! [64]

Other Muslim clerics such as Sheikh Ibrahim Mahdi focused their efforts more on praising “suicide bombers” in Israel. In words aired repeatedly by the Palestinian Authority television, Mahdi enthusiastically encouraged the cynical sacrifice of children as being acts of “martyrdom” against Israel:

All weapons must be aimed at the Jews, at the enemies of Allah, the cursed nation in the Koran, whom the Koran describes as monkeys and pigs.... We will blow them up in Hadera, we will blow them up in Tel Aviv and in Netanya.... We bless all those who educate their children to jihad and to martyrdom. [65]

The current wave of Muslim suicide bombings, Israelphobia, and terrorism appear to enjoy massive resonance among most Palestinians and a large number of Arabs and Muslims. Islamic anti-Semitism has also spread with electrifying speed among Muslim and Arab immigrants in the Western democracies. These immigrants already carry with them the anti-Semitic baggage of their mother countries and cultures, exacerbated by intensive media coverage of the escalating Middle East conflict. In September and October 2000 this resulted in an alarming increase in Muslim/Arab anti-Semitic assaults on Diaspora Jewish communities, especially in Europe—including the burning of synagogues, desecrations, physical attacks, letter bombs, and vitriolic verbal incitement of the most intimidating kind. [66] Such attacks have assumed near-epidemic proportions in France, which has a large Muslim population (about 6 million mainly Maghrebian immigrants) and a substantial though much smaller community of around 600,000 Jews. [67] The dangerous combination of radical anti-Zionism (ominously sliding into anti-Semitism in the liberal and leftist French media) fused with the Islamist Judeophobia of the Muslim immigrants, has seriously alarmed French Jewry. [68] So, too, in Great Britain a similar pattern of Muslim anti-Semitism is emerging that has made Jews (already alarmed at the Israel-bashing of the liberal British media) increasingly anxious. [69]

The anti-Semitic fallout from the terror attacks and the ensuing anthrax scare has been a revealing index of the depths of Muslim Arab hatred for America, Israel, and the Jews. Initially, the reactions were those of celebration and joy expressed with particular vehemence by fundamentalist circles, for the humbling of American “arrogance, tyranny and boastfulness.” [70] The Egyptian-based journal of the Muslim Brotherhood rapturously hailed Osama bin Laden as “a hero in the full sense of the word” and prayed that his followers would eventually “eradicate America and its ‘infinite justice.’” [71] Another Egyptian weekly rejoiced that “America is on the way to collapse, like all the empires of oppression throughout history.” [72] As Al Ahram Al Arabi expressed it on October 4, 2001, America was finally tasting the poison of its own ruthless oppression, and with the collapse of “the city of globalization,” New York, so, too, it was boldly predicted, “the theory of globalization will be buried.” [73] The pan-Arab opposition weekly Al Usbú made it very clear that it could have no sympathy for America in its grief, and one columnist who had watched the inferno in New York confessed that those moments of “exquisite, incandescent hell” were “the most precious moments of my life.” [74] A Nasserist weekly expressed undisguised satisfaction at the fact that “the Americans are finally tasting the bitterness of death.” [75] Even columnists on the Egyptian Liberal Party daily Al-Ahrar felt that uninhibited delight was a national and religious obligation since “the U.S. position in the Arab-Zionist conflict causes Arabs to rejoice over every disaster visited upon the American government.” [76]

For the Muslim Brotherhood, the terror strike was nothing less than “divine retribution,” not least because the Americans “preferred the apes [i.e., the Jews] to human beings, treating human beings from outside the U.S. cheaply, supporting homosexuals and usury.” [77] Islamic radicals, pan-Arabists, and Nasserists all felt a common elation at the sudden collapse of the “mythological symbols of arrogant American imperialist power” and the blow that they believed had been struck on behalf of embattled Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir, and other troublespots on the planet.

But no less swiftly, across Muslim and Arab society, the blame for the terrorist and anthrax attacks was firmly placed on the Zionists, the Israeli government, and the Mossad. The Syrian ambassador to Tehran was quoted as saying on good authority that “the Israelis have been involved in these incidents and no Jewish employee was present in the World Trade Center building on the day.” [78] According to the Syrian government newspaper Al Thawra, Israeli premier Ariel Sharon thereby sought to divert attention from his aggressive plans toward the Palestinians. [79] He had supposedly created this golden opportunity in order to cause maximum damage and provoke a deep schism in Arab-American relations. [80] In the Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustour on September 13, 2001, an article appeared (by no means exceptional) which argued that the Twin Towers attack was in fact “the act of the great Jewish Zionist mastermind that controls the world’s economy, media, and politics” and the diabolical plot was rapidly leading the world to a global disaster. [81]

In the same issue, a Lebanese-Jordanian Holocaust denier warned Arabs against the “Jewish-Zionist hands behind the terrible event”; another Jordanian columnist emphasized the prevailing Arab wisdom “that Israel is the one ... to benefit greatly from the bloody, loathsome terror operation.” [82] The Egyptian sheikh Mohammad Al-Gamei’a, former imam of the Islamic Culture Center and Mosque of New York, also had little doubt that the Jews were behind the September terrorist attacks: “The Jewish element is as Allah described.... We know they have always broken agreements, unjustly murdered the prophets and betrayed the faith.” [83] The theory that Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, was behind the Twin Tower attack was especially popular in Muslim Pakistan. Major General Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan’s intelligence service, was adamant:

I tell you, it was a coup [attempt], and I can’t say for sure who was behind it, but it’s the Israelis who are creating so much misery in the world. The Israelis don’t want to see any power in Washington unless it’s subservient to their interests and President Bush has not been subservient. [84]

In support of the Zionist conspiracy theory, the Lahore-based Jihad Times and other Pakistani media endlessly recycled the legend that around 4,000 Israelis and Jews working in the World Trade Center had received a secret directive from the Mossad not to report for duty on September 11. The attacks had allegedly been ordered by the “Elders of Zion” in reaction to the anti-Israel bashing that had been handed out at the Third UN Conference against Racism in Durban. [85] Remarkably enough, according to Pakistani opinion polls in October 2001, more than two-thirds of Pakistanis agreed it was “possible” that Jews had been forewarned not to go to work on September 11. [86] A similar number evidently believed that world Zionism was behind the slaughter. They were convinced that Jews controlled the media treatment of the events and dictated the “vilification campaign against the Muslims.”

The notion that contemporary Jewry exercises a “media dictatorship” deliberately seeking to poison relations between Islam and the West has indeed become widespread in many Muslim circles. Even more popular is the idea that Jews manipulate the Western mass media as a whole, especially in the United States. [87] The Iran Daily claimed, for example, that since September 11 the West had been swamped by the propaganda of “Zionist circles [that] have been almost uncontrollably emitting their profound contempt of Islam.” [88]

The Palestinian Journalists Association also insisted that the Western media were completely under the thumb of international finance and Zionist Jews. [89] The Palestine Ministry of Information Web site went even further and declared that there was an absolute Jewish monopoly of the U.S. news media. A small minority had “the power to mold our minds to suit their own Talmudic interests... [They had] a decisive influence on our [American] political system and virtual control of the minds and souls of our children, whose attitudes and ideas are shaped more by Jewish television and Jewish films than by their parents, their schools, or any other influence.” [90]

The Palestinian Authority, like the Saudis and Egyptians, was furious when the non-Jewish mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, rejected Saudi prince Al-Walid bin Talal’s politically loaded offer of financial assistance to the City of New York. Not only the Saudi prince himself but Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak publicly complained about the power of the Jewish lobby in America and its “blind support” for Israel on terrorism and related issues. Al Hayat Al-Jadida joined the chorus and accused Mayor Giuliani of “hatred for Arabs” while a leading Saudi newspaper sneeringly branded him a “Jew” who sacrificed the public good and American interests for private gain. [91]

The anti-Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that have been escalating in the Arab and Muslim world since September 11 are not in themselves new. But they do reveal a highly inflammable mixture of anti-Westernism, ideological fanaticism, raw hate, and irrationality that underlies a significant strand of contemporary Muslim thinking. The attitude to the Jews, in particular, with its vehement language and emphasis on “radical solutions,” is disturbingly reminiscent of the 1930s and 1940s. The anti-Semitic stereotypes, as we have seen, are as frequent in Jordan and Egypt, which have peace treaties with Israel, as they are in Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, or other Gulf States. Examples abound and could be multiplied ad nauseam. In Tishreen, a government-owned Syrian daily, the editor in chief, Mohamed Kheir al-Wadi, writing in January 2000, took it for granted that “Zionism created the Holocaust myth to blackmail and terrorize the world’s intellectuals and politicians.” [92]

A month later, an editorial in another government-controlled Syrian newspaper, Al-Thawra, written by Muhammed Ali Bouzha, also stated as self-evident:

Israel has revealed itself as an entity steeped in racism, hate, and state-sponsored terrorism, which has surpassed even the Nazis in its criminal acts of murder, destruction and devastation and in its disdain for humanity. [93]

Sometimes, too, Holocaust denial and the “Zionism-is-Nazism” myth are fused, as in the response of state-owned Syrian radio in late February 2000 to Israel’s then-foreign minister David Levy’s stern warning to Lebanon from the rostrum of the Knesset to rein in the Hizballah. Syrian radio promptly accused Israel of “playing the role of the Nazi executioners, who, according to the Zionists, burned the Jews in Auschwitz.” The state-run Lebanese television on February 28, 2000, echoed this Syrian propaganda by running an ad showing images of casualties from IDF attacks in Lebanon juxtaposed with Nazi concentration camps, followed by the words, “Same hatred. Same racism. Same criminality. Same history.” [94]

In the Gulf States, too, Levy’s statement was taken as proof that “Zionism was the descendant of Nazism.” [95] Despite his efforts to attain peace, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak—like his less conciliatory predecessors Begin, Shamir, and Netanyahu, or Ariel Sharon today—found himself regularly portrayed in Nazi uniform with a swastika armband; as Israeli warplanes bombed Lebanon, predictably, the caption in Al-Watan read: “In Lebanon Israel is behaving like the Nazis.” [96]

Nor is it any great surprise to discover that Israelphobia and anti-Semitism have been equally present in the Egyptian media at the turn of the millennium, in spite of the 1979 peace treaty with the Jewish state. Comparisons of Israel with the Nazis, denial of the Holocaust, and medieval blood libels regularly appear in the government-backed press (including the largest dailies, Al-Ahram and Al-Goumhurriya, and the popular magazine October) as they do in the leftist, Nasserist, and fundamentalist opposition newspapers. Worse still, the cartoons consistently deform Jews. They are almost always dirty, hook-nosed, moneygrubbing, vindictive, scheming, and cruel. [97] The extremely hostile visual and verbal stereotyping in a country still considered the hub of the Arab world—one, moreover, whose newspapers, magazines and books help to shape public opinion throughout the region—is both dangerous and alarming.


Front cover of a book distributed by the Arab Lawyers Union at the 2001 UN-sponsored Durban Conference

The Zionist Devil, Al-Dustour, Jordan, September 30, 1994

Sharon as Hitler’s Successor, Al-Gumhuria, Egypt, December 12, 2001

The Crimes of Israel Compared to the Crimes of the Nazis, Tishreen, Syria, April 15, 1993

Israel Über Alles, Al-Gumhuria, Egypt, May 25, 1994

The Blood of a Palestinian Child, A Gift for Mother’s Day, Al-Dustour, Jordan, March 22, 1994

Sharon Devouring Palestinian Children, Al-Quds, Palestinian, May 17, 2001

Front cover of The Struggle Between the Koran and the Talmud, a book currently available in the United States

Anti-Semitic Falsehoods: From Food Poisoners to Child Molesters

The examples of anti-Semitic falsehoods are truly numberless and consistently outrageous. Thus, Israel is repeatedly alleged by Egyptian (and Jordanian) news sources to be distributing drug-laced chewing gum and candy, intended to make women sexually corrupt and to kill children. Al-Ahram, the leading government-sponsored daily in Egypt, expounds in great detail in a special series how Jews use the blood of gentiles to make matzos for Passover. An Egyptian intellectual, writing in Al-Akhbar less than a year ago, explains that the Talmud (described as the Jews’ second holiest book) “determines that the ‘matzos’ of Atonement Day [sic] must be kneaded ‘with blood’ from non-Jews. The preference is for the blood of youths after raping them.” [98]

This was a favorite motif of the late King Feisal of Saudi Arabia, who not only insisted that Jews carried out the ritual murder of children, but argued that this proved “the extent of their [the Jews’] hatred and malice toward non-Jewish peoples.” [99]

On the eve of the new millennium, the Arab writers’ weekly organ in Damascus brought the blood libel up to date with the following literary gem:

The [Passover] Matzo of Israel is soaked with the blood of the Iraqis, descendants of the Babylonians, the Lebanese, the descendants of the Sidonese, and the Palestinians, the descendants of the Canaanites. This Matzo is kneaded by American weaponry and the missiles of hatred pointed at both Muslim and Christian Arabs. [100]

On the first day of the third Christian millennium, the Syrian weekly escalated its Israelphobic attacks on the “notorious Camp David Accords” and the “dirty Satanic methods used [by the Zionist Entity] ... to destroy the fabric of Egyptian society.” These “Zionist” methods included spreading AIDS among Arab youngsters by sending “pretty HIV-positive Jewish prostitutes to Egypt and dispensing chewing gum to arouse sexual lust.” [101] This absurd calumny—widely diffused among Egyptians and Palestinians—was no doubt grist for the mill of Syrian opponents of any “normalization” with Israel.

The West eventually received an all-too-rare public glimpse of the brutal anti-Jewish bigotry so commonplace in the Arab world when the young Syrian president, Bashar Al-Assad, welcomed Pope John Paul II on a historic visit to Damascus in early May 2001. The Syrian host did his best to fuse together in a single sentence the core message of European Christian and Islamic Judeophobia. It was a memorable feat of mindless vilification:

They [Israelis and Jews] try to kill all the principles of divine faiths with the same mentality of betraying Jesus Christ and torturing Him, and in the same way they tried to commit treachery against the Prophet Muhammad. [102]

The anti-Jewish poison that rose so naturally to Assad’s lips has by now become a staple feature of the Palestinian Authority’s educational program. In Palestinian textbooks today, reference to Jews is minimal, except for negative generalizations that attribute to them character traits of trickery, greed, and barbarity. They also insinuate that Jews never keep agreements as Muslims do. [103] The Jewish connection to the Holy Land is generally denied or else confined to antiquity and virtually ignored after the Roman period. There is no reference to Jewish holy places or to any special connection of the Jews or of Judaism to the city of Jerusalem. [104] Hebrew is not even considered to be one of the languages of the land, and Zionism is mentioned only in the context of an alien intrusion, invasion, or infiltration. The State of Israel is not acknowledged at all and its internationally recognized territory is referred to only by terms such as the “interior” or the “1948 lands.” By definition, the Jewish state is presented as a colonialist usurper and occupier. [105] Brutal, inhuman, and greedy, the Jewish state is held exclusively responsible for obliterating Palestinian national identity, destroying the Palestinian economy, and expropriating Palestinian lands, water, and villages. [106]

The maps in Palestinian textbooks, without exception, disregard Israel’s existence and that of its 5.5 million inhabitants. The Palestine that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea is designated as purely and exclusively Arab. [107] The overall picture that emerges is that the Jews, Zionism, and Israel have no legitimate claims whatsoever to an Arab and Muslim land called Palestine. Nor do Jews have any historic link to Jerusalem. Muslim and Christian holy places are evoked, but there is no Jewish claim to David’s City or to the site of Solomon’s Temple. If this historical falsification were not enough, there is the equally absurd and parallel assertion that the Palestinian Arabs (supposedly as direct descendants of the Canaanites) historically preceded the Jews in the land of Israel.

Hence it is no surprise to find Islamic authors such as Safi Naz Kallam freely quoted in the official PA newspaper as asserting “that there is no people or land named Israel,” only Zionist thieves unfit to establish a nation or have their own language and religion; or to discover that the Jews are defamed as “Shylocks of the land,” busy emptying Palestinian pockets; [108] or to learn that there has been a greater Zionist plan of expansion fixed in stone ever since The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was allegedly concocted by Herzl in 1897. [109] Naturally, the theme of Zionist expansion is rarely evoked without reference to the original sins of racism, colonialism, and Nazism. Al Hayat Al-Jadeeda never tires of reminding its readers, for example, that “the racist Zionist entity has been implementing various forms of terrorism on a daily basis which are a repetition of the Nazi terror.” [110] The “Israeli colonialist occupation of Palestine” is pithily characterized by the director-general of the PA Information Ministry as a “Talmudic offensive which tears the pages of the Koran, and which offends the Master of Prophets, Muhammad, Allah’s blessing be with him, and the Blessed Virgin, mother of Christ.” [111]

Palestinian clerics, intellectuals, and writers, have not hesitated in recent years to dismiss or distort the historical reality of the Holocaust, even as they accuse Zionism of being the heir of Nazism. An article by Hiri Manzour in the official Palestinian newspaper on April 13, 2001, asserted that “the figure of six million Jews cremated in the Nazi Auschwitz camps is a lie,” while pretending that this hoax was promoted by Jews as part of their international “marketing operation.” [112] The “big lie” technique, first perfected by Hitler and Goebbels, is, however, by no means confined to Holocaust-related issues. Palestinian officials do not shrink, for instance, from the most outlandish and libelous allegations about Israeli “crimes against humanity.”

At the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on March 17, 1997, Nabil Ramlawi stunned delegates by declaring that “Israeli authorities ... infected by injection 300 Palestinian children with the HIV virus during the years of the intifada.” The commander of the Palestinian General Security Service in Gaza no less mendaciously blamed Israel for encouraging “Russian Jewish girls with AIDS to spread the disease among Palestinian youth.” [113] The PA minister of supplies, Abdel Hamid al-Quds, even had the gall to inform the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot that:

Israel is distributing food containing material that causes cancer and hormones that harm male virility and spoiled food products ... in order to poison and harm the Palestinian population. [114]

In the same twisted vein, Suha Arafat, wife of the PA president, at a press conference in the presence of Hillary Clinton (then first lady), falsely accused Israel of deliberately poisoning Palestinian air and water. Yasser Arafat himself, at the 2001 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, shocked his distinguished audience by insisting in front of Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres that Israel was using depleted uranium and nerve gas against Palestinian civilians. Film clips from official PA television were suitably fabricated to show the alleged victims racked by convulsions and vomiting. In other cases there were scenes of rape and murder that had supposedly been carried out by Israeli soldiers “reenacted” for the cameras. [115] Such anti-Semitic incitement and falsifications should not be trivialized or reduced to a mere annex of the Palestinian political struggle against Israeli occupation, as the conventional wisdom usually presents it. The latest intifada has made it transparently clear that Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim grievances against the Jewish state cannot be satisfied simply by Israeli territorial and political concessions.

The antagonism not only lies far deeper and goes well beyond the issue of “settlements,” but extends to the entire Jewish national project, to Israel’s very existence in the Middle East, to the rejection of what that great humanitarian and moral philosopher Saddam Hussein has repeatedly called the “criminal Zionist entity.” We need to recognize that a culture of hatred has arisen that has become an end in itself, rather than a form of politics by other means.

Israel as a “Diabolical Abstraction”

In the current Arab dispensation, Israel is not only another face of European racism or Nazism, but actually “a double Nazism.” [116] To quote that other renowned political moralist, President Assad of Syria, Israel is “more racist than the Nazis.” Fiamma Nirenstein has starkly summed up the true state of affairs as follows:

Israel has been transformed into little more than a diabolical abstraction, not a country at all but a malignant force embodying every possible negative attribute—aggressor, usurper, sinner, occupier, corrupter, infidel, murderer, barbarian.... The uncomplicated sentiment produced by these caricatures is neatly captured by the latest hit song in Cairo, Damascus and East Jerusalem. Its title: “I Hate Israel.” [117]

This frightening image of the Jewish state as the incarnation of malignant evil naturally encourages the idea that all the Jews of Israel should be wiped out. On such a soil fertilized by demonology, the cult of martyrdom more readily flourishes and loses its last moral inhibitions. The Muslim fundamentalist clergy play a special role in this diabolical cycle of incitement. In June 2001 the PA television broadcast Sheikh Ibrahim Mahdi’s sermon blessing “whoever has put a belt of explosives on his body or on his sons and plunged into the midst of the Jews.” [118] There are literally thousands of such sermons preaching violence against Jews. Equally horrifying is the way that Arab and Palestinian columnists ecstatically hail the suicide bombers who destroy innocent Israeli lives as well as their own. Such terrorists enjoy moral support in opinion polls from over three-quarters of all Palestinians. However, the jihad against Israel is seen by the Islamists in particular, not only as a military-political battle for the inalienable “sacred Muslim soil” (Waqf) of Palestine, but also as a struggle against a much larger force—whether it be America or the occult power of the Jews.

For the best-known leader of Hizballah in Lebanon, Ayatollah Fadlallah, the State of Israel is simply a military arm of the wider Jewish conspiracy, the nucleus for spreading the Jews’ economic and cultural domination; according to Fadlallah, there is a “world Jewish movement working to deprive Islam of its positions of actual power”; the Jews wish to control the economic potential and resources of the Islamic world, to weaken it spiritually over the question of Jerusalem and geographically over Palestine. [119] For Fadlallah, this is a battle for culture itself, even more than for Palestinian land or for Jerusalem. It is an apocalyptic, Manichaean vision of conflict. As Martin Kramer puts it, this is “a view of Muslim and Jew locked in a total confrontation which will continue until one side completely subjugates the other.” [120]

Any peace agreement with Israel would, in the eyes of the Islamists, fatally subject the Muslim world to complete Jewish domination. According to Hamas spokesman Ibrahim Ghawshah, if there were ever a compromise between Arabs and Israelis, then “Israel will dominate the region like Japan dominates Southeast Asia, and the Arabs will all become employees of the Jews.” [121]

The specter of “Jewish domination” that underpins contemporary Islamic anti-Semitism is part of its comprehensive vision of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. This is a worldview that has steadily gathered force since the crushing Arab defeat at the hands of Israel in 1967. That humiliating loss was not just a blow to Arab pride, machismo, and national ambition, but a reflection for many Muslims of the crisis of Islam—of a lethargic, backward society and culture defeated by a powerful, modern, technologically advanced and highly motivated enemy. The secularist pan-Arab nationalism and Arab socialism that had previously held sway were partly discredited. In their place came a new trend toward seeing Islam as engaged in a fateful battle for civilization. [122] Israel was henceforth anathematized as part of the ascendant, powerful Occident. In an echo of neo-Marxist rhetoric, the “Zionist invaders” were perceived as white settler colonizers threatening the cultural identity of Islam itself.

Shortly after the disaster of June 1967, the more conservative fundamentalists exacerbated and sharpened the traditional image of Zionism and the Jews into something so utterly vile and perverse that it could only merit total eradication. [123] In point of fact, Muslim Arab anti-Semitism of the late 1960s was already genocidal in its implications. Virtually all the Arab theologians assembled in Cairo in 1968 denoted Jews as “enemies of God” and “enemies of humanity”; as a criminal riffraff rather than as a people; their state was seen as the illegitimate culmination of allegedly immutable and permanently depraved characteristics. As their holy books amply demonstrated, “evil, wickedness, breach of vows, and money worship” were “inherent qualities” in the Jews, which had become horrifyingly visible in their conquest of Palestine. [124] In line with this conservative Islamic trend of thought, President Sadat of Egypt on April 25, 1972, referred to the Jews as “a nation of liars and traitors, contrivers of plots, a people born for deeds of treachery,” who would soon be “condemned to humiliation and misery,” as prophesied in the Koran. [125] The head of the Academy of Islamic Research, Dr. Abdul Halim Mahmoud, was even more explicit, in an important 1974 book published a year after the Yom Kippur War:

Allah commands the Muslims to fight the friends of Satan wherever they are found. Among the friends of Satan—indeed, among the foremost friends of Satan in our present age—are the Jews. [126]

Since the 1973 war, despite twenty years of peace with Egypt, at least two generations of Muslims have been systematically taught to hate the Jewish and Israeli devils. Hence it has become commonplace that Israeli leaders consistently are portrayed as monsters in Arab caricatures, whether it be former prime minister Ehud Barak in Nazi regalia, hands dripping with blood, or Ariel Sharon rising out of a coffin with a swastika on its side. The popular TV station Al-Jazeera brings this kind of incendiary incitement daily into millions of Arab homes, [127] repeatedly providing images of a demonic Israel that deliberately spreads drugs, vice, and prostitution into the Arab world and gasses the Palestinians or deliberately poisons their food and water. This is a criminal nation led by a bloodthirsty, cannibalistic ogre who devours Palestinian children every morning for breakfast.

Holocaust Denial and Appropriation of Nazi Symbols

Arab and Muslim anti-Semites have in recent decades annexed the symbols and expressions of European anti-Semitism even as they “Islamicized” its language. A particularly significant example where Arab anti-Semitism has proven itself virtually identical with recent neo-Nazi, racist, and “anti-Zionist” forms of Western Judeophobia is the issue of Holocaust denial. Indeed, in recent years this has become a central plank of Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism. [128] One finds a growing readiness in the Arab world to believe that the Jews consciously invented the “Auschwitz lie,” the “hoax” of their own extermination, as part of a truly diabolical plan to achieve world domination. In this super-Machiavellian scenario, the satanic archetype of the conspiratorial Jew—author and beneficiary of the greatest “myth” of the twentieth century—achieves a gruesome and novel apotheosis.

One of the attractions of Holocaust denial to Arabs clearly lies in its radical undermining of the moral foundations of the Israeli state. The first flickerings of Middle Eastern “Holocaust revisionism” had, in fact, already surfaced in the 1980s. In 1983, Mahmoud Abbas (better known today as Abu Mazen), who subsequently emerged as the chief PLO architect of the Oslo Peace Accords, wrote a Holocaust denial book entitled The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and the Zionist Movement. In it he suggested that the number of Jewish victims of the Shoah was “even fewer than one million.” [129] In the 1980s, a former Moroccan army officer, Ahmed Rami, also began to develop a much more full-fledged and violently anti-Semitic Holocaust denial campaign from Stockholm, Sweden, where he founded “Radio Islam.” Under the cover of “anti-Zionism” and ostensibly defending the Palestinian cause, Rami called for “a new Hitler” who would rally the West and Islam against the cancer of “Jewish power,” and free it from the mendacious yoke of “Talmudism” and the Holocaust industry. [130]

In Iran, too, beginning in the early 1980s, an embryonic form of Holocaust denial already existed alongside Stürmer-like caricatures of the “Talmudic Jew,” the obsessive promotion of the Protocols myth, and repeated calls to eradicate the Zionist cancer from the face of the earth. [131] Holocaust denial was a logical final step for militant, Khomeini-style radicalism that totally demonizes Zionism, seeing in it a uniquely malevolent and insidious twentieth-century reincarnation of the “subversive and cunning spirit of Judaism.” [132]

Against this historic background, it is no great surprise to find the present-day leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, recently claiming:

There is evidence which shows that Zionists had close relations with German Nazis and exaggerated statistics on Jewish killings. There is even evidence on hand that a large number of non-Jewish hooligans and thugs of Eastern Europe were forced to emigrate to Palestine as Jews ... to instill in the heart of the Islamic world an anti-Islamic state under the guise of supporting the victims of racism. [133]

The mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrima Subri, not to be outdone, told the New York Times in March 2000:

We believe the number of six million is exaggerated. The Jews are using this issue, in many ways, also to blackmail the Germans financially.... The Holocaust is protecting Israel. [134]

Other Palestinians have also become explicitly defamatory in recent years about the Holocaust. assan al-Agha, a professor at the Islamic University in Gaza City, declared on a PA cultural affairs television program in 1997:

The Jews view it [the Holocaust] as a profitable activity so they inflate the number of victims all the time. In another ten years, I do not know what number they will reach.... As you know, when it comes to economics and investments, the Jews have been very experienced ever since the days of The Merchant of Venice. [135]

Seif Ali Al-Jarwan, writing a year later in the Palestinian newspaper Al Hayat Al-Jadeeda, also invoked the shadow of Shylock, representing “the image of the greedy, cunning, evil, and despised Jews” who had succeeded in brainwashing American and European public opinion about the existence of the Shoah.

They concocted horrible stories of gas chambers which Hitler, they claimed, used to burn them alive. The press overflowed with pictures of Jews being gunned down ... or being pushed into gas chambers.... The truth is that such persecution was a malicious fabrication by the Jews. [136]

Arab anti-Semites invariably see the story of the Holocaust as a Zionist plot “in order to lead the world astray.” [137] According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar, “this was done with the aim of motivating the Jews to emigrate to Israel and to blackmail the Germans for money as well as to achieve world support for the Jews.” [138]

The Jewish state is regarded in these circles as existing and prospering primarily by virtue of “the Holocaust lie.” This is “the glue which holds the Jews together,” according to the Lebanese writer and politician Dr. Isaam Naaman. [139] Others, such as Mahmoud Al- Khatib, writing in the Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yom, rely more on Western Holocaust “revisionists” when they mistakenly claim that there is “no proof” of the Shoah except for “the conflicting testimonies of a few Jewish ‘survivors.’” At most, according to Al-Khatib, Hitler murdered about 300,000 Jews, and he killed them, not because they were Jews, “but rather because they betrayed Germany.” [140]

A particularly sinister example of this popular genre is the article by the editor of Tishreen, Syria’s leading daily, which two years ago accused the Zionists of cynically inflating the Holocaust “to astronomic proportions” and using it “to deceive international public opinion, win its empathy and blackmail it.” Israel and the Jewish organizations, he wrote, encourage “their distorted version of history” to squeeze ever more funds from Germany and other European states in restitution payments, but they also use the Holocaust “as a sword hanging over the necks of all who oppose Zionism.” [141] However, the Zionists had been struck with fear by the questions beginning to be raised about the Holocaust by writers such as Robert Faurisson, David Irving, Arthur Butz, and other “revisionists” who were leaving their mark on public opinion and the media. According to the Syrian view, the Zionist effort to paralyze human memory, logic, and discussion was bound to fail:

Israel, that presents itself as the heir of Holocaust victims, has committed and still commits much more terrible crimes than those committed by the Nazis. The Nazis did not expel a whole nation nor bury people and prisoners alive, as the Zionists did. [11421]

But the European “revisionist” most frequently mentioned as a source for Arab Holocaust deniers was the French left-wing intellectual (and convert to Islam) Roger Garaudy. Indeed, the trial and conviction of Garaudy in France in 1998 for “négationisme” would make him a hero in much of the Middle East. [143] Among his admirers was the former president of Iran, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who in a sermon on Tehran Radio, declared himself fully convinced that “Hitler had only killed 20,000 Jews and not six million,” adding that “Garaudy’s crime derives from the doubt he cast on Zionist propaganda.” [144]

Rafsanjani is the same “moderate” cleric who only a couple of months ago proclaimed on “Jerusalem Day” in Iran that “one atomic bomb would wipe out Israel without a trace” while the Islamic world would only be damaged rather than destroyed by Israeli nuclear retaliation. [145] In the Iranian case, we have an example of a genocidal Israelphobia and terrorism driven by the cult of jihad (deeply anti-Semitic in its premises) that remorselessly advocates the eradication of “the tumor called Israel.” It is all too characteristic of this fanatical mindset that the real Nazi Holocaust inflicted upon the Jews should be so strenuously denied by those that would repeat it. [146]

The Garaudy affair, stemming from the French author’s 1995 book The Founding Myths of Modern Israel (which argues that Jews essentially fabricated the Holocaust for financial and political gain), is revealing precisely because it exposed the vitality of the new Holocaust-denial anti-Semitism across the Muslim and Arab worlds. The Arabic translations of Garaudy’s work became best-sellers in many Middle Eastern countries, though in France itself he was charged with inciting racial hatred. [147] Many Arab professionals eagerly offered their services to help Garaudy. Seven members of the Beirut Bar Association volunteered to defend the writer in France itself, and the Arab Lawyers’ Union in Egypt dispatched a legal team to Paris in his support. Messages of solidarity and financial contributions (including a generous donation from the wife of the United Arab Emirates leader) inundated the Arab Gulf newspaper which had published an appeal on his behalf. [148] However, the binding ideological cement behind this outpouring of solidarity for Garaudy was a Protocols-style anti-Semitism which regards it almost as a self-evident truth that the Holocaust was indeed a Zionist invention. Hence the very favorable reaction to Garaudy’s thesis by so many Arab newspapers and magazines and by clerics like Sheikh Muhammad Al-Tantawi, politicians like Rafiq Hariri, and intellectuals like Muhammad Hassanin Haikal. [149]

Garaudy could find such fertile soil among Arabs because, over many decades, pernicious legends about Nazi-Zionist collaboration, the portrayal of “Zionism as Nazism,” and the belief that the Jews manipulated the Holocaust to justify Israel’s establishment have become axiomatic. [150] Arab authors have long referred to Israeli “genocidal” policy, compared Auschwitz to so-called “Zionist camps in Palestine,” equated the 1982 invasion of Lebanon with the German blitzkrieg, and repeated the claim that Zionism and Nazism have identical ideological origins. [151] Arab writers have also frequently pretended that major Jewish financial interests were behind the “Holocaust lie”; or else, that the political pressures of the international Zionist lobby forcibly foisted the official remembrance of this (purely fictional) event on a brainwashed public. Thus for a Middle Eastern audience Garaudy’s arguments represented no revelation per se. They were rather a confirmation of preexisting Arab images concerning allpowerful, “criminal” Jews and Zionists. These monsters had conspired to invent a nonexistent Nazi Holocaust, even as they executed their own “genocidal crimes” against the Palestinians.

It is no less revealing that Palestinian intellectuals, clerics, and legislators have shown such reluctance to incorporate any aspect of the Shoah into their teaching curricula, fearing that it might strengthen Zionist claims to Palestine. [152] Hatem Abd Al-Qader, a Hamas leader, explained in a recent internal Palestinian debate that such instruction would represent “a great danger for the formation of a Palestinian consciousness”; it would directly threaten Palestinian political dreams and religious aspirations, such as the promise by Allah that the whole of Palestine was a sacred possession to the Arabs. Other Palestinian intellectuals have mentioned alleged “doubts” about the “veracity” of the Shoah among European thinkers and on the international scene; or they have called for a more concentrated focus on Zionist “terror,” “cruelty,” and “massacres” against defenseless Palestinians; or they simply state that any reference to Jewish victims of the Holocaust must be minimized, if not excluded. [153]

According to Palestinian intellectual Abdallah Horani, Israel and the Zionists should hardly be offered Palestinian assistance to propagate their “lies” and their “false history” of the Shoah. In his view, the very raising of this issue was part of an American-Israeli plot to efface Palestinian national memory in favor of the globalizing “culture of peace” and to prepare the ground for an ideological-cultural invasion of Palestine by the West. [154] The head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Sheikh Nafez Azzam, was briefer and more absolute: “To wish to teach the Shoah in Palestinian schools contradicts the order of the universe.” [155]

The “Zionist Entity”: Refusal to Accept Israel’s Existence

A central feature of Arab anti-Zionist anti-Semitism has been and remains the categorical refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist and its moral legitimacy. This fundamental premise has been aggravated by an education relentlessly directed toward hatred of Israel and the Jews. In this propaganda, Israel is the scapegoat for the continuous Arab inability to achieve political unity, economic development, or other national goals. Frustration at the failure to modernize successfully has led to a displacement of rage onto Jews and the Jewish state as an “agent of Western imperialism, globalization, and an invasive modernist culture in the region.” But there are some Arab rulers such as Saddam Hussein who have gone much further in both their rhetoric and actions. They speak of the “Zionist entity” not only as an alien, artificial “implant” but as a multitentacled “octopus,” a “deadly cancer” or an “AIDS virus” that must be comprehensively wiped out. [156] During the past year such statements calling for Israel’s extinction have repeatedly been made both by the secular pan-Arab nationalists of the ruling Ba’ath party in Iraq, as well as by the ayatollahs in Iran. For Saddam Hussein, no less than for the Muslim fundamentalists, “Palestine is Arab and must be liberated from the river to the sea and all the Zionists who emigrated to the land of Palestine must leave.” [157]

There is an implicit as well as an explicit anti-Semitism that underlies this exclusivist nationalist rhetoric, so visceral in Arab caricatures, sharpened by what has become a completely dehumanized portrait of Israelis. They are branded as murderers, criminals, riffraff, the scum of the earth. Israelis are simply a collection of rootless, nomadic Jews who illegally stole a land that was not their own in order to create a “Nazified” state based on dreams of world domination as laid out in the Protocols. This “artificial” and evil state, which exploits the “imperialistic” Judaic religion and its concept of a “chosen people” to seize ever more Arab land, is analogous to a spreading cancer that must be surgically removed. [158]

Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism has always had a sharp political edge that derives from the intensity of the Arab-Israeli conflict. But the Palestinian territorial dimension should not blind us to the fact that anti-Semitism has an autonomous dynamic of its own. [159] There is a distinctive, underlying structure to Arab-Muslim anti-Semitic ideology, beyond immediate political circumstances, government propaganda, the territorial conflict with Israel, and the instrumental use of anti-Jewish stereotypes and symbols imported from the West.

We have discussed some of the indigenous sources of this anti-Jewish strand of thinking in early Islam itself and the consequences of the humiliated status of the dhimmi under Muslim rule.

The spread of the “blood libel” and other anti-Jewish stereotypes among Christian Arabs in the nineteenth century and their adoption by Muslims in the past hundred years were also noted. [160]

Modern Arab nationalism, too, constructed an ideology of “Arabism” (al-’uruba) inimical to the Jewish presence in the Middle East.

It facilitated a generally stereotypical way of thinking about all “outsiders” (including Jews) as “aliens” and enemies.

Already in Nasser’s Egypt during the 1950s and in the Ba’athist movements of Syria and Iraq, one sees how easily a Western and even a “Nazified” anti-Semitism could be grafted onto the pan-Arab vision of a single, powerful, homogeneous Arabic-speaking nation. The historic resentment against Western colonialism and imperialism, as well as the bitterness provoked by successive defeats at the hands of Israeli Jews, greatly aggravated this frame of thought. Conspiracy theories postulating an “international Zionism” (conceptually merged with “world Jewry”) locked in eternal enmity to the Arab nation have been as widespread among Arab nationalists as they are in fundamentalist circles. [161]

Secular pan-Arab nationalists, already before 1967, regarded Israel’s existence and consolidation as a “civilizational challenge,” a pathological symptom of the weakness of the Arabs and their backwardness. What was particularly incomprehensible was that the previously powerless and defenseless Jewish dhimmis had successfully risen up and created an independent Jewish state able to defeat several Arab armies on the battlefield. One can perhaps best explain the peculiar emotional rage behind Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism as an attempt to deflect the unresolved traumas that Israeli military and technological prowess inflicted on the Arab psyche.

The Six-Day War greatly intensified the demonology of Zionism and the Jews, especially among Muslim fundamentalists. There was a deep sense of humiliation over the loss of Islamic territory in 1967 and the capture of the holy city of Jerusalem by the Israelis; not by accident, fundamentalists now posed the conflict in terms of a struggle between Islam and the Jews—a battle of culture, civilization and religion. [162] The Jewish victory became for them a symptom of Islam’s malaise and degradation—its inability to recover the religious sources of its past glory and overcome the challenges posed by a “decadent” if ostensibly powerful Western modernity. A radical rejection of all things Western and the belief that only Islam was the solution (Islam huwa al-hal) henceforth went together with a new vision of the Jewish danger and of Israel as a total enemy and an existential threat.

This existential fear behind much of Islamic and Arab anti-Semitism recalls the Nazi paradigm of Jew-hatred and makes it seem particularly dynamic, volatile, and even genocidal in its implications. Israel and the Jews are perceived not only as a military, political, and economic threat to the Arabs and Islam. They are also a symbol of all the phobias provoked by secularism and the “poisons” of Western culture—pornography, AIDS, prostitution, rock music, Hollywood, mass consumerism, crime, drugs, and alcoholism. [11631]

One of the most conspicuous features of contemporary Arab-Islamic anti-Semitism is the fixed, almost static quality of its underlying stereotypes. Jews are constantly denigrated as irremediably evil, corrupt, immoral, intriguing, deceitful, and greedy creatures, or they are vilified as racist, colonialist, and fascist “vampires” sucking Arab blood. Exactly twenty years ago, a prominent Egyptian scholar, Dr. Lutfi abd-al-’Adhim, wrote about the Jews and the Israel-Arab conflict in exactly the same anti-Semitic language that is so commonplace today:

For Jews are Jews; they have not changed over thousands of years: they embody treachery, meanness, deceit, and contempt for human values. They would devour the flesh of a living person and drink his blood for the sake of robbing his property. [164]

In this same article it is asserted that Jews were waging “a total war of annihilation ... against the Arab nation.” For Abd-al-’Adhim it was obvious that there was “no difference between the gangs of saboteurs ruling Israel and the Jewish lobbies across the globe.” He did at least have the honesty to admit that this was Arab anti-Semitism, while explaining that “our anti-Semitism is [directed] against Jewish Semites.” [165]

During the past twenty years, very little has changed in the basic repertoire and content of Arab anti-Semitism. But it has, unfortunately, become more widespread, intense, radicalized, and “Islamic” in character. In 1990 I wrote that “an anti-Jewish Arab ideology has crystallized and acquired its own momentum over the course of the last few decades, one that has distorted and blackened the image of the Jew in ways that were historically unprecedented for the Islamic world.” [166]

The conclusion to my book Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred, written more than a decade ago, still seems to me valid:

Popular myths about the Western betrayal of Palestine and about a sinister Jewish conspiracy to subvert Arabism and Islam will probably continue to flourish.... For at the heart of the Middle East problem for most Arabs is their emotional refusal to accept Israel and the right of the Jews to exercise any sovereignty in a Muslim domain. Neither in Arab nationalism nor in Islam can national independence and equality for Jews be tolerated. For Palestinians, too, who have eagerly hailed a cruel, brutal oppressor like Saddam Hussein as their hero and liberator, “peace” and “justice” seem to mean little more than a demand for the complete Arabization of the Jewish state. [167]

In my closing sentence I warned that if the ravages of Muslim and Arab anti-Semitism were not halted, this failure “can only lead the Middle East further down the road to self-destruction.” Never has that warning seemed more apposite than it does today.


[1] Bernard Lewis, Semites and Antisemites (New York/London: Norton, 1986), p. 286.

[2] Ibid., p. 258. See also the pioneering if somewhat anachronistic study of Y. Harkabi, Arab Attitudes to Israel (Jerusalem: Keter, 1972; London: Vallentine & Co., 1973), p. 227. Harkabi thought that Arab anti-Semitism was mainly literary and political, a product of government propaganda and elites, without popular foundations. Today this is clearly not the case.

[3] Lewis, Semites and Antisemites, p. 259.

[4] See Robert S. Wistrich, Hitler’s Apocalypse (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986). In this book I argued that Arab and Islamic anti-Semitism had genocidal potential and that it saw the State of Israel as the incarnation of evil itself, deserving of the death sentence. I suggested that Arab-Muslim “visions of strangling Israel and throwing her into the sea, displayed an obvious affinity with Nazism” (ibid., p. 183). I believe that this analysis has been amply vindicated in recent years.

[5] Bernard Lewis, “The Arab World Discovers Anti-Semitism,” Commentary, May 1986, pp. 30-35; Robert S. Wistrich, Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (New York: Pantheon, 1991), pp. 252–53.

[6] See Moshe Pearlman, Mufti of Jerusalem (London: V. Gollancz, 1947), p. 50, for the congratulatory telegram of Nov. 2, 1943 from Himmler on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. The telegram began by specifically recalling that the Nazi Party had inscribed on its flag “the extermination of World Jewry.” The complicity could hardly be more evident.

[7] Ibid., p. 49. Haj Amin al-Husseini’s speech began with several anti-Jewish quotations from the Koran. On Mar. 1, 1944, speaking again on Radio Berlin, the mufti of Jerusalem called on the Arabs to rise up and fight: “Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you” (ibid., p. 51). See Wistrich, Hitler’s Apocalypse, pp. 164–71, for Haj Amin’s belief in the strong ideological similarities between Islam and National Socialism, especially in their authoritarianism, anticommunism, and hatred of the Jews.

[8] By 1970 there were already nine separate editions of the Protocols in the Muslim Arab world. See Harkabi, Arab Attitudes to Israel, p. 518. Today there are as many as 60 different Arab-language editions, easily obtainable in the bookshops of big cities in the Muslim world.

[9] Misbahul Islam Faruqi, ed., Jewish Conspiracy and the Muslim World (Karachi, 1967) is a typical example in English of Muslim use of the Protocols.

[10] See Hillel Halkin, “The Return of Anti-Semitism,” Commentary, February 2002, p. 31, for the recent Protocols TV series and “other murderous lunacies about Israel circulating in the Arab and Muslim world.”

[11] Norman Stillman, “Antisemitism in the Contemporary Arab World,” in Michael Curtis, ed., Antisemitism in the Contemporary World (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1986), pp. 70–71.

[12] Wistrich, Antisemitism, p. 253.

[13] Daniel Pipes, “On Arab Rejectionism,” Commentary, December 1997, p. 47.

[14] Anti-Semitism in the Egyptian Media (New York: Anti-Defamation League, 1997).

[15] Ibid., p. 3.

[16] Halkin, “Return of Anti-Semitism,” p. 31.

[17] For illustrative quotations, see Yossef Bodansky, Islamic Anti-Semitism as a Political Instrument (Houston: Freeman Center for Strategic Studies, 1999). Unfortunately, this compendium lacks any depth analysis of the phenomenon. The most up-to-date assemblage of the data is in Hebrew, edited by Reuven Ehrlich, Incitement and Propaganda against Israel, the Jewish People and the West (Herzlia: HaMercaz leMoreshet Hamodi’in, January 1, 2002).

[18] Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), pp. 1–66. Mark R. Cohen, “Islam and the Jews: Myth, Counter-Myth, History,” Jerusalem Quarterly 33 (1986): 125–37 discusses both the idyllic and lachrymose views of Jewish-Muslim relations through the centuries.

[19] Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam (Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh-Dickinson University Press, 1985). This is an important pioneering study of the subject.

[20] See Norman A. Stillman, ed., The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1979), pp. 233–46, for the translation of Maimonides’s text. The quotation is on p. 241.

[21] Ibid., pp. 214-16; Avraham Grossman, “The Economic and Social Background of Hostile Attitudes to Jews in the Ninth and Tenth Century Muslim Caliphate,” in Shmuel Almog, ed., Anti-Semitism through the Ages (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1988), pp. 171–87. See S. D. Goitein, Jews and Arabs: Their Contacts through the Ages, 3rd ed. (New York: Schocken, 1974), pp. 125–211 for a more positive assessment.

[22] See Lewis, Jews of Islam, pp. 34 ff.; Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, pp. 51–77, on these and other humiliating aspects of the dhimmi condition.

[23] Bat Ye’or, Oriental Jewry and the Dhimmi Image in Contemporary Nationalism (Geneva: Avenir-WOJAC, 1979), p. 3.

[24] Jane S. Gerber, “Antisemitism and the Muslim World,” in D. Berger ed., History and Hate: The Dimensions of Anti-Semitism (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1986), p. 84.

[25] On the abject oppression of Moroccan Jews that emerges from the reports of foreign travelers since the late seventeenth century, see Stillman, “Antisemitism in the Contemporary Arab World,” pp. 303–4, 306–17, 367–73. See also David Littman, “Jews under Muslim Rule in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Wiener Library Bulletin 26 (1975): 65–76.

[26] Jacob Barnai, “‘Blood Libels’ in the Ottoman Empire of the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries,” in Almog, Antisemitism, pp. 289 ff.; Jacob Landau, “Ritual Murder Accusations and Persecutions of Jews in Nineteenth Century Egypt” (in Hebrew) Sefunot 5 (1961): 417–60. On the ritual murder case of 1840 in Damascus, see Stillman, “Antisemitism in the Contemporary Arab World,” pp. 393–402, and the comprehensive analysis in Jonathan Frankel, The Damascus Affair (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

[27] Stillman, “Antisemitism in the Contemporary Arab World,” p. 107 claims that the beginnings of anti-Semitism in the Arab world lay in the efforts of the partially emancipated Christian minority to protect itself against the “economic competition” of another less assimilated minority, the Jews. See, however, Bat Ye’or, Juifs et Chrétiens sous l’Islam. Les dhimmis face au défi intégriste (Paris: Berg International, 1994), pp. 263 ff., who demonstrates the self-hatred and boomerang effects of Arab Christian Judeophobia and anti-Zionism in sapping the position of Christian dhimmi in the Middle East.

[28] Hava Lazarus-Yafeh, “Jews and Christians in Medieval Muslim Thought,” in Robert S. Wistrich, ed., Demonizing the Other: Antisemitism, Racism and Xenophobia (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1999), pp. 108–17. Also Mark R. Cohen, Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).

[29] Wistrich, Antisemitism, pp. 202–3.

[30] Haggai Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred in the Islamic Tradition and the Koranic Exegesis,” in Almog, Antisemitism, pp. 161–69.

[31] Wistrich, Antisemitism, p. 200.

[32] Ben-Shammai, “Jew-hatred,” pp. 164–66. See Gerber, “Anti-Semitism and the Muslim World,” pp. 78–79.

[33] G. Vajda, “Juifs et musulmans selon le hadith,” Journal Historique 229 (1937): 57–129; see Lazarus-Yafeh, “Jews and Christians,” p. 113, on the Muslim argument of Tahrif, the accusation that both Jews and Christians had falsified their respective Scriptures.

[34] The Koran explicitly declares (Sura 5:82) that “the strongest in enmity against those who believe are the Jews and the idolaters.”

[35] Ronald L. Nettler, “Islamic Archetypes of the Jews: Then and Now,” in Robert S. Wistrich, ed., Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism in the Contemporary World (New York: New York University Press, 1990), pp. 78–83.

[36] Ronald L. Nettler, Past Trials and Present Tribulations: A Muslim Fundamentalist’s View of the Jews (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1987), pp. 19–58. Qutb’s essay was reprinted in 1970 by the Saudi Arabian government.

[37] Ibid., p. 55.

[38] Pierre-André Taguieff, Les Protocoles des Sages de Sion. Faux et usages d’un faux, vol. I (Paris: Berg International, 1992), pp. 284–314.

[39] See Raphael Israeli, Fundamentalist Islam and Israel: Essays in Interpretation (New York: University Press of America, 1993), p. 155.

[40] Ibid., p. 148. Article 22 of the Hamas Covenant.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Esther Webman, Anti-Semitic Motifs in the Ideology of Hizballah and Hamas (Tel-Aviv: Tel-Aviv University, 1994), pp. 17–22.

[44] Ibid., pp. 8–9.

[45] Middle East Insight, March-April 1988, p. 10.

[46] David Menashri, “The Jews of Iran: Between the Shah and Khomeini,” in Sander Gilman and Steven T. Katz, eds., Anti-Semitism in Times of Crisis (New York: New York University Press, 1991), pp. 353–71.

[47] Raphael Israeli, “Islamikaze and Their Significance,” Terrorism and Political Violence 9:3 (Autumn 1997): 96–121, emphasizes the planned, premeditated style of the “suicides” organized by Muslim terrorists, which are designed to wreak maximum damage on the “abominable” Zionist enemy.

[48] Ibid., pp. 110–11.

[49] See Raphael Israeli, The Terrorist Masquerade (Shaarei Tikva, Israel: Ariel Center for Policy Research, 2001).

[50] See Holocaust Denial in the Middle East: The Latest Anti-Israel Propaganda Theme (New York: Anti-Defamation League, 2001).

[51] Quoted by Raphael Israeli, Arab and Islamic Antisemitism (Shaarei Tikva, Israel: Ariel Center for Policy Research, 2000), p. 18.

[52] France-Pays Arabes, July-August 1999.

[53] Al-Usbu al-Adabi, Nov. 27, 1999. Article by Jbara al-Barguti, “Shylock of New York and the Industry of Death” (Washington, D.C.: Memri [Middle East Media Research Institute], December 1999).

[54] Arch Puddington, “The Wages of Durban,” Commentary, November 2001. Also “Le Pogrom de Durban,” L’Arche, no. 524–25 (October- November 2001): 78–87.

[55] See Response (Simon Wiesenthal Center Report) 22:3 (Fall 2001): 3–6.

[56] Robert S. Wistrich, “The New Islamic Fascism,” Partisan Review 69:1 (2002): 32–4.

[57] Albert Speer, Spandau: The Secret Diaries (New York: Macmillan, 1976), p. 80.

[58] For a vivid account of the steady drumbeat of a malignant anti-Americanism in the Arab world, see Fouad Ajami, “The Sentry’s Solitude,” Foreign Affairs 80:6 (November/December 2001): 2–16. Ajami points out that terror shadowed the American presence in the Middle East throughout the 1990s. He does not, however, discuss the violent anti-Semitism that preceded and has been further exacerbated by the Pax Americana.

[59] Memri 226 (June 8, 2001) quotes the highest-ranking Palestinian Authority cleric, the Jerusalem mufti Sheikh Ikrem Sabri, as saying: “Our enemies [i.e., Israel] think that they scare our people. We tell them: inasmuch as you love life—the Muslim loves death and martyrdom. There is a great difference between he who loves the hereafter and he who loves this world. The Muslim loves death and [strives for] martyrdom.”

[60] In this context, Hitler’s consistent popularity in the Arab world is significant. See Wistrich, Antisemitism, p. 247. For a characteristic recent example, see the columnist Ahmad Ragab’s “Thanks to Hitler” in the government-sponsored Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar (quoted in Memri 208, Apr. 20, 2001).

[61] See Wistrich, Hitler’s Apocalypse, pp. 154–93; and Lewis, Semites and Antisemites, pp. 140–63. Lewis emphasizes that it was the Arab leadership that initiated approaches to Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945.

[62] One can find such conspiracy theories in the work of Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian Muslim fundamentalist writer executed by Nasser in 1966, who saw the struggle with the Jews as a cosmic and fateful war for Islam. See Nettler, Past Trials and Present Tribulations, pp. 44–57.

[63] See Yediot Aharonot, Dec. 28, 2001, pp. 10–13, 28–29, for a wide-ranging discussion in which the author took part.

[64] Response, Fall 2001, p. 9.

[65] Quoted in L’Arche, October-November 2001, p. 66. “Cette guerre se poursuivra, de plus en plus violente, jusqu’à ce que nous ayons vaincu les juifs.”

[66] Raphael Israeli, “Anti-Semitism Revived: The Impact of the Intifada on Muslim Immigrant Groups in Western Democracies,” Jerusalem Viewpoints 455 (June 1, 2001), published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

[67] See Actualité Juive 733 (Jan. 17, 2002): 6, 9–11, 22–24, 31–32, for different viewpoints—Israeli, French and French Jewish—on the rising anti-Semitism in France.

[68] Emmanuel Navon, “Pardon My French,” Jerusalem Post, Jan. 29, 2002.

[69] David Landau, “Jewish Angst in Albion,” Ha’aretz, Jan. 23, 2002.

[70] Op-ed article “To Anthrax” in Al-Risala, Nov. 7, 2001, by columnist Atallah Abu Al-Subh. The Hamas weekly in which this piece appeared is based in Gaza.

[71] Ahmad Al-Magdoub in Afaq Arabiya, Sept. 26, 2001 (Memri 281, Oct. 4, 2001).

[72] Editor Issam Al-Ghazi, Al-Maydan, Sept. 24, 2001. This is an independent Egyptian weekly (Memri 281).

[73] Memri 281.

[74] Memri 274 (Sept. 21, 2001). See the article by deputy editor Magdi Shandi and especially (on Sept. 17) by columnist Muhammad Mustagab.

[75] Al-Arabi, Sept. 16, 2001. The article was by columnist Ahmad Murad.

[76] Salim ‘Azzouz, Al-Ahrar, Sept. 17, 2001.

[77] Ammar Shammakh in Egyptian-based Afaq Arabiya, Sept. 19, 2001 (Memri 281).

[78] Tehran Times, Oct. 25, 2001. Islamic Republic News Agency, Oct. 24, 2001.

[79] Al Thawra, Sept. 19, 2001.

[80] Omayma Abdel-Latif, Al-Ahram Weekly Online, Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2001.

[81] Ahmad Al-Muslih, in Al-Dustour, Sept. 13, 2001 (Memri 270, Sept. 20, 2001).

[82] Memri 270. Article by Hayat Al-Hweiek ‘Atiya and Rakan Al-Majali, who added that Jews more than anyone “are capable of hiding a criminal act they perpetrate, and they can be certain that no one will ask them about what they do.”

[83] Interview for official Al-Azhar University Web site, (Memri 288, Oct. 17, 2001).

[84] Interview with Rod Nordland, Newsweek, Sept. 14, 2001.

[85] “Zionists Could Be Behind Attack on WTC and Pentagon,” Oct. 14, 2001, on Web site The “facts” behind the article come from Pakistan, although the site is registered to the State of Qatar Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs.

[86] Washington Post, Oct. 13, 2001. The Web site commissioned the opinion poll.

[87] Arab News.Com, Saudi English-language daily; posted on Nov. 5, 2001, by Hassan Tahsin.

[88] Iran Daily, Oct. 29, 2001.

[89] Islamic Republic News Agency, Oct. 25, 2001.

[90] Palestinian Daily Press Review, Sept. 24, 2001.

[91] Editor Hadez Al-Barghouthi, Al Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 17, 2001; also columnist Mahmoud bin Abd Al-Ghani Sabbagh in the Saudi newspaper Al- Riyadh, Oct. 15, 2001 (Memri 291, Oct. 25, 2001).

[92] See Tishreen, Jan. 31, 2000, editorial.

[93] Al Thawra, Feb. 22, 2000, editorial. Daily commentary report on Syrian radio, Feb. 24, 2000. See also Al Ba’ath, Feb. 10, 2000. “All those who saw Levy on television threatening Lebanon were reminded of the Nazi period.”

[94] Lebanese television footage from Feb. 28, 2000, showing David Levy’s speech to the Knesset threatening to “burn the soil of Lebanon” (in reprisal for Hizballah attacks) alongside footage of Hitler’s Nazi rallies.

[95] Al-Ittihad (United Arab Emirates daily), Feb. 25, 2000.

[96] Al-Watan (semi-independent Qatari daily), Feb. 21, 2000. Some of this material was compiled by the Anti-Defamation League. See ADL’s March 2000 background file on “Anti-Semitism and Demonization of Israel in the Arab Media” (January-February 2000).

[97] Anti-Semitic Images in the Egyptian Media (New York: Anti-Defamation League, 2001). On the extraordinary prevalence of hostile anti-Jewish attitudes across the political spectrum in Egypt, see Rivka Yadlin, An Arrogant, Oppressive Spirit: Anti-Zionism as Anti-Judaism in Egypt (Oxford/New York: Pergamon, 1989). Yadlin demonstrates just how closely Jews and Zionists were intertwined in modern Egyptian writing. “The abominable traits expressed in the behavior of Israel are perceived as singular, inherent and intrinsic in its very Jewish being. They are inherited within the Jewish community and are thus shared by the whole of Israel as well as by other Jews” (ibid., p. 105). Zionism, in the deepest sense, is regarded as being “the essence of Judaism.”

[98] Mahmoud Al-Said Al-Kurdi, Al Akhbar, Mar. 25, 2001.

[99] Al-Musawwar, Aug. 4, 1972, p. 13.

[100] Zbeir Sultan, “The Peace of Zion,” in ibid., Jan. 1, 2000 (Memri 67, Jan. 6, 2000).

[101] Ibid. See also Al Ahram, Apr. 29, 2001, which recalls Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi’s “revelations” that Libyan children had been injected with AIDS by foreign nurses. The government daily echoes the accusations of those who believe the CIA or Israeli Mossad was behind this crime.

[102] Syrian News Agency, May 5, 2001.

[103] Jews, Israel, and Peace in Palestinian School Textbooks, 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 (New York: Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, 2001), pp. 22–25.

[104] Ibid., p. 17.

[105] Ibid., p. 35.

[106] Ibid., pp. 28–29, 34–40.

[107] Ibid., p. 42.

[108] Al Hayat Al-Jadeeda, Nov. 5, 1997.

[109] Ibid., Nov. 30, 1997.

[110] Ibid., Sept. 3, 1997.

[111] Ibid., July 7, 1997.

[112] Ibid., Apr. 13, 2001. Hiri Manzour’s article, published on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, was provocatively entitled “The Fable of the Holocaust” to cause maximum offense.

[113] Ibid., May 15, 1997.

[114] Yediot Aharonot, June 25, 1997.

[115] Fiamma Nirenstein, “How Suicide Bombers Are Made,” Commentary, September 2001, pp. 53–55.

[116] Ibid., p. 54. The “double Nazism” quote is from a columnist in Egypt’s Al-Arabi in May 2001.

[117] Ibid.

[118] Ibid., p. 55.

[119] Martin Kramer, “The Salience of Islamic Fundamentalism,” Institute of Jewish Affairs 2 (October 1995): 5–6.

[120] Ibid., p. 6.

[121] Ibid., p. 8.

[122] See Fouad Ajami, The Arab Predicament: Arab Political Thought and Practice since 1967 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 50–76.

[123] D. F. Green ed., Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel, 3rd ed., (Geneva: Editions l’Avenir, 1976), p. 9.

[124] Kamal Ahmad Own, “The Jews Are the Enemies of Human Life,” ibid., pp. 19–24.

[125] Ibid., p. 91.

[126] Ibid., p. 95 Abdul Halim Mahmoud, Al-Jihad wa al-Nasr [Holy War and Victory] (Cairo, 1974), pp. 148–50.

[127] See Arieh Stav, Ha-Shalom. Caricatura Aravit [Peace: The Arab Caricature] (Tel Aviv/New York: Gefen Publishers, 1996), pp. 111–234. Fouad Ajami, “What the Arab World Is Watching,” New York Times Magazine, Nov. 18, 2001, describes the anti-American, anti-Zionist diet offered by Al-Jazeera.

[128] Eliahu Salpeter, “Anti-Semitism among the Arabs,” Ha’aretz, Feb. 9, 2000.

[129] See Holocaust Denial in the Middle East, pp. 5–6. Abu Mazen never publicly retracted his Holocaust denial book, despite a request to do so from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. He told the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv that he wrote the work at a time when the PLO was “at war with Israel.” After Oslo, he claimed, he would not have made such remarks. But now that Oslo is dead, does that mean Holocaust denial might again be considered politically expedient?

[130] See Per Ahlmark, “Reflections on Combating Anti-Semitism,” in Yaffa Zilbershats, ed., The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism (Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University, n.d.), pp. 59–66. Mr. Ahlmark, who cofounded the Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism, has called Rami’s Holocaust denial statements “the most vicious anti-Jewish campaign in Europe since the Third Reich.” Rami has been prosecuted in Swedish courts on three occasions. He was again convicted and fined in October 2000.

[131] See Imam (March and May 1984), a publication of the Iranian embassy in London. Also The Imam Against Zionism (Ministry of Islamic Guidance, the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1983) for Ayatollah Khomeini’s malevolent view of Israel. See also Emmanuel Sivan, “Islamic Fundamentalism, Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism,” in Wistrich, ed., Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism, pp. 74–84. Notes 55

[132] Olivier Carré, L’Utopie Islamique dans l’Orient Arabe (Paris, 1991), pp. 195-201. Robert S. Wistrich, “The Antisemitic Ideology in the Contemporary Islamic World,” in Zilbershats, ed., Rising Tide, pp. 67–74.

[133] Jerusalem Post, Apr. 25, 2001. A year earlier a conservative Iranian newspaper, the Tehran Times, had insisted in an editorial that the Holocaust was “one of the greatest frauds of the twentieth century.” This prompted a complaint by the British MP Louise Ellman to the Iranian ambassador in London. Agence France-Presse, May 14, 2000.

[134] New York Times, Mar. 26, 2000. Sabri added: “It’s certainly not our fault if Hitler hated the Jews. Weren’t they hated pretty much everywhere?”

[135] Quoted in Holocaust Denial in the Middle East, p. 12.

[136] “Jewish Control of the World Media,” Al Hayat al-Jadeeda, July 2, 1998 (translated in Memri, Special Dispatch 1). A recent crossword puzzle in the same Palestinian newspaper (Feb. 18, 1999) asked readers to guess the name of the “Jewish center for eternalizing the Holocaust and its lies.” The correct answer was Yad Vashem, the official Israeli Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

[137] “Their Holocaust and Our Cemetery,” in the Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yom, July 4, 1998.

[138] “The Holocaust, Netanyahu and Me,” Al-Akhbar, Sept. 25, 1998.

[139] Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Apr. 22, 1998 (translated by the Antisemitism Monitoring Forum).

[140] Al-Arab Al-Yom, Apr. 27, 1998 (translated by the Antisemitism Monitoring Forum at As is often the case with Holocaust denial literature, this article is full of confusion and ignorance, triumphantly asserting that 6 million Jews never lived in Germany before the war, as if the “Final Solution” was directed primarily at German Jewry, and the Nazis had never conquered the entire European continent.

[141] Muhammad Kheir al-Wadi, “The Plague of the Third Millennium,” Tishreen, Jan. 31, 2000.

[142] Ibid.

[143] Al-Ahram, Mar. 14, 1998, defended Garaudy by arguing inter alia that there was “no trace of the gas chambers” that were supposed to have existed in Germany. In fact, there were no gas chambers erected in Germany itself—all the death camps were located in Poland.

[144] Holocaust Denial in the Middle East, pp. 8–9.

[145] The remarks were made at Friday prayers held at the University of Tehran on Dec. 15, 2001, and widely reported in the world press. A day earlier on Iranian television Rafsanjani stated: “The establishment of the State of Israel is the worst event in history. The Jews living in Israel will have to migrate once more.” See Ehrlich, ed., Incitement and Propaganda, p. 38.

[146] It is no accident that European Holocaust deniers like the Austrian engineer Wolfgang Fröhlich and the Swiss Jürgen Graf are welcomed and resident in Iran. See Holocaust Denial in the Middle East, pp. 7–8.

[147] Roger Garaudy, Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne (Paris, 1995). A former Catholic, then a communist, Garaudy became a Muslim in 1982 and married a Jerusalem-born Palestinian woman. On the reaction in France, see Pierre-André Taguieff, “L’Abbé Pierre et Roger Garaudy: Négationisme, Antijudaisme, Antisionisme,” Esprit 8–9 (1996): 215. Also Valérie Igounet, Histoire du Négationisme en France (Paris: Editions de Seuil, 2000), pp. 472–83.

[148] For a useful summary, see Esther Webman, “Rethinking the Holocaust: An Open Debate in the Arab World,” in Anti-Semitism Worldwide 1998/9 (Tel Aviv: The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University, 1999). She notes that there are a few critical Arab voices demanding recognition of the Holocaust as an extraordinary crime against humanity. Also Rainer Zimmer-Winkel, ed., Die Araber und die Shoah (Trier: Aphorisma, 2000), pp. 9–33.

[149] See the article by Mouna Naim in Le Monde, Mar. 1, 1998.

[150] See Goetz Nordbruch, The Socio-Historical Background of Holocaust Denial in Arab Countries, Acta 17, Analysis of Current Trends in Antisemitism (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Vidal Sassoon International Center, 2001), pp. 6–14.

[151] Ibid., p. 11. The German author quotes a number of Arabic sources. He also notes the demand of the London-based Al-Hayat (Jan. 15, 1998) for an acknowledgment “of the other Holocausts committed by Israel against the Arab world.” This was proposed by the editor, in all seriousness, as a prerequisite for Arab recognition of the Holocaust against the Jews.

[152] Memri 188, Feb. 20, 2001.

[153] Al-Risala, Apr. 13, 2000. Dr. Sisalem has in the past denied the existence of the gas chambers. He claimed that the Zionists were still “extorting” money from European nations as a result of the Shoah. Moreover, in Stockholm (January 2000) the Jews had pressured many governments to introduce the Holocaust into their curricula. This decision, he said, was intended to cover up the repugnant Zionist crimes in Palestine.

[154] Al-Istiqlal, Apr. 20, 2000.

[155] Ibid.

[156] For a selection of Saddam Hussein’s more recent pronouncements on Israel, see Ehrlich, Incitement and Propaganda, pp. 31–32. On Iraqi television (Feb. 22, 2001) he referred to “the filthy Zionist entity”; on Mar. 27, 2001, he called for total mobilization “to liberate Palestine,” adding that “the Jews should go to hell”; on Radio Baghdad (May 28, 2001) he called the Zionist-Arab conflict a war of destiny; either the Arab nation would live in peace (which required Israel’s extinction) or the Zionists would expand at Arab expense. On August 28, 2001, Radio Baghdad called on the Arab Islamic Nation to arise and “expel the sons of apes and swine among the Zionists from the conquered land [Palestine].”

[157] Saddam Hussein on Iraqi television, speaking to an Algerian delegation, May 30, 2001, ibid., p. 32.

[158] This theme is particularly strong in Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian government propaganda, but similar expressions can be found in more “moderate” Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt.

[159] Y. Harkabi consistently argued that Arab anti-Semitism was “the outcome of political circumstances,” not “a cause of the conflict but a product of it.” See his “Contemporary Arab Anti-Semitism: Its Causes and Roots,” in Helen Fein, ed., Current Research on Antisemitism: The Persisting Question: Sociological Perspectives and Social Contexts of Modern Antisemitism (Berlin/New York: Walter De Gruyter, 1987), p. 420. I respectfully disagree with Harkabi on this point.

[160] See Sylvia Haim, “Arab Antisemitic Literature,” Jewish Social Studies 4 (1956): 307–9. Arabic translations of French anti-Semitic literature (made by Christian Arabs) were an important conveyor belt for the transmission of anti- Jewish stereotypes originating in European Christian culture.

[161] Bodansky, Islamic Anti-Semitism, pp. 41–50.

[162] Robert S. Wistrich, “The Anti-Semitic Ideology,” in Zilbershats, Rising Tide, p. 70.

[163] Ibid., pp. 20–21.

[164] Lutfi abd-al-’Adhim, “Arabs and Jews: Who Will Annihilate Whom?” Al-Ahram al-Iqtisadi, Sept. 27, 1982. See the long extract cited by Raphael Israeli in his pamphlet Arab and Islamic Antisemitism, pp. 14–15.

[165] Ibid.

[166] Wistrich, Antisemitism, p. 265.

[167] Ibid., p. 267.

Robert Solomon Wistrich (April 7, 1945 – May 19, 2015) was the Erich Neuberger Professor of European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the head of the University's Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. According to Indiana University, Wistrich was "a leading scholar of the history of antisemitism."

Among his many books are: Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred, Schocken Books, New York, 1991 and A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad, Random House, New York, 2010

See the following video with his last speech at the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in 2015. He died several days later in Rome, on May 19, after suffering a heart attack. He was scheduled to address the Italian Senate on the rise of antisemitism in Europe.

Source: Wikipedia and YouTube