Anti-Semitism (hatred for Jewish people) is not a new or unique phenomenon for us Pakistanis. We love to hate the Jews and to blame all our ills on the ugly, hideous, nefarious designs of the Zionist Jews. After all, Jews control the world and it is only because of them that we Muslims are so far behind the rest of the world. It’s all a big conspiracy.
Journalist and Political advocate Tarek Fatah described and analyzed the reasons for this anti-Semitism in his book, “The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling Myths that fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism”. Following are some excerpts from the excellent book by Tarek Fatah.
As I write in this book’s closing chapter, my birthplace had no tradition of anti-Semitism in the late 1940s and ‘50s. Yet, in a visit to Pakistan in 2006, I was taken aback by the ubiquitous hostility towards the Jewish people. I was told incessantly that the Jews “controlled” the United States and that throughout history; the Jews have connived to become the puppet masters of the rest of human race. My host and his friends were among the wealthy and the well-educated elites of the Land. The home where Muslim marginalization was being discussed boasted half a dozen cars in the driveway, a retinue of servants, and a front lawn that was larger than several backyards put together. Yet they talked as if they were plotting the Bolshevik uprising in Petrograd.
“Why are all cab drivers in Chicago Muslim, Why not Jewish?” one friend asked. I pointed out that the net wealth of American Muslims is almost equal to that of American Jews, but it failed to have any influence on the assembled group. I was accused of being brainwashed by the Jews, of being on their payroll. I laughed off what in the Islamic world is the ultimate insult to a Muslim-an allegation of being a Jewish Lackey. I asked my friends if they were aware that Jews had come to the United States as poor immigrants escaping persecution in Europe in the nineteenth century, yet were able to assimilate and, through hard work, made incredible contributions to American Life. I urged them to consider the fact that even though Jews make up just 2 per cent of the U.S population, they form 21 per cent of the Ivy League student body. I pointed out that this 2 per cent of the American population accounts for 38 per cent of Business Weekly’s list of leading philanthropists, 51 per cent of the Pulitzer prize winners for non-fiction, and 37 per cent of Academy-Award winning directors. But they saw in the same statistics the evidence of their conspiracy theories: “That just proves the Jews control the U.S.A.” I was speechless. Instead of recognizing the Jewish community’s hard work and its focus on education, innovation, and entrepreneurship, my friend attributed Jewish success to the fact that they controlled all the avenues to power.
This book is an attempt to answer the question, why do Muslims hate Jews? What is the source of this hatred, and how can we end this cancer before it consumes us Muslims?
In this fight against Muslim anti-Semitism, I am not alone. Muslim voices around the world are making brave attempts in the face of intimidation and slander to fight the rise of jihadi Islamism. My friend and Danish member of Parliament Naser Khedar, the son of Palestinian parents, has spoken eloquently against Islamic extremism, despite several death threats. British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the American Islamic forum for Democracy, the Muslim Canadian Congress, German M.P. Elkin Deligoz, American-Egyptian columnist Mona Eltahawy, Sweden’s Burundi-born minister of integration Nyamko Sabuni, Algerian-born French cabinet minister Fadela Amara, and the Moroccan-born mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, are just some of the prominent Muslims standing up against hate.
Another one of them is Cem Ozdemir, the head of the German Green Party. Of Turkish ancestry, he is the first Muslim to head a major political party anywhere in Europe of North America. In February 2009, Ozdemir told the German Newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau that he was worried by the rise of Muslim anti-Semitism in Germany, and asked Berlin to take anti-Semitic tendencies among its Muslim population seriously. “We must unfortunately acknowledge that there are anti-Semitic mindsets not only in the right-wing or among the so-called left-wing anti-imperialists, but also in the Muslim community-particularly among the male Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish youths” he said. He urged other Muslim-German leaders to draw clear lines and to stress that anyone who displays anti-Semitic sentiments would not be allowed to represent the community. Ozdemir was responding to a study by the German Interior Ministry that found that almost 16 per cent of Muslim students surveyed agreed with the statement “People of Jewish faith are arrogant and greedy for money”.
For Jew-haters like Osama bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the question of Palestine is merely an excuse, not the reason. The Islamist hatred of the Jew has little to do with the state of Israel or a supposed love for Palestine. If tomorrow, Ahmedinejad was able to fulfill his threat to wipe Israel from the face of the earth, hatred of the Jew would continue unabated. The only way to end it is to challenge with courage the fundamental myths that sustain Judeophobia.
In Karachi on a warm spring day in 2006, as I walked through the city’s posh Clifton district, a banner hung across a street caught my eye. It read, “Bird Flu is a Jewish conspiracy”.
I was dumbstruck. At first I thought that perhaps this was some dark Pakistani humor I had failed to appreciate returning to my birthplace after a gap of seventeen years. However, when I asked around, I found that this view was widespread: Israel, I was told, was to blame for the bird flu because it wanted to destroy the poultry industry of Indonesia, a Muslim nation. When I found a similar banner adorning the entrance of a grocery store, I asked the owner to explain to me the link between Jews and Bird Flu. He handed me a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. “Here, take this book gratis-but read it”, he commanded. With an air of supreme confidence he explained that it was not just the bird flu that the “Yahoodis” had used to attack an Islamic country. The tsunami of December 2004 too was a result of a joint effort by the United States and Israel to drown and destroy Muslim nations. I was flabbergasted, and had to be pulled away by a buddy who had the foresight to see the consequence of what might happen if I started arguing with the store owner.
The city and country I had first left in 1978 had changed dramatically. Karachi was both wealthier and poorer. Opulence was reflected in its buildings and SUVs, but its intellectual and artistic heritage had been bankrupted.
While the city’s religious working-class neighborhoods teemed with people eager to move to the West to embrace the American Dream, its upper class secular elites peppered their talk with anti-imperialist rhetoric and an infatuation with Islamism. Among them were families who, after having secured U.S. or Canadian passports, had come back to Islamdom to enjoy privileges they missed in the West.
At a gathering one evening, whisky-drinking admirers of Osama bin Laden lectured me about the five thousand Jews that never reported to work at the Twin Towers on 9/11, while their peroxide-blonde wives looked on lovingly through blue contact lenses, re-arranging coffee-table books on ice hockey, and the strains of Shania Twain–appropriately singing, “You don’t impress me much”–wafted from their children’s bedroom.
The city that had once launched popular uprisings, going back to the great Royal Indian Navy mutiny of 1946; that had toppled military dictatorships; that had been home to Pakistan’s best and brightest writers, dancers, singers, architects, and atheists; and that once had a healthy Jewish population and synagogues was now a hot-bed of Jew-hatred and pseudo anti-Americanism that defied the most elementary logic. Almost every anti-American millionaire who had not yet acquired a Western passport would spout his share of hatred towards the United States—and then moments later ask me how he could send his son to the States so he could secure a green card and then sponsor the rest of the family.
The hatred of Jews was not restricted to the Karachi Press Club or the charity balls held by the Pakistani upper crust. It was aired on television talk shows as well. At quaint tea parties hosted by the blue-eyed, blonde begum-sahibs in the clubs that have become the hub of the proletariat-mimicking Islamist bourgeoisie of Pakistan, expressing hatred of the Jew, it seemed, is the easiest way to establish one’s intellectual credentials.
Later I leafed through my copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Protocols is a collection of articles concocted in 1895 by the Russian Czar’s secret police in order to depict the growing strength of Marxists as a Jewish Conspiracy. It was first published in Russia in the early 1900s, and claimed to expose a plan by the Jewish people to achieve global domination. It was published again after the 1905 Russian Revolution, when the ruling monarchy, stung by the mass uprising, used it to blame the Jews for instigating the workers’ strikes, peasant uprisings, and military mutinies. The monarchy had also invoked The Protocols when it blamed the Jews for Russia’s defeat at the hands of Japan in 1904. By the time the Czar was overthrown in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, anti-communist Russian exiles made The Protocols an instrument for blaming Jews for that upheaval, too. They depicted the Bolsheviks as overwhelmingly Jewish and allegedly executing the plan embodied in The Protocols.
In the 1920s, the London Times exposed The Protocols as a forgery. The newspaper revealed that much of the material was plagiarized from earlier works of political satire having nothing to do with the Jews.
Today the primary consumer of this forgery is the Muslim World, where The Protocols is cited as an authentic document validating the widespread belief that Jews for both the horrors of communism and the excesses of capitalism, though this irony appears to have escaped the attention of its readers.