Fifty-four per cent of Egyptians want to scrap the Camp David accords that have kept an uneasy peace with Israel since 1979—in yet another blow to the credibility of the many analysts and commentators who assured the American people that the Egyptian uprising heralded the dawn of a new, secular democracy there. A new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that a significant number of Egyptians manifest a deeply ingrained Islamic antisemitism that leads them to hate Israel—and the Camp David accords—for religious, not political, reasons.
“Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews …” 5:82. The Koran contains a great deal of material that forms the foundation for a hatred of Jews that has persisted throughout Islamic history. It portrays the Jews as the craftiest, most persistent, and most implacable enemies of the Muslims—and there is no Islamic authority that has moved to mitigate the most destructive interpretations of all this. The Koran’s material on the Jews remains the prism through which far too many Muslims see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Camp David accords, and Jews in general to this day.
A vivid illustration of this came several years ago from Islam Online, a website founded by, among others, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in 1997. Al-Qaradawi has justified suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, and in 2004 Islam Online posted an article titled “Jews as Depicted in the Koran.” In it, Sheikh ‘Atiyyah Saqr, the former head of the Fatwa Committee at the most respected institution in Sunni Islam, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, depicts Jews in a chillingly negative light, illustrated with abundant quotations from the Koran. Among other charges he levels at the Jews, Saqr says that they “used to fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah,” they “love to listen to lies,” they disobey Allah and ignore his commands, they wish “evil for people” and try to “mislead them,” and they “feel pain to see others in happiness and are gleeful when others are afflicted with a calamity.” He adds that “it is easy for them to slay people and kill innocents,” for “they are merciless and heartless.” And each charge he follows with citations from the Koran (including, among others, 3:75, 5:64, 3:181, 5:41, 5:13, 2:109, 3:120, 2:61, 2:74, 2:100, 59:13-14, 2:96, and 2:79).
Though he offers many examples of the alleged evil traits of the Jews supported by the Koran, Saqr doesn’t mention the notorious Koran passages that depict an angry Allah transforming Jews into apes and pigs: 2:63-66, 5:59-60, and 7:166. The first of those passages depicts Allah telling the Jews who “profaned the Sabbath”: “Be as apes despicable!” It goes on to say that these accursed ones serve “as a warning example for their time and for all times to come.” The second has Allah directing Muhammad to remind the “People of the Book” about “those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshiped evil.” The third essentially repeats this, saying of the Sabbath-breaking Jews that when “in their insolence they transgressed (all) prohibitions,” Allah said to them, “Be ye apes, despised and rejected.”
And in recent years, Saudi Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Sudayyis, imam of the principal mosque in the holiest city in Islam, Mecca, said in a sermon 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.”
Another Saudi sheikh, Ba’d bin Abdallah al-Ajameh al-Ghamidi, said: “The current behavior of the brothers of apes and pigs, their treachery, violation of agreements, and defiling of holy places … is connected with the deeds of their forefathers during the early period of Islam—which proves the great similarity between all the Jews living today and the Jews who lived at the dawn of Islam.”
All this shows that leading Muslim authorities approach the Koran not as a document rooted in history, but as a blueprint for understanding the world today.
Is it any wonder, then, that a majority of Egyptians favor scrapping the Camp David accords? The surprise is only that so many supported keeping the peace with Israel.