Muslim anti-Semitism is only decades old, Obama claims

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

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.”

The Jew-hatred in the Quran is critical, said Bostom, because orthodox Muslims believe the Quran is a word-for-word copy of a divine book resting on a table in “jannah,” or the Islamic version of heaven. Most Christians believe most of their Bible is open for interpretation, but for Muslims, the Quran is “permanent and perfect. … It applies to all time, it is eternal, it is a pure, divine, eternal form of reality,” Bostom told The Daily Caller.

Islamic traditions also blame a Jewish woman for poisoning their prophet Muhammad, who is credited by Muslims with creating Islam. Several Jews tribes in Saudi Arabia were enslaved, murdered or exiled during the early 600s by Muhammad’s armies, according to Islamic traditions.

The Quran’s words created and maintain Islamic anti-Semitism, which is so ubiquitous that even sects of Sunni and Shia Muslims who are trying to kill each other agree that Jews are to blame for their fighting, he said.

In the last few years, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and Egypt’s deposed Islamic president, Mohammed Morsi, were all described as Jews or friendly to Jews by their local enemies, Bostom said. Morsi was accused of collaborating with Jews, even though he had repeatedly invoked Islamic claims when declaring Jews to be apes.

The many anti-Semitic pogroms include major murder sprees in Muslim-occupied Spain in 1066 and 1391, according to Norbert Pressburg, author of “What the Modern Martyr Should Know,” which argues that Islam emerged in the 800s as an Arab heresy of Christianity.

The “ape Josef [a Jew] covered his house in marble stone. … Hurry up to slit his throat. … Take away his money, for you deserve it more than he,” claimed the one local Jew-hater, Abu Ishaq, according to Pressburg.

Maimonides, a Spanish Jew who was exiled from Muslim-controlled Spain after a 1165 campaign of forced conversion, complained that “never did a nation molest, degrade, debase and hate us as much as they. … Although we were dishonored by them beyond human endurance… our sages instructed us to bear the prevarications and preposterousness of Ishmael [Muslims] in silence.”

Obama’s attempt to ignore Islam’s anti-Semitism reflect a broader effort by liberals to excuse Muslims for their beliefs, said Bostom. By exculpating Islam, liberals can blame Europeans, imperialism and Israel for the Arabs’ wars and various problems, and allow themselves to play the role of modern peacekeeper, he said.

Arabs launched numerous pograms of Jews throughout the Arab world long before the Israel was created in 1948. The leading local Muslim religious figure who urged the pogroms around Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, moved to Berlin, and met with Hitler, when he urged Nazis to capture the region around Jerusalem and to kill all the local Jews.

Obama “seems to be attributing the rise in anti-Semitism in Arab culture to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, which ignores the many anti-Jewish pogroms that took place in that area before the founding of the State of Israel,” said Spencer.

The view fortified his mistaken belief that he can reform the Arab world, Spencer says. “His hubris is founded upon his ignorance,” Spencer added.

“No well-informed individual could possibly think himself capable of overturning hatreds that are founded in religious texts that are over a millennium old and are still revered by hundreds of millions of people as the perfect and unalterable word of the deity,” Spencer said.

Follow Neil on Twitter