Preacher at Al-Aqsa Mosque to the Jews: "We Shall Slaughter You Without Mercy".
(photo credit: screenshot)
No fair-minded person should refute the need for even-handedness when viewing recent events that have turned the streets of Jerusalem into indiscriminate killing zones.
Yet lack of such even-handedness is precisely what has characterized the debate in Arab countries. For glorifying the callous murder of Jews and extolling them not only exposes how disparate the two sides are, but also the lack of courage and objectivity which characterizes the Arab world. This is especially true as there are not enough words to sufficiently condemn those who have perpetrated the latest spate of heinous stabbings of innocent Jews on the streets of Jerusalem and elsewhere.
For there is neither pride nor courage in stabbing unsuspecting Jews, only cowardice and venom.
Indeed, how can anyone with an iota of decency justify the murderous stabbings of innocent Jews and characterize the criminality of its perpetrators as “martyrdom”? Yet the Arabic media (official and private) was awash with articles and opinions extolling the virtues of such attacks, with no consideration given to the plight of innocent victims – only because they happened to be Jews.
Courage dictates that we unequivocally state: Regardless of whatever political, religious and irredentist grievances Arabs and Jews may have against each other, nothing justifies this callous dehumanization of Jewish victims whose only crime was that they happened to be waiting at a bus stop or engaging in some other mundane activity.
For their part, Jordanian Islamic preachers of hate who, for decades, have unashamedly deployed anti-Semitic language, dehumanizing Jews, lost their moral compass long before they lost their humanity.
Indeed, because of this venomous demagogy wrapped in pseudo-righteousness, Islam has become today akin to a satanic cult of hatred, spewing violent ideologies that justify Islamic State, al-Qaida and countless Islamic terrorist entities – with the silent Islamic majority engulfed in hypocrisy, corruption and supine complacency.
For, thanks to Islamic preachers of hate, who have molded Islam in their own vengeful images, the word “Islam” today has, rightly or wrongly, come to symbolize a conglomeration of inner feuding and violent extremes. The images of the internecine conflict between Sunnis and Shi’ites in Syria and Iraq, with barbaric beheadings and brutal practices, are a reminder of such inner feuding and violent extremes.
Regrettably, radical Muslims today have forgotten about Koranic verses ordering Muslims to “Call to the path of God through wisdom, gracious and good advice” [Al-Nhl: 125], and “Do not betray your trust knowingly” [Al-Anfal: 27]. Modern-day Muslim radicals have even become conspicuously oblivious to the exhortations of the first-ever Islamic caliph, Abu Bakr (573-634 AD), who told Muslim soldiers in 634 AD: “Do not betray, do not be disproportionate, do not be treacherous nor perfidious, do not disfigure the dead, do not kill small children, nor old people, nor women, do not destroy palm trees nor burn them, do not cut a fruitful tree, nor slaughter a sheep, cow or camel unless for food. When you come across worshipers in their monasteries and temples let them be and leave them alone, etc.”
Indeed, in contrast to today’s Muslim radicals justifying the callous murder of innocent Jews, one only needs to look at the respect in which the highest echelons of early Muslim leadership held the Jews, at a time when Christians persecuted Jews and banished them from Jerusalem – even taking the unprecedented step of guaranteeing Jewish presence in Jerusalem. For, under caliph Omar bin al-Khattab (583-644 AD) Jews were allowed to stay in Jerusalem, contrary to the stipulations of the Christian religious authorities (represented by Bishop Sofronius) who had handed the Holy City to the Muslims.
Indeed, one even gets the sense of pride and optimism which some Jewish quarters was displayed that the Holy City had fallen to their “cousins,” the sons of Ishmael. Such optimism was not misplaced: The new Muslim rulers of the Holy City not only consented to Jewish presence in Jerusalem, but even allocated certain areas of the Holy City to the Jews to practice their religion.
This is something which Simon Dubnow particularly confirmed in The History of the Jews: Vol. 2: From the Roman Empire to the Early Medieval Period (Barnes & Co, 1968), where it is stated that: “When the Christians headed by bishop Sofronius, had surrendered to Omar, they stipulated that the ban on the Jews inhabiting the city be retained ... But the preserved Jewish traditions tell us that, when instead of the might of Edom that of Ishmael came into being, the Jews had access to Jerusalem once again ... The Arabs did not observe it [the clause banning Jews from Jerusalem] after the capitulation ... According to tradition the Arabs yielded to the Jews a place on the Mount of Olives for prayer meetings and festival days.” (pp.326–327).
As to the high respect which early Muslims had for Christians and their holy places, it was clear from the conduct of caliph Omar when he received the keys of Jerusalem in 637 AD. For he adamantly insisted to pray in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre instead of praying inside it for fear that it would set a precedent and that as a result the church would be converted into a mosque by future Muslim generations.
Indeed, as I personally reject this regression into murdering Jews because they are Jews within this disturbing hype of Arab media incitement, I call for the narrative of relations between Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem and elsewhere to be punctuated by humility, mutual respect and non-propagandistic incriminations. Needless to say, it’s a duty dictated by decency to confront the virulent ideology of hate and bigotry.
The writer is Jordanian Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Islamic Legal Studies Program (2013-2014), program leader of the MA program in Islamic financial and business law at BPP University (London) and international director (Middle East) for the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, Jesus College, Cambridge University. He is the author of Raising Capital on Arab Equity Markets: Legal and Juridical Aspects of Arab Securities Regulation (Kluwer Law International, 2012).