A Saudi school has recently been caught teaching that Jews and Christians are apes and pigs. This is nothing new, of course, since the teaching of Jews and Chrsitians being apes and pigs is widespread in the Arab Middle East.
Why are Jews in particular called these names by Arabs and Muslims? What gratification is involved when one needs to turn others into animal form?
To discuss these questions with us today, we are joined by a distinguished panel. Our guests today are:
Kenneth Levin, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a Princeton-trained historian, and a commentator on Israeli politics. He is the author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege.
Nancy Kobrin, an affiliated professor to the University of Haifa, Arabist, psychoanalyst and author of the upcoming book, The Sheikh's New Clothes: The Naked Truth About Islamic Suicide Terrorism (which was pulled from publication by Looseleaf Law because they feared retaliation by Muslims following the Pope's comments).
Peter Raddatz, a German scholar of Islamic Studies and the co-author of the renowned “Encyclopaedia of Islam.” He is the author of many books, including From Allah to Terror? Jihad and the Western Deformation, Allah's Veil and The Turkish Danger. His new book is Allah and the Jews.
David Gutmann, Emeritus professor of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at North-Western university Medical School, in Chicago. As a clinician, he has practiced and taught intensive psychotherapy. As a researcher, he has conducted psychological studies of the Galilean and the Golan Heights Druse, as well as the Bedouin of the Negev and Sinai deserts.
Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). His latest book is the New York Times Bestseller The Truth About Muhammad.
FP: Kenneth Levin, Nancy Kobrin, David Gutmann, Peter Raddatz and Robert Spencer, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.
Robert Spencer, let’s begin with you.
This recent example of the Saudi school teaching that Jews and Christians are apes and pigs is, of course, just a continuation of a long tradition.
In terms of Jews in particular, why are they portrayed as apes and pigs in the Arab Middle East? The Qur’an, for instance, calls Jews apes and pigs several times.
Can you give us the theological background here?
Spencer: Jamie, the idea that Jews are apes and pigs is rooted in three passages of the Qur'an: 2:63-66; -60; and 7:166. The first of those passages depicts Allah telling the Jews who "profaned the Sabbath": "Be as apes despicable!" It goes on to say that these accursed ones serve "as a warning example for their time and for all times to come" (2:63-66). The second has Allah directing Muhammad to remind the "People of the Book" - a term that refers primarily to Jews and Christians - about "those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil" (-60). The third essentially repeats this, saying of the Sabbath-breaking Jews that when "in their insolence they transgressed (all) prohibitions," Allah said to them, "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."
In traditional Islamic theology these passages have not been considered to apply to all Jews. The classic Qur'anic commentator Ibn Kathir speaks of three groups of Jews: "a group that committed the prohibition, catching fish on the Sabbath," a second group that "prohibited them from transgression and avoided them," and a third group that "neither prohibited them, nor participated in their action." Belying the frequent jihadist tendency to refer to the Jews as the "descendants of apes and swine," Ibn Kathir quotes earlier authorities saying that "those who violated the sanctity of the Sabbath were turned into monkeys, then they perished without offspring," and that they "only lived on the earth for three days, for no transformed person ever lives more than three days." The Tafsir al-Jalalayn agrees, noting that those thus cursed by Allah "died three days later."
Some Islamic authorities (notably Razi) have posited that the transformation involved the human appearance (a'rad) of the accursed ones, while others, such as Mujahid, say it was not a literal change: "They were not transformed into apes, but it was a similitude which Allah made for them. Their hearts were transformed and were made like the hearts of apes, neither accepting admonition nor fearing threats."
It is most likely because of the transformation, or rather corruption, of the heart involved in this story that today's jihadists speak so freely of all Jews as "apes and pigs." For if anyone, in the jihadist view, is not "accepting admonition nor fearing threats," it is the Jews, who persist in their obstinacy over Israel instead of vacating land that belongs to the Dar al-Islam. In their disobedience to Allah over Israel -- and over their longer-standing refusal to accept the prophethood of Muhammad - they imitate the Sabbath-breakers who were cursed in the Qur'an by being changed into apes and pigs. Thus in this view they merit the epithet.
FP: Let me follow up for a moment. You note that there is a frequent jihadist tendency to refer to the Jews as the descendants of apes and swine. Are there Muslims that truly believe that Jews have descended from apes and swine literally?
Spencer: Jamie, it is not generally meant to be a literal designation, at least in the sense of physical descent. What is meant is that today's Jews are the descendants of the morally and spiritually degenerate Jews who broke the Sabbath and were transformed into apes and pigs according to the Qur'an. The implication is that today's Jews are bestial in character and are the enemies of Allah, just as the Sabbath-breakers were. Thus the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, called Jews "the enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs." The Saudi Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, imam of the principal mosque in Mecca, the Al-Haraam mosque, expanded on this, saying in a sermon that Jews are "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs."
Another Saudi Sheikh, Ba'd bin Abdallah Al-Ajameh Al-Ghamidi, made the connection explicit: "The current behavior of the brothers of apes and pigs, their treachery, violation of agreements, and defiling of holy places... is connected with the deeds of their forefathers during the early period of Islam - which proves the great similarity between all the Jews living today and the Jews who lived at the dawn of Islam."
FP: Ok, just a second, I want to crystallize this. So when Muslims refer to Jews as being the descendants of apes and pigs, they do not mean it literally? They do not believe that they are the offspring of apes and pigs literally? If Allah had turned Jews into apes and pigs, then those Jews remained apes and pigs and their offspring are still apes and pigs today, right? Or they evolved gradually into humans? What I am asking is this: is there a segment of the Muslim population that believes this literally? When the Saudi school teaches the children that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs, does it get into the explanation about how all of this is a metaphor about the state of heart, etc?
Spencer: Well, Jamie, with this concept as with many others in the theological realm in all religious traditions, there is one understanding among the intellectuals and the elites and quite another among the common folk. As I explained above, most Islamic commentators say that the transformation of the Jews referred to in the Qur'an was physical, but that those who were transformed died quickly and had no offspring. (Some, such as the early Islamic scholar Ibn Qutaiba, hold that they did, and that today's apes are the descendants of the Sabbath-breaking Jews.) And some early commentators say the change was metaphorical only. But the idea that it was physical took hold in the popular imagination. According to an excellent study by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Al-Jahiz expressed it in his Book of Animals, which dates from the ninth century. He says that not just apes and pigs, but also mice, lizards, and some other animals were originally Jews who had incurred Allah's curse.
What, then, of the Jews who live today and are manifestly human? When some Islamic supremacists today speak of them as the "descendants of apes and pigs," they mean just that. A 1996 Hamas publication says that today's Jews are bestial in spirit, and this is a manifestation of the punishment of their forefathers. The Jews, it says, invented the theory of evolution in order to transfer their shame at being blood relatives of animals to the entire human race. The Saudi Sheikh Abd Al-'Aziz Qari expressed the common view in a sermon several years ago when he said: "The Jews are the objects of Allah's [promised] wrath, while the Christians deviate from the path of righteousness.” The Koran described the Jews as a nation cursed by Allah, a nation at which he was angry - some of whom he turned into apes and pigs." Some of them were turned into apes and pigs, so the rest are relatives of apes and pigs, with hearts as bestial as those of their animal brothers.
FP: Ok, I guess what I am getting at is wondering if there is a belief among some Muslims that there are human Jews walking around today who are actually descended from apes and pigs.
Peter Raddatz, what do you make of Robert Spencer’s insights and this phenomenon?
Raddatz: Well, Mr. Spencer has laid quite good groundwork here already informing us about what this ape-pig-business is all about as far as the so-called religious justification in Islam is concerned. As almost always in those cases one could add a whole lot of what is referred to as "prophet traditions" where Muhammad is supposed to have elaborated on the subject as well. We can skip this, however, because it would bring us no additional insight exceeding the contents of Mr. Spencer's explanations.
As my most recent book deals with "Allah and the Jews" and questions of Islam-induced anti-Semitism in Europe, I may put some accent on the ideological and, moreover, the cognitive point of the affair.
Whatever assertion in Qur'an (Q) and Hadith ((H) tradition might be involved, it has been and for an unforeseeable future will be treated in favor of Islamic predominance. For example, the few favourable verses in the QH complex contradicting the general downgrading of the Jewish apes and the Christian pigs have been abrogated half a millennium ago by the great Qur'an exegete Al-Suyuti (d. 1505). Half a century earlier, by the way, the same has happened to the verses treating women in a positive manner.
As a major result of this process -- far before the arrival of "modern" Islamism -- we have to register a solid downgrading tendency which during modernization hardened into some sort of darwinistically petrified "thinking" which prevails until today. Since Muslims regard themselves as the best possible community in mankind's history, their scientific discrepancies in comparison with the West are growing and since, simultaneously, the belief in magic and fetish symbols is still going strong, it is quite understandable that opportunities to devalue non-Muslims are highly welcome. The ape symbol merges perfectly with the traditionally low status of "the Jew" as such.
As wide parts of the Muslim community are not only fetish believers but also history-conscious, they know that Jews used to perform lowest possible functions like latrine cleaning and collection of animal cadavers. Also their concentration in the gold and silver smith profession has to do with magic -- as one suspected those metals to contain very bad properties. Anyhow, today’s Jews are regarded as so loaded with equally evil forces that it is quite irrelevant whether they actually stem from apes or not. Adding further instruments like the "Zion Protocols" they are inflated to monstrous demons jeopardizing not only Islam. Meanwhile there is a whole new branch of apocalyptic literature dealing with the Jews as a very peculiar species indeed: although they are of lowest thinkable descent, they seem to be able to threaten the existence of the world - at least the Islamic world.
For some more rational "thinkers" in Islam this discrepancy is somewhat embarrassing, of course. How should one explain that ape-like beings can conceive of concepts that endanger Islam itself, the most outstanding community the world has ever seen? For our discussion it is of great importance to stress the point of an extremely low - if not non-existing - threshold to apply violence. As so often prevailing in totalitarian thinking, system enemies are compared to animals in order to alleviate and/or legitimize their extinction. On the other hand, there are only a few Muslims around today who know that Adolf Hitler -- whose holocaust enjoys a high reputation in the Arab region -- regarded Arabs as "laquered semi-apes" who "yearn for the whip". Had the war in the Orient succeeded, the German "Herrenmensch" pressure on the Arabs would have been at least as hard as the Arab pressure on the Jews.
Inside this texture we can observe not only the re-introduction of old patterns of European anti-Semitism like the blood libel and even the "god killer," but also the widely spread "legitimation" to destroy Israel. While the Islamic QH complex and its weakness in modern learning and education may explain why the overwhelming Muslim majority is still clinging to obsessively fetishized enemy thinking, we by the same time have to register a steadily rising sympathy for this attitude in Europe. Aside from emormous EU-payments going out annually to the various power groups (PLO/Fatah, Hamas and - partially even Hezbollah) we may observe Euro mainstream politics converting Islamic mass killers to "freedom fighters" and the "martyr" bombers to people who "cry for help."
No wonder that Israel gains the stature of a "terror state" with the US as an alienated "accomplice." In this strengthening ideology, increasingly referred to as "Muftism," the ape symbol starts creeping into those who show "Islamophobia" or even dare to criticize Islamic values.
FP: Thank you sir. Can you kindly explain what “fetishized enemy thinking” is?
Raddatz: Fetishized enemy thinking may be a tautology because the expression "enemy" thinking contains the negative already, of course. The fetish in this context signifies the justification for the subject to hail or to condemn the object. In our case, an ape or a pig shows the anticipatory direction of the forthcoming attitude the subject will assume. In everyday wording this means naturally that the fetish itself anticipates the way to handle the enemy or, in the favourable case, the unit to adore. The fetish is the instrument of a belief which has not yet reached a sublimated level in the western sense. Although on the other hand, we do have, of course, a lot of fetishes in the western world as well.
FP: Ok, before we move on, let me get back to a point that I am trying to crystallize -- and am not succeeding in doing so. Because of the teachings in the Qur’an, there are some Muslims who believe that Jews are literally the descendants of apes and pigs, correct?
Raddatz: It is always a big mistake to take the Qur’an wording literally. As I have pointed out with the example of the abrogation concerning friendly verses in relation to Jews and Christians as well as women, the ultimate Qur’anic purpose is to maximize Islamic power. This means that Islamic QH (Qur’an/Hadith) exegetes always apply the charismatic concept -- which means to say that one always avoids the discussion on single aspects and prefers instead the generalization of the text meaning, again in favour of Islamic power maximization and Islamic meaning predominance, respectively.
In relation to the ape/pig business, it is, therefore, completely irrelevant whether there have been a few Jews around at some given point of time who have been declared to be apes, pigs, dogs or whatever other animal - it is the mere fetish meaning of the animal symbol itself which justifies the general downgrading of the whole Jewish species as such.
As Islam does not allow differentiated discussion and is not even able to perform this, the charismatic tendency has been the overwhelming practice throughout history. To drive this enormously important point home, I may repeat it again: The mere mention of a few animal-like Jews justifies not only the contempt of the whole Jewry but also its ultimate extinction. This is the very concept which is not at all understood in the West. We ourselves used to apply it partially in the framework of the "Christian" inquisition as well as the various anti-Semitic patterns which are now coming up again in the Arab world -- as well, unfortunately, little by little also in selected European countries like France. Note also, in this context, the Nazi expression "Ungeziefer" (vermin) which let appear gradually the industrial killing of human beings as a quite "natural" affair indeed.
According to the importance of the charismatic concept it is one of the central principles of the ongoing deception "dialogue" (some call it "DIALIE") to insist on discussing isolated items like some Jews stemming from apes or not and so on in order to distract the attention from the real thing going on, for instance bombing Jews from the surface of this earth.
This may explain, at least in part, why we perform symposiums all over the world elaborating on the most particular specialities and intricacies between Islam and the West while at the same time increasing numbers of Muslims congregate in order to attack and destroy Western institutions and people. No wonder then that participants at this cynical parody maintain that "this is not the Islam.”
FP: Thank you Peter Raddatz, I get your point. Please do not repeat it after I ask this next question. You can expand on it all you want in the next round. But I would still like my simple question answered -- and it still isn't being answered. Please answer it:
Are there Muslims who believe that Jews are actually descended from apes and pigs?
Raddatz: There is no question of course that among 1.3 billion Muslims there a considerable number of people who actually believe the Jews to stem directly from apes and the Christians from pigs as well. While this belief is dictated by Koran and tradition and restricted to the Dhimmi religions, Western science derives the whole of mankind from apes on an evolutionary basis. I had a lot of partially interesting discussions with Muslim theologians on this difference.
FP: Yes, wait, just a second, Western science may derive the whole of mankind from apes on an evolutionary basis. But what I find very mystifying here is that Muslims as a religious people do not believe in evolution. Yet the ones who believe that Jews descend from apes must accept a theory of evolution, which contradicts their main belief system of creation. How do they reconcile these two contradictory belief systems?
Also, I have had a few mind boggling conversations with a few Muslims who insisted to me that Jews are descended from apes. I was told that Allah made them into apes and that the Jews then descended/evolved from them back into human form. This is why I am asking the question because I am wondering how widespread this thinking is among Muslims.
In my conversations, I asked: when were the Jews supposedly turned into apes? In other words, how many years ago? A few thousand? Six thousand? Ten thousand? When exactly did this happen? Now, how many generations have occurred since then that the apes evolved into monkeys? Was this happening while there were already humans around? Yes, because, according to the verses, Allah had made human Jews into apes. So humans were already around. Then some Jewish humans were made into apes and then these apes gradually evolved back into humans? How does this square with the Muslim belief system in creation – and also with how long evolution supposedly takes?
Now you can roll your eyes and just scoff and say how ridiculous this all is. But the fact is that this is a very wide-held assumption within the Arab and Muslim world. They actually believe and teach it. So I am disturbed by, and fascinated, in the thinking here.
The particular Muslim individuals I was posing these questions to, who believed Jews descended from monkeys, didn’t answer my questions. Instead they looked very confused and also became very very angry. What intrigues me is the psychology here. It appears that they had never even thought this through. Why did it take me to ask a question that they themselves had never thought of -- a question that is crucial to their belief system? Also, when presented with these questions and with the reality that they couldn’t answer them, they continued to believe in what they believe in, and were simultaneously very angry – not at the fact that they had no answers to my questions, but at the fact that I had asked them.
So Mr. Raddatz, just to follow up again: what is the rationale here in terms of what I am referring to? The ones who believe in this Jews-turned-into-monkeys-and-back-to-humans thing, how do they even think this through and be able to still believe it? How are they comfortable with a belief system that they never thought through logically and cannot think through logically because it can’t pan out logically or realistically?
Specifically: when did Allah supposedly turn the Jews into monkeys (time wise) and how long did it take for them to evolve back into humans? Did other humans witness this evolution take place right in front of their eyes? What did the descendants look like half-way in the process? Wouldn’t there have been some people, especially scientists, around at the time that noticed? In this whole line of thinking, is the implication that there was, like, a Jewish person who had a great grandmother who was ape or what? How many generations did this take exactly according to those who believe that this phenomenon is real?
Also, when did the Jews who gradually evolved into humans from being apes start getting actual names back? And what were some relatives thinking? If only some Jews were turned into apes by Allah you would think that there were some relatives that knew about this and would have recorded it? But nowhere do we have a record of a Jewish person recording, with some sorrow, that his cousin was turned into an ape. If this had actually happened when humans were already around, you would think that some humans would have noticed it, no?
Raddatz: Your questions are more than justified but based on partially wrong or rather incomplete assumptions. You insinuate that there is a logic of some sort that might be compatible with the one we are basing this talk around. Intentionally or not, you come up with a few expressions which are central to the whole problem: logic - pathological - reality - contradiction - belief - science - Allah. What misses here is the counter piece to reality which we might call utopia or rather pipe-dream.
Let me try to unravel your chain of questions the answering of which you are quite entitled to. They comprise a beautiful example for the aporetic character of the so-called "dialogue with Islam" as it deals with logical levels completely different from what we are used to in the Western world.
Let me start with Allah himself -- who in Muslim eyes is regarded as the greatest schemer and truth dodger of all time. Contrary to the other monotheistic gods he can be his own opposite, meaning he can be simultaneously one and non-one, true and untrue, eternal and worldly as well as represent all other thinkable and unthinkable contradictions He, therefore, must claim to be the time itself and to create the world every moment anew in order to control it. As time is a dimension only existing in human consciousness, Allah must conform to human thinking and is, therefore, not almighty but arbitrary. As a technical construction he only concedes constructions which are compatible with the interaction between his base - the community - and his superstructure - the QH complex (Koran and tradition). The very irony of the matter lies in the fact that it was the Jewish thinker Gersonides who unwittingly detected the philosophical and logical groundwork of this constellation.
The obvious closeness between Allah as technical speculation and its Marxist touch on one hand as well as the post-modern atheistic destructionism on the other can explain partially why the family similarity inside the "dialogue" is growing dynamically, especially in Europe. As Islamic "science" is confined to Allah’s conditions, it is as arbitrary as his overall super-function as truth dodger who in turn legitimizes every Muslim to declare any piece of assumed knowledge to be the "truth" as long as it may be - however stretched - connected to the QH complex.
One of the best examples so far is the "ape" symbol which isolates the Jews from the human "race" and lets them loose for free personal disposal. Contrary to the Western principle of science, which is supposed to elevate the discourse to the level of independent theory and violence-free, tolerant explaining power, Islamic "science" cannot be separated from ideological dominance and political power, including violence. Insofar as Western "evolution theory" is dependent on proof, however scarce, e Islamic "evolution" is a gift from Allah, i.e. arbitrary and opportunistic interpretation of Muslim man, using the comprehensive repression and killing licences granted by the QH complex.
So, whenever you ask a Muslim believer if Jews stem directly from apes you will get - in most cases - an affirmative answer because there is no other dimension of thinking than the one set and limited by the QH complex. As Islamic logic and reality in turn are shaped by this complex, non-Islamic logics and realities must come from other, most despicable dimensions of "thinking" like those of apes, pigs, dogs and, ultimately, "Satan". The basic "logic" behind this is, of course, the archaic legitimization to kill and destroy this un-Islamic counter-world and its subhuman representatives whose most provocative species are the Jews. As long as Islam was in unquestioned power in previous centuries, this subject did not play too great a part until Western civilization proved increasingly predominant and started "provoking Islamic feeling", thereby radicalizing its inbuilt violence concept which in turn does not contain any room for compromise.
On this basis you may ask questions of your quality but you will not get answers which comply with standards of Western logic. Neither is there an answer to the question how long it took until Jews mutated into apes or vice versa nor is there any explanation as to whether and when one's grandmother may still have been an ape or have already arrived at this stage or may be in some transitory stage which will be completed in, say, 3.56 generations. Your remark on "scientists" possibly observing this mutation process is a typically Western one because it presupposes the ability to assume an outer-Islamic thinking sphere which does simply not exist. This deficit, however, contains a somewhat aesthetic side aspect. While we normally regard these questions from a satirical point of view, you will find in Islam many people - even full-scale theologians - who elaborate quite seriously on this because they are confined to an alternative-free, one-way road of interpreting their "reality". This again, mind you, is created continuously by Allah who as greatest truth dodger of all time is not only entitled but obliged to deceive all non-Muslims and to call all believers for support in this super-historical task.
At this junction we arrive at the pathological side of this business you have rightly mentioned. From a Freudian point of view we would have to call it "Narcissistic" because what we are faced with is an atrophied consciousness, remaining on a highly ideologized level, deforming the individual mind to what the Muslims themselves call "self-removal" (Arabic: tajarrud). This state of mind may be called pathological because there is only one "reality" which has to be contained although it is under constant duress from the "Satanic" Western civilization.
Needless to say that growing paranoia is the tragic consequence as a mind-set - free of alternatives and unable to look at reality from an outer-Islamic standpoint - must see the part of the world which does not yet conform to Islamic rules must be full of enemies led, of course, by the Jewish "world conspiracy".
Your question then could be turned around: If Allah created ape-like Jews and, by the same token, can deceive anybody, including his own believers, where is the protection then for the Muslims to mutate into the ape-status themselves?
FP: It appears there is no such protection.
I am a bit baffled at the moment. This would all be hilarious if it were not so real.
Dr. Levin, as a psychiatrist, how do you see all of this?
Levin: It's very helpful to hear Robert Spencer's review of the historical roots of the "apes and pigs" epithet commonly invoked now in mosques and Muslim schools to describe Jews and, to a lesser extent, Christians as well.
I agree with Peter Raddatz that the use of these epithets is a reflection of Muslim supremacism and the desire to stigmatize Jews in particular, but Christians as well, as lesser beings. The escalating of this denigration has a long history, as reflected in Peter Raddatz's observation of early deletions by Qur’an exegetes of more positive references to Jews and Christians in the Qur’an and Hadith. Casting Jews and Christians in such terms both reinforced the comprehension of Islam as the supreme faith and justified the harsh treatment of Jews and Christians living under Muslim regimes.
Further escalation of such stigmatizing characterizations in modern times has been symptomatic of the response of the Muslim world, and most especially the Arab world, to modern developments. The imposition of control by European colonial powers over virtually the entire Muslim world represented, as Peter Raddatz suggests, a severe narcissistic injury to Muslim self-image. In some respects, the establishment of Israel, in the middle of the Arab world, represented even more of a narcissistic injury, at least to the Arabs, in that Jews were perceived as particularly low beings, given their traditional place within Islamic societies and their traditional powerlessness, and so it was particularly disconcerting to see Jews defeating the combined invading armies of surrounding Arab states and building a viable nation. (Arab spokespeople commonly refer to Arab humiliation at the hands of Israel, and their sympathizers in the West choose to interpret this as having to do with security checkpoints set up by Israel and other such steps. But Israel's very existence is experienced as a humiliation in the context of Arab and broader Islamic self-image, even more so as the incessant message in mosques, media, and schools has become that Israel's existence is a violation of the natural order of things and it is the obligation of Muslims to annihilate this abomination.)
In response to these narcissistic insults, the more persistent invoking of denigrating characterizations of Jews and Christians has reflected in part an effort to bolster Muslims' sense of self and of Muslim superiority. Peter Raddatz rightly points, however, to the implicit contradiction of Muslims seeing themselves as superior and yet outdone by pigs and monkeys. Consequently, one observes the emergence of a different contradiction: The characterization, particularly of Jews, as at once inferior beings, animals, and yet beings possessed of a daunting but infernal power, children of Satan, controllers of the world's wealth and power, authors and enforcers of the "Protocols." The two characterizations are contradictory but both serve to bolster the image of Muslim - and even more particularly Arab - superiority: Their foes are intrinsically inferior, animal-like, and have been successful against them only because they possess infernal powers. The logical contradiction is an example of what Freud called primary process thinking - primitive thinking dating back to the earliest stages of childhood and characterized by simultaneously holding logically inconsistent beliefs but doing so in the service of trying to satisfy intense desires.
One can see the same inconsistency in Nazi characterizations of Jews. They were at once depicted as vermin, grossly inferior beings, and yet as powerful, demonic beings posing a dire threat to Germany.
As has been suggested, the Nazi analogy demonstrates that questions of how literally Muslims believe today's Jews are descended from apes and pigs are largely beside the point. Hitler's followers did not necessarily believe that Jews were literally vermin; but they believed the rhetoric, they were prepared to view Jews as vermin. Much the same can be said of those who are taught in their mosques and schools today that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs. Whether or not they believe this to be literally true, they are indoctrinated by the rhetoric and largely learn to view Jews as apes and pigs.
The Nazi comparison offers further understanding of the progression of the "apes and pigs" epithet in the modern era. In its original Qur’anic use, it referred to Jews who violated the sabbath. More broadly, it represented an attack on "irreligious" Jews, and the distinction between irreligious and religious Jews was reflective of the Islamic agenda to convert Jews to Islam as the successor religion, to make them authentically religious. In contrast, in the modern era, confronted with the insult of Israel, and with the Nazi model, the goal vis-a-vis the Jews has become not conversion but extermination, and the generalization of the "apes and pigs" epithet to all Jews, the characterization of Jews not simply as unbelievers but as an inferior race - and also an infernal race - supports the genocidal agenda.
In this respect, we can see a progression in Islam comparable to the progression in Europe from the Church objective of converting the Jews to the Nazi objective of exterminating them, with denigrating characterizations of the Jews evolving over time to fit the evolving objective. (In fact, particularly from the twelfth century, we can see some Church characterizations of Jews - as allies of Satan, etcetera - that could lend themselves to genocide, and did figure in episodic mass murders of Jews; but this was not official Church policy. Those same characterizations, however, did help prepare the way for wide European collaboration in the Nazi mass murder of Europe's Jews.)
Consistent with this progression in the Muslim, and particularly Arab, agenda, and once more an echo of Nazi usage, the denigrating Muslim epithets regarding Jews and Israel have also expanded to where, for example, Israel is now commonly referred to as a cancer in the body of Islam that must be extirpated.
The denigration of Christians, if at a lower pitch than that of Jews, is also, of course, a pervasive reality in today's Muslim world and figures in the besiegement of and attacks upon Christian communities across that world, as well as in the stoking of anti-Christian sentiment within Muslim communities in Europe and the Americas.
Kobrin: Peter Raddatz and Robert Spencer have laid the groundwork very well with regard to the use of these terms “apes” and “pigs” in the QH. Kenneth Levine has brought the discussion into the Islamist Hamas realm via the Palestinian conflict, concepts of shame and humiliation and Freud. I would only add the following point that “the idea of the ape was taken from the place of a sacred animal by pre-Islamic infidel societies such as Hindu, ancient Egypt and what made the early Muslims resent it [the ape] and turn it into a pagan symbol. Apes were viewed as ‘tricky’ animals like the image of the Jew.” (personal communication, R. Paz)
This note might serve as a segue way as to why the terms are so inflammatory. There is a certain irony in all of this because it was the study of primate behavior, which helped me understand and formulate a theory of imagery for the Islamic suicide attack as crime scene. (see my participation in other Frontpagemag symposia). Very cleverly, terrorist behavior functions nonverbally to paralyze and annihilate the other. Ninety percent of emotions are communicated nonverbally. It is predatory and feral. Aggression breeds aggression. It is as if you have to press the “mute” button on the television and watch the jihadist videos or the violence of the Arab street, for example, in order to "read" the primitive, atavistic way in which they operate and what they are communicating nonverbally of which they themselves are not aware. Then after viewing the violence as if you were watching an old silent movie, it is important to factor back into the equation these horrendous ideologies because they are emotionally lived beliefs.
As you may know we had a recent heated situation here in the Twin Cities of St. Paul Minneapolis at the airport where cab drivers, the majority of whom are Somali Muslims, and many (but not all) did not want to take passengers who were carrying alcohol or disabled passengers who were accompanied by their companion dogs as alcohol is forbidden in Islam and the dog is considered to be unclean. From discussions with members of the Somali community, it was radical Arabs who came in and “stirred up this pot” of protest. The majority of moderate immigrant Muslims are working hard to put food on the table, clothe and educate their kids and care for their elderly. The last thing they "need" to be saddled with is this nightmare and nonsense of global jihad becoming local.
The Arab holds high status in many Muslim communities. Indeed for some of the Somali clans, they trace their descent to Arabs. Freud would call this their family romance and the wish to “rub shoulders” and/or be "royalty" of those who control Mecca. Yet ironically, if the Arabs ever did their deep ancestral DNA testing at National Geographic’s Genographic Project its “Genographic Project DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group in Africa 60,000 years ago.” They might be shocked to discover that they are probably descended from the Somalis!
Why do I stress the Arab? It underpins the current blood bath:
“The entire phenomenon of jihadist activity, its doctrines, and its strategies originate in the Arab world and the Middle East.[Sunni and Arab]. There are no new doctrines in Indonesia; there are no new doctrines in Nigeria; and there are no new jihadist doctrines in Uzbekistan. Everything originates in the Middle East, and especially in the Arab world. Equally, there is the growing significance of political Islam, generally in the Arab world and the Middle East. All the popular doctrines and ideologies today are Islamist. There are no secular or national ones. The only ideology left in the Arab world and in the Middle East is the Islamist one.” (R. Paz. The 2006 Lebanon War’s Effect on Global Jihad Groups, The Middle East Review of International Affairs, vol. 11, article 2/7-March 2007.)
Teaching Saudi children that Jews and Christians are apes and pigs is incitement to violence. It is also teaching them to split off their own aggression and rage and to project it on to targeted dehumanized “others” who are unconsciously associated with the denigrated female. This kind of splitting and projecting is at the core of the Arab shame honor culture. Blaming the other does not permit a space for empathy, which is necessary if you are going to promote change.
FP: This is a fascinating notion -- that empathy is connected to the possibility of change. Thank you Dr. Kobrin.
Dr. Gutmann, go ahead.
Gutmann: I am not terribly interested in what the Arabs are saying about the Jews when they call us "Apes" and "Pigs." We already know that a large number of them hate our guts, and the words that they use to express their murderous rage are of secondary interest. I am primarily interested not in what these Arabic epithets say about Jews, but what they reveal about the self-image of contemporary Arabs.
I suggest that many Muslims believe themselves to be Apes and Pigs - low, shameful creatures who no longer merit Allah's favor.
Bear in mind that contemporary Arabs, a people who are terribly vulnerable to the experience of humiliation, are suffering a crisis of almost unbearable shame.
Global economics, communications and education have dumped them into a modern world in which they are at best second class players. As Arthur Koestler once
remarked, save for rugs and dirty postcards (and recently, innovations in suicide bombing), nothing new by way of science, industry, philosophy, literature or art has come out of the Arab world in the past 500 years. The Arab response to their recently exposed backwardness is to feel excruciating shame, and then to project or "export" their shame onto those who in their eyes have inspired it.
And who better than the Jews? The Jews and particularly a relative handful of Zionists have been humiliating the Arabs since the onset of modernity. They have turned Arab deserts into fertile croplands, they have built flourishing cities where there were once Arab hovels, they have recovered from a great butchery to create science, industry and literature as well as a working democratic state with a first-rate army - an army that routinely crushes "the four corners of the (Arab) world in arms."
No wonder that a large proportion of suicide bombers and jihadists come from the ranks of college-educated rather than proletarian Arabs. When young Arabs attend Western academies, who are the great minds that they are introduced to? Answer: among other infidels, a lot of brilliant Jews, including Marx, Einstein and Freud, but - save for the heavily hyped Edward Said – almost no Arab thinkers. Arab students have been dealing with their resulting sense of humiliation by bringing Jihad and intimidation of Jews to any campus where they have attained a critical mass.
So no wonder that too many Arabs readily stigmatize Jews as apes and pigs. In the absence of any reliable evidence that Jews form such a menagerie, this accusation is a clear example of projective thinking ("fetishistic" thinking in Dr. Raddatz' terms) and clinicians know that a projection reveals much more about its source than about its target.
Via these epithets and delusions, the Arabs are telling us that their failure to keep up with the modernizing world makes them feel less than human: in Allah's eyes. They see themselves as pigs who cannot control their baser appetites, and like apes who still walk erect, but who can no longer build and support civilization.
Once formed, this largely unconscious and intolerable self-accusation is - in classic Arab fashion - projected on, exported to the Jews. Using fetishistic thinking, in which symbol ("Pig") is confounded with substance ("Jew") they hope magically to turn us Jews into the animal that is most abhorrent to us. Fused with the person of the Jew, the Pig and the Ape will be "out there"; and the Arab soul will be cleansed, made acceptable to Allah.
Bad names should never hurt us, but we are at risk from increasingly frantic efforts on the part of Islamic extremists to validate these epithets, these lies whose time has come, and to make them stick.
Spencer: I am very glad to see Peter Raddatz point out that:
“few favourable verses in the Q[ur’an] H[adith] complex contradicting the general downgrading of the Jewish apes and the Christian pigs have been abrogated half a millennium ago by the great Qur'an exegete Al-Suyuti (d. 1505). Half a century earlier, by the way, the same has happened to the verses treating women in a positive manner. As a major result of this process -- far before the arrival of ‘modern’ Islamism -- we have to register a solid downgrading tendency which during modernization hardened into some sort of darwinistically petrified "thinking" which prevails until today.”
This is an extraordinarily important point, as it has become fashionable today, even among some scholars who undoubtedly know better, to ascribe Islamic anti-Semitism to the influence of Christianity and/or Nazism. In fact, Islamic anti-Semitism has its own deep wellsprings within Islam, and is rooted in the Qur’an and the words and deeds of Muhammad.
It was also good to see his discussion of the fact that these considerations are not bound by the strictures of logical thinking. One of the Qur’an’s many rebukes to Jews is based on the allegation that they claimed that “Allah’s hand is chained” (5:64). In Islamic thinking, Allah’s hand is never chained. While Europeans reasoned from Christian principles to the proposition that God created the universe according to consistent and observable laws, and thus determined that scientific investigation would be worth the effort, from an Islamic standpoint such a view would have been regarded as a blasphemous restriction on Allah’s unlimited power – a chaining of the divine hand. The decline of the Islamic world and the blossoming of Europe can be correlated to this.
Also fascinating has been the discussion here of how the Muslim dehumanization of Jews is a gigantic example of projection, proceeding from frustration at how hollow rings today the assertion that Muslims are the “best of people” (Qur’an 3:110).This projection manifests itself in other areas as well. Islamic apologists routinely project upon their critics the characteristics of the jihadists. Edina Lekovic of MPAC provided a piquant example of this a few months ago when she claimed that I wanted to “push all Muslims into the sea” – something I have never remotely suggested, but which is strongly reminiscent of jihadist boasts about how they are going to destroy Israel. Likewise all those who dare to try to discuss the elements of Islam that give rise to jihadist fanaticism today are routinely tarred as bigots and hate-mongers, often simply for quoting the genuinely bigoted and hateful statements made on a regular basis in mosques throughout the world.
The fundamental unquestioned proposition behind all of this is that “Muslims must dominate, and must not be dominated.” Today they have fallen so far short of this ideal that their frustration spills over into all the pathologies noted above and more.
Unfortunately, the wilful blindness of all too many in positions of influence in the West, and the unwillingness of so many government officials and media figures to consider such evidence as has been marshalled here and to deal with its implications regarding immigration and other issues, may make that domination – particular in Europe in the coming decades – no longer simply a fantasy.
Raddatz: There we are. We all seem to have zeroed in on something Mr. Spencer rightly circumscribes as a "gigantic example of projection." Mr .Gutmann strengthens it by the shame-honor-mechanism that drives the Arab world into the Jihadist ideology.
I am glad that Mr. Levin in this context picked up the aspect of "Narcissism" in the Freudian sense which I regard to deliver an important insight into the deep-rooted intricacies of our subject. For the sake of further explanation, I may briefly cite the definition of the French psycho-analysts Bela Grunberger and Pierre Dessuant:
"The process (of projection) is as general as Narcissim itself, it leads to the idea of an international and universal Jewry ... a method that transcends every kind of rationality ... The truth of the Narcissist does not require any proof, it is revealed; by definition this belief must not be in any way confined ... thus the world of facts is repressed and attacked, and it must even be removed in order to create space for the Narcissist illusions and intentions. Narcissism and its wondrous belief does not need any witnesses, history, tradition, facts. It is simply self-sufficient."
Moreover, the scientists continue:
"The truth of the Narcissist bases on something outside any logical reality .. it fights any facts and examinations which it regards as enmity and provocation, taking them as challenges that lead to utopian reactions. The truth of the Narcissist guarantees his wholeness, it does not require any confirmation; on the contrary, it needs vagueness and ambiguity, which makes anything possible. Precision is an superfluous obstacle and artefact that withstands the ideal of almightiness .. The Narcissist regards the concept of objective truth as something despicable, causality as a tyrant so that proofs are denied. ... At any rate (they) have to be repressed in favour of the Narcissistic perfection - be it at the cost of absurdity."
Needless to say that one needs Narcissists to make history, depending, though, on the character of thinking they break limits and borders and transcend into new dimensions. Muhammad quite obviously occupied a mind-set that at his time already had been avoided, or rather transcended, by Jewry and Christianity, namely the general tendency to realize power by violence. Any utopian idea, including the universal supremacy of Islam, therefore needs Narcissists, i.e. indifferential minds whose psychotic deformation consists of an ethics-free, violence-geared self-sufficiency. As I pointed out previously, modernity exerts an epochal pressure on both, Western and Islamic elites, which have to assimilate in order to survive in power. We can register a growing, necessarily Narcissistic similarity by the Islamist revival of the aggressive "HadQur" (Hadith/Qur'an) complex as well as its Western confirmation by forbidding "Islamophobia".
The "popular" appearance of this assimilation shows itself in a physical regression that confirms Nancy Kobrin's remarks on the pre-historical behaviour of Islamist suicide bombers. You may even go further than this. Their obsessive blood ideology and death cult points to an atavistic "thinking" structure that reacts to a primordial god type. The decapitation videos, for instance, are nothing else but equally primordial sacrifice rites, severing heads containing "impure" thoughts and streaming with blood in order to mollify this predatory power one calls "Allah". As this "god" in turn, as I mentioned before, claims to be the time itself and, thereby, occupies a dimension which exists only in the human mind. Muslims, by Islamic definition then, are the only beings which one can call "human", fixed in the Qur'an (3/110) as "best community of all time". Thus, Islamophobia is nothing but part of the "gigantic projection" that increasingly attracts the Western elites so much, especially in Europe.
It obviously impedes also those who "suffer" from it assuming the "true" i.e. Narcissistic "humanity" which, however, excites not only new anti-Semitism. By incorporating the "ape" symbol it alleviates and quasi-legitimizes killing the Jewish "world conspirators" and annihilating the "terror state Israel". Western politicians, media people and "intellectuals" appeasing to this totalitarian construction, apparently follow the same road of mind regression and ethical destruction. So the "apes and pigs" simply symbolize the very rationality that jeopardizes the Islamic expansion in particular as well as any kind of Narcissistic, i.e.usurpatory power in general. Given this trend and its current conditions as unchanged for the time being, at least in Europe you may, therefore, observe an intensifying Islamicization that will also support the broadening rationality gap between Europe and the United States.
Levin: David Gutmann brings up the role of projection in fuelling modern Muslim, particularly Arab, denigration of Jews as subhuman. He suggests that their sense of their own failures in the modern era generates a self-doubt and self-loathing which then gets projected onto those they see as faring better. This is certainly a salient point, as is Peter Raddatz's further development of it in noting the relationship between narcissism and projection.
But Peter Raddatz also correctly points out that the discussion of narcissism and projection is relevant as well to comprehending the mind-set of those in the West, particularly within Western elites, who have chosen to respond to the Islamist threat with - in Robert Spencer's words - "wilful blindness."
It is common within threatened societies that segments of those societies will choose to avert their eyes from the threat, or - a variation on the same theme - to rationalize it, interpret it as a response to manageable provocations, and seek to appease it. They will also typically blame elements of their own society - particularly those on the other side of cultural or social or political divides - as being the source of the provocations that have generated the danger.
The Islamist onslaught, as manifested in suicide bombings, beheadings, and, most spectacularly, the 9/11 attacks, is a narcissistic challenge for its targets. The narcissistic threat can easily lead to a defensive, projective response that chooses to construe the assault in terms which are some variation of: "These people [i.e., the Islamist participants in suicide bombings and other expressions of the anti-Western Jihad] are people just like us, really want the same things for themselves and their families that we do, and so their extreme actions must reflect a desperation born of their not having adequate access to lives like ours. The threat of those actions can therefore be managed by helping them achieve such lives; and the real enemies are those among us, including those of our Western leaders in the past and present, who have failed to do so and instead have raised obstacles to these others achieving such lives."
This comprehension of the threat - which, of course, is a delusion and entails tightly closing one's eyes and ears to what the Islamists do and say - addresses the narcissistic challenge by projecting one's own values onto the threatening party, by diminishing the threat to seemingly manageable proportions, and by blaming those whom one doesn't really fear - America, or George Bush, or the Jews, or the Republicans, or the evangelicals, or international corporations and the global economy - as the source of the danger.
Over the past two centuries, it has been a common phenomenon among members of Western cultural, academic and journalistic elites, and important elements of political elites, to feed their own narcissism by seeing themselves as superior in essential ways to the hoi polloi of their own societies. Significant numbers within all these elites have responded to every totalitarian threat - whether fascist/Nazi, Communist, or Islamist - by comprehending the threat with some variation of the response described above; that is, rationalizing it and construing segments of their own society as the problem, either because those elements have brought about and are failing to appease the threatening party or they are standing in the way of reasonable social/political changes demanded by the threatening party. The alienation of these elites from much of their own society makes them all the more predisposed to dealing with the external danger in such a manner.
They may not construe those within their own society whom they blame for the difficulty as - in the Islamist idiom - "apes and pigs," but this shifting of responsibility for the assault likewise entails mindless, often dehumanizing, caricature.
Kobrin: Since we all agree that projection is the name of this game called “apes and pigs” and that it is predicated on blaming, we also need to revisit the psychological defense of splitting. If this weren’t occurring, there would be no tendency to take the bait in the projection.
This is also the indicator that we are dealing with delusional thinking because there is no resolution to the same old argument – no change just ongoing blood letting. Ken Levin raised this important point very well. David Gutmann is right that the projection is a most revealing disclosure about their intense sense of incompetence and shame-riddled group self. They themselves are the apes and pigs in their own interior sense of self and it is projected outwards. They feel contaminated and unclean because of these internal identifications. They = apes and pigs. This is then projected outwards on to the other. It’s the same thing for the gender issue because they are born in a state of contamination from the body of a devalued female who is also their mother. Try reconciling that thought – it’s nearly impossible, hence the need to split off the contamination and place it on the other.
It is important to underscore the fact that they don’t “feel” the terror that they project rather they become the rage and the terror (personal communication, J. Lachkar, Ph.D.) This is why it is so confusing for so many, who then collude with these aggressors in the classic case of identification with the aggressor. People routinely underestimate the significance of nonverbal terror and its punch. I do not mean to let the “confused’ off the hook rather I am describing the psychological dynamics.
That was my point of trying to go back to explain the disavowed concrete feral behavior of “apes and pigs” by pressing the mute button. It is too terrifying to listen to both the hate speech and to witness the violence of their actions. My experience working in counter terrorism has made me realize the degree to which even the military and law enforcement are in denial at times as to the basics of this behavior. They too are macho. If you are macho and react blindly, you take the bait and it is not a reasoned response. Even to raise the question of empathy is viewed as a weakness as if you are giving into the terrorists and this is not my point, rather that in order to make an effective intervention one must know the terrors of the terrorists – they are terrified.
That is why the language of these theological diatribes is also so important. It’s not simply nonverbal vs. verbal but the combination of both as they function together. Peter Raddatz and Robert Spencer both reframe the history of the terms within the theology from a psychological perspective. They both underscore the bleak reality of these sacred texts. But let us return to the issue at hand, which has brought us together, namely the teaching of hatred and its inculcation in children. The issue really is one of child rearing practices. Time and again I have referred to Dr. Vamik Volkan’s work on the need to hate and the need to have an enemy – all of that “toxic stuff” is in place by age three. It is learned behavior in the home.
Furthermore Dr.Volkan knows the culture of the Arab Muslim world as he is a Turkish Cypriot psychoanalyst; he has interviewed the children in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. No wonder why these cultures have produced suicide bombers. Who would want to live in a culture like that? Indeed, suicide is a way of trying to cleanse and purify the Arab Muslim soul. It is as if the projection leads them to literally a dead end. But why do they hate their children so much? It is, I believe, quite simple but easy to miss as it is right under our nose. It is because the child, especially the most vulnerable, remind them unconsciously of what they themselves did not receive when they were growing up. They are fixated on deprivation and being the victim.
Gutmann: Our group seems to agree that Muslims, in their attempts to vilify Jews, are relying on the mechanism of projection to exorcise and export shameful features of their inner selves.
I don't know how to document this, but my impression is that the more florid forms of projection have become, to the point of addiction, the Muslims’ preferred method for dealing with their modern burden of shame.
If so, then why this increasing reliance on a clearly pathological defense?
We have already discussed the pathogenic impact of "Modernity Shock" - the Islamic world's recent discovery of its inferior standing in the global market of ideas, creative inventions, industry, the arts and military prowess.
But modernity has spun off yet another insult, one that has further increased the need for drastic Islamic distortions and defenses.
The mechanism of Projection is not a completely individual matter. It is most effective when it is embedded in special, enabling psychosocial "ecologies." Such projective ecologies usually consist of social inferiors - subordinate, demeaned individuals who will take on, and represent to the world, the shameful qualities that the "projector" wishes to be rid of (The successful uebermensch always requires an untermensch).
Under such enabling conditions the projective work goes forward smoothly, almost unnoticed, without grossly violating reality, or straining social relations.
I would argue that the Islamic crisis is aggravated by the rapid loss of the Muslim male's most supportive projective ecologies. They no longer have slaves, and - as hitherto subject peoples (like the Christians of Lebanon, or the North African Jews) break free, and face the Muslims as equals - the population of obedient Dhimmis is shrinking fast.
Worse yet, their women are getting uppity. Afghani and Iraqi girls are going to school, in those same states women are voting, and the strongest exposes of Islamo-Fascism come from the pens of strong, courageous women like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. My hunch is that the ranks of Islamic radicals are growing in reaction to this early empowerment of Muslim women.
In short, across the board Muslim males are losing the obedient populations - the "projective ecologies" - who are prepared to be passive, cowardly and dishonored for them - and instead of them. The result is what we have seen. If changing social realities will not conform to the psychic needs of the Muslims, then rather than abandon their projective defense, they will flagrantly distort reality to make it work: in their eyes ordinary Jews are transformed into Apes and Pigs.
Incidentally, we should plan another symposium on those Left-wing Jews who volunteer to substitute for the missing Dhimmis. These are the Jews who confirm the Muslims’ victim identity, who sentimentalize their third world origins, who excuse their worst excesses, and who side with them against their own people.
"Apes" and "Pigs"? In this case, maybe so.
FP: Kenneth Levin, Nancy Kobrin, David Gutmann, Peter Raddatz and Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.
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