Politics
President Barack Obama speaks at the White House in Washington Jan. 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque) President Barack Obama speaks at the White House in Washington Jan. 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)  

Muslim anti-Semitism is only decades old, Obama claims

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Experts are scoffing at President Barack Obama’s apparent belief that widespread Muslim hatred of Jews is only decades old.

“Obama reveals that he has no idea, or doesn’t want to give the impression that he has any idea, about the reality of Islamic anti-Semitism,” said Robert Spencer, the author of many books on Islamic ideas and director of Jihad Watch.

“Anti-Semitism is hard-wired into Islam,” from its origins before 700, said Andrew Bostom, author of three books about Islam, including “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism,” which lists centuries of anti-Semitic hatred, murders, pogroms and apartheid-like discrimination.

Intellectuals, politicians and diplomats are loath to admit the centrality of anti-Semitism in Islamic beliefs, because it fuels conflict with Israel and the West and it can’t be fixed by Westerners, Bostom said. ”You’re dealing with an intractable situation, and people hate intractable situations,” he said, adding “diplomats are the worst.”

In an interview with The New Yorker magazine, Obama described the Muslim hatred of Israel as byproduct of recent fights, not as a consequence of Islam’s doctrinal objection to any Jewish government.

“With respect to Israel, the interests of Israel in stability and security are actually very closely aligned with the interests of the Sunni states,” Obama said.

The “Sunni states” are nations populated by Arabs who believe in the mainstream Sunni version of Islam. In contrast, Iran advocates the Shia version of Islam, which is endorsed by roughly 10 percent of Muslims.

“What’s preventing them from entering into even an informal alliance [against Shia-run Iran] with at least normalized diplomatic relations is not that their interests are profoundly in conflict but the Palestinian issue, as well as a long history of anti-Semitism that’s developed over the course of decades there, and anti-Arab sentiment that’s increased inside of Israel based on seeing [Jewish] buses being blown up,” Obama said.

“If you can start unwinding some of that, that creates a new equilibrium,” he said.

“The Palestinian issue,” is the refusal by Muslims to recognize the right of Jews to have a Jewish government in the historically Jewish homeland around Jerusalem.

However, the refusal to recognize Israel is entwined with Islamic anti-Semitism, which Obama claimed “has developed over the course of decades there.”

Obama’s “course of decades” comment “ignores the numerous anti-Semitic teachings of the Quran and other Islamic texts — most notably the Quran’s designation of the Jews as the worst enemies of the believers,” Spencer said.

For example, Spencer cited the fifth chapter of the Quran, which declares that “If [Jews] believed in Allah and the Prophet and that which is revealed unto him, they would not choose them for their friends. But many of them are of evil conduct. Thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who believe (to be) the Jews and the idolaters.”