It is always a tricky business when one has to examine and discuss social prejudices prevalent in religious societies, as it may not always be possible to sound politically correct. Nevertheless, objectivity and honesty at times need to supercede political correctness and one has to go about exposing these prejudices if as societies we need to critique, self-evaluate, change and progress. Anti-Semitism in the Muslim world including India, unfortunately happens to be one such.
In the 21st century, it appears, the epicenter of anti-Semitism sadly is the Muslim world. In the Middle East in particular, anti-Semitism of the most vulgar kind seem to enjoy a certain legitimacy it would never be granted in the 21st century West. With anti-Semitic cartoons, television series and debased fantasies the Arab-language media ensures anti-Semitism pervades the Arab and Muslim world, and Pew Research Centre findings showed that almost in all of the Muslim-majority countries that it has surveyed, nearly 90 per cent of respondents openly report being not simply anti-Israel or anti-Israeli, but anti-Semitic !!. Some countries like Iran even openly engage in genocidal anti-Semitic rhetoric. Unfortunate as it is, the phenomenon is not restricted to just a few countries surrounding Israel or Palestine but is a global phenomenon spread across the entire Muslim world from Morocco to Indonesia, including second generation European Muslims.
As the above clip from the BBC documentary (BBC Documentary – Blaming The Jews (Muslim Antisemitism) (2005) demonstrates, the act and its consequences are self-evident. There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims (22.2% of the world population) around the globe today with it being the fastest growing religion among others and hence given the pervasiveness of this culture of hatred (for Jews), it seems likely that a large number of them harbor anti-Semitic attitudes to at least some degree. There are more (must be more) anti-Semites in the world today than at any time since WW II and many of them hold positions of religious and political power. Most unfortunate as it may sound, anti-Semitism today is increasingly a Muslim problem. One can understand a Jordaneese or Lebaneese Muslim finding the issue of Israel-Palestine conflict a source of legitimate anger. But why does an Indian Muslim, an Indonesian Muslim, a Sudaneese Muslim, a cultural Muslim and even an ex-Muslim all take to the streets for the same Palestinian cause ? If previously religiously embedded anti-semitism is not the cause and it is purely political activism, why do such individuals not have a similar “passion” for other political conflicts around the globe ?.
The root of anti-semitism in the Muslim world is not the creation of Israel but rather it is embedded in the very history of the religion of Islam itself. The Muslim world from Morocco to Indonesia, even today, teaches and propagates a “conniving Jew image” in its religious curriculum to the next generation , much like the propagation of anti-Semitism in medieval Christian societies of the past. So what exactly is this narrative that they are propagating ? According to Islamic sources, the 7th century Medinian Jews began to connive with Muhammad’s enemies in Mecca to overthrow him, despite having agreed in the treaty of the Constitution of Medina to take the side of him and his followers against their enemies. Consequently two Jewish tribes were expelled and the third one was “wiped out”!. The “Yahud” (the Jew) is therefore always represented in religious parlance as the “betrayer”, the “back-stabber”, the “lier” and the modern political problem of Israel is projected simply only as a convenient proof. If we are honest in our analysis, we see that anti-semitism prevalent in today´s Muslim world has a much deeper and older religious root. This all pervasive anti-Semitism when coupled with the notion of the Qur’anic Ummah (a sense of muslim-brotherhood emphasised a total of sixty-two instances in the Qur’an) that transcends national, ethnic and lingual boundaries, I dare say, will in the end be a political Achilles heel of this great religion.
This is not to say however that there are no non-Muslim anti-Semites, or that all Muslims are anti-Semites, but there is little question that anti-Semitism, particularly anti-Semitism at its most violent, is disturbingly pervasive and legitimate in the Muslim cultures world-wide today. And it is only the rational Muslims who have with them the power to fight it effectively from within the system.
“They [the Jews] are the heirs of Hell…. They will spare no pains to corrupt you. They desire nothing but your ruin. Their hatred is clear from what they say … When evil befalls you they rejoice.” [Surah 111, v. 117-120]
[The Jews] knowingly perverted [the word of Allah], know of nothing except lies … commit evil and become engrossed in sin. [Surah II, v. 71-85]
O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for friends. [Surah V, v. 51]
The most vehement of mankind in hostility [are] the Jews and the idolators. [Surah V, v. 82]”