The less Muslims and Jews know each other, the more hatred grows

LONDON —

In the small town of San Dona di Piave near Venice last Friday, an imam, Raoudi Albdelbar, asked Allah to, “Kill them all (the Jews), down to the last one; make poison of their food; transform the air that they breath into flames, and put terror in their hearts.” The imam was so proud of his sermon that he made a video of it and posted it on his Facebook page—from where it went viral. Earlier this week, Italian antiterrorist police showed up and arrested the imam on charges of inciting violence, and began the process of expelling him to his native Morocco.

There’s a doleful, five-century-old parallel to the iman’s prayer. In his “Trials of the Diaspora,” Antony Julius, a polymath British lawyer, has taken Shylock’s trial in the Merchant of Venice as the ur-trial of diaspora Jews, seeing in it a subtle re-imagining of the old blood libel. In Shylock’s pitiless pursuit of a pound of flesh cut from the merchant Antonio’s body, Julius detects another instance of Jews seeking Christian blood.

Shakespeare gave Shylock a speech that seemed to challenge the dehumanization at the heart of anti-Semitism - “Hath not a Jew eyes. ... If you prick us, do we not bleed?” - even as the play drove inexorably to the ghastly humiliation of the Jew. But Shakespeare did not know any Jews; they had been expelled from England in 1290 after centuries of oppression and were not readmitted till the 1650s. Shylock was a composite, born of the normal anti-Semitism of a Christian Englishman but softened by the sympathetic insight of one who recognised common humanity even as he assumed uncommon Jewish malignancy.

For the imam of San Dona di Piave, there is no such generosity. For him, the trial of the Jews should conclude with a mass death sentence - found, as a race, collectively guilty of creating a bloodbath in Gaza, where the victims this time were not Christians but Muslims.

Some among his audience, when later interviewed by a Corriere della Sera reporter, sought to excuse the imam’s remarks. “I understood [his sermon] this way,” said a man named Ali. “There was a massacre of children in Gaza and he prayed to Allah to punish those who did the killing. It’s normal, it seems to me.”

There’s another tragedy here beside the obvious one in Gaza. What Ali sees as “normal” is, in fact, normal for many Muslims, just as anti-Semitism was for many Christians in the 16th century. What he said was in his heart, and he felt he should broadcast it. Because Ali probably doesn’t know any Jews to wish them personally dead, it was an easy matter for him to condemn all Jews to death, divorced as he is from any inconvenient images of real people.

Divorced, too, from any wider context. In Iraq, well-trained and well-armed fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are wholly ruthless in the business of slaughtering their Muslim foes. Their religious fervor countenances no apostasy; it’s either be converted to their beliefs or be killed. They are sweeping through Sunni areas and most recently have advanced into Kurdish areas in the northeast of Iraq, leaving in their wake piles of headless bodies and desecrated religious shrines. The Sunni militants now threaten death to thousands of members of the Yazidi sect, a religious minority whose faith mixes Islam and ancient Persian Zoroastrianism.

The fighting in Iraq is but one theater in the bloodiest struggle in the world, that between Islam’s two major sects, the Sunnis and Shi’ites, a horror that firebrands like the Imam Raoudi ignore. The enemy is, and must ever be, the eternal Jew. Most - not all and not everywhere - of the malign energy in Christian anti-Semitism is now spent. The Catholic Church, for a long time at best ambiguous toward Jews, has under the leadership of Pope Francis become more proactively friendly to them, while many Pentecostal churches in the United States and elsewhere are outright philo-Semitic. But Muslim Arabs’ detestation of Israel’s existence easily spreads to include all Jews - and as easily displaces any attention paid to the cancer in the midst of Islam.

Andre Aciman, the scholar and novelist who teaches comparative literature at the City University of New York, was a child when his Jewish family was expelled from Egypt in 1965, after Gamel Abdul Nasser came to power. Returning in 1995 to Alexandria, where he grew up, he found the city much the same, but its people had changed. “They were no longer cosmopolitan; people would come up to me and ask, ‘Are you a spy?’ perhaps thinking I was a Jew. Then in a taxi, I began to speak in Arabic. ‘Why did you leave?’ asked the driver. ‘Because I’m a Jew, they were hunting me.’ But he had no memory of that: the memory of Jews in Egypt had been rubbed out.”

The memory of Jews has been rubbed out all over the Arab world. “Death to the Jews!” the proud call of the imam in San Dona di Piave, is now heard on the streets of European cities. It is a call most easily pronounced by those who know nothing of those they wish to see dead.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014.

Author Infomation

John Lloyd
John Lloyd
John Lloyd co-founded the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, where he is director of Journalism. Lloyd has written several books, including "What the Media Are Doing to Our Politics" (2004). He is also a contributing editor at FT and the founder of FT Magazine.
  • -2

    Frungy

    Irony. An anti-Islamic rant condemning an anti-Semetic rant.

    People are people, and while a lot of bad stuff is being done in the name of Islam the same could be said of a lot of things.

  • -2

    gaijinfo

    Ishmael vs. Isaac

    Mythological description of the longest blood feud in human history.

    Thousands of years before Mohammed was a glimmer in his daddy's eye, there was the hatred between Ishmael and Isaac.

    No understanding required.

  • -3

    bass4funk

    Irony. An anti-Islamic rant condemning an anti-Semetic rant.

    I wouldn't call it a rant, I'd call it a breath of fresh air of the truth.

    People are people, and while a lot of bad stuff is being done in the name of Islam the same could be said of a lot of things.

    People are people, but the Jihadists don't belong in that category. And who right now can compare to groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, Hamas seriously, who?

    But the thread is talking about Islam, as we speak, all over the world Jihadist are killing, raping, beheading people, doing complete unspeakable crimes against humanity, there is NO ONE or nothing in this world at this present moment that doesn't pose a greater threat than radical Islam, NOTHING!

  • 1

    AiserX

    The title is none sense. Jews and Muslims have known each other since the days of Muhammad. What has changed? nothing. There is conflict against Islam, where ever its found in significant numbers.

  • 0

    LostinNagoya

    People are people, but the Jihadists don't belong in that category. And who right now can compare to groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, Hamas seriously, who?

    Answer: the state of Israel, only that it has US support, thus it makes it look legit.

  • 0

    Frungy

    bass4funkAug. 15, 2014 - 01:17PM JST there is NO ONE or nothing in this world at this present moment that doesn't pose a greater threat than radical Islam, NOTHING!

    Two points here:

    1. The USA has killed more innocent people in the decade than Islamic radicals have. Just thought I'd note that to put your point in context.

    2. Radical Islam is bad? Sure. But most Muslims aren't radicals, and this is where you and the author miss the point. It would be like equating all Christians with Radical Christians (who admittedly are more likely to just make pests of themselves by knocking on your door at 8am on Sunday).

    There are billions of moderate Muslims out there who are being tarred with the same brush, and that's grossly unfair.

  • 1

    Jimizo

    @Bass I agree that these extremists are animals. It is also worth remembering that the dictators propped up by the west in the Middle East and in other parts of the world could also teach a masterclass in barbarism and disregard for human life. Frungy already pointed out that the disgraceful invasion of Iraq to remove a dictator who was supported in the past to wage war and given chemical weapons left more dead than all of these groups combined. It wasn't so long ago that the original source of vicious anti-Semitism, Christianity, was preaching the foul idea of Jewish decide ( up until the 1960s in the Catholic Church which made a deal with the Nazis ) and demonizing them as Christ killers. These days many extremist Christians support the Israeli occupation due to insane fantasies of an imminent second coming ( Reagan and Bush apparently leant their ear to such nonsense ). Land stealing in Palestine is often related to extreme forms of Judaism and supported by extreme Christians making peace impossible with extreme Muslims. It's perhaps also worth pointing out that the Rwandan genocide, one of the forgotten massacres because it was African, was given moral support by extremists in the Christian churches. I agree that radical Islam is a grave menace, but perhaps it's worth looking at all extremists for some perspective.

  • -3

    WilliB

    Once again, a journalist tries to create equivalency where there is none. Antisemitism is rampant all over the islamic world and spread by fundamentalists clerics. There is no equivalent in Judaism. It is a completely one-sided situation, yet another writer tries to image equivalency. Why?

  • -2

    Scrote

    Who is going to fight these extremist groups like ISIS, Boko Haram etc? I don't see any sign of the supposedly large number of "moderate" muslims doing it.

    As we sit safe at home watching massacres far away we shouldn't become too comfortable. Those people are moving unchallengd to our countries; they hate us, they hate our freedoms and they want to kill us. How long before we too are faced with the choice: convert or die?

    It's time to send a message to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the main sponsors of those swines: stop funding them or face the consequences.

  • -1

    Frungy

    WilliBAug. 15, 2014 - 04:11PM JST Once again, a journalist tries to create equivalency where there is none. Antisemitism is rampant all over the islamic world and spread by fundamentalists clerics. There is no equivalent in Judaism. It is a completely one-sided situation, yet another writer tries to image equivalency. Why?

    Umm.... did Palestine escape your notice? Or the pro-Israeli U.S. government bombing Islamic countries back to the stone ages for the last decade?

    There are none so blind as those who chose not to see.

    ScroteAug. 15, 2014 - 05:30PM JST Who is going to fight these extremist groups like ISIS, Boko Haram etc? I don't see any sign of the supposedly large number of "moderate" muslims doing it.

    And we didn't see any "moderate" Christians opposing the crusades either. There are, however, a large number of moderate muslim Imams speaking out against Jihad every week in their mosques... which you would know if you had any muslim friends.

    As we sit safe at home watching massacres far away we shouldn't become too comfortable. Those people are moving unchallengd to our countries; they hate us, they hate our freedoms and they want to kill us. How long before we too are faced with the choice: convert or die?

    I'm sorry, who are you talking about here? I'm not clear if you're still talking about the Muslims or if you're now talking about the U.S.? Because that's precisely the message the U.S. is sending, "We hate you, we hate your religion, we want to kill you", and "convert to democracy and capitalism or die".

    And the U.S. has been sending this message for the last 7 decades, manipulating the Middle East, funding terrorism and now you act all surprised that they've got the message and are repeating it back to you?

    Its like a parent who swears all the time and then gets all morally outraged and smacks their kid upside the head when the kid swears.

  • 1

    Burning Bush

    I was hoping to read an unbiased article.

    I was disappointed.

  • 1

    Larisa Silbert

    It's definitely true that the levels of antisemitism in a country seem inverse to the number of Jews actually present. Case in point: despite the huge levels of antisemitism in the Middle East, the levels of antisemitism among Muslims/Arabs living in the West are actually quite low (see PEW surveys on the subject for evidence of this). And the Israeli-Arabs, who of course meet more Jews than anyone else in the Middle East, have a relatively positive opinion of Jews compared to the rest of the ME (it was something like 50% antisemitism, which is actually pretty good compared to the rest of the ME which is generally in the high 90 percents).

    The firebrand Italian imam isn't necessarily that representative, either: there's even a Muslim Zionist imam in Italy, Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi. The extremist and anti-semitic violence coming out of the European Muslim community is shocking and terrifying, but I don't feel that it's representative of European Muslims as a whole by any means, and I have seen a lot of pro-Palestine supporters condemn those people very strongly, as they certainly do a lot more harm to their cause than good.

  • -7

    yabits

    Antisemitism is rampant all over the islamic world and spread by fundamentalists clerics. There is no equivalent in Judaism.

    Once again, WilliB comes through with some choice disinformation. First of all, Muslims who are Arabs are also Semites. Muslims also recognize Jews as "people of the book" and descendants of a common father, Abraham. When Jews were being persecuted in Europe -- and one should read some of Martin Luther's tracts to really get a feel of some anti-semitism -- it was Muslim countries who took them in and gave them refuge. Thriving Jewish communities existed in Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and what is now Iraq and iran.

    On the other hand, Miko Peled, son of IDF general Matti Peled and grandson of one of the founders of the state, mentions that, growing up in Israel, he had to leave for the U.S. before he could really meet and speak with Palestinian (non-Israeli) Arabs. What the Zionist state is doing today is forced segregation of populations. On his speaking tour, Peled shows a sign from Israel -- written only in Hebrew -- warning Jews not to cross over into Palestinian areas under penalty of Israeli law. Peled now freely disobeys the signs as they are only intended for Jews not to meet with Palestinians. (Anyone who doesn't speak Hebrew can freely disregard it.)

    and I have seen a lot of pro-Palestine supporters condemn those people very strongly, as they certainly do a lot more harm to their cause than good.

    @Larisa Silbert: Your comments are a breath of fresh air.

  • 0

    sighclops

    @AiserX

    There is conflict against Islam, where ever its found in significant numbers.

    An interesting choice of words. The buck stops when fascists of any religion attempt to impose their beliefs onto the non-believers among us. It just so happens that this is done in a brutal & unrelenting manner when dealt by Islamic extremists.

  • 3

    Christopher Blackwell

    Before we question the brutality of others perhaps we should note the brutality of ourselves.

  • 0

    bass4funk

    @frungy

    Two points here:

    The USA has killed more innocent people in the decade than Islamic radicals have. Just thought I'd note that to put your point in context.

    And so what's your point? You make it seem as if the US for just the fun of it decided to just go off and shoot little kids for the fun of it. When you have wars, you have casualties, where you have people, you will have children and as much as no matter what and how many precautions the military takes to avoid unnecessary causalities and collateral damage, sadly it doesn't always work out like that.

    Radical Islam is bad? Sure. But most Muslims aren't radicals,

    But MOST moderates aren't speaking out enough against the radical jihadists, they are virtually all silent. Therefore, the world impression IS that the majority of Muslims are bad.

    and this is where you and the author miss the point. It would be like equating all Christians with Radical Christians (who admittedly are more likely to just make pests of themselves by knocking on your door at 8am on Sunday).

    But when you open the door, you don't have to worry about losing your head. By the time the pesky Christian leaves, you will still have your head on your shoulders.

    There are billions of moderate Muslims out there who are being tarred with the same brush, and that's grossly unfair.

    So are there NOT ENOUGH moderates speaking out in the defense of Islam, if they really and truly believe that their religion is being taken hostage by these radical Jihadists? But the majority don't and as long as that doesn't happen on a daily basis, Islam will always been seen as THE MOST violent intolerable religion ever to exist.

    @jimizo

    I agree that these extremists are animals. It is also worth remembering that the dictators propped up by the west in the Middle East and in other parts of the world could also teach a masterclass in barbarism and disregard for human life.

    True

    Frungy already pointed out that the disgraceful invasion of Iraq to remove a dictator who was supported in the past to wage war and given chemical weapons left more dead than all of these groups combined.

    But the barbarity and the cruel brutality that Saddam imposed on his people were totally unspeakable acts of crimes towards the Kurds, the Shias mostly and his butchering sons were worse, imagine had either of them had every came to power. Most of you guys are looking at Saddam's reign through a pragmatic prism. You didn't have the media 24 hour 7 days a week in Baghdad at the time reporting on the atrocities of them killing, raping and massacring thousands of people in Iraq. We will never know the exact death toll precisely. But what is taking place now is something entirely different and evil.

    It wasn't so long ago that the original source of vicious anti-Semitism, Christianity, was preaching the foul idea of Jewish decide ( up until the 1960s in the Catholic Church which made a deal with the Nazis ) and demonizing them as Christ killers.

    But Christianity evolved, lessons were learned and you don't see a campaign of Christians going around chopping off peoples heads and blowing up churches and killing Jews and Muslims and erasing borders and trying to establish a Christian Kingdom.

    These days many extremist Christians support the Israeli occupation due to insane fantasies of an imminent second coming ( Reagan and Bush apparently leant their ear to such nonsense ).

    Reagan was not what you could call a REAL Christian, he was a Christian, but not a practicing one and didn't really care that much about religion.

    Land stealing in Palestine is often related to extreme forms of Judaism and supported by extreme Christians making peace impossible with extreme Muslims.

    You can't own or steal something that was never yours to begin with.

    It's perhaps also worth pointing out that the Rwandan genocide, one of the forgotten massacres because it was African, was given moral support by extremists in the Christian churches. I agree that radical Islam is a grave menace, but perhaps it's worth looking at all extremists for some perspective.

    Noted and I agree. I agree that the world didn't do enough for Rwanda when they really needed the worlds help. Clinton always talks about the one thing that he will never forgive himself was that he never did anything to help stop the genocide, but that is not something that is spreading across the world, you have your extremists everywhere, but they are NOT like the Islamic Jihadists that are wanting to establish a Caliph and impose Sharia on the entire world, ultimately.

    @yabits

    Muslims also recognize Jews as "people of the BOOK" and descendants of a common father, Abraham. When Jews were being persecuted in Europe -- and one should read some of Martin Luther's tracts to really get a feel of some anti-semitism -- it was Muslim countries who took them in and gave them refuge. Thriving Jewish communities existed in Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and what is now Iraq and iran.

    Yeah, and many could live among the Arabs as long as they kept a low, very low profile and some were barred from even practicing their faith. Please tell the entire story, Yabits and NOT the one you want everyone to know from a skewed one-sided perspective. So where are these thriving Jewish communities now?

  • -5

    yabits

    Yeah, and many could live among the Arabs as long as they kept a low, very low profile and some were barred from even practicing their faith. Please tell the entire story, Yabits and NOT the one you want everyone to know from a skewed one-sided perspective.

    The rabbi tells a more accurate story -- one of VERY many personal narratives -- at the 1:10 mark. I'll believe a rabbi over someone with no knowledge of the story at all. (The problems between Muslims and Jews was exacerbated by the growth of Zionism.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_ZiVRedU-4

  • 0

    bass4funk

    @Yabits

    I'll believe history over ANY man of faith. That is factual knowledge that NO one can dispute.

  • -3

    yabits

    I'll believe history over ANY man of faith. That is factual knowledge that NO one can dispute.

    I provided a source, and can provide many more from Jews whose families lived in Palestine among the Arabs before the partition. All agree that it was Zionism that brought the problems. What is the source of your "history?"

    People of faith, by the way, have little reason to lie about their experience. Especially when Jewish people of faith recount their experiences among the Muslims.

  • 1

    Larisa Silbert

    Yabits: Well, prior to the partition there was the al-Husseini family causing some pretty awful horrors for the Jewish population (such as the wholesale support for the Final Solution, blocking Jewish children from fleeing to areas of Southern Europe not controlled by the Nazis in case they might end up in Palestine, etc.) Stuff like the Hebron and Safed massacres of '29 also springs to mind. There was some anti-Jewish violence in the land long before partition, and even before Zionism existed for that matter (1834 pogrom in Safed, for example). Of course it was much better than what was happening in Europe, but nonetheless, it wasn't exactly the romantic rosy picture that the anti-Israel movement often likes to make out.

    Besides, the experience that the Jews living in other parts of the Arab world after partition had, with either fleeing rampant persecution or being literally booted out (having land and assets confiscated that were much larger and of much more value in total than that of the Palestinian refugees of the Naqba) would suggest that even though many of the Jews of the Arab world may have felt that they were of their nationality first and their ethnicity/religion second, that when push came to shove, the majority group felt otherwise. (The numbers of Jews who fled or were expelled were equivalent to the number of Palestinian Arabs who fled or were expelled from Palestine. Unfortunately their similarly terrible experience, despite many parallels, has been very much forgotten by the world. I very much support a free Palestine and a safe Israel, but I do find it sad how selective our humanism is.)

  • -1

    kikai

    @Bass4funk

    "But MOST moderates aren't speaking out enough against the radical jihadists, they are virtually all silent. Therefore, the world impression IS that the majority of Muslims are bad."

    "So are there NOT ENOUGH moderates speaking out in the defense of Islam, if they really and truly believe that their religion is being taken hostage by these radical Jihadists? But the majority don't and as long as that doesn't happen on a daily basis, Islam will always been seen as THE MOST violent intolerable religion ever to exist."

    Ok...

    1. Some moderate Muslims do not think of these radical 'Jihadists' as Muslims. But western media labels them (the 'Jihadists') as such.
    2. A lot of moderate Muslims do speak out against these radical 'jihadists'. Maybe you just don't hear them (or don't want to hear them). Or maybe it isn't always in English (or Japanese).
    3. How SHOULD they speak out? Mass demonstrations every day? Regular appearances in the Newspapers, on TV? Cmon, moderate Muslims are no different from anyone else - they have to earn a living too. And even if they did speak out - short of mass demonstrations, would anyone listen?
    4. And besides, it can get tiring repeating the same obvious thing day in day out. And even if it could be done, it would start to sound hollow, meaningless, in a short period of time. And many (like you perhaps) probably won't believe them anyway.
  • -4

    yabits

    Well, prior to the partition there was the al-Husseini family causing some pretty awful horrors for the Jewish population (such as the wholesale support for the Final Solution, blocking Jewish children from fleeing to areas of Southern Europe not controlled by the Nazis in case they might end up in Palestine, etc.)

    The world was largely in the dark as to the "final solution," because the Germans didn't advertise it. So how was it that some family group in Palestine could lend it "wholesale support?"

    Your second part of that statement is interesting. Several orthodox Jewish groups have solid evidence that it was European Zionists that refused to take a deal that would have allowed many thousands of Jews to escape to Southern Europe. Their position was "Palestine or nothing." They might as well said "Palestine or death," since that is what it meant for many thousands.

    1834 pogrom in Safed, for example

    In Safed, there was a local wacko who started a rumor that affected the Jewish population. It was a rare exception rather than a rule. In fact, it was Muslim communities in the region who took fleeing Jews from Safed in. The regional authorities regained control and executed many of the troublemakers in Safed. This is not systemic.

    However, what the Zionist state is currently doing to isolate Jews from Muslims from childhood is part of a system. Zionism has been the major problem all along.

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