In The Wake Of The Israel-Hamas War, Islamist Anti-Semitism Emerges A Winner

Qanta Ahmed Author, Land of Invisible Women
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Battle-lines between Israel and Hamas remain entrenched. As the dust settles over a fragile ceasefire, frontlines far from the Middle East theaters of war are forming. While the world was gripped by Gaza, Islamist anti-Semitism has gained ground both in the scientific academy, and the global square of public opinion. In the wake of war, Islamist anti-Semitism emerges a winner.

An ‘Open Letter for the People in Gaza’ published in the internationally prestigious medical journal The Lancet, details losses sustained by Palestinians in Gaza. Without mention of Hamas as primary actors in the conflict, nor the personal interests of the lead authors (self-described pro-Palestinian activists) academic authors vilified Israel, demonized its military, declaring the “Israeli academics” responsible for the “massacre” of Palestinians in Gaza.

The paper was published without challenge or editorial commentary, indicating the journal’s explicit endorsement of anti-Semitism. Over 15,000 physicians signed in support, confirming such views are widely shared among elite scholars. The authors, the journal, its editor Richard Horton, and its publisher, Reed Elsevier have borne no penalty, though recent reports disclosed the extremist sympathies of the original authors, and the now embattled editor is in Israel to “listen and learn.”

Extreme speech, in the guise of a scientific paper, is both a marker of devastating divisions laid bare in the aftermath of the Israel-Hamas conflict and a measure of the extraordinary reach of Islamist anti-Semitism.

As an academic physician who collaborates with Israeli physicians and Israeli institutions, I registered my protest in the same journal, joined by four Nobel laureates in the sciences (three Israeli) and the presidents of Israel’s Technion Institute of Science and Technology, Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, and Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center. I felt morally compelled to do so not only as an academician but also as an observing Muslim. Because I am Muslim, I am vehemently opposed to all forms of Islamism – Hamas’s defining ideology — including its latest encroachment, this time upon the academic space.

Certainly, Gazan civilians bore an appalling human cost during the conflict, and remain vulnerable as the ceasefire matures. It is also true that Hamas enjoys an unchallenged stranglehold on Gaza and by no means represents all Gazans, let alone all Palestinians. Equally, Israelis themselves are amongst the most vociferous critics of Israel’s actions in this conflict. Nonetheless, Hamas, and Hamas sympathizers, even the academically elite, must be exposed for what they are: supporters of ideologically lethal anti-Semites.

Islamist anti-Semitism, like European anti-Semitism, is expressly genocidal in ambition. But political Islamism lionizes anti-Semitism as religious duty. The Hamas charter identifies as treasonous the Muslim who would collaborate with a Jewish person or institution — baseless within Islam’s five pillars of belief, and Islam’s foundational scriptures including the Qu’ran (which reveres Moses, identifies Jews as a People of the Book and recognizes the Torah to be a revealed holy book by which — as the Quran tells us — Jews are to judge themselves and which Muslims must also revere as holy).

Recently, I have shown that Islamism occupies public discourse in Palestinian territories to their detriment, and Islamism, not Israel, is the true enemy of the Palestinians. Arab nations are finally coming to the slow realization that now, more urgently than ever, Islamism must be severed from Islam as they prepare for confrontation with ISIS even as they deny their own contributions to such ideologies.

Islamism is not only a lethal enemy to Jews, or its captive Muslim populations but to Islam itself. Islamist anti-Semitism seeks not only to extinguish Jewry but also the absolute erasure of the rich history of Jewish-Islamic symbiosis. While the modern Muslim world is indeed widely Judeophobic (cultivated by Islamist clerics and governments), in fifteen centuries of Islam, genocidal anti-Semitism never occurred. Islamists fervently seek to change this, and given their religonized anti-Semitism, they may well birth the next anti-Semitic genocide.

Respected political scientist Bassam Tibi in “Islamism and Islam” identifies the post-Ottoman origins of Islamist anti-Semitism: 1920s Pan Arab nationalists sought engagement with then ascendant Third Reich as a way to distance themselves from their former colonizers France and Britain. They were received by increasingly nationalist Germany as Nazism gained power, Arab secular nationalism quickly embraced Nazi anti-Semitism, and totalitarian anti-Semitism thereby entered the Islamic world.

Much to their political benefit, Islamists have skillfully incorporated the tropes of European anti-Semitism into their work. Dressing anti-Semitism in religious garb, Islamists preach not mere discrimination against Jews, but assert that Jews are denied the right to exist and that this denial is a divine one.

In this way, Nazi anti-Semitism has been rendered even more dangerous through fictionalized Islamic origins. Once anti-Semitism becomes a matter of creed, its authenticity, legality in Islamist societies and its enthusiastic supporters and enforcers are emboldened. Devoted Islamists exercise anti-Semitism not for the service of the Third Reich, but for the maker and the afterlife.

Predictably therefore, under cover of anti-Zionism following this summer’s Israel-Hamas conflict, anti-Semitic demonstrations and acts of violence have been widely reported, most troublingly in European capitals which are also host to rising Muslim migrant populations vulnerable to Islamist propaganda.

Masquerading as liberators of the Gazan people, Islamist Hamas is no different in ideology than the most radical of Islamist groups operating today – Hezbollah, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jamaat Al-Nusra, Lashkar-E-Tayibah to name a few. Casual observers say, “but Hamas doesn’t decapitate” (a brutality currently associated with ISIS) yet absence of a particular brutality is a woefully inadequate indicator of moderation.

Since its 1987 inception, Hamas has repeatedly delineated its totalitarian aspirations. Hamas members are true totalitarian ideologues, devoted to a charter which spells out their beliefs explicitly – world Zionism (including Israel) is the enemy, a unified Palestine is a divine goal, Israel in its entirety must be reclaimed through jihad involving martyrdom, and Muslims like me, who would build détente or engage with Jews, are treasonous.

It is because of my practice of Islam that I fail to be seduced by Hamas. It is because I am a Muslim that I can see through their labyrinthine Islamist deception. But this summer’s protestors, claiming empathy for the Palestinians in Gaza, instead attack Jews and Jewish symbols in ‘defense’ of “Free Palestine.” The rise in anti-Semitic violence has so alarmed Germany that recently in Berlin Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to combat anti-Semitism across Germany stating, That people in Germany are threatened and abused because of their Jewish appearance or their support for Israel is an outrageous scandal that we won’t accept. It’s our national and civic duty to fight anti-Semitism.”

Joined by Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and leaders from the Central Council of Jews in Germany who arranged the Brandenburg Gate rally, Merkel was explicit: “Anyone who hits someone wearing a skullcap is hitting us all. Anyone who damages a Jewish gravestone is disgracing our culture. Anyone who attacks a synagogue is attacking the foundations of our free society.”

Absent not only from Merkel’s statement, but also from that of Western leaders and the wider public discourse, is the contribution Islamist ideology has made to modern day anti-Semitism. Just as Hamas’ actions in Gaza are not factored into the calamity wrought upon Gazans, so too are the Islamists given a free pass in the escalating hostilities globally towards all symbols and members of global Jewry. Liberals, including my fellow academics, remain pitifully unaware of the true nature of Hamas: Hamas is a jihadist wolf in civilian sheepskin.

Unless we act otherwise, to separate Islamism from Islam, political activism from public health, academia from anti-Semitism, Hamas, and its Islamist anti-Semitism will continue to gain legitimacy and influential ground. At the irrevocable cost of our own moral bankruptcy, that’s a collateral damage no Muslim, or Jew, no secular democracy, no scientific academy can afford.