When the shocking mass-murder of 7 Israeli children took place during a field trip on the Israel-Jordan border, there should be no doubt that any person in their right mind would consider the incident a tragedy, all the while condemning the reprehensible perpetrator of the conflict.
Unfortunately, it appears this is not the case.
Ahmed Daqamseh, the Jordanian Colonel responsible for these murders, was sentenced to prison for 20 years, and was reprieved of a death sentence on account of his apparent mental illness.
The shooting, which took place in March 1997, came amidst tensions between Netanyahu and King Hussein. After the tragedy, King Hussein showed a sign of good faith and came to console the relatives of those who lost their children.
However, many in the community showed less compassion to those reeling from the losses – a lot of whom were actually celebrating Daqamseh’s actions.
One of these supporters was actually Daqamseh’s mother, who in an Al-Jazeera interview said, ‘I am proud of any Muslim who does what Ahmad did’.
Another prominent figure who showed support was Jordan’s former Justice Minister Hussein Mjalli, who served as his defence lawyer, all the while championing Daqamseh as a ‘hero’. In fact, several MP’s in the Jordanian parliament regarded him as a hero, while saying his actions “reflect the desires of the Jordanians.” All of these MP’s campaigned for his early release.
Upon his release, many in Jordan celebrated his return and supporters in his hometown community cheered him on as they held a banner of him with the caption, “Welcome to the hero Daqamseh”.
It’s a sad fact that in a significant portion of the Muslim world, instead of being condemned and ostracized, those who commit murderous acts against Israelis are lauded as heroes.
For example, Mariam Farhat, openly encouraged and supported three of her sons to commit terrorist attacks against Israel. Two of her sons were killed during terrorist attacks, where one of them killed five students in a school shooting. She was praised as ‘the mother of martyrs’ in Palestine and her funeral was attended by 4000 supporters.
The view of killing innocent Jews is not in the minority. In a 2003 poll taken after the suicide bombing that killed 23 at the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa, 75% of Palestinians had said they supported the bombings. Three quarters of the population supported a suicide bombing which killed innocent Israelis.
In Palestine, many who take to murdering innocent Israelis are seen as heroes, some of whom have streets and squares named after them. There are schools in Gaza and the West Bank named after Abu Iyad, the mastermind behind the Munich Olympics Massacre and a couple of other schools named after Abu Jihad, a PLO leader who was responsible for terrorist attacks that killed many innocent Israelis.
Certainly, when murderers are used for names as schools, children who attend them are likely influenced by their actions and beliefs.
In addition to Palestine glorifying terrorists, monetary incentives are also provided for terrorist acts. Saddam Hussein openly paid the families of the suicide bombers $25,000 for attacks on Israelis. Charities from Qatar and Saudi Arabia have also contributed funds for suicide bombers. Iran and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas also contribute thousands of dollars for any Palestinian who commits an act of terror.
No doubt, Israel’s existence along with occupation of Palestinian territory is a large factor contributing to this violence and hate. However, a lot of this virulent anti-Semitism held by Muslims can be attributed to other factors.
For example, the Hamas charter contends that the Palestinians are entitled to Israel – and were given the land by God. It states in the Charter that when an enemy (Jews) has occupied a land belonging to the Muslims, it is in their religious duty to defend their territory. Therefore, in the act of jihad or suicide bombing, many see their actions not as an act of terror, but rather as an act of defence, which, as argued in the Charter, is a religious duty – akin to praying and fasting. It is also mentioned in the Charter that Jews are “the brothers of apes, assassins of the prophets, bloodsuckers and warmongers,” and that Jews have taken control of the ‘world’s media’ and are also responsible for every World War.
However, the Hamas are certainly not the originators of this paranoid, hysterical anti-Semitic, jihadist ideology. Indeed, the Qu’ran contains incendiary verses directed at Jews. The Hadith, however, contains more direct and hateful verses.
Muhammad, at first, liked the Jews, however their refusal to see him as their prophet embittered Mohammad to cast Jews as treacherous and devious. He ended up killing the Qurayzah tribe of Jews and expelled the rest from Medina and labelled Jews as descendants of ‘apes and swine’.
Throughout history, Jews have been relegated to living in ghettos and have faced many pogroms living in Arab lands especially in Morocco, Iraq and Yemen. In the nineteenth century, anti-Semitism reached its nadir as many were subjugated to horrible treatment in the Maghreb, where they lived in destitute ghettos. No doubt a lot of this hatred originally derived from the Qu’ran and the Hadith.
Jews living in Arab lands generally lived as dhimmis, or second-class citizens. They were subjected to paying a jizya (tax), were restricted to certain activities and wore clothes identifying them as such. However, Jews were still able to practice their religion, especially in the Ottoman Empire where many Jews were viewed as beneficial to growing their economy.
Overall, before the 20th century, Jews were considered infidels. For the most part however, Jews were held in a sort of contemptuous tolerance. Many Muslim communities considered them a ‘people of the book‘.
Indeed, not until the early 20th century, did anti-Jewish sentiment (in Muslims) truly become prevalent. Arguably, the growing immigration of Jews to Palestine, which started with the First Aliyah in 1880, served as the impetus for anti-Semitism. However, there were no major incidents until the 1920’s, and for the confrontations that did arise, most were neighbourly or village disputes, rather than nationalist or religious disputes.
The first book that is said to have circulated anti-Jewish thought into the Muslim world, was the infamous anti-Semitic book called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion which falsely accuses the Jews of worldly conspiratorial control. It was translated into Arabic in 1926, and along with verses in the Qu’ran, it was used as a tool by the Hajj Amin al-Husseini, along with Hassan al-Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood) to generate hate towards Jews and Jewish immigration (in Israel).
Indeed, amongst growing secularization and modernity in the Arab world during the early 1920’s (Turkey and Iran), these two figures in al-Banna and Haj Amin al-Husseini, along with a few others, labelled this Islamic ‘westernization’ as satanic and a Jewish conspiracy and therefore called for a return to governance by sharia, and political rule by a Caliphate. Arguably, these figures (along with Qutb) are the precursors for the Islamic, jihadist movement – which created groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS etc. The other precursor towards terrorist behaviour was Abul Maududi, the creator of the Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan.
Al-Husseini, the leader of the Palestinians, opposed the Balfour Declaration and Jewish immigration in general. He fomented Jewish hate amongst the Arabs living in Palestine and helped to incite the riots of the 1920’s which resulted in the death of hundreds of Jews.
The Grand Mufti (al-Husseini), who had the most influential role in Palestine, also struck fear amongst many living in Palestine, threatening to imprison and kill those who dared to deal or associated with Jews.
In 1936, the Arab Higher Committee was formed, and was led by al-Husseini, who called for a boycott of Jewish products. This lead to the Arab riots from 1936-1939 which can be attributed to the actions of al-Husseini. Around this time, during 1928, al-Banna formed the Muslim Brotherhood, had links with al-Husseini, and sent volunteers to help instigate the riots in Palestine.
Al-Husseini also conspired with Nazi’s like Himmler and Eichmann, where he championed his support for Hitler, in hope for him to come to Palestine to help eliminate the Jews. Hitler refused, however al-Husseini with the financial support of the Nazi’s, formed an Arabic radio station in Germany where he championed the cause of the Axis Powers, while disseminating anti-Jewish propaganda to many living in the Arab world. Indeed, the Nazi’s also helped fund the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1930’s due to their anti-Semitic beliefs and many working for the MB were also Nazi sympathisers and conspirators.
By 1948, the MB was considered the strongest political organisation in Egypt, and it is estimated they had around 2 million members.
Al-Husseini managed to escape persecution after the war, and in 1946, due to pressure from Muslim Brotherhood members in Egypt, al-Husseini was appointed leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jerusalem. After coming to Egypt in 1948, al-Husseini called on the Arab league to wage war against the newly formed state of Israel.
It is believed that due to the influence and lobbying of the Muslim Brotherhood who helped to incite anti-Jewish fervor in Egypt (in the Arab world), along with Nazi, anti-Jewish propaganda disseminated by al-Husseini and his absolutely rabid hate towards Jews; these were the underlying factors that helped perpetuate the Arab league into war against Israel. Originally, many Arab leaders are said to have opposed war against Israel.
After the humiliating defeat of the Arab league to the ragtag Israeli fighters, many Muslims could not bare the fact that they lost the war, and a newfound hate in the Muslim world towards Israel and the Jews came to be. In 1948, not one Arab country agreed to sign a peace treaty, and all of them remained vocally hostile. Furthermore, Jerusalem is considered to be the third-holiest place for all of Islam. The fact that it is not Muslim land, but rather Jewish land, was and is still considered blasphemous to this day.
Amongst this turning point in the Muslim world, a theologist named Sayyan Qutb became the new leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in the 1950’s. He drew upon verses from the Qu’ran and Hadith to incite hate towards Jews, and even took it a step further, arguing for the complete annihilation of the Jews in his writings. He was a large factor in inciting anti-Semitic sentiment amongst Muslims.
Qutb blamed the Jews for the plight of Islam and he called for jihad as a means of establishing a global caliphate.
In his writings Qutb said that, ‘Jews are responsible for the Sunni-Shia divide’, ‘Jews will only be happy once Islam is destroyed’ and even blamed the world’s decline on Jews saying that they “are behind materialism, animal sexuality, the destruction of the family and the dissolution of society etc.” Qutb went as far as saying that Allah sent Hitler to punish the Jews.
Qutb’s vehemently anti-Zionist and hard-line fundamentalist ideology is said to have influenced groups like Hamas, Al-Qaeda and even ISIS. Sources say that, ‘Qutb was the man who set down the religious basis for the fight against Jews’, and he is considered by some as the “father of Islamic fundamentalism”.
Indeed, Qutb’s book Milestones is considered to be “one of the most influential works of Arabic.” His writings have certainly had a large effect on the Muslim world.
Other Arab leaders like Nasser, also had a huge effect on fostering anti-Semitic consciousness in the Arab world as he used terrorists to wage a war of attrition, and engaged in other fronts, including psychological means where he expelled Jews from Egypt and distributed new copies of The Protocols, while openly rejecting Israel’s right to exist. Arguably, much of his hate directed towards Jews was used as a fortuitous means, rather than his actually being anti-Semitic, as he lead the fight against Jews in his hope to obtain leadership under the banner of pan-Arab unity, while distracting the Egyptians from domestic issues (using Israel as a scapegoat to distract from the country’s plaguing issues.)
By 1964, Nasser helped to form the PLO, providing the Arab nations with a paramilitary force to attack Israel. His actions helped start the war of 1967, which, after the loss, generated even more hate and anti-Semitism towards the Israelis.
By 1968 Arafat, who founded the Fatah party, became leader of the PLO. In 1964, the Fatah had already started committing terrorist attacks against Israelis. His raids are said to have had a large impact in triggering the six-day, 1967 war. Salah Khasaf and Khalil al-Wazir, co-founders of Fatah, were also members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Not surprisingly, the former Grand Mufti, al-Husseini, heavily mentored Arafat and indoctrinated him with Nazi beliefs during his time spent in Egypt. The mufti even brought in a former Nazi commando officer into Egypt to teach Arafat guerrilla warfare tactics. Arafat, also joined the MB in 1948 and fought against Israel during the 1948 war.
Certainly, violent Palestinian anti-Semitism has its roots in people like Arafat and al-Husseini, along with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
Even current Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, was said to have been a highly respected member of the MB in Egypt. Furthermore, Hamas, which gained prominence after the first Intifada, states in its charter that it is ‘a wing’ of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Over time, the Muslim Brotherhood ideology has metastasised in many countries in the Arab world, especially in countries like Jordan, where its belief is largely interwoven into the consciousness of many people living there. Indeed, over two million Palestinians live in Jordan. These factors explained above, (although not necessarily a causation of the murders) can largely be correlated towards Daqamseh’s senseless attacks and the concomitant celebration, and adoration of his actions by many people living in his community.
Even today, the Muslim Brotherhood is still extremely anti-Semitic. The Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan said that they, “congratulate Jordan and the family of the hero Ahmad al Daqmaseh (on) his release from prison.” Moreover, Mohammad Morsi, former president of Egypt who was elected after the Arab Spring, has proven to be a rabid anti-Semite.
These factors, which are largely the reason of the senseless violence that is being waged against innocent Jews in Palestine/Israel today, have stalled the peace process.
No doubt, the violence and murder has led to an even further division between the Palestinians and Israelis and the attacks have in turn lessened the support of the Palestinian plight in the international community.
Certainly, we can all agree that violence against innocent people will not help to solve the conflict. Arab leaders need to start taking action and denouncing violence and the jihadist ideologies of people like Qutb, al-Banna and Maududi. Arab leaders also need to stop funding Palestinians to commit attacks against Israelis. These actions (or lack thereof), certainly do not help the peace process, and only serve to further perpetuate conflict.