What is driving the anti-Semitism in radical Islam?

Raphael Israeli speaks about Salafists, al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood

racist child 521 (photo credit: www.memritv,org)
racist child 521
(photo credit: www.memritv,org)
There are three main proponents of radical Islam at present – the Shi’ite brand championed by the clerics in Tehran, the Salafist movement which has spawned al-Qaida, and the Muslim Brotherhood now on the ascent in the Sunni Arab world. Each of these movements aspires to be the one which leads the Muslim world into a future time of global dominance – the promised “Golden Age” of Islam.
This Muslim concept foresees a coming epoch of peace and justice on earth under the rule of Islamic Shari’a law, and was largely lifted from Hebrew and Christian scriptures – mirroring what Jews commonly refer to as the “Age of Redemption” and Christians would call the Millennium or “Messianic Age.” All three radical Islamic movements anticipate a final battle in which the Muslims eradicate Jews en masse, heralding the advent of this reign of Islam over humanity.
To better understand these ambitions and beliefs, The Christian Edition recently approached Prof. Raphael Israeli, a leading scholar on Islam at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to discuss what is driving the radical Islamic movements today and what are the sources of their anti-Semitism – koranic and otherwise.
Israeli has been a guest lecturer at several universities abroad and has written numerous books on Islam and related subjects.
We wanted to talk to you about the interplay between the different streams of radical Islam – whether it’s Shi’ite Iran and Hezbollah, or al-Qaida and the Salafists, or Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood – and how they see the end of days playing out. First, do you concur with that breakdown of the radical Islamist movements?
Prof. Raphael Israeli: Well, you need a whole one-year course to begin discussing this. But to summarize it in a few sentences, I should say first that Islam as a religion should not be divided into radical Islam and moderate Islam. To be fair, there is a pure Islam that the Koran dictates, and there are some moderate Muslims out there who do not fully adhere to it.
As an analogy, in the Christian world I’d say there are a lot of nominal Christians. They are born with a Christian identity, but they never go to church...
Yes, in Judaism it’s the same. It’s like that all over the world.
But these main streams of what we popularly call radical Islam, do they all have the same goal of a “Golden Age” of Islam, but just different paths to get there?
Absolutely! Different paths and different paces! Some of them want everything now.
“Jihad Now!” This is al-Qaida and the Salafists?
Exactly! While the Muslim Brotherhood is much more flexible and adaptable to the reality where they live.
There was a time in Egypt, under [Gamal Abdel] Nasser and [Anwar] Sadat, where they mounted attempts against the life of the president and some of their leaders were killed – like Sayyid Qutb, the great scholar of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was hanged in a public square in Cairo in 1966. But they learned from that and said: “Sometimes the government is too strong. Don’t go all out against it. Try to collect followers...”
So they are more patient and they plan their way now very carefully... but with the very same goal of world domination. And what is their goal? First, they want a Shari’a state. And you see that is the main “war cry” of those who battle in Tahrir Square in Egypt or in Tripoli or Benghazi. Even those who attacked the American Embassy [in Libya] shouted “Shari’a state.” So we know very clearly what they mean and what they want.
And unfortunately, what unites all of them – moderates and extremists alike – is their hatred towards Israel and the Jews. Now [there are] two bases or two legs on which that hatred stands. It stands on either the [Islamic religion] – and you can cite here as sources the Koran, the biography of the Prophet, and the hadith Or it stands on lies, which you invent.
False accusations, blood libels, supposed massacres...
Exactly! And two of the most quoted phrases that you hear in the mosques – and I listen to sermons from the mosques almost every Friday [on Arabic radio] – one is that Jews are descendants of pigs and monkeys. It’s universal.
This is straight out of the Koran? Yes. Now in all mass psychology, you will hear from all scholars that if you want to eliminate somebody, first of all you dehumanize him, which makes it easier for others to eliminate him... The people who perfected this idea to its utmost were the Nazis. [Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph] Goebbels studied it. The Muslims do the same thing. Every Friday, you hear that in the mosques all over the world, from Morocco to Indonesia.
All the different streams of Islam say this – ‘Jews are sons of monkeys and pigs’? Yes! Even those who never saw or met a Jew. And remember, what is written in the Koran are the words of Allah and therefore it cannot be repudiated on any basis... And the second phrase which is very much attached to us [Jews] is this infamous hadith...
First, explain what is a hadith? The sacred sources again are either the Koran itself, or the Sira, which is the biography of the prophet, which is also considered holy scripture. Why? Because the prophet was the most perfect of men... so his life story must be regarded as exemplary. He could do no mistakes.
And then there are the hadiths. These are the tens of thousands of stories saved by many different people which relate to what the prophet said, secondly to what he did and thirdly things that were done in his presence that he did not repudiate or deny.
There are three major collections of hadiths which are considered the “correct ones,” which are sacred, second only to the Koran.
Now one of those “correct” hadiths is this infamous one which says: In the Day of Judgment, when all non- Muslims will be converted to Islam, and even Issa [Jesus] is used as an instrument to turn all humanity to Islam... Muslims will kill all the Jews.
And they will hide behind rocks and trees, but those rocks and trees will be made by Allah to say out loud, “A Jew is hiding behind me, come and kill him.”
Are these teachings – that Jews are sons of monkeys and pigs and must be killed to bring on Judgment Day – are they shared by the Shi’ites in Iran, the Salafists, and the Muslim Brotherhood? And is this hadith driving the Muslim hatred against Israel? Look, from [current Egyptian President Mohamed] Morsi to Sadat, who made peace with Israel, they go to the mosque every Friday and in their presence these things are being recited... It is also in their prayers. You find it even in the charter of Hamas that was written in 1988. It is quoted in full.
They have a genocidal charter...
That goes without saying. The problem is this: When you have a constitution written by humans, you can amend it. But if you back every clause in the Hamas charter by either words from the Koran or the hadith, they are eternal. And therefore the charter of Hamas is “set in stone.”
You said that each of the major streams of radical Islam have their own path and their own pace for getting to the “Golden Age of Islam.” It seems to me that there is a competition between them as to who will lead the Muslim world into that promised day.
Right! And they are hoping when that moment comes everyone will follow their path.
Now sometimes they are cooperating and sometimes they are competing. So first of all, what would you say is the Salafists’ path – the al- Qaida stream? Salaf in Arabic means “ancestor.”
Their path is you have to precipitate the apocalypse. It’s very interesting, in the modern history of the Jewish people, the ultra-Orthodox community did not and still doesn’t accept the modern State of Israel, because they believe Messiah has to come set it up.
But Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook said that you can bring the Messiah through Zionism. You can precipitate the “Age of Redemption.”
In Christianity, we have the same sort of debate: Can you hasten the return of the Messiah? Now the path of the Shi’ites and the Sunnis are different. Sunni Islam says that the last messenger of Allah was sent already, that was Muhammad, and everyone should try to be like him and to imitate the prophet in order to be better Muslims. Shi’ites believe something else. They are waiting for the hidden imam that will usher in the apocalyptic end. Some people called [Ayatollah] Khomeini “the imam.” The rest of Islam considers that blasphemous even. And now [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad took some practical steps to welcome the 13th imam.
He built a grand boulevard from Qum all the way to Tehran to welcome the Mahdi...
And when he spoke in the UN, he reported to his people that there was an “aura” around him, the aura of the imam.
So we have the “Jihad Now” approach of al-Qaida and those in Iran trying to bring back the hidden imam, but with the Muslim Brotherhood we see a more patient approach. Their founder was an Egyptian schoolteacher who said it was necessary to start by educating the people. They want to first unify the Muslim world and then establish a caliphate. Correct? First you must gain the power, whether it be by vote, like in Gaza or Egypt, or by other means... then to establish the caliphate.
I think that this is a very important point. You need a caliphate in order to have a caliph.Yes! They are waiting in every generation for the next “Saladin.”
So you can’t just declare a jihad, can you? Don’t you need a caliphate, which by definition means there has to be a recognized caliph and only he can declare a jihad? The caliph is both a political and religious leader, and jihad has to be pronounced by the caliph, and therefore you first need a caliphate.
So that is what is driving the Muslim Brotherhood right now – this quest to restore a caliphate which eventually brings in a leader who can bring a final victory for Islam? [This is] what they want to achieve, if they could they would do it now. And the pace increases with the success of coming into rule... Now Morsi can speed up the process.