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ANTI-SEMITISM:ISLAMISM’S INDELIBLE MARKER
Redacted from an in-depth article by Dr. Jasser that must be read in its entirety.
By Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser
The Journal of International Security Affairs No. 28
Today, the United States and its allies are focused on the concept of “countering violent extremism” as a means of combatting the scourge of radical Islam. Yet, violent extremism is but one manifestation of the Islamist ideology that threatens Western democracies and citizenry under its sway.
For one can espouse radical Islamism and its totalitarian, supremacist goals of world domination with out choosing violent means to do so. But it is far harder to endorse Islamist ideology without supporting anti-Semitism.
Thus, anti-Semitism is not just another “radical” symptom. In fact, if we can develop the understanding and national conviction to confront the anti-Semitism of global Islamist movements directly, we will hold the key to unraveling the very fabric and platform through which Islamist leaders spread their ideas. The linkage is simple.
Supremacists from within a particular faith community will create and exploit hatred toward another in order to rally their own followers against a common foe. Islamists utilize anti-Semitic imagery, profiling and demonization of Jews as a tool for their own ascension to power in Muslim majority communities and nations (or in Arabic, the ummah).
Islamists often exploit both the Muslim ummah and the Jewish minority in order to create group-think against the “other.” The Islamist demonization of Jews is a key feature of their worldview, because underneath that hatred lies a more global supremacism that threatens all minorities, both within and outside the faith.
Today, Europe and the West are being directly impacted by the events that have transpired over the last half-decade of the Arab Awakening. With the tumult in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria, the ascent of Islamist movements has for the most part not brought a real spring but rather the empowerment of new autocrats who wield Islamist thought as a supremacist weapon.
The challenge before the world could not be clearer. The vacuum left by the region’s long-serving dictators is a widening front in the battle for the soul of Islam: Will Muslim majority societies and Muslim leaders around the world heed the call for the rights of the individual? Will they defend the rights of the minority over the collective, the tribe, and the clerical oligarchs? Or will they ultimately just trade one autocracy for another? Here, the importance of the role played by anti-Semitism cannot be overstated.
According to Pew research surveys, “anti-Jewish sentiment” is endemic in the Muslim world. “In Lebanon, for example, all Muslims and 99 percent of Christians say they have a very unfavorable view of Jews. Similarly, 99 percent of Jordanians have a very unfavorable view of Jews. Large majorities of Moroccans, Indonesians, Pakistanis and six in ten Turks also view Jews unfavorably,” a 2005 poll by the research center noted.
That outcome is hardly surprising. For generations, Arab dictators like Hosni Mubarak, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad or King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, have harnessed and incubated anti-Semitism as a political tool, using their vast media machines to expand the reach and resonance of this corrosive idea. Thus, Egypt under Mubarak lionized the virulently anti-Semitic and czarist Russian forgery,
Protocols of the Elders of Zion, even as state media regularly denied the Holocaust while at the same time irrationally labeling Zionism as a “new Nazism.” Saudi Arabian government media and academia are also rife with anti-Semitic imagery and the demonization of Jews, while the country’s public schools teach that Jews “obey the devil” and are those whom “God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied.” The list goes on.
The hate thereby created fueled a mass exodus of Jews. Since 1948, at Israel’s founding, there have been over 1 million Jews expelled from Arab lands with only a few remaining. That exodus has carried over to the Christian community, where it is believed over two million Christians have fled the Middle Eastern Arab community in the last 20 years.
(Unfortunately, establishment world-wide Christian churches (excluding the Evangelicals) refuse to acknowledge this obvious undeniable fact and for their own obscene purposes prefer to wallow in the mindless anti-Semitism of the centuries. How much easier to teach Jew-Hatred to your naive, uninformed, uneducated flock than to explain their poverty, ignorance, lack of opportunity, dreadful living conditions and justify your own destructive power?)
Yet anti-Semitism is hardly the purview of secular tyrants alone. Rather, it serves as a primary nexus between pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism.
HATING JEWS… AND ISRAEL (What a convenient hook-up to belch out hate!)
The intellectual origins and under-pinnings of Islamist anti-Semitism are diverse. But while our Islamic tradition certainly possesses, as the scholar Martin Kramer has described, “some sources on which Islamic anti-Semitism now feeds,” it is not the only reason for it.
In fact, if Islamist anti-Semitism is wholly confronted by modern Muslim reformers, there is hope that it can be marginalized and ultimately defeated, ending a force which can ultimately hold sway over a quarter of the world’s population.
The current reality, however, is that the imams (clerics), ulema(scholars), or activists with the courage to publicly take on the anti-Semitism of Islamist leaders are sadly few in number. And when they arise, they have neither the platforms, attention, nor the backing that Islamist-linked movements enjoy around the world.
Integral, and related, is the exploitation of Israel. As the scholar Martin Kramer has noted, Islamists see Israel as a symptom of a larger conspiracy against them, either western or Jewish or a sinister combination of the two. Many Islamists today do not look at Israel or its policies as their irritant. They look beyond, either to America, symbol today of the power of the West or to the Jews, dispersed throughout the West where they exercise a malignant influence. These are deemed to be the real forces driving history.
Kramer concludes: If these themes seem distressingly familiar it is quite likely because they are borrowings from the canon of Western religious and racial anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism we see today in the Islamic world owes a crucial debt to the anti-Semitism of the West.
Eventually, the world will have to come to terms with how clerics with toxic positions on Jews and Americans swim in the same pool with those who have similarly hateful positions against the Shi’a community (described as deviants), the Ahmadiyya (described as apostates), or the Baha’i (described as infidels) and so many other vulnerable religious minorities who will undoubtedly suffer, and are suffering, at the hands of Islamists when they are in power.
What the Muslim world says and learns matters a great deal. According to former CIA director R. James Woolsey, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has spent nearly $90 billion spreading its ideology around the globe since the 1970s. He describes the Saudi sponsoring of the dissemination of the extremist Wahhabi strain of Islam as “the soil in which Al-Qaeda and its sister terror organizations are flourishing.”
The kingdom is not just any country with problematic textbooks. As the controlling authority of the two holiest shrines of Islam, Saudi Arabia is able to disseminate its religious materials among the millions making the hajj to Mecca each year. Such teachings can, in this context, make a great impression. In his book, The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright asserts that while Saudis constitute only 1 percent of the world’s Muslims, they pay “90 percent of the expenses of the entire faith, over-riding other traditions of Islam.”
A better understanding of the link between anti-Semitism and Islamist movements and its supporters is just a first step. The next is to implement long- lasting solutions. These solutions will not only provide Europe and the West with a bulwark against the infiltration of anti-Semitic ideas from Islamist movements in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia, but will also serve to better secure us against the threat of militant Islamism. For where anti-Semitism thrives, so too does the eventual threat against other faith minorities and the very foundations of democracy.
M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. is the Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). A devout Muslim, Dr. Jasser founded AIFD in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States as an effort to provide an American Muslim voice advocating for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, and the separation of mosque and state. Dr. Jasser is a first generation American Muslim whose parents fled the oppressive Baath regime of Syria in the mid-1960’s for American freedom.
Dr. Jasser earned his medical degree on a U.S. Navy scholarship at the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1992. He served 11 years as a medical officer in the U. S. Navy. His tours of duty included Medical Department Head aboard the U.S.S. El Paso which deployed to Somalia during Operation Restore Hope; Chief Resident at Bethesda Naval Hospital; and Staff Internist for the Office of the Attending Physician to the U. S. Congress. He is a recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal. Dr. Jasser is a respected physician currently in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona specializing in internal medicine and nuclear cardiology. He is a Past-President of the Arizona Medical Association.
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