Setting the historical record straight in FrontPage:
A new study released Sunday shows that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe. The “German Situation” study, which is conducted by the University of Bielefeld Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence, found that across Europe in the last year, “Islamophobia” has declined, while anti-Semitic incidents have increased. True to form for such studies, however, it ignored the persistence and strength of Islamic anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism in the Islamic world has often been attributed to the baneful influence of Christianity. Many analysts assert that the Islamic designation of Jews (as well as Christians) as “People of the Book” indicates a higher level of respect for them than was manifested by Christians who derided Jews as bestial “Christ-killers.” Journalist Lawrence Wright asserts in this vein in The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11:
Until the end of World War II … Jews lived safely–although submissively–under Muslim rule for 1,200 years, enjoying full religious freedom; but in the 1930s, Nazi propaganda on Arabic-language shortwave radio, coupled with slanders by Christian missionaries in the region, infected the area with this ancient Western prejudice [anti-Semitism]. After the war, Cairo became a sanctuary for Nazis, who advised the military and the government. The rise of the Islamist movement coincided with the decline of fascism, but they overlapped in Egypt, and the germ passed into a new carrier.
This is a common view, but in reality there is a strong native strain of anti-Semitism in Islam, which is rooted in the Qur’an. The Muslim holy book contains a great deal of material that forms the foundation for a hatred of Jews that exists independently of the Christian variety. It is also, in many ways, more virulent and harder to eradicate. The Qur’an portrays the Jews as the craftiest, most persistent, and most implacable enemies of the Muslims–and there is no Muslim equivalent of the Second Vatican Council to mitigate against destructive interpretations. The Qur’anic material on the Jews remains the prism through which far too many Muslims see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–and Jews in general–to this day.
A vivid illustration of this came in 2004 from Islam Online, a website founded by, among others, the internationally influential Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in 1997. Although al-Qaradawi has won praise from Islamic scholar John Esposito for engaging in a “reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism, and human rights,” that “reformist” impulse doesn’t seem to carry over to his view of Jews (he has justified suicide bombings against Israeli civilians), or the view of them he has allowed to be published on Islam Online. In 2004 the site posted an article titled “Jews as Depicted in the Qur’an,” in which Sheikh ‘Atiyyah Saqr, the former head of the Fatwa Committee at the most respected institution in Sunni Islam, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, depicts Jews in a chillingly negative light, illustrated with abundant quotations from the Qur’an. Among other charges he levels at the Jews, Saqr says that they “used to fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah”; they “love to listen to lies”; they disobey Allah and ignore his commands; they wish “evil for people” and try to “mislead them”; and they “feel pain to see others in happiness and are gleeful when others are afflicted with a calamity.” He adds that “it is easy for them to slay people and kill innocents,” for “they are merciless and heartless.” And each charge he follows with Qur’anic citations.
Read it all.