Why do Muslims hate Jews?
Muhammad required Jews living in Arabia to accept him as a prophet, believe his revelations and renounce their own faith, spiritual history and identity. They did not do so. In 627 AD Muhammad ordered the beheading of between 400 and 900 male prisoners of the Jewish tribe, the Banu Qurayzah in front of their families and the women and children to be taken or sold into slavery. The event is well attested in Islamic historical tradition, and has served as the basis for multiple rulings throughout history dealing with the treatment of captured non-Muslims by Muslim military forces. One example suffices. In 935 AD the male population of Genoa was exterminated by Fatimids and women and children were enslaved. The Fatimids were a dynasty of Arab origin who traced their ancestry to Muhammad's daughter Fatima and her husband, 'Ali b. Abi Talib, the first Shi'a imam. The 7th October 2023 invasion of Israel by Hamas and its murder of over 1400 Jews, including the burning of children and the beheading of a baby conformed to this historical model. It brought exultation throughout the Islamic world. Hassan Nasrallah, the Leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon said on 3 November 2023 'No doubt it was a brave, creative, heroic, perfect massive operation commended at all fronts and at all levels. What are the repercussions of this glorious operation?” he said. “It caused a seismic earthquake in terms of security, military, politics, diplomacy, and even psychologically.” He added that it has “lifted the lid and uncovered many facts”. “Speaking of the repercussions, the glorious repercussions and effects of this glorious operation requires hours if not days,” he said.
The Quran does not present itself as a fulfilment of the Hebrew Bible but as a restoration of its original message, in other words it recreates the Biblical narrative in its own image, denying the validity of Judaism and of Christianity. The existence of Jews and Judaism is intolerable for followers of Muhammad, a rebuke to Muslim claims and a testimony against Islam. There was also a racial element from the very beginning, despising Jews as dishonest and untrustworthy. Hatred of Jews is an article of faith for Muslims. Israel’s scientific modernity is a rebuke to Islam due to the limitations imposed by its own dogmatic fundamentalism and its cultural specific identity, seen in the daily dress of many Muslim women and men the world over.
Muslim hatred of Jews is irrational and is based on the cultivation of myths and conspiracy theories such as those in the 1903 Russian publication ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’. On November 28 1941, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini met Adolf Hitler in Germany. He told Hitler that Jews were his foremost enemy and sought help to eliminate any Jewish claim to their ancient homeland. An imam at Redbridge Islamic Centre in Essex was seen on social media on 20 October 2023 praying “O God, curse the infidels and the polytheists. O God, curse the Jews and the children of Israel. And tear them apart, destroy their homes, destroy their homes, and send down on them your punishment that does not turn away from the criminal people.”
According to contemporary Pew Research ‘throughout the Muslim world, opinions of Jews are highly unfavourable. Dislike of Jews is universal in Jordan and Lebanon, with 99% of the public in both countries saying they have a very unfavourable view of Jews. Similarly, 76% of Indonesians, 74% of Pakistanis, and 60% of Turks have an unfavourable opinion of Jews’.
It is common in the west to equate Islamophobia with antisemitism. Douglas Ross did this in the Scottish Parliament on 24 October 2023. The author Melanie Phillips contends that the key difference is the distinction between truth and lies. ‘For while antisemitism is based entirely on deranged fantasies about the Jewish people, Islamophobia labels as bigotry all adverse comment about Muslims, including truths about Islamic extremism and jihad terrorism’.
Imam Abdullah Antepli suggests that ‘The widespread assumption among Muslims around the world, including in the US, is that the entire State of Israel is a Western colonial invention, imposed on the heart of Islam; a post-Holocaust European plan. It’s very commonly held that Israel is illegitimate, and that its relentless human rights violations against Palestinians perpetuate its illegitimacy. There is no appreciation of any kind of Jewish historical legitimacy in this part of the world, only that it is a post-Holocaust reality.' The Times of Israel writes, ‘For many Muslims, Judaism’s connection to this part of the world is secondary, because the Palestinians are seen as the indigenous inhabitants or because they feel Judaism’s historical connection to the land should not be used to deny the Palestinians’ actual presence in the land.
David Greenberg comments more broadly, ‘Arab anti-Semitism isn’t confined to the fringes of society. Whereas in Israel, as in other Western countries, overt bigotry is scolded, ignored, or kept out of politics, mainstream Arab culture promotes extreme anti-Semitic ideas through schools, newspapers, television, popular culture, and official ideology. It’s hardly even controversial.’
Hatred of Jews is endemic among Muslims. They are taught it from infancy. Hatred of Jews supports the Muslim creed. Jews have often said that they are the canaries in the mine. Others say ‘Today the Jews, tomorrow it will be you’.