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  Vol. 2  /  2004                            A JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND THE ARTS      

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Islamic Judeophobia: An Existential Threat

Robert S. Wistrich

This article is an excerpt from the new book,
Muhammad’s Monsters,
David Bukay (ed.),
AR: Balfour Books and
Israel: ACPR Publishers, 2004.


On November 18, 1947, Hitler’s closest confidante Albert Speer wrote down the following recollection in his Spandau prison diary which today sounds so eerily prophetic:

I recall how [Hitler] would have films shown in the Reich Chancellory about London burning, about the sea of fire over Warsaw, about exploding convoys, and the kind of ravenous joy that would then seize him every time. But I never saw him so beside himself as when, in a delirium, he pictured New York going down in flames. He described how the skyscrapers would be transformed into gigantic burning torches, how they would collapse in confusion, how the bursting city’s reflection would stand against the dark sky...1

In September 2001, this frenzied Wagnerian imagery became fact. The Islamic terrorist perpetrators of the September massacres, like the Nazis and fascists of 60 years ago, speak a language of unquenchable hatred not only for America and the West but also for Israel and the Jewish people as such.2 These Muslim radicals have consciously chosen a cult of death, turning the motif of sacrifice and martyrdom into something urgent, elemental, pseudo-religious and even mystical.3 Their Bible may be the Qur`an and not Mein Kampf but the mental structures and world-view behind their actions do have striking analogies with German National Socialism.4 The Muslim fundamentalists – like the Nazis before and during the Shoah – rant against the “anonymous powers” of globalization and the plutocratic West (symbolized by the World Trade Center and the city of New York) as fiercely as they battered the citadels of Soviet Communism in Afghanistan more than a decade ago. Like their totalitarian predecessors they (falsely) claim to speak for frustrated, underprivileged and impoverished masses betrayed by more traditional Arab and Muslim ruling elites and ruthlessly exploited by international capitalism. To the radical Muslims, “Jewish” New York as much as the Zionist State of Israel, is the incarnation of satanic evil, just as Wall Street embodied the General Headquarters of corporate wickedness and cosmopolitan Jewry to the Nazis and other pre-war fascist true believers.5 Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories lie at the very heart of the Muslim fundamentalist and Arab nationalist world-view today – linking together plutocratic finance, international freemasonry, secularism, Zionism and Communism as dark occult forces led by the giant octopus of international Jewry – whose alleged aim is to destroy Islam and to subvert the cultural identity of Muslim believers.6

This mythical structure of thought is in many ways virtually identical with Nazi anti-Semitism despite the fact that it has undergone a process of “Islamicization” and the quotation of verses from the Qur`an to justify monstrous terrorist acts. Fundamentalist Islam has the same totalitarian, pseudo-messianic aspiration to world hegemony as German Nazism or Soviet Communism. It also articulates a latent and sometimes explicitly genocidal rhetoric in its assault on “Jewish-Crusader” civilization that conjures up alarming echoes of the past.7 For militant Islamic groups like al-Qa`idah, the Taliban, Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and many others, anti-Semitic, anti-Zionism serves as an intrinsic part of their nihilist-totalitarian mind-set. The Jihadist terrorists are committed to violence, bent on total confrontation with the infidels on the either/or politics of victory or death and embrace an outlook rooted in a Manichean polarization between the forces of light and darkness. The bin-Ladens of this world are driven not only by fanatical extremism, by their loathing of “Christian crusaders”, heretics, dissenters, Jews, women and their rejection of America and Western modernity per se – they hate civilization in a way that is radically nihilist.

It is highly characteristic that the September 11 terrorist attacks against the US were greeted with such rapture in many parts of the Muslim world, including in the Palestinian Authority. For example, the Mufti of Jerusalem, preaching his Friday sermon at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, openly called for the destruction of Israel, Britain and the US: “Oh Allah, destroy America, for she is ruled by Zionist Jews... Allah will paint the White House black!”8

Other Muslim clerics like Sheikh Ibrahim Mahdi focused their efforts more on praising “suicide bombers” in Israel. In words aired repeatedly by PA Television, he enthusiastically encouraged the cynical sacrifice of children as being acts of so-called “martyrdom” against Israel:

All weapons must be aimed at the Jews, at the enemies of Allah, the cursed nation in the Qur`an, whom the Qur`an describes as monkeys and pigs... We will blow them up in Hadera, we will blow them up in Tel Aviv and in Netanya... We bless all those who educate their children to Jihad and to martyrdom.9

The current wave of Muslim suicide bombings, Israelophobia and terrorism appear to enjoy massive resonance among most Palestinians and a large number of Arabs and Muslims. Islamic anti-Semitism has also spread with electrifying speed among Muslim and Arab immigrants in the Western democracies. Many of these immigrants already carry with them the anti-Semitic baggage of their mother-countries and cultures, exacerbated by intensive media coverage of the escalating Middle East conflict. In September and October 2000 this resulted in an alarming increase in Muslim/Arab anti-Semitic assaults on Diaspora Jewish communities (especially in Europe) – including the burning of synagogues, arson, desecrations, physical attacks, letter-bombs and vitriolic verbal incitement of the most intimidating kind.10 Such attacks have assumed near-epidemic proportions in countries like France which have a large Muslim population (about six million mainly Maghrebin immigrants) and a substantial, though much smaller community of around 600,000 Jews.11 The dangerous combination of radical anti-Zionism (ominously sliding into anti-Jewishness in the liberal and leftist French media) fused with the Islamist Judeophobia of the Muslim immigrants, has seriously alarmed French Jewry.12 So, too, in Great Britain a similar pattern of Muslim anti-Semitism is emerging that has made Anglo-Jews (already alarmed at the Israel-bashing of the BBC and the liberal British media) increasingly anxious.13

The anti-Semitic fallout from the terror attacks and the ensuing anthrax scare has been a revealing index for the depths of Muslim Arab hatred for America, Israel and the Jews. Initially, the reactions were those of celebration and joy expressed with particular vehemence by fundamentalist circles, for the humbling of [American] “arrogance, tyranny and boastfulness”.14 The Egyptian-based journal of the Muslim Brotherhood rapturously greeted Osama bin-Laden as “a hero in the full sense of the word” and prayed that his followers would eventually “eradicate America and its ‘infinite justice’.” Another Egyptian weekly rejoiced that “America is on the way to collapse, like all the empires of oppression throughout history.”15 As Al Ahram Al Arabī expressed it on October 4, 2001, America was finally tasting the poison of its own ruthless oppression and with the collapse of “the city of globalization” [New York] so, too, it was boldly predicted that “the theory of globalization will be buried.”16 The Pan-Arab opposition weekly Al Usbú made it very clear that it could have no sympathy for America in its grief and one columnist even confessed that watching the inferno in New York “[those moments of] exquisite, incandescent hell” were “the most precious moments of my life.”17 A Nasserist weekly expressed undisguised satisfaction at the fact that “the Americans are finally tasting the bitterness of death.”18 Even columnists on the Egyptian Liberal Party daily Al-Ahrar felt that uninhibited delight was a national and religious obligation since “the US position in the Arab-Zionist conflict causes Arabs to rejoice over every disaster visited upon the American government.”19

For the Muslim Brotherhood, the terror strike was nothing less than “divine retribution”, not least because the Americans “preferred the apes [i.e. the Jews] to human beings, treating human beings from outside the US cheaply, supporting homosexuals and usury”.20 Islamic radicals, pan-Arabists and Nasserists all felt a common elation at the sudden collapse of the “mythological symbols of arrogant American imperialist power” and the blow which they believed had been struck on behalf of embattled Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir and other trouble-spots on the planet.

But no less swiftly, across Muslim and Arab society, the blame for the terrorist and anthrax attacks was firmly placed on the Zionists, the Israeli government and the Mossad. The Syrian Ambassador to Teheran was quoted as saying on good authority that “the Israelis have been involved in these incidents and no Jewish employee was present in the World Trade Organization building on the day.”21 According to the Syrian government newspaper Al Thawra, Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon thereby sought to divert attention from his aggressive plans towards the Palestinians.22 He had supposedly created this golden opportunity in order to cause maximum damage and provoke a deep schism in Arab-American relations.23 In the Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustour on September 13, 2001, an article appeared (by no means exceptional) which argued that the Twin Towers massacre was in fact “the act of the great Jewish Zionist mastermind that controls the world’s economy, media, and politics...” and the diabolical plot was rapidly leading the world to a global disaster.24

In the same issue, a Lebanese-Jordanian Holocaust denier warned Arabs against the “Jewish-Zionist hands behind the terrible event”; another Jordanian columnist emphasized the prevailing Arab wisdom “that Israel is the benefit greatly from the bloody, loathsome terror operation...”25 The Egyptian Sheikh Mohammad Al-Gamei’a, former Imam of the Islamic Culture Center and Mosque of New York, also had little doubt that the Jews were behind the September terrorist attacks. “The Jewish element is as Allah described... We know they have always broken agreements, unjustly murdered the prophets and betrayed the faith.”26 The theory that Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, was behind the Twin Tower bombings was especially popular in Muslim Pakistan. Major General Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan’s own intelligence service, was adamant:

I tell you, it was a coup [attempt], and I can’t say for sure who was behind it, but it’s the Israelis who are creating so much misery in the world. The Israelis don’t want to see any power in Washington unless it’s subservient to their interests and President Bush has not been subservient.27

In support of the Zionist conspiracy theory, the Lahore-based Jihad Times and other media in Pakistan endlessly recycled the legend that around 4,000 Israelis and Jews working in the World Trade Center had received a secret directive from the Mossad not to report for duty on September 11. The attacks had allegedly been ordered by the “Elders of Zion” in reaction to the anti-Israel bashing that had been handed out at the Third UN Conference against Racism in Durban.28 Remarkably enough, according to Pakistani opinion polls in October 2001, more than two-thirds of Pakistanis agreed it was “possible” that Jews had been forewarned not to go to work on September 11.29 A similar number evidently believed that world Zionism was behind the slaughter. They were convinced that Jews controlled the media treatment of the events and dictated the “vilification campaign against the Muslims”.

The notion that contemporary Jewry exercises a “media dictatorship” deliberately seeking to poison relations between Islam and the West has indeed become widespread in many Muslim circles. Even more popular is the idea that Jews manipulate the Western mass media as a whole, especially in the United States.30 The Iran Daily claimed, for example, that since September 11 the West had been swamped by the propaganda of “Zionist circles [who] have been almost uncontrollably emitting their profound contempt of Islam...”31

The Palestinian Journalists Association also insisted that the western media were completely under the thumb of international finance and Zionist Jews.32 The Palestine Ministry of Information Web site went even further and declared that there was an absolute Jewish monopoly of the US news media. A small minority had

the power to mold our minds to suit their own Talmudic interests...[they had] a decisive influence on our [American] political system and virtual control of the minds and souls of our children, whose attitudes and ideas are shaped more by Jewish television and Jewish films than by their parents, their schools, or any other influence.33

The Palestinian Authority, like the Saudis and Egyptians, were furious when the then [non-Jewish] Mayor of New York, Rudolf Giuliani, rejected Saudi Prince Al-Walid bin Talal’s politically loaded offer of financial assistance to the city of New York. Not only the Saudi Prince himself but Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak publicly complained about the power of the Jewish lobby in America and its “blind support” for Israel on terrorism and related issues. Al Hayat Al-Jadida joined the chorus and accused Mayor Giuliani of “hatred for Arabs” while a leading Saudi newspaper sneeringly branded him a “Jew” who sacrificed the public good and American interests for private gain.34

The anti-Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that have been escalating in the Arab and Muslim world since September 11 are not in themselves new. But they do reveal a highly inflammable cocktail of anti-Westernism, ideological fanaticism, raw hate and irrationality that underlies a significant strand of contemporary Muslim thinking. The attitude to the Jews, in particular, with its vehement language and emphasis on “radical solutions” is disturbingly reminiscent of the 1930s and 1940s. The anti-Semitic stereotypes are as frequent in those countries such as Jordan or Egypt that have peace treaties with Israel as they are in Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia or other Gulf States. Examples abound and could be multiplied ad nauseam: In Tishreen, a government-owned Syrian daily, the editor-in-chief Mohamed Kheir al-Wadi, writing in January 2000, took it for granted that: “Zionism created the Holocaust myth to blackmail and terrorize the world’s intellectuals and politicians.”35

A month later, an editorial in another government-controlled Syrian newspaper, Al-Thawra, written by Muhammed Ali Bouzha, stated with the same self-evident tone: “Israel has revealed itself as an entity steeped in racism, hate, and state-sponsored terrorism, which has surpassed even the Nazis in its criminal acts of murder, destruction and devastation and in its disdain for humanity.”36

Sometimes, too, Holocaust denial and the “Zionism-is-Nazism” myth are fused as in the response of state-owned Syrian radio in late February 2000 to the then Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy’s stern warning to Lebanon from the rostrum of the Knesset to rein in the Hizbullah. Syrian radio promptly accused Israel of “playing the role of the Nazi executioners, who according to the Zionists, burned the Jews in Auschwitz”. On February 28, 2000 the State-run Lebanese television echoed this Syrian propaganda by running an ad showing images of casualties from IDF attacks on Lebanon juxtaposed with Nazi concentration camps, followed by the words: “Same hatred. Same racism. Same criminality. Same history.”37

In the Gulf States, too, Levy’s statement was taken as proof that “Zionism was the descendant of Nazism.”38 Despite his efforts to attain peace, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak – like his less conciliatory predecessors such as Begin, Shamir, Netanyahu or Ariel Sharon today – also found himself regularly portrayed in Nazi uniform with a swastika armband, as Israeli warplanes bombed Lebanon: predictably the caption in Al-Watan read: “In Lebanon Israel is Behaving Like the Nazis”.39

Nor is it any great surprise to discover that Israelophobia and anti-Semitism have been equally present in the Egyptian media at the turn of the millennium – in spite of the 1979 Peace Treaty with the Jewish state. Comparisons of Israel with the Nazis, denial of the Holocaust and medieval blood libels regularly appear in the government-backed press (including in the largest dailies Al-Ahram and Al-Goumhurriya and the popular magazine, October) as they do in the leftist, Nasserist and fundamentalist opposition newspapers. Worse still, the cartoons consistently deform Jews. They are almost always dirty, hook-nosed, money-grabbing, vindictive, scheming and cruel.40 The extremely hostile visual and verbal stereotyping in a country still considered as the hub of the Arab world – one, moreover, whose newspapers, magazines and books help to shape public opinion throughout the region – is both dangerous and alarming.



The examples of anti-Semitic falsehoods are not only innumerable but consistently outrageous. Israel is repeatedly alleged by Egyptian (and Jordanian) news sources to be distributing drug-laced chewing gum and candy, intended to make women sexually corrupt and to kill children. Al-Ahram, the leading government-sponsored daily in Egypt, expostulates in great detail in a special series how Jews use the blood of Gentiles to make matzah for Passover. An Egyptian intellectual, writing in Al-Akhbar, less than a year ago, explains that the Talmud (described as the Jews’ second holiest book), “determines that the ‘matzahs’ of Atonement Day [sic] must be kneaded ‘with blood’ from non-Jews. The preference is for the blood of youths after raping them.”41

This was a favorite motif of the late King Feisal of Saudi Arabia, who not only insisted that Jews carried out the ritual murder of children but argued that this proved “the extent of their [the Jews’] hatred and malice toward non-Jewish peoples.”42

On the eve of the new millennium, the Arab writers’ weekly organ in Damascus brought the blood libel up to date with the following literary gem:

The [Passover] Matzah of Israel is soaked with the blood of the Iraqis, descendants of the Babylonians, the Lebanese, the descendants of the Sidonese, and the Palestinians, the descendants of the Canaanites. This Matzah is kneaded by American weaponry and the missiles of hatred pointed at both Muslim and Christian Arabs...43

On the first day of the third Christian millennium, the Syrian weekly escalated its Israelophobe attacks to the “notorious Camp David Accords” and the “dirty Satanic methods used [by the Zionist Entity] destroy the fabric of Egyptian society”. These “Zionist” methods included spreading AIDS among Arab youngsters by sending “pretty HIV positive Jewish prostitutes to Egypt and dispensing chewing gum to arouse sexual lust”.44 This absurd calumny – widely diffused among Egyptians and Palestinians – was no doubt grist to the mill for Syrian opponents of any “normalization” with Israel.

The West eventually received an all-too-rare public glimpse of the brutal anti-Jewish bigotry so commonplace in the Arab world, when the young Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, welcomed His Holiness Pope John Paul II on a historic visit to Damascus in early May 2001. The Syrian host did his best to fuse together in a single sentence the core message of European Christian and Islamic Judeophobia. It was a memorable feat of insipid and mindless vilification: “They [Israelis and Jews] try to kill all the principles of divine faiths with the same mentality of betraying Jesus Christ and torturing Him, and in the same way they tried to commit treachery against the Prophet Muhammad.”45

The anti-Jewish poison that rose so naturally to Assad’s lips has today become a staple feature of the Palestinian Authority’s educational program. In Palestinian textbooks, reference to Jews is minimal except for negative generalizations that attribute to them character traits of trickery, greed and barbarity. Schoolbooks invariably insinuate that Jews never keep agreements as Muslims do.46 The Jewish connection to the Holy Land is generally denied or else it is confined to Antiquity and virtually ignored after the Roman period. There is no reference to Jewish holy places or to any special connection of the Jews or of Judaism to the city of Jerusalem.47 Hebrew is not considered to be one of the languages of the land and Zionism is mentioned solely in the context of alien intrusion, invasion or infiltration. The State of Israel is not recognized at all and its territory is referred to only by terms such as the “interior” or the “1948 lands”. By definition the Jewish state is presented as a colonialist usurper and occupier.48 Brutal, inhuman and greedy, it is held exclusively responsible for obliterating Palestinian national identity, destroying the Palestinian economy, expropriating Palestinian lands, water and villages.49

The maps in Palestinian textbooks without exception disregard Israel’s existence and that of its 5.5 million inhabitants. The Palestine that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea is designated as purely and exclusively Arab.50 The overall picture that emerges is that the Jews, Zionism and Israel have no legitimate claims whatever to an Arab and Muslim land called Palestine. Nor do Jews have any historic link to Jerusalem. Muslim and Christian Holy Places are evoked but there is no Jewish claim to David’s City or to the site of Solomon’s Temple. If this historical falsification were not enough, there is the equally absurd assertion that the Palestinian Arabs (as allegedly direct descendants of the Canaanites) historically preceded the Jews in the Land of Israel.

Nor have Palestinian clerics, intellectuals and writers hesitated in recent years to dismiss or distort the historical reality of the Holocaust even as they accuse Zionism of being the heir of Nazism. An article by Hiri Manzour in the official Palestinian newspaper on April 13, 2001, brazenly asserted that “the figure of six million Jews cremated in the Nazi Auschwitz camps is a lie,” while pretending that this hoax was promoted by Jews as part of their international “marketing operation”.51 The “big lie” technique, first perfected by the Nazis, is however by no means confined to Holocaust-related issues. Palestinian officials do not shrink, for instance, from the most outlandish and libellous allegations about Israeli “crimes against humanity”.

At the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on March 17, 1997, Nabil Ramlawi stunned delegates by declaring that “Israeli authorities...infected by injection 300 Palestinian children with the HIV virus during the years of the intifada.” The Commander of the Palestinian General Security Service in Gaza mendaciously attacked Israel for encouraging “Russian Jewish girls with AIDS to spread the disease among Palestinian youth”.52 The PA Minister of Supplies, Abdel Hamid al-Quds, even told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot that: “Israel is distributing food containing material that causes cancer and hormones that harm male virility and spoiled food order to poison and harm the Palestinian population.”53

In the same perverse vein, Suha Arafat, wife of the PA President, at a press conference in the presence of Hillary Clinton (then-First Lady), falsely accused Israel of poisoning Palestinian air and water. Yasser Arafat himself, at the 2001 world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, shocked his distinguished audience by insisting in front of Israeli Foreign Minister, Peres, that Israel was using depleted uranium and nerve gas against Palestinian civilians. Film clips from official PA television were fabricated to show the alleged victims racked by convulsions and vomiting. In other cases there were scenes of rape and murder supposedly carried out by Israeli soldiers, “re-enacted” specially for the cameras.54 Such anti-Semitic incitement and falsifications should not be trivialized or reduced to a mere sub-category of the Palestinian political struggle against Israeli occupation. The present intifada has made it abundantly clear that Palestinian, Arab and Muslim grievances against the Jewish state cannot be satisfied by Israeli territorial and political concessions.

The antagonism not only lies far deeper and goes well beyond the issue of “settlements”. Indeed, it extends to the entire Jewish national project, to Israel’s very existence in the Middle East and to the rejection of what Saddam Hussein has repeatedly called the “criminal Zionist entity”. We need to recognize that a culture of hatred has arisen which has become an end in itself, rather than a form of politics by other means.



In the current Arab dispensation Israel is not merely another face of European racism or Nazism but actually “a double Nazism”.55 To quote that renowned political thinker, President Bashar Assad of Syria, Israel is “more racist than the Nazis”. Fiamma Nirenstein has ably summed this kind of defamation as follows:

...Israel has been transformed into little more than a diabolical abstraction, not a country at all but a malignant force embodying every possible negative attribute – aggressor, usurper, sinner, occupier, corrupter, infidel, murderer, barbarian... The uncomplicated sentiment produced by these caricatures is neatly captured by the latest hit song in Cairo, Damascus and East Jerusalem. Its title: “I Hate Israel”.56

This frightening image of the Jewish state as the incarnation of malignant evil naturally encourages the idea that all the Jews of Israel should be wiped out. Not only that, but on a soil fertilized by demonology, the cult of martyrdom more readily flourishes and loses its last moral inhibitions. The Muslim fundamentalist clergy plays a particularly deleterious role in the current cycle of incitement. In June 2001 the PA television broadcast Sheikh Ibrahim Mahdi’s sermon blessing, “whoever has put a belt of explosives on his body or on his sons and plunged into the midst of the Jews”.57 There are unfortunately thousands of such sermons preaching violence against Jews. Equally horrifying is the enthusiasm with which so many Arab and Palestinian columnists greet the suicide bombers who destroy innocent Israeli lives. The terrorists enjoy overwhelming moral support in opinion polls from among the Palestinians. However, the jihad against Israel is seen by Islamists in particular not only as a military-political battle for the inalienable “sacred Muslim soil” (Waqf) of Palestine but also as a struggle to defeat America and the occult power of the Jews.

For the best-known leader of Hizbullah in Lebanon, Ayatollah Fadlallah, the State of Israel is simply a military arm of the wider Jewish conspiracy, the nucleus for spreading their economic and cultural domination; according to Fadlallah, there is a “world Jewish movement working to deprive Islam of its positions of actual power”; the Jews wish to control the economic potential and resources of the Islamic world, to weaken it spiritually over the question of Jerusalem and geographically over Palestine.58 For Fadlallah, this is a battle for culture itself even more than for Palestinian land or for Jerusalem. It is an apocalyptic, Manichean vision of conflict. As Martin Kramer has put it, this is “a view of Muslim and Jew locked in a total confrontation which will continue until one side completely subjugates the other.”59

Any peace agreement with Israel would, in the eyes of the Islamists, fatally subject the Muslim world to complete Jewish domination. According to Hamas spokesman, Ibrahim Ghawshah, if there were ever a compromise between Arabs and Israelis, then “Israel will dominate the region like Japan dominates southeast Asia, and the Arabs will all become employees of the Jews.”60

The specter of “Jewish domination” which underpins much of contemporary Islamic anti-Semitism is part of its comprehensive vision of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. This is a worldview that has steadily gathered force since the crushing Arab defeat at the hands of Israel in 1967. That humiliating loss was not just a blow to Arab pride, machismo and national ambition but a reflection for many Muslims of the crisis of Islam, of a lethargic, backward society and culture defeated by a powerful, modern, technologically-advanced and highly motivated Zionist enemy. The secularist pan-Arab nationalism and Arab socialism that had previously held sway were in part discredited. In their place came the new trend towards seeing Islam as being engaged in a fateful battle for civilization.61 In a curious echo of neo-Marxist rhetoric, the “Zionist invaders” were perceived by radical Muslims as “White settler colonizers” threatening the cultural identity of Islam itself.

Shortly after the disaster of June 1967, more conservative fundamentalists exacerbated and sharpened the traditional image of Zionism and the Jews into something so utterly vile and perverse that it could only merit being total eradication.62 Virtually all the Arab theologians assembled in Cairo in 1968 stigmatized Jews as “enemies of God” and “enemies of humanity”; as a criminal riff-raff rather than as a people. Their State was the illegitimate culmination of allegedly immutable and permanently depraved characteristics. As their Holy Books amply demonstrated, “evil, wickedness, breach of vows and money worship” were “inherent qualities” in the Jews which had become horrifyingly visible in their conquest of Palestine.63 In line with this conservative pattern of thought, President Sadat of Egypt on April 25, 1972, referred to the Jews as “a nation of liars and traitors, contrivers of plots, a people born for deeds of treachery”, who would soon be “condemned to humiliation and misery”, as prophesied in the Qur`an.64 The Head of the Academy of Islamic Research, Dr. Abdul Halim Mahmoud, was even more explicit in an influential book published a year after the Yom Kippur War: “Allah commands the Muslims to fight the friends of Satan wherever they are found. Among the friends of Satan – indeed, among the foremost friends of Satan in our present age – are the Jews.”65

Since the 1973 war, despite more than twenty years of “cold” peace with Egypt, several generations of Muslims have been systematically taught to hate the Jewish and Israeli devils. Hence it is commonplace to see Israeli leaders portrayed as monsters in Arab caricatures, whether it be former Prime Minister Ehud Barak in Nazi regalia, hands dripping with blood, or Ariel Sharon rising out of a coffin with a swastika on its side. The popular TV station Al-Jazeera regularly brings this kind of incendiary incitement into millions of Arab homes,66 providing images of a demonic Israel which deliberately spreads drugs, vice and prostitution into the Arab world, gasses Palestinians or deliberately poisons their food and water. This is a criminal nation led by a bloodthirsty cannibalistic ogre who devours Palestinian children every morning for breakfast.



Arab and Muslim anti-Semites have in recent decades annexed the symbols and expressions of European anti-Semitism, even as they “Islamicized” its language. A particularly significant example in which Arab anti-Semitism has proven itself to be virtually identical with neo-Nazi, racist and “anti-Zionist” forms of Western Judeophobia, is Holocaust denial. Indeed, in recent years this has become one of the central planks of Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism.67 One finds a growing readiness among Muslims to believe that the Jews consciously invented the “Auschwitz lie”, the “hoax” of their own extermination, as part of a truly diabolical plan to achieve world domination. In this super-Macchiavellian scenario, the satanic archetype of the conspiratorial Jew – author and beneficiary of the greatest “myth” of the 20th century – achieves a gruesome and novel apotheosis.

One of the attractions of Holocaust denial to Arabs clearly lies in its radical challenge to the moral foundations of the Israeli state. This debunking critique is what motivated Mahmoud Abbas (better known today as Abu Mazen), who later emerged as the chief PLO architect of the Oslo peace accords. He wrote in 1983 a Holocaust denial book entitled The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and the Zionist Movement. In it Abu Mazen suggested, for example, that the number of Jewish victims of the Shoah was “even fewer than one million”.68 In the 1980s, a former Moroccan army officer, Ahmed Rami, also began to develop a much more fully fledged and violently anti-Semitic Holocaust denial campaign from Stockholm, Sweden where he founded “Radio Islam”. Under the cover of “anti-Zionism” and ostensibly defending the Palestinian cause, Rami called for “a new Hitler” who would rally the West and Islam against the cancer of “Jewish power”, and free it from the mendacious yoke of “Talmudism” and the Holocaust industry.69

In Iran, too, beginning in the early 1980s, an embryonic form of Holocaust denial already existed alongside Stürmer-like caricatures of the “Talmudic Jew”, the obsessive promotion of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and repeated calls to eradicate the Zionist cancer from the planet.70 Holocaust denial was a logical final step for militant Khomeini-style radicalism which totally demonizes Zionism, seeing in it a uniquely malevolent and insidious 20th century reincarnation of the “subversive and cunning spirit of Judaism”.71

Against this historic background, it is no surprise to find the present-day leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, claiming:

There is evidence which shows that Zionists had close relations with German Nazis and exaggerated statistics on Jewish killings. There is even evidence on hand that a large number of non-Jewish hooligans and thugs of Eastern Europe were forced to emigrate to Palestine as install in the heart of the Islamic world an anti-Islamic State under the guise of supporting the victims of racism...72

The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrima Subri, not to be outdone, told The New York Times in March 2000: “...we believe the number of six million is exaggerated. The Jews are using this issue, in many ways, also to blackmail the Germans financially... The Holocaust is protecting Israel.”73

Other Palestinians have also become explicitly defamatory in recent years about the Holocaust. Hassan al-Agha, professor at the Islamic University in Gaza City, declared on a PA cultural affairs television program in 1997:

...the Jews view it [the Holocaust] as a profitable activity so they inflate the number of victims all the time. In another ten years, I do not know what number they will reach... As you know, when it comes to economics and investments, the Jews have been very experienced even since the days of The Merchant of Venice.74

Seif Ali Al-Jarwan, writing a year later in the Palestinian newspaper Al Hayat Al-Jadeeda, also invoked the shadow of Shylock, representing “the image of the greedy, cunning, evil, and despised Jews” who had somehow succeeded in brainwashing American and European public opinion.

They concocted horrible stories of gas chambers which Hitler, they claimed, used to burn them alive. The press overflowed with pictures of Jews being gunned down...or being pushed into gas chambers... The truth is that such persecution was a malicious fabrication by the Jews.75

A sinister example of this popular genre can be found in a recent article by the editor of Tishreen (Syria’s leading daily). Two years ago he accused the Zionists of cynically inflating the Holocaust “to astronomic proportions” in order “to deceive international public opinion, win its empathy and blackmail...” Israel and the Jewish organizations, he wrote, encourage “their distorted version of history” in order to squeeze ever more funds from Germany and other European states in restitution payments. But they also use the Holocaust “as a sword hanging over the necks of all who oppose Zionism”.76 According to the Syrian view, the Zionist effort to paralyze human memory, logic and discussion was bound to fail: “Israel, that presents itself as the heir of Holocaust victims, has committed and still commits much more terrible crimes than those committed by the Nazis. The Nazis did not expel a whole nation nor bury people and prisoners alive, as the Zionists did.”77

The European “revisionist” most frequently mentioned as a source for Arab Holocaust deniers was the French left-wing intellectual (and convert to Islam) Roger Garaudy. Indeed, the trial and conviction of Garaudy in France in 1998 for “négationisme”, would make him a hero in much of the Middle East.78 Among his admirers was the former president of Iran, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who in a sermon on Teheran Radio, declared himself fully convinced that “Hitler had only killed 20,000 Jews and not six million,” adding that “Garaudy’s crime derives from the doubt he cast on Zionist propaganda.”79

Rafsanjani is the same supposedly “moderate” cleric who only a couple of months ago proclaimed on “Jerusalem Day” in Iran that “one atomic bomb would wipe out Israel without a trace” while the Islamic world would only be damaged rather than destroyed by Israeli nuclear retaliation.80 In the Iranian case, we have an example of a genocidal Israelophobia and terrorism driven by the cult of jihad (deeply anti-Semitic in its premises) which remorselessly advocates the eradication of “the tumor called Israel”. It is all too characteristic of this fanatical mind-set that the real Nazi Holocaust inflicted upon the Jews should be so strenuously denied by those that would repeat it.81

The Garaudy Affair, stemming from the French author’s 1995 book, The Founding Myths of Modern Israel (which argues that Jews deliberately fabricated the Holocaust for financial and political gain) is so revealing in several ways. First, there is the vitality of the Holocaust-denial anti-Semitism right across the Muslim and Arab worlds. The Arabic translations of Garaudy’s work also became bestsellers in many Middle Eastern countries, though only in France itself was he charged with inciting racial hatred.82 Many Arab professionals eagerly offered their services to help Garaudy. The binding ideological cement behind this outpouring of solidarity was a Protocols-style anti-Semitism which regards it almost as a self-evident truth that the Holocaust was indeed a Zionist invention. Hence the very favourable reaction to Garaudy’s theses by so many Arab newspapers and magazines or by clerics like Sheikh Muhammad Al-Tantawi, well-known politicians like Rafiq Hariri, or intellectuals such as Muhammad Hassanin Haikal.83

It is no less revealing that Palestinian intellectuals, clerics and legislators have themselves shown great reluctance to incorporate any aspect of the Shoah into their teaching curricula, fearing that it might strengthen Zionist claims to Palestine.84 Hatem Abd Al-Qader, a Hamas leader, explained in a recent internal Palestinian debate that such instruction would represent “a great danger for the formation of a Palestinian consciousness”; it would directly threaten Palestinian political dreams and religious aspirations, such as the promise by Allah that the whole of Palestine was a sacred possession to the Arabs. Other Palestinian intellectuals have mentioned alleged “doubts” about the “veracity” of the Shoah among European thinkers and on the international scene; or they have called for a more concentrated focus on Zionist “terror,” “cruelty,” or the so-called “massacres” against defenceless Palestinians; or they simply state that any reference to Jewish victims of the Holocaust must be minimized if not excluded.85

According to the Palestinian intellectual Abdallah Horani, Israel and the Zionists should hardly be offered Palestinian assistance to propagate their “lies” and their “false history” of the Shoah. In his view, the very raising of this issue was part of an American-Israeli plot to efface Palestinian national memory in favor of the globalizing “culture of peace” and to prepare the ground for an ideological-cultural penetration of Palestine by the West.86 The head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Sheikh Nafez Azzam, was more brief and categorical: “To wish to teach the Shoah in Palestinian schools contradicts the order of the universe.”87



A central feature of Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism continues to be the categoric refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist and its moral legitimacy. This fundamental premise has been aggravated by an education relentlessly directed towards hatred of Israel and the Jews. In this propaganda, Israel is the scapegoat for the continuous Arab inability to achieve political unity, economic development or other national goals. Frustration at the failure to successfully modernize has led to the displacement of rage on to Jews and the Jewish state as “agents of Western imperialism, globalization and an invasive modernist culture in the region”. But there are some Arab rulers like Saddam Hussein who go further than this in both their rhetoric and actions. They not only speak of the “Zionist entity” as an alien, artificial “implant” but as a multi-tentacled “octopus”, a “deadly cancer” or AIDS virus” that must be comprehensively wiped out.88 During recent years such statements calling for Israel’s extinction have repeatedly been made both by the secular pan-Arab nationalists of the ruling Ba`ath party in Iraq as well as by the Ayatollahs in Iran. For Saddam Hussein, no less than for the Muslim fundamentalists, “Palestine is Arab and must be liberated from the river to the sea and all the Zionists who emigrated to the land of Palestine must leave.”89

There is an implicit as well as an explicit anti-Semitism that underlies this exclusivist nationalist rhetoric (so visceral in Arab caricatures) and sharpened by what has become a completely dehumanized portrait of Israelis. They are branded as murderers, criminals, riff-raff, the scum of the earth. Israelis are simply a collection of rootless, nomadic Jews who illegally stole a land that was not their own, in order to create a “Nazified” state based on dreams of world domination as laid out in The Protocols. For many Muslims today, this “artificial” and evil state which exploits the “imperialistic” Judaic religion and its concept of a “chosen people” in order to seize ever more Arab land is pictured like a spreading cancer that must be surgically removed if Islam is to survive.90

Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism have always had a sharp political edge which derives from the intensity of the Arab-Israeli conflict. But the Palestinian territorial dimension should not blind us to the fact that anti-Semitism also has an autonomous dynamic of its own.91 There is a distinctive, underlying structure to Arab-Muslim anti-Semitic ideology (some of it Christian in origin) beyond immediate political circumstances, government propaganda, the territorial conflict with Israel or the instrumental use of imported anti-Jewish stereotypes and symbols.92 It cannot be wholly divorced from the rise of modern Arab nationalism which constructed an ideology of “Arabism” (al-`uruba) inimical to the Jewish and foreign presence in the Middle East. This organic nationalism facilitated a stereotypical way of thinking about all “outsiders” (including Jews) as “aliens” and enemies. Already in Nasser’s Egypt during the 1950s and in the Ba`athist movements of Syria and Iraq, it was apparent that a Western and even a “Nazified” anti-Semitism could be easily grafted on to the pan-Arab vision of a single, powerful, homogeneous Arabic-speaking nation. The historic resentment against Western colonialism and imperialism as well as the bitterness provoked by successive defeats at the hands of Israeli Jews, greatly intensified this frame of thought. Conspiracy theories postulating that “international Zionism” (conceptually merged into “world Jewry”) is locked in eternal enmity towards the Arab nation became as widespread among Arab nationalists as they are in fundamentalist circles.93

It is no secret that secular pan-Arab nationalists, already before 1967, regarded Israel’s existence and consolidation as a “civilizational challenge”. What was driven home with such shocking clarity by the Six Day War was the fact that the previously powerless and defenceless Jewish dhimmis had not only successfully risen up and created an independent Jewish state (as in 1948) but were now able to decisively crush several Arab armies on the battlefield. One can perhaps best explain the peculiar emotional rage behind Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism as an attempt to deflect the unresolved traumas which this unexpected Israeli military and technological prowess inflicted on the Arab psyche.

The Six Day War greatly intensified the demonology of Zionism and the Jews, especially among Muslim fundamentalists. There was a deep sense of humiliation over the loss of Islamic territory in 1967 and the capture of the holy city of Jerusalem by the Israelis. Not by accident, fundamentalists now posed the conflict much more sharply in terms of a struggle between Islam and the Jews – a battle of culture, civilization and religion.94 The Jewish victory became for them a symptom of Islam’s malaise and degradation – of its inability to recover the religious sources of its past glory and overcome the challenges posed by a “decadent” if powerful Western modernity. A radical rejection of all things “Western” and the belief that only Islam is the solution (Islam huwa al-hal) fused with a new vision of the Jewish danger – of Israel as total enemy and existential threat.

The fear and rage behind much of Islamic and Arab anti-Semitism has led it ever more closely towards the Nazi paradigm of Jew-hatred – making it seem particularly dynamic, volatile and even genocidal in its implications. Israel and the Jews are described not only as a military, political and economic threat to the Arabs and Islam. They are also a symbol of all the phobias provoked by secularism and the “poisons” of Western culture – pornography, AIDS, prostitution, rock music, Hollywood, mass consumerism, crime, drugs and alcoholism.95

Another conspicuous feature of contemporary Arab-Islamic anti-Semitism is the fixed, almost static quality of its underlying stereotypes. Jews are constantly denigrated as irremediably evil, corrupt, immoral, intriguing, deceitful and greedy creatures, or else they are vilified as racist, colonialist and fascist “vampires” sucking Arab blood. Already twenty years ago, a prominent Egyptian scholar wrote about the Jews and the Israel-Arab conflict in exactly the same anti-Semitic language that is so commonplace today: “...for Jews are Jews; they have not changed over thousands of years: they embody treachery, meanness, deceit and contempt for human values. They would devour the flesh of a living person and drink his blood for the sake of robbing his property.”96

It was in response to such defamation that the historian Bernard Lewis – a leading authority on Middle Eastern history – chillingly observed in 1986:

The volume of anti-Semitic books and articles published, the size and number of editions and impressions, the eminence and authority of those who write, publish and sponsor them, their place in school and college curricula, their role in the mass media, would all seem to suggest that classical anti-Semitism is an essential part of Arab intellectual life at the present time – almost as much as happened in Nazi Germany, and considerably more than in late nineteenth and early twentieth century France.97

Lewis believed, however, that this Arab hatred lacked the visceral and intensely intimate quality of Central and East European anti-Semitism. He claimed that in Arab lands it was “still largely political and ideological, intellectual and literary,” lacking any deep personal animosity or popular resonance.98 Despite its vehemence and ubiquity, Middle Eastern Judeophobia at that time was seen largely as a function of the Arab-Israeli conflict, cynically exploited for propaganda reasons by Arab rulers and intellectual elites: it was “something that comes from above, from the leadership, rather than from below, from the society – a political and polemical weapon, to be discarded if and when it is no longer required.”99

This assumption, in my view, was overly optimistic and intellectually questionable even at the time that it was made. In recent years this has become ever more apparent as the anti-Semitic virus has taken root in the body politic of Islam to a shocking degree. More than 10 years ago I wrote that “an anti-Jewish Arab ideology has crystallised and acquired its own momentum over the course of the past few decades, one that has distorted and blackened the image of the Jew in ways that were historically unprecedented for the Islamic world.100

In the year 2002, it is no less clear that while very little has changed in the basic repertoire of Islamic Judeophobia, it has unfortunately become more widespread, intense, radicalized and militantly religious in character. The horrifying recent murder of the Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, cruelly exemplified the existential threat that this violently anti-Jewish ideology represents. His last words before he was decapitated by his fanatical Muslim captors were, “I am a Jew.” He was butchered not simply because he was an American and an investigative journalist but for the simple fact of his birth. To be born a Jew has become for many Islamic fascists, as it was for Hitler and the Nazis, an a priori reason to be executed.101



Quoted in Albert Speer, Spandau: The Secret Diaries, New York, 1976, p. 80.


For a vivid account of the steady drumbeat of a malignant anti-Americanism in the Arab world, see Fouad Ajami, “The Sentry’s Solitude”, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 80, No. 6, November/December 2001, pp. 2-16.


MEMRI Dispatch, No. 226, June 8, 2001 quotes the highest ranking Palestinian Authority cleric, the Jerusalem Mufti, Sheikh Ikrem Sabri as follows:

...Our enemies [i.e. Israel] think that they scare our people. We tell them: in as much as you love life – the Muslim loves death and martyrdom. There is a great difference between he who loves the hereafter and he who loves this world. The Muslim loves death and [strives for] martyrdom...


In this context, Hitler’s consistent popularity in the Arab world is significant. See Robert S. Wistrich, Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred, New York: Pantheon, 1991, p. 247. For a characteristic recent example, see the columnist Ahmad Ragab’s “Thanks to Hitler” (on behalf of the Palestinians) in the government-sponsored Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar. Quoted in MEMRI Dispatch, No. 208, April 20, 2001.


See Robert S. Wistrich, Hitler’s Apocalypse, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986, pp. 154-193; and Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites, New York/London: Norton, 1986, pp. 140-163. Lewis emphasizes that it was the Arab leadership that initiated approaches to Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945.


One can find such conspiracy theories in the work of Sayyid Qutb, the great Egyptian Muslim fundamentalist writer, executed by Nasser in 1966, who saw the struggle with the Jews as a cosmic and fateful war for Islam. See Ronald L. Nettler, Past Trials and Present Tribulations: A Muslim Fundamentalist’s View of the Jews, Oxford, 1987, pp. 44-57.


See Yediot Aharonot, December 28, 2001, pp. 10-13, 28-9 for a wide-ranging discussion on anti-Semitism today in which I took part.


Response, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, Fall 2001.


Quoted in L’Arche, October-November 2001, p. 66. Cette guerre se poursuivra, de plus en plus violente, jusqu'à ce que nous ayons vaincu les juifs.”


Raphael Israeli, “Anti-Semitism Revived: The Impact of the Intifada on Muslim Immigrant Groups in Western Democracies”, in Jerusalem Viewpoints, No. 455, June 1, 2001, published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.


See Actualité Juive, No. 733, January 17, 2002, pp. 6, 9-11, 22-4, 31-2, for different viewpoints – Israeli, French and French Jewish – on the rising anti-Semitism in France.


Emmanuel Navon, “Pardon My French”, Jerusalem Post, January 29, 2002.


David Landau, “Jewish Angst in Albion”, Ha’aretz, January 23, 2002.


Op-Ed article entitled “To Anthrax” in Al-Risala, November 7, 2001, by columnist Dr. Atallah Abu Al-Subh. The Hamas weekly in which this piece appeared is based in Gaza.


Al-Maydan, September 24, 2001. By editor Issam Al-Ghazi. This is an independent Egyptian weekly, MEMRI, No. 281.




MEMRI, September 21, 2001, No. 274. See the article by deputy editor Magdi Shandi and especially (on September 17) by columnist Muhammad Mustagab.


Al-Arabi, September 16, 2001. The article was by columnist Ahmad Murad.


Salim `Azzouz, Al-Ahrar, September 17, 2001.


Ammar Shammakh in Egyptian-based Afaq Arabiya, September 19, 2001, MEMRI, September 21, 2001, No. 274.


Tehran Times, Iranian newspaper, October 25, 2001. Islamic Republic News Agency, October 24, 2001.


Al Thawra, September 19, 2001.


Al-Ahram Weekly Online, September 27-October 3. Story by Omayma Abdel-Latif.


Ahmad Al-Muslih, in Al-Dustour, September 13, 2001, MEMRI, September 20, 2001, No. 270.


MEMRI, ibid. Article by Hayat Al-Hweiek `Atiya and Rakan Al-Majali who added that Jews more than anyone “are capable of hiding a criminal act they perpetrate, and they can be certain that no one will ask them about what they do.”


Interview for an official Al-Azhar University web site, <>. MEMRI, October 17, 2001, No. 288.


Interview with Rod Nordland, Newsweek, September 14, 2001.


“Zionists Could Be Behind Attack on WTC and Pentagon,” October 14, 2001, on the website <>. The “facts” behind the article come from Pakistan though the site is registered to the State of Qatar Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs.


The Washington Post, October 13, 2001. The website <> commissioned the opinion poll.


<ArabNews.Com>, Saudi English language daily; posted on November 5, 2001 by Hassan Tahsin.


Iran Daily, October 29, 2001.


IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency), October 25, 2001.


Palestinian Daily Press Review, September 24, 2001.


Editor Hadez Al-Barghouthi in Al Hayat Al-Jadida, October 17, 2001; also columnist Mahmoud bin Abd Al-Ghani Sabbagh in the Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh, October 15, 2001. See MEMRI, October 25, 2001, No. 291.


See Tishreen, January 31, 2000, editorial.


Al Thawra, February 22, 2000, editorial. Daily commentary report on Syrian radio, February 24, 2000. See also Al Baath, February 10, 2000. “All those who saw Levy on television threatening Lebanon were reminded of the Nazi period.”


Lebanese television footage from February 28, 2000 showing David Levy’s speech to the Knesset threatening to “burn the soil of Lebanon” (in reprisal for Hizbullah attacks) alongside footage of Hitler’s Nazi rallies.


Al-Ittihad (United Arab Emirates daily), February 25, 2000.


Al-Watan (semi-independent Qatari daily), February 21, 2000. Some of this material was compiled by the Anti-Defamation League. See its March 2000 background file on “Anti-Semitism and Demonization of Israel in the Arab Media”, January-February 2000.


“Anti-Semitic Images in the Egyptian Media”, Anti-Defamation League, New York, January 2000-February 2001. On the extraordinary prevalence of hostile anti-Jewish attitudes across the political spectrum in Egypt, see Rivka Yadlin, An Arrogant, Oppressive Spirit. Anti-Zionism as Anti-Judaism in Egypt, Oxford/New York, 1989.


Dr. Mahmoud Al-Said Al-Kurdi, Al Akhbar, March 25, 2001.


Al-Musawwar, No. 24, August 4, 1972, p. 13.


Zbeir Sultan, “The Peace of Zion”, in ibid., January 1, 2000, MEMRI, January 6, 2000).


Ibid., see also Al Ahram, April 29, 2001 which recalled Mu`ammar al-Qadhafi’s “revelations” that Libyan children had been injected with AIDS by foreign nurses. The government daily echoed the accusations of those who believed the CIA or Israeli Mossad were behind this crime.


Syrian News Agency, May 5, 2001.


Jews, Israel and Peace in Palestinian School Textbooks 2000-2001 and 2001-2002, Report, New York: Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, November 2001, pp. 22-25.


Ibid., p. 17.


Ibid., p. 35.


Ibid., pp. 28-29, 34-40.


Ibid., p. 42.


Al Hayat Al-Jadeeda, April 13, 2001. Hiri Manzour’s article was published on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was provocatively entitled “The Fable of the Holocaust” to cause maximum offense.


Al Hayat Al-Jadeeda, May 15, 1997.


Yediot Aharonot, June 25, 1997.


Fiamma Nirenstein, “How Suicide Bombers Are Made”, Commentary, September 2001, pp. 53-55.


Ibid., p. 54.




Ibid., p. 55.


Martin Kramer, “The Salience of Islamic Fundamentalism”, Institute of Jewish Affairs, No. 2, October 1995, pp. 5-6.


Ibid., p. 6.


Ibid., p. 8.


See Fouad Ajami, The Arab Predicament. Arab Political Thought and Practice Since 1967, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984, pp. 50-76.


D.F. Green (ed.), Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel, The Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research, 3rd edition, Geneva, 1976, p. 9.


Kamal Ahmad Own, “The Jews are the Enemies of Human Life”, ibid., pp. 19-24.


Ibid., p. 91.


Ibid., p. 95; Dr. Abdul Halim Mahmoud, Al-Jihad wa al-Nasr (Holy War and Victory), Cairo, 1974, pp. 148-150.


See Arieh Stav, Ha-Shalom – Caricatura Aravit (Peace: The Arabian Caricature), Tel Aviv, 1996, pp. 111-234 (Hebrew); Fouad Ajami, “What the Arab World is Watching”, New York Times Magazine, November 18, 2001, describes the anti-American, anti-Zionist diet offered by Al-Jazeera.


Eliahu Salpeter, “Anti-Semitism Among the Arabs”, Ha’aretz, February 9, 2000.


See Holocaust Denial in the Middle East. The Latest Anti-Israel Propaganda Theme, New York: Anti-Defamation League, 2001, pp. 5-6. Abu Mazen never publicly retracted his Holocaust denial book despite a request to do so from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. He told the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv that he wrote the work at a time when the PLO was “at war with Israel”. After Oslo, he claimed, he would not have made such remarks.


See Per Ahlmark, “Reflections on Combating Anti-Semitism”, in Yaffa Zilbershats (ed.), The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism, Bar-Ilan University, 1993, pp. 59-66. Mr. Ahlmark, who co-founded the Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism, has called Rami’s Holocaust denial statements “the most vicious anti-Jewish campaign in Europe since the Third Reich”. Rami has been prosecuted in Swedish courts on three occasions. He was again convicted and fined in October 2000.


See Imam, March and May issues of 1984, a publication of the Iranian Embassy in London. Also The Imam Against Zionism, Ministry of Islamic Guidance, the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1983, for the Ayatollah Khomeini’s malevolent view of Israel. Also Emmanuel Sivan, “Islamic Fundamentalism, Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism”, in: Robert S. Wistrich (ed.), Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism in the Contemporary World, New York: New York University Press, 1990, pp. 74-84.


Olivier Carré, L’Utopie Islamique dans l’Orient Arabe, Paris, 1991, pp. 195-201; Robert S. Wistrich, “The Antisemitic Ideology in the Contemporary Islamic World”, in Zilbershats (ed.), The Rising Tide..., op. cit., pp. 67-74.


The Jerusalem Post, April 25, 2001. A year earlier a conservative Iranian newspaper, the Teheran Times, had insisted in an editorial that the Holocaust was “one of the greatest frauds of the 20th century”. This prompted a complaint by the British MP Louise Ellman to the Iranian ambassador in London. Agence France-Presse, May 14, 2000.


The New York Times, March 26, 2000. Sabri added: “It’s certainly not our fault if Hitler hated the Jews. Weren’t they hated pretty much everywhere?”


Quoted in Holocaust Denial in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 12.


Al Hayat al-Jadeeda, July 2, 1998. “Jewish Control of the World Media”, translated by MEMRI. A recent crossword puzzle in the same Palestinian newspaper (February 18, 1999) asked readers to guess the name of the “Jewish center for eternalizing the Holocaust and its lies”. The correct answer was Yad Vashem – the official Israeli Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.


Muhammad Kheir al-Wadi, “The Plague of the Third Millennium”, Tishreen, January 31, 2000.




Al-Ahram, March 14, 1998, defended Garaudy by arguing inter alia that there was “no trace of the gas chambers” which were supposed to have existed in Germany. In fact, there were no gas chambers erected in Germany itself – all the death camps were located in Poland.


Holocaust Denial in the Middle East, op. cit., pp. 8-9.


The remarks were made at Friday prayers held at the University of Teheran on December 15, 2001 and widely reported in the world press. A day earlier on Iranian TV, Rafsanjani stated: “The establishment of the State of Israel is the worst event in history. The Jews living in Israel will have to migrate once more.” See R. Ehrlich (ed.), Incitement and Propaganda, op. cit., p. 38, in Hebrew.


It is no accident that European Holocaust deniers like the Austrian engineer, Wolfgang Fröhlich and the Swiss, Jürgen Graf, are welcomed and resident in Iran. See Holocaust Denial, op. cit., pp. 7-8.


Roger Garaudy, Les Mythes Fondateurs de la politique israélienne, Paris, 1995. A former Catholic, then a Communist, Garaudy became a Muslim in 1982 and married a Jerusalem-born Palestinian woman. On the echoes in France, see Pierre-André Taguieff, “L’Abbé Pierre et Roger Garaudy. Négationisme, Antijudaisme, Antisionisme”, Esprit, No. 8-9, 1996, p. 215. Also Valérie Igounet, Histoire du Négationisme en France, Paris, 2000, pp. 472-83.


See the article by Mouna Naim in Le Monde, March 1, 1998.


MEMRI Report, February 20, 2001.


Al-Risala, April 13, 2000.


Al-Istiqlal, April 20, 2000.


Al-Istiqlal, ibid.


On Radio Baghdad (May 28, 2001) Saddam Hussein called the Zionist-Arab conflict a war of destiny; either the Arab nation would live in peace (which required Israel’s extinction) or the Zionists would expand at Arab expense. On August 28, 2001, Radio Baghdad appealed to the Arab Islamic Nation to arise and “expel the sons of apes and swine among the Zionists from the conquered land [Palestine]”.


Saddam Hussein on Iraqi television, speaking to an Algerian delegation, May 30, 2001.


This theme is particularly strong in Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian government propaganda, but similar expressions can be found in more “moderate” Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.


Y. Harkabi consistently argued that Arab anti-Semitism was “the outcome of political circumstances”, not “a cause of the conflict but a product of it”. See his “Contemporary Arab Anti-Semitism: Its Causes and Roots”, in: Helen Fein (ed.), The Persisting Question. Sociological Perspectives and Social Contexts of Modern Antisemitism, Berlin/New York, 1987, p. 420.


See Sylvia Haim, “Arab Antisemitic Literature”, Jewish Social Studies, No. 4, 1956, pp. 307-9. Arabic translations of French anti-Semitic literature (made by Christian Arabs) were originally an important conveyor-belt for the transmission of anti-Jewish stereotypes originating in European Christian culture.


Yossef Bodansky, Islamic Anti-Semitism as a Political Instrument, Shaarei Tikva: The Ariel Center for Policy Research, 1999, pp. 41-50.


Robert S. Wistrich, “The Islamic Anti-Semitic Ideology...” in Zilbershats (ed.), op. cit., p. 70.


Ibid., pp. 20-1.


Dr. Lutfi abd-al-`Adhim, “Arabs and Jews: Who Will Annihilate Whom?”,  Al-Ahram al-Iqtisadi, September 27, 1982. See the long extract cited by Raphael Israeli, in his pamphlet on “Arab and Islamic Anti-Semitism”, Shaarei Tikva: The Ariel Center for Policy Research, Policy Paper No. 104, 2000, pp. 14-15.


Bernard Lewis, Semites and Antisemites, New York/London, 1986, p. 286.


Ibid., p. 258. See also the pioneering study of Y. Harkabi, Arab Attitudes to Israel, London, 1972, p. 227.


Lewis, ibid., p. 259.


Robert S. Wistrich, Antisemitism. The Longest Hatred, New York: Pantheon, 1991, p. 265.


See my article “The New Islamic Fascism”, Partisan Review, No. 1, 2002, pp. 32-4 and my research paper for the American Jewish Committee entitled “Muslim Antisemitism – A Clear and Present Danger”, published in May 2002. Much of the material in this essay has been drawn from that research and suitably recast.