US foreign policy towards the Middle East is characterized by its strong support for the Jewish state of Israel. The neighbouring Arab countries view this as a nexus between Zionists and Capitalists who are bent on exploiting the poor Palestinian Arabs based in the occupied territories. Based on this premise, Israel has become the most demonized country in the region, a nation which has been facing diplomatic embargo from several countries since decades.
While there is no denying that the Israeli administration is responsible for carrying out some of the most monstrous human rights violations in Palestine, there can also be no justification for the kind of Anti-Semitic rhetoric which has become inseparable with the political discourse in the Middle East. Much of the Jew bashing in Arab land goes on in the name of the Nakba ie the exodus of Arabs from Palestine during the Civil War in Mandatory Palestine and 1948 Arab – Israeli War. It is said that more than 700,000 Arabs were made to either flee their homes or expelled during the tensions. The Arabs do have a logical point in regards to this argument but they never talk about the exodus of the Jews from Arab land. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War led to the expulsion of 800,000 – 1 million Jews from Arab countries.
The Arab countries have also witnessed a systematic decrease in the population of Jews. Prior to the six day war between Arabs and Israel in 1967, there were some 7000 Jews in Libya. The war led to intense persecution of Jews in Libya. Half of them were pushed into Egypt and the remaining in the river Nile. Less than 100 Jews were left in the African nation. Today, the Jewish race has become extinct in Libya. When the Islamic Revolution took place in Iran in 1977, the population of Iranian Jews stood at 80,000. Now it has come down to 30,000. Afghanistan had a very small population of Jews. Many of them must have returned back to Israel courtesy the Right to Return. However, whatever number of Jews remained in Afghanistan, which varied between 500 – 1000, were all forcibly converted by the Taliban. The conflict between the Arabs and Israel has not only led to the persecution of the Palestinians but also the Jews.
It’s common to see Sheikhs speaking on television shows and giving Friday sermons say that the Jews are the biggest enemies of Islam. They assert that this is a Quranic fact as stated in Verse 82 of Surah Al Maidah. One should wonder about the slyness of such people as they have developed expertise in taking Quranic verses out of their context. Have they forgotten that when Prophet Muhammad and Muslims were being persecuted by Pagans in Mecca, it was the Jewish community based in Medina which came to their rescue and gave them a place to live besides them? Doesn’t the Quran say in Chapter 2, Verse 62, “The believers, Jews, Christians, Sabians and all those who believe in God and the last day and do good deeds shall be rewarded and shall have nothing to fear?”
Fanatic Arab Muslims have developed a habit of blaming Jews for whatever goes wrong on the basis of conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, this virus has spread even among the Muslims of Pakistan and India. One famous conspiracy theory states that 9/11 was staged by Zionist Jews in coordination with CIA and Muslim hijackers had no role to play in the tragedy which unfolded in the United States and led to over 6000 deaths. These conspiracy theories vary in their narrations. While some say that the Jews didn’t go to work on September 11, others say that they left the building before the aircrafts crashed into the World Trade Centre. This is a viewpoint which is not merely propagated by some Islamic scholars but also politicians including Ex Iranian President and a Former Egyptian Minister. Did these people not see the interviews given by Osama Bin Laden in the aftermath of the tragedy? Did Osama Bin Laden not take responsibility for carrying out the attack? Did he not glorify the murderous hijackers? All these questions are never addressed by the ones who moot such lies in the public domain.
Some conspiracy theories also have a pinch of humour associated with them. One of them suggests that Pepsi stands for “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel”. The supporters of this theory argue that Muslims should not boy Pepsi bottles because the money which is collected from the sale of this product is eventually sent to the Israeli establishment which carries out various forms of discrimination against the Palestinians. One Iranian Professor claimed that the famous cartoon ‘Tom & Jerry’ began as a part of a Jewish conspiracy. He stated that when the Jews were having a bad time in Europe, one of the names given to ridicule them was that of ‘dirty mice’. The Jewish Walt Disney Company in order to change the perception regarding mice started Tom & Jerry in which the protagonist was a mouse who was made to appear intelligent and cute on the screen. The whole point behind this initiative was to benefit of Jews.
The conspiracies and denials which form a part of Arab discourse regarding Israel and Jews are too many to be covered in a single write-up. They range from denial of the holocaust to stereotypes like all Jews are rich and they make use of the blood of a male Christian child during the Passover. It’s time that such absurd claims are debunked and Arab intellectuals approach this subject with some responsibility and rationality. It’s utterly important to settle the question of Palestine but those who are opposing normalization of diplomatic ties between Arab countries and Israel do not realize that no settlement can be arrived at without a dialogue.