This week’s quotation is from a review of Martin Gilbert’s “In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands” by Jonathan Kay:
The creation of the Zionist movement radically changed the Western understanding of the Muslim-Jewish conflict — sweeping up generations of campus intellectuals who have projected upon it all their own obsessions with colonialism and class struggle. But in the Muslim world, Gilbert’s narrative shows us, Israel’s creation actually didn’t change the Muslim-Jewish dynamic as much as is commonly imagined. The rhetoric and barbarism hurled against Israeli Jews after the Zionist project began were not new but simply the old, more diffuse rhetoric and barbarism being redirected, as by a lens, toward a particular pinprick on a map. This is tied up with the reason that many Muslims refuse even to say the word “Israel,” preferring terms such as “the Zionist entity”: Deep down, they regard Israel not as a country in the proper sense but rather as a sort of soil-and-concrete stand-in for the stubborn, maddeningly ineradicable Jewish presence in Middle Eastern life since the age of Muhammad.
Kay’s review is titled “Fourteen Centuries of Hatred” and that about sums it up. Unfortunately, unlike the Catholic Church, which (perhaps as a result of the Holocaust) officially renounced and condemned the baseless hatred that had characterized its relationship to the Jewish people for centuries, Islamic authorities in general have not preached an end to antisemitism. Rather, as Kay suggests above, they have simply focused it more sharply.
This helps explain the persistent anti-Israel incitement that flows from Arab sources:
Hatred justified by an appeal to Islam persists even in the US: last month Kaukab Siddique, a professor at Lincoln University in rural southeastern Pennsylvania made a speech in Washington at which he said (in part),
The time has come that we must stir up our ‘religious leaders’ in this country to speak the truth about Israel. They must put their hands on the Quran and say that they do not recognize Israel as a legitimate entity. If they cannot do that, they must be branded as kaffirs [infidels]. It’s as simple as that. Because the Quran says – drive them out from where they drove you out.
For the Christians I say please pray for Gaza. For the Jews I would say see what could happen to you if the Muslims wake up. And I say to the Muslims, dear brothers and sisters, unite and rise up against this hydra-headed monster which calls itself Zionism. Each one of us is their target and we must stand united to defeat, to destroy, to dismantle Israel if possible by peaceful means. Perhaps, like Saladin, we will give them enough food and water to travel back to the lands from where they came to occupy other people. There’s no question of just removing the settlements. These settlements are only the tentacles of the devil who resides in Tel Aviv…
Siddique also denies the Holocaust and expresses the view that Jews
…are a small minority in America, yet they have taken over this country by devious and immoral means. They control the government, the media, education, the libraries, the book chains, the banks, Hollywood, Wall Street, Madison Avenue.
Nevertheless, he claims that he doesn’t hate Jews, just the “behavior of the Jews who are governing the ‘state of Israel’ and all of the ones who support their current behaviors.” He follows this with a list of anti-Jewish quotations from the Christian Gospels (proving precisely what?).
Siddique’s attitude toward Israel is an absolutely perfect example of how present-day anti-Zionism is “the old, more diffuse rhetoric and barbarism being redirected, as by a lens, toward a particular pinprick on a map” — although in Siddique’s case, he remains partial to unredirected barbarism toward Jews as well.
Incidentally, Lincoln University’s president feels that tenured Associate Professor Siddique
is entitled to express his personal views in conversation or in public forums, as long as he does not present such opinions as the views of the University. Dr. Siddique has made it apparent that his opinions are his own and are not a part of his curriculum. Like all professors, he is expected to adhere to an approved syllabus.