Why Middle East Muslims are taught to hate Jews
For far too long the pervasive Middle Eastern qualification of Jews as murderers and bloodsuckers was dismissed in the West as an extreme view of radical fringe groups. But it is not. It is time for the region's secular movements to start a counter-education in tolerance.
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Millions of Muslims have been conditioned to regard Jews not only as the enemies of Palestine but as the enemies of all Muslims, of God, and of all humanity. Arab leaders far more prominent and influential than Morsi have been tireless in “educating” or “nursing” generations to believe that Jews are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs.” (These are the words of the Saudi sheik Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, imam at the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca.)Skip to next paragraph
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In 2011, a Pew survey found that in Turkey, just 4 percent of those surveyed held a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” view of Jews; in Indonesia, 10 percent; in Pakistan, 2 percent. In addition, 95 percent of Jordanians, 94 percent of Egyptians, and 95 percent of Lebanese hold a “very unfavorable” view of Jews.
In recent decades Israeli and American administrations negotiated with unelected Arab despots, who played a double game. They honored the formal peace treaties by not conducting military attacks against Israel. But they condoned the Islamists’ dissemination of hatred against Israel, Zionism, and Jews.
As the Islamists spread their influence through civil institutions, young people were nursed on hatred.
In the wake of the Arab Spring, as the people take a chance on democracy, they and their new leadership want to see their ideals turned into policy.
For too many of those who fought for their own liberation, one of those ideals is the end of peace with Israel. The United States must make clear to Morsi that this is not an option.
This is also a crucial opportunity for the region’s secular movements, which must speak out against the clergy’s incitement of young minds to hatred. It is time for these secular movements to start a counter-education in tolerance.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a fellow at the Belfer Center’s Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School, and author of the books “Infidel” and “Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations.”