Across nearly a thousand years, the same canonical Islamic themes of Jew-hatred—punctuated by the Koranic epithet for Jews as “despicable apes”—have been invoked to incite violence against European Jews.
The ahistorical moniker ‘new antisemitism,’ when applied to Muslims, epitomizes a longstanding willful blindness to the Islamic continuum of antisemitism, from the invented Medieval ‘Andalusian paradise’ for Jews in Muslim Spain, to the contemporary Western European dystopia for Jews born of a trans-Mediterranean ‘full partnership’—in reality, a return to Medieval dhimmitude.”
(Dhimmitude illustrated—Cover art for the Report by the High-Level Advisory Group established at the initiative of the President of the European Commission, “Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures in the Euro-Mediterranean Region,” Brussels, October 2003, As the report observed, “The orientation of this map corresponds to the world view of the Arab cartographers [i.e., Idrisi, from 1154 C.E.] of the Middle Ages”—that is, reinforcing Islamic jihad supremacism, and reversing the true geographical orientation of the Mediterranean Sea, with the North African Mediterranean littoral on top of the Southern European Mediterranean littoral.)
“[A] Jew [is] of that most contemptible of religions, the most vile of faiths…They [Jews] both the ancient and modern* [*defined below] are altogether the worst liars…They are the filthiest and vilest of peoples, their unbelief horrid, their ignorance abominable…The vilest infidel ape [i.e., Jews; per Koran 5:60, 2:65, 7:166]; Do not consider that killing them [Jews] is treachery.”
I recalled those words (above) from my book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, newly re-issued, in light of a Der Spiegel report on January 14, 2020, and the recent Der Spiegel interview of French philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut, published December 28, 2019.Spiegel’s online news website reported 1/14/20 the arrest of suspected Chechen jihadist men, aged 23 to 28, who had surveilled Berlin’s historic “New Synagogue”, and made video recordings of the building, in preparation for an apparent attack. (Indeed, some 3-months earlier, on October 5, 2019, a knife-wielding Syrian Muslim, identified as Murad M., screaming the jihadist war cry, “Allahu Akbar” [“Allah is Greatest”], and “F*** Israel,” was tackled and disarmed at the entrance to the same Berlin New Synagogue.)
During his 12/28/19 Der Spiegel interview, Finkielkraut opined that Germany was “encountering a different, new antisemitism.” He observed, accurately, that, “hatred of the Jews is very widespread in the Arab countries,” and “Germany has recently opened its doors wide to a large number of immigrants from these countries.” Finkielkraut then re-emphasized what has become a standard trope: the ostensible sui generis nature of this Muslim strain of Western European Antisemitism, dubbed “new” Antisemitism:
“Will Germany withstand this? Will Germany react to the new antisemitism with exactly the same harshness and relentlessness as against the emergence or reappearance of neo-Nazism? We’ll see about that. Germany may find this just as difficult as France.”
Past as prologue, the opening quotes I cited—within their appropriate doctrinal and historical context—underscore this pervasive modern ignorance (and/or denial) about the millennial legacy of canonical Islamic Jew-hatred, and jihadism, in Europe.
Ibn Hazm (d. 1064), an important Muslim jurist, and Abu Ishaq el-Biri, a prominent mid-11th century Muslim poet, made the opening observations about Jews, while residing in mythically “ecumenical,” Muslim-controlled Spain. As analyzed by the pre-eminent scholar of Islam’s Medieval anti-Jewish polemic, Moshe Perlmann, their inflammatory rhetoric, particularly the Koranic epithet “ape” for Jews, was common parlance, which ultimately precipitated the mass slaughter and destruction of the Jewish community in Granada, during a 1066 pogrom by rampaging Muslims. It is estimated that up to four thousand Jews perished, making it the largest anti-Jewish pogrom, till then, in European history.
A contemporary chronicle written by sultan Abd Allah (who became Sultan of Granada in 1073) confirms that a breach in the humiliating and discriminatory Sharia-based system of dhimmitude for non-Muslims, including Jews, also contributed to this outburst of anti-Jewish jihad violence by the Muslims of Granada:
“Both the common people and the nobles were disgusted by the cunning of the Jews, the notorious changes they had brought in the order of things, and the positions they occupied in violation of their pact [i.e., the dhimma, per Koran 9:29, imposed by jihad]. Allah decreed their destruction on Saturday 10 Safar 459 (December 31,1066)…The Jew [Joseph Ibn Naghrela; communal leader] fled into the interior of the palace, but the mob pursued him there, seized him, and killed him. They then put every Jew in the city to the sword and took vast quantities of their property.”
Perlmann himself lamented how what he termed “the Grenada debacle of 1066,” a Muslim, mass slaughter of European Jews, incited by canonical Islamic Jew-hating motifs, was ignored 52-years ago, in 1968:
“…it seems that the recent 900th anniversary [in 1966] of the first major pogrom on European soil passed unnoticed.”
Previously, in his 1940 Ph.D. thesis, Perlmann included a remarkably compendious elucidation of Islam’s theological animus towards Jews—the chapter entitled, “The Jews in the Koran and the Traditions”—represented by these summary extracts:
“In the Fatiha [the Koran’s opening chapter, i.e., 1:7], the words al-maghdub alayhim [‘those who earned Your (Allah’s) anger’] are supposed to refer to the Jews….Forgetting the Divine Dispensation, the Jews transgressed Allah’s commandments and flouted the prophets, and even slew them (3:181).Therefore many punishments fell upon them (2:61); e.g., some of them were turned into apes for desecrating the sabbath (2:65; 7:166)… The believers [Muslims] will find that they [the Jews] are their fiercest enemies (5:82)…Therefore, after they had rejected many friendly overtures (2:59; 5:81), it was decided that they must be fought against, made tributaries, and compelled to pay the poll-tax, as a mark of their humiliation (9:29)… The Jews extended their hatred of the Prophet to all Muslims…They became, in a way, the incarnation of evil.”
Fast forward from Moshe Perlmann’s 1940s era scholarship on Medieval European Muslim Jew-hatred—both its canonical Islamic incitement, and lethal consequences—to a contemporary incident illustrating all the same unchanged dynamics, almost 1000 years later.
Hamid el-Hussein attacked the Great Synagogue in Krystalgade, Copenhagen, just after 12am, February 15, 2015. He murdered a Jewish community member on security duty during a bat mitzvah celebration and wounded two police officers, before being shot to death near the Nørrebro train station by Danish police.
On the evening before el-Hussein murderously attacked both a Copenhagen free speech conference and then the synagogue, Hajj Saeed, Imam of the Al-Faruq Mosque in Copenhagen, eschewed “dialogue” with Jews, reminding his Muslim listeners that Muhammad waged jihad against the Jews when they failed to submit to his nascent Islamic order. Imam Saeed intoned the following during his February 13, 2015 sermon:
“Our Prophet Muhammad had Jewish neighbors in Al-Madina. Did he call for closer relations, harmony, and dialogue with them, in the manner of the UN and of those who call to reconciliation Truth and Falsehood? Or did he call upon them to worship Allah? When they violated their pledge and did not accept this call – well, you know what he did to them. It appears in his Sira [biography]. He waged war against the Jews.”
Subsequently it emerged el-Hussein had visited the Al-Faruq Mosque before his synagogue attack.
Within 6-months prior to el-Hussein’s attack on Copenhagen Jews—Abu Bilal Ismail, imam at Aarhus’s Grimhøj mosque, and Mohammed al-Khaled Samha, an imam at a mosque run by the Islamic Society in Denmark (Islamisk Trossamfund) in Vollsmose—openly fomented murderous jihadism and Islamic Jew-hatred. While delivering a sermon at Berlin’s al-Nur mosque on July 18, 2014, Imam Ismail invoked Koranic themes of the perfidious Jews as “spreaders of corruption” (Koran 5:32–33, 5:64), and “slayers of prophets” (Koran 2:61, 2:91, 3:21, 3:112, 3:181, 4:155)—this latter motif “updated” in the canonical hadith and sira, to include the Jews’ responsibility for Muhammad’s conspiratorial poisoning, which caused the protracted and painful death of Islam’s prophet.
Sheikh Ismail concluded with a call for the extermination of the Jews. “Oh Allah, destroy the Zionist Jews. They are no challenge for you.” He added, “Count them and kill them to the very last one. Don’t spare a single one of them.” Following this annihilationist outburst, Ismail returned to Denmark, where he continued to preach at the Grimhøj Mosque, a popular hotbed of jihadism.
Two months afterward, Imam Samha delivered a sermon in the Danish town of Funen (Fyn), uploaded to the internet September 19, 2014. Consistent with the behavior of Islam’s prophet Muhammad (who invoked Koran 5:60, before the submission, and massacre, of the Banu Qurayza), Samha referred to the Jews as “the offspring of apes and pigs,” and cited the canonical apocalyptic hadith of Jew-annihilation (also, ostensibly, Muhammad’s words)
Oblivious to the post-hoc (and posthumous) sociologic gobbledygook put forth to explain away his intent, el-Hussein was clear about his own pious Islamic motivations, as Danish journalist and historian Lars Hedegaard described:
“Omar el-Hussein made no bones about the fact he acted in accordance with Islamic teachings. At 3:24 pm Saturday, nine minutes before his attack at Krudttønden, he posted the following comment on Facebook: ‘I follow Abu Bakr obediently and humbly in bad times as well as good and will not disobey the orders I have been given unless I witness open unbelief.’ The Facebook message was revealed by the national daily, B.T., which had it translated from Arabic to Danish. The paper assumes that ‘Abu Bakr’ refers to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State.
“A little earlier, at 3:01 pm the same day, el-Hussein had quoted the Koran (sura 59, verse 2) on his Facebook page: ‘It is He who expelled the ones who disbelieved among the People of the Book [‘meaning here the Jewish clan of the Banu Nadir’] from their homes at the first gathering. You did not think they would leave, and they thought that their fortresses would protect them from Allah; but Allah came upon them from where they had not expected, and He cast terror into their hearts [‘by the killing of their [the Jews] leader Kaab ibn al-Ashraf’] (so) they destroyed their houses by their hands and the hands of the believers. So take warning, O people of vision.’”
Equally unsettling were the reactions of young Danish Muslim men who created a shrine for the jihadist killer, and/or attended his overflowing funeral. The rather ugly atmospherics at these events were punctuated by a lack of remorse for el-Hussein’s murderous exploits, or compassion for his victims, paranoid denial of his culpability, perseveration on imagined “threats of reprisal” against Muslims, and even pious Islamic rationalization for “blasphemy” killing.
The Omar el-Hussein “case study” reflects broad religious inculcation of Antisemitic attitudes among Western European Muslim youth, as highlighted in sociologic studies.
Belgian Professor of Sociology Mark Elchardus co-authored a 426 pp. study, “Antisemitism in Brussels’ Schools,” which included data on the views within the young Belgian Muslim community, primarily, 12-18 year-olds, during 2011. A 354pp. follow-up study of Antwerp-Ghent youth was published in 2013. Two thousand, eight hundred thirty-seven (2,837) students in thirty-two Dutch-speaking Brussels high schools were surveyed.
Muslim respondents agreed with the following four statements—i.e. antisemitic stereotypes—at disproportionate, 3.7-fold, to 7.0-fold, rates!: [I] “Jews want to dominate everything” (Muslims, 56.8%; non-Muslims, 10.5%); [II] “Most Jews think they’re better than others” (Muslims, 47.1%; non-Muslims, 12.9%); (III) “If you do business with Jews, you should be extra careful” (Muslims, 47.5%; non-Muslims, 12.9%); (IV) “Jews incite to war and blame others” (Muslims, 53.7%; non-Muslims, 7.7%). Antisemitic Muslim attitudes were unrelated to low educational level or social disadvantage.
The 2013 study of 863 students from Ghent and Antwerp, including 346 Muslim students, confirmed these results. Forty-five to fifty (45-50%) of Muslim students evidenced antisemitic attitudes, versus 10% of non-Muslims, consistent 4.5 to 5-fold excess rates. Researcher Gunther Jikeli’s 2011 study yielded concordant results. Jikeli, a Muslim convert, conducted 117 interviews with Muslims from Berlin, Paris, and London, whose mean age was 19 years-old. He provided these critical observations which affirm the centrality of Islam in shaping the antisemitic views of young Muslim adults in Western Europe:
“References to the Koran or the Hadith may also be used with the implication that Allah agrees with this viewpoint…The majority of interviewees displayed resentments against Jews in at least one way or another. Negative attitudes toward Jews were often openly exhibited, at times aggressively so, including calls for violence against Jews and intentions to carry out antisemitic actions. Some even reported that they were involved in antisemitic acts. Negative views of Jews have become the norm in some young Muslims’ social circles. Some forms are specific to young European Muslims: anti-Jewish attitudes with direct reference to Islam, Muslim identity, or ethnic identity. In this sense, the use of the term ‘Muslim antisemitism’ is apt… The majority do not distance themselves from a literal interpretation of the Qur’an, and they are thus likely to take hostile passages in Islamic scripture literally”
A lone study of its kind, assessing non-lethal violence and violent threats targeting Jews, conducted by FRA – European Union for Fundamental Rights, in 2012, uniquely, queried Jewish victims about the identity of those who attacked them, or threatened them with violence, asking them to recall their past 5-year experiences:
“Thinking about the incident where somebody attacked or threatened you in a way that frightened you because you are Jewish–who did this to you?”
There was a gross excess occurrence of non-lethal violence, or violent threats against Western European Jews, by Muslims, relative to non-Muslims, collectively, who held designated, “right-wing”, “left-wing”, or “Christian” views: Belgium—Muslim 56%, Christian 2%, right-wing 0%, left-wing 0%; France—Muslim 53%, left-wing 18%, right-wing 4%, Christian 3%; Germany—Muslim 34%, right-wing 11%, left-wing 9%, Christian 0%; Sweden—Muslim 51%, left-wing 25%, right wing 5%, Christian 0%; United Kingdom—Muslim 36%, left-wing 14%, right-wing 7%, Christian 6%.
Compared to those with “extremist right wing (or Christian) views”, the excess rate of Muslim non-lethal violence or violent threats ranged anywhere from 3-to 28-fold! Other than in Germany, where the percentages of left wing vs. right wing attacks were essentially equal, left wing Antisemitic non-lethal violence or threatened violence also exceeded right wing antisemitic violence, or threatened violence. Non-lethal violent acts or threats perpetrated by those with “Christian extremist” views were negligible, in absolute terms, and even more so relative to “Muslim extremists.”
Across nearly a thousand years, from the polemics invoked by Ibn Hazm and Abu Ishaq el-Biri in 11th century Muslim Spain, to the sermon diatribes of immigrant Danish Muslim imams Abu Bilal Ismail and Muhammad al-Khaled Samha at present, the same canonical Islamic themes of Jew-hatred—punctuated by the Koranic epithet for Jews as “despicable apes”—have been invoked to incite violence against European Jews.
The writer is Associate Professor of Family Medicine, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the author of The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History, and, Sharia Versus Freedom—The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism.