In my introductory blog to Islam, Muslims, and Anti-Semitism I went over my reasons for questioning the stereotype of Islam being anti-Semitic. Now, in this blog I start discussing the failings of the FLAME ad about why Islam is anti-Semitic.
Ad: “Anti-Semitism has often and rightfully been called the longest hatred, the oldest prejudice. It has plagued Europe for a very long time and has, over the centuries, brought untold suffering to the Jewish people. It’s most deadly expression was the Nazi Holocaust, which caused the death of 6 million Jews and extinguished ancient civilizations in much of Europe. So terrible, so evil were those events that anti-Semitism was shunned and repudiated by the civilized world.”
Response: I find it interesting that that this ad mentions the European experience in regards to anti-Semitism, in fact it even highlights the fact that anti-Semitism’s “most deadly expression was the Nazi Holocaust”; an act carried out in a Christian nation by people who were largely Christians. I’ll develop this later in this blog.
I will say though that while anti-Semitism may have been repudiated by the governments of the industrial world this does not mean that all of its citizens have also repudiated it. For example, in the United States a 2005 poll by the Anti-Defamation League found that 14% of American citizens still hold strongly anti-Semitic views. While higher than what many would wish what is truly alarming about this number is that in 1992 it was 12%. Just something to think about.
Ad: What are the facts?
Anti-Semitism is integral to Muslim culture. But while anti-Semitism has indeed been shunned by the civilized world, things are quite different in the Muslim/Arab world because anti-Semitism is an integral part of their religion and culture. The Muslim countries are the only places in the world in which anti-Semitism is publicly endorsed and where it flourishes. The Koran abounds in anti-Semitic statements.
Response: I will address this in three ways.
First I will provide some passages from the Bible and from historical Christian figures and actions that can and have provided support for anti-Semitism among Christians and in Christian countries. I am doing this NOT because I believe that Christianity is of necessity anti-Semitic or that it even makes more sense for it to be anti-Semitic than otherwise (I believe neither), but to show that the same case can be made against Christians and Christianity as FLAME and others like it are doing with Islam. This also will show that there have been and are Christians who would agree that Christians should be anti-Semitic; just as there are many Muslims who will admit to having hatred for Jews. However neither the Christian nor the Muslim expressing such views is correct.
Next I will provide some of the actions and words of Muslims worldwide that have lead me to conclude that anti-Semitism is not an “integral” part of Islam. As I said in my intro blog to this subject, it is these actions that made me question the stereotype being passed as truth about Islam. After all, if Islam were truly an anti-Semitic religion then I would expect there to be either no such incidents or much, much fewer. Instead of the many millions of Muslims who have positive views of the Jews I would expect almost none. And I would expect that these Muslims would not use their faith as the reason for their actions and views.
Finally I will address this by searching for the verses from the Qur’an most often used to support the claim that the Qur’an “abounds in anti-Semitic statements” and then showing why this claim is wrong.
- Christian Anti-Semitism: First the Bible Verses. All Bible quotes are from the New International Version.
All of these verses have been used to justify some truly horrendous acts against Jews in Christian countries. Most of them are from the Gospel of John, but the truly classic one is from Matthew.
John 7:1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him.
John 8: 37-47 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would] do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
John 10: 22 – 26 22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.
There are more, but let’s end with the classic Biblical justification for persecuting and killing Jews.
Matthew 27:25 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
Now, let us look at just a few quotes from some very famous and important Christian figures in history.
“The custom of circumcising the flesh, handed down from Abraham, was given to you as a distinguishing mark, to set you off from other nations and from us Christians. The purpose of this was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and your cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of your land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem. Your circumcision of the flesh is the only mark by which you can certainly be distinguished from other men…as I stated before it was by reason of your sins and the sins of your fathers that, among other precepts, God imposed upon you the observance of the sabbath as a mark.” Dialogue with Trypho (Between 138A.D. and 161 A.D.)
“How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!” Confessions 12.14
“I have had much conversation with many Jews: I have never seen either a drop of piety or a grain of truth or ingenuousness – nay, I have never found common sense in any Jew.” Calvin’s Commentary of Daniel 2:44-45
“Their [the Jews] rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.” From his “A Response To Questions And Objections Of A Certain Jew”
Let me just mention that Martin Luther wrote a whole book against the Jews titled “On The Jews And Their Lies”. This is just one excerpt from it.
“What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we cannot tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy. In this way we cannot quench the inextinguishable fire of divine rage nor convert the Jews. We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity. Perhaps we may save a few from the fire and flames [of hell]. We must not seek vengeance. They are surely being punished a thousand times more than we might wish them. Let me give you my honest advice.
First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.
Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues. For this reason they ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land, as they boast, but miserable captives, as they complain of incessantly before God with bitter wailing.
Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer-books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught.
Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more…
Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews. For they have no business in the rural districts since they are not nobles, nor officials, nor merchants, nor the like. Let them stay at home…If you princes and nobles do not close the road legally to such exploiters, then some troop ought to ride against them, for they will learn from this pamphlet what the Jews are and how to handle them and that they ought not to be protected. You ought not, you cannot protect them, unless in the eyes of God you want to share all their abomination…
To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden – the Jews…
Let the government deal with them in this respect, as I have suggested. But whether the government acts or not, let everyone at least be guided by his own conscience and form for himself a definition or image of a Jew. When you lay eyes on or think of a Jew you must say to yourself: Alas, that mouth which I there behold has cursed and execrated and maligned every Saturday my dear Lord Jesus Christ, who has redeemed me with his precious blood; in addition, it prayed and pleaded before God that I, my wife and children, and all Christians might be stabbed to death and perish miserably. And he himself would gladly do this if he were able, in order to appropriate our goods…
Such a desperate, thoroughly evil, poisonous, and devilish lot are these Jews, who for these fourteen hundred years have been and still are our plague, our pestilence, and our misfortune.
I have read and heard many stories about the Jews which agree with this judgment of Christ, namely, how they have poisoned wells, made assassinations, kidnapped children, as related before. I have heard that one Jew sent another Jew, and this by means of a Christian, a pot of blood, together with a barrel of wine, in which when drunk empty, a dead Jew was found. There are many other similar stories. For their kidnapping of children they have often been burned at the stake or banished (as we already heard). I am well aware that they deny all of this. However, it all coincides with the judgment of Christ which declares that they are venomous, bitter, vindictive, tricky serpents, assassins, and children of the devil, who sting and work harm stealthily wherever they cannot do it openly. For this reason, I would like to see them where there are no Christians.
I could quote more, but this should suffice for now. Before turning to some of many examples of Christian anti-Semitic actions I feel the need for one more quote:
“The Jews are a nervous people. Nineteen centuries of Christian love have taken a toll.” Benjamin Disraeli
- The yellow badge that Jews had to wear during Nazi Germany did not originate with the Nazis. Instead it started in 1215 when the Fourth Council of the Lateran, headed by Pope Innocent III ruled that “”Jews and Saracens[Muslims] of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress.”
The form varied but it was usually a badge, normally either yellow or red, and usually some version of the Star of David. This held true in almost every European country – England, France, Germany, Italy, etc.
It really didn’t stop until almost the end of the 19th century. The Nazi’s just resurrected an old and established Christian custom.
- During the First Crusade (1096 – 1099) the army marching to liberate the Holy Land from the Infidel (by the way, this was the first use of the term Holy War – by Christians marching on Muslims who had not attacked them) spent quite a bit of time destroying Jewish communities and killing Jews in France and Germany.
Guibert of Nogent (1053-1124) reported that the Crusaders of Rouen said: “we desire to combat the enemies of God in the East; but we have under our eyes the Jews, a race more inimical to God than all the others.”
An example of just one incident from Mainz, France, in 1014 where 1,200 Jews were killed. This is from the Chronicler of Mainz:
“When the enemies came to the rooms, they broke the doors and found the Jews still twitching and rolling in their own blood. They took the Jews’ money, stripped them naked, and smote the remaining ones, not leaving any remnant. This they did in all the rooms that had members of the holy covenant. But there was one room that was strongly [fortified]; the enemies fought until evening to [enter] it.
And the Crusaders approached the door to break it…The Crusaders killed everyone in that room and stripped them naked; the corpses were still twitching and becoming stained in their own blood as they were stripping them.
They then tossed them, naked, from the room through the windows; hills upon hills, mounds upon mounds, until they became like a tall mountain. Many members of the holy covenant, when they were being tossed, still had a bit of life left in them, and gestured with their fingers , “Give us water, that we may drink.” When the Crusaders saw this, they asked them, “Do you want to sully (baptize) yourselves?” But they shook their heads and looked to their Father in heaven, to say, No, and they pointed to God; the Crusaders killed them.”
It is estimated that 10,000 Jews were killed during the 1st Crusade – about a quarter of the Jewish population in Europe. Although the 1st Crusade had the greatest number of deaths the same happened during all the other Crusades.
- Jews never knew when they were going to be expelled from a country. To name just a few instances of many in which all Jews within a country were told to leave on pain of death:
- Italy in 855
- England in 1290
- France in 1182 and 1306 and 1322 and 1394 and 1453
- Germany in 1394
- Netherlands 1444 and 1582
- Spain in 1492 (note that this was done just after they had expelled all the Muslims from Spain).
- Portugal in 1497
- Prussia in 1510
- Hungary in 1582
- Areas in the U.S. under Gen Grant’s jurisdiction 1862.
These were not usually leisurely affairs. Most of the time the Jews were forbidden to take coins or jewels with them and were forced to sell their property at very cheap prices.
- And when the Jews were allowed to stay in a city they were usually allowed to live only in certain sections; sections that were usually walled off and which never grew larger even though the population within that section did. Severe overcrowding was quite common in these ghettos. Further, there were often laws regulating when they could leave the ghetto.
These ghettos were in existence in most places until the 1800’s when they finally started to be dismantled.
- When discussing the massacre of Jews during the Crusades, I copied a bit from the record keep at Mainz. If you read it you will notice that the Christian soldiers offered to give the dying and seriously wounded Jews water if they would convert. This attempt to force Jews to convert to Christianity was very common all the way through the 17th and 18th centuries. Convert or die. Or lose your property. Or be imprisoned.
In many of the expulsions already mentioned Jews could remain if they converted. Many Jews did but remained Jews in secret. Which is one of the reasons the Inquisition came into being – to ferret out secret Jews and then to torture and kill them.
- Jews were prohibited from entering or living in Norway by paragraph 2 of its 1814 Constitution.
- In 1881 Alexander II was assassinated by radicals. Jews were blamed and hundreds of pogroms carried out against them, often assisted by the government. Jewish shops, businesses, and homes were destroyed leaving thousands of Jews homeless and starving.
- 1915: 600,000 Jews were forcibly moved from the western borders of Russia to its interior. About 100,000 of them died.
- 1933 – 1945: The Holocaust, the greatest murder of a people due to their religion in history. Over 6 million Jews were murdered and over 5,000 Jewish communities were destroyed. By a Christian people in a Christian country.
Now, imagine that you are not a Christian or have very little knowledge about Christianity. You ask about Christianity, and someone then quotes the verses already mentioned as well as quotes from various Christian leaders, along with the actions of Christians in regards to the Jews and then states that “pAnti-Semitism is integral to Christian culture,” and that the “Bible abounds in anti-Semitic statements.” I would imagine you would find it very persuasive.
However if you were a Christian, I imagine you would be upset. And justly so. There are aspects of Christianity that were not anti-Semitic and that did reach out to the Jewish people. Further the verses quoted in the Bible are misinterpreted and misunderstood since they have been shorn of their context.
A Christian would feel very aggrieved were they not given an opportunity to explain (unless of course they are a member of the KKK or Aryan Nation or among the other 14% of Americans who are anti-Semitic, in which case they would proceed to explain that the Jews got what was coming to them). Yet it is a very strange thing that Christians do not feel the obligation to try to understand Islam to see if the same holds true for Islam in regards to anti-Semitism as it does for Christianity.
If they did they would find out that it does hold true. Islam is no more inherently anti-Semitic than Christianity.
In my next blog, Part 2 Actions, I will look at some of the actions of modern day Muslims which by itself prove that anti-Semitism is not an “integral” part of Islam.