The Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris included the targeting of Jews at a Kosher grocery by an Islamic State supporter. This anti-Semitism is at the root of the Islamist ideology and we must fight it instead of using it to prove points about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Islamist ideology and anti-Semitism are intertwined. One of the main themes is that Jews and Islam have been at war since the times of Prophet Mohammed and will be at war until the end of days.
The charter of Hamas includes an Islamic verse stating that Allah’s final triumph “will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him.”
These anti-Semitic interpretations of the faith are why Islamist clerics preach that the West is controlled by a Zionist conspiracy. The emphasis on war with the Jews leads many Muslims to see all conflict as part of this greater war. It also opens the door to wicked anti-Semitic propaganda that makes peace impossible.
Unfortunately, many Muslims and non-Muslims treat attacks on Jews as if they are somehow different than attacks on non-Jews. The former is seen as an attack on Western civilization, while the latter is talked about as an extension of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The hatred behind the violence towards Jews is justified, even if the violence itself is condemned.
Turkish President Erdogan is a great example. He lashed out over the Israeli Prime Minister’s presence at the international rally following the Paris attacks.
“How can a man who has killed 2,500 people in Gaza with state terrorism wave his hand in Paris, like people are waiting in excitement for him to do so? How dare he go there?” said Erdogan.
Erdogan’s fury over Israel’s inclusion was fiercer than his condemnation of the Paris attacks. He even suggested that the attacks are part of a Western conspiracy against Islam and made the outrageous claim that, “As Muslims, we’ve never taken part in terrorist massacres.”
Islamist terrorists argue that they are defending the Muslim world from a Western-Jewish conspiracy against Islam. How is this any different than what Erdogan is saying?
One of the most famous Muslim leaders, Tariq Ramadan, wrote a similar kind of note on his Facebook page:
“Difficult to walk beside (or behind) leaders whose ideologies and political decisions have killed thousands of children, women and men, and are one of the causes of extremism. They march in Paris for human dignity and freedom of expression while their government is killing, torturing and destroying,” he wrote.
Erdogan, Ramadan and other pro-Islamism leaders always shift attention away from the illnesses within the Muslim world. The relatively few cases of mosques being attacked in the West get constant attention but little is given to attacks on mosques in the Muslim world or the mistreatment of Muslims by groups like Hamas.
The West should not think that cutting itself off from Israel will do any good. The Islamist leaders and their flocks will always see the West and Israel as one unit. Just as the West is characterized as Zionist puppets, Israel is characterized as a base for Western imperialism.
This is illustrated by a flyer that was distributed in Toronto in September 2012 among the 2,000 participants of demonstrations against a movie mocking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. It stated at the top in all caps, “THE JEWISH PURPOSE THUS SERVED.”
The filmmaker wasn’t Jewish. Jews didn’t have anything to do with making the film. Neither did Israel. Yet, the protestors were chanting, “Shame, Shame Israel.”
Avi Benlolo of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center correctly wrote after the Paris attacks:
"The hate began with increasing violence against Jews and has now spilled over to society at large, threatening the very foundations of French liberty. But this is not only a Jewish issue or a French problem. Islamic fanaticism thrives on secrecy, censorship and fear, threatening all those who dare raise their voices against it."
Anti-Semitism is one of the most important pillars of Islamist terrorist beliefs. The first targets are Jews, but Jews are seen as a component of the West.
Muslim organizations need to proactively curb anti-Semitism and debunk falsehoods about Jews and about Israel, even if they disagree with Israeli policy. Supporting Palestinian statehood should not mean embracing all of Israel’s enemies or legitimizing anti-Semitic violence by using it to score political points against Israel.
We need to hold Muslim and non-Muslim leaders accountable when their criticism of Israel crosses over into outlandish conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic propaganda. We cannot have reasonable solutions when the problems are based on wild exaggerations and hatred.
Tahir Gora is a Pakistani and the Director of the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum, a member of the Coalition of Progressive Muslim Canadian Organizations. He can be followed on Twitter at Twitter.com/TahirGora.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.