Dr. Walid Phares, a perspicacious expert on modern jihad terrorism, has elucidated the practical, short-term considerations that likely motivated Hizbollah’s aggressive actions across Israel’s internationally recognized northern border with Lebanon (kidnapping of Israeli soldiers; katyusha rocket attacks on Israeli civilian populations), which precipitated the ongoing conflagration:
*Iran is concerned about the nuclear crisis and wants to distract attention from the issue.
*Syria is concerned about the Hariri murder investigation and wishes to postpone its results.
*Hizbollah is concerned about the call for disarming its militias and therefore decided to flare up the conflict with Israel.
*Finally, Hamas, whose own kidnapping and rocketing exploits lead to a retaliatory Israeli invasion of Gaza (albeit of limited scope), was also embroiled in a critical confrontation with their Palestinian rivals, Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah.
Phares argues that Hizbollah’s strategic solution was, not surprisingly, open resumption of the jihad against Israel. Ultimately, this chronic, annihilationist jihad being waged against Israel by both Hizbollah and Hamas, is driven by orthodox Islamic theology, and eschatology.
Georges Vajda—in a seminal 1937 essay 1—provides an overall assessment of the portrayal of the Jews in the hadith collections (the putative words and deeds of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, as recorded by pious transmitters), complemented by Koranic verses, and observations from the earliest Muslim biographies [or “sira”] of Muhammad.
Vajda’s research demonstrates how Muslim eschatology emphasizes the Jews supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl—the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ—and as per another tradition, the Dajjâl is in fact Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions state that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered— everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree. Thus, according to a canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985), if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!”
As Vajda observes,
Not only are the Jews vanquished in the eschatological war, but they will serve as ransom for the Muslims in the fires of hell. The sins of certain Muslims will weigh on them like mountains, but on the day of resurrection, these sins will be lifted and laid upon the Jews.
But it is the Jews stubborn malevolence, Vajda further notes, that is their defining worldly characteristic:
Jews are represented in the darkest colors [i.e., in the Koran, hadith, and sira]. Convinced by the clear testimony of their books that Mohammed was the true prophet, they refused to convert, out of envy, jealousy and national particularism, even out of private interest. They have falsified their sacred books and do not apply the laws of God; nevertheless, they pursued Mohammed with their raillery and their oaths, and harassed him with questions, an enterprise that turned to their own confusion and merely corroborated the authenticity of the supernatural science of the prophet. From words they moved to action: sorcery, poisoning, assassination held no scruples for them.
Examples of this archetypal Jew hatred from the sacred Islamic texts, sira, and main early Sunni historiographical accounts, include: Koranic verses labeling Jews as malevolent enemies of Islam (5:82), and disobedient slayers of their own prophets who suffered justifiable abasement (2:61), including, for some, transformation into apes and swine (5:60); or the more profoundly hateful narratives (in the hadith, sira, and early histories, for example by Tabari) which maintain that the perfidious Jews fomented sectarian strife in early Islam by promoting heresies—including Shi’ism itself—that threatened the unity of the Muslim community (umma), and the canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim Book 026, Number 5431) that the Jews caused Muhammad’s protracted, excruciating death from poisoning (“The Jews discussed about poisons and became united in one poison. She [a Khaybar Jewess, Zaynab Bint al-Harith] poisoned the goat putting more poison in the forelegs..The Apostle of Allah took the foreleg, a piece of which he put into his mouth...The Apostle of Allah sent for Zaynab Bint al-Harith [and]…handed her over to [those] who put her to death…The Apostle of Allah lived after this three years, till in consequence of his pain he passed away. During his illness he used to say: I did not cease to find the effect of the poisoned morsel I took at Khaybar…” 2). Vajda’s analysis indicates that all these archetypes in turn justify Muslim animus towards the Jews, and the admonition to, at best, “subject [the Jews] to Muslim domination”, as dhimmis, treated “with contempt”, under “humiliating arrangements”.
Hizbollah and Hamas have constructed core ideologies based upon this Islamic theology of Jew hatred, which one can glean readily from their foundational documents, and subsequent pronouncements, made ad nauseum. Hamas further demonstrates openly its adherence to a central motif of Jew hatred in Muslim eschatology—Article 7 of the Hamas Charter concludes with a verbatim reiteration of the apocalyptic hadith alluded to earlier: “The Last Hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: `Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him'; but the tree Gharkad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985). Both jihadist terror organizations believe they can now take advantage of their political gains in Lebanon (Hizbollah), and the Palestinian controlled areas of Gaza and the West Bank (Hamas), and succeed in their goal to destroy Israel—motivated by a primordial hatred of Jews, sanctioned in Muslim theology and eschatology.
Hizbollah’s name, “The Party of Allah” derives from Koran —“And whoever takes Allah and His messenger and those who believe for a guardian, then surely the party of Allah are they that shall be triumphant.”. In a public statement issued February 15, 1986, Hizbollah conceived of itself as a “nation” linked to Muslims worldwide by “…a strong ideological and political bond, namely Islam”. Expressed in the political language of the Koran, Hizbollah’s ideology encompasses, triumphally (as per the slogan adorning the party emblem, “The Party of Allah is Sure to Triumph”) at least three major objectives: transforming Lebanon into a Shari’a state; destroying Israel; establishing regional, followed by international Islamic hegemony, i.e., bringing the region, then the world under Shari’a law.
Demonizing Israel and Jews—via motifs in the Koran and hadith—Hizbollah views the jihad against the “Zionist entity” as an annihilationist war intrinsic to broader conflicts: the struggle between the Islamic world and the non-Muslim world, and the historical struggle between Islam and Judaism. The most senior clerical authority for Hizbollah, Husayn Fadlalah has stated, “We find in the Koran that the Jews are the most aggressive towards the Muslims…because of their aggressive resistance to the unity of the faith.” Fadlallah repeatedly refers to anti-Jewish archetypes in the Koran and the hadith: the corrupt, treacherous and aggressive nature of the Jews; their reputation as killers of prophets, who spread corruption on earth; and the notion that the Jews engaged in conspiratorial efforts against the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Fadlallah argues, ultimately, “Either we destroy Israel or Israel destroys us.”
Hizbollah is viscerally opposed to Judaism and the existence of Israel, stressing the eternal conflict between the Jews and Islam. Eradicating Israel represents an early stage of Hizballah’s Pan-Islamic ambitions, and its jihad against the rest of the non-Muslim world.
Since 1989, historian David Littman has made repeated appeals to the UN Human Rights Commission alerting its members to the dangers inherent in the binding Hamas Charter (circa 1988). Recently Littman elucidated some of key the motifs of Islamic Jew hatred contained in this document which amount to no less than a “direct and public incitement to commit genocide”, punishable under article 4 of the 1948 Genocide Convention. Article 7 contains the apocalyptic hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985) referred to earlier—reflecting the annihilationist Jew hatred of Islamic eschatology. As Littman observes, Article 8, “…a blueprint for jihadist terrorism”, is the slogan of the Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas: “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its Constitution; Jihad is its path, and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.” Article 28 targets all Jews: “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people: ‘May the cowards never sleep.’” The Charter in its preface quotes Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, as saying: “Israel will exist and continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” The conclusion has a subheading: The Islamic Resistance Movement is Composed of Soldiers stating that the Islamic Resistance Movement “will only serve as a support for all groupings and organizations operating against the Zionist enemy and its lackeys (…) “The Islamic Resistance Movement adopts Islam as its way of life. Islam is its creed and religion. Whoever takes Islam as his way of life, be it an organization, a grouping, a country or any other body, the Islamic Resistance Movement considers itself as their soldiers and nothing more.”
Finally, this transcript from the June 22, 2006 pronouncement by Yasser Ghalban, a Hamas terrorist leader makes clear how, as with Hizbollah, the liquidation of Jews in Israel by jihad is linked to Hamas’ own universal ambitions: “The Jihad for Allah... is the way of Truth and the way for Salvation and the way which will lead us to crush the Jews and expel them from our country Palestine. Just as the Jews ran from Gaza, the Americans will run from Iraq and Afghanistan and the Russians will run from Chechnya, and the Indian will run from Kashmir.”
Unfortunately, the orthodox Islamic archetypes of Jew hatred promulgated by Hizbollah and Hamas, are also being disseminated by the most respected, mainstream Islamic institutions. For example, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi wrote these words in his 700 page treatise rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred, Banu Isra’il fi al-Qur’an wa al-Sunna [Jews in the Koran and the Traditions], originally published in the 1970s, and then re-issued in 1986:
[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah, corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness…only a minority of the Jews keep their word….[A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims, the bad ones do not. 3
Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in 1996, a position he still holds. These are the expressed, “carefully researched” views on Jews held by the nearest Muslim equivalent to a Pope—the head of the most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, which represents 90% of the world’s Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi has not mollified such hatemongering beliefs since becoming the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on the Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs”, the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews, or “dialogue” with Jews (just below), make clear.
…anyone who avoids meeting with the enemies in order to counter their dubious claims and stick fingers into their eyes, is a coward. My stance stems from Allah’s book [the Koran], more than one-third of which deals with the Jews…[I] wrote a dissertation dealing with them [the Jews], all their false claims and their punishment by Allah. I still believe in everything written in that dissertation. [see above, and citation 3]
Tantawi’s case illustrates the prevalence and depth of sacralized, “normative” Jew hatred in the contemporary Muslim world which can no longer be ignored.
The neutered compromise statement of the G-8 Summit leaders on “Middle East violence”, despite being a far better pronouncement than the predictably craven dhimmitude of Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, or the miserable immoral equivalence of official Vatican spokesman Cardinal Angelo Sodano, is a poor substitute for the moral clarity desperately needed now. Although this memorable December 2002 jeremiad “I Stand With Israel. I Stand With The Jews” surely fits the bill, never could such words be uttered in public by the current generation of rather dull-witted, and fortitude-challenged world leaders, Western and Eastern alike. Until such a moral awakening occurs (if ever), perhaps it is best for Israel to heed the existential, street-wise advice of songwriter extraordinaire Bob Dylan:
Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.
Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly.
To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He's the neighborhood bully…
Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him.
He was supposed to feel bad.
He's the neighborhood bully.
Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.
He's the neighborhood bully.
1. Georges Vajda. Juifs et Musulmans selon le hadit [Jews and Muslims according to the hadith]. Journal Asiatique, 1937, Vol. 229, pp. 57-129. English translation by Susan Emanuel.
2. Ibn Sa’d. Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir. Volume 2, New Delhi, 1993; pp. 249-252. English translation by S. Moinul Haq and H.K. Ghazanfar.
3. Banu Isra’il fi al-Qur’an wa al-Sunna [Jews in the Koran and the Traditions], 1986. English translation by Dr. Michael Schub.
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