Antisemitism is on the march.
From the Tunisian President’s alleged recent remarks blaming the country’s unrest on “thieving Jews”, to Kuwait’s top preacher Othman al-Khamees calling Jews “the brothers of apes and pigs” and declaring that the UAE’s Abrahamic Family House should not be shared with Jews- antisemitism has been given a new lease of life.
Recent antisemitic statements made by the prominent Kuwaiti preacher Othman al-Khamees have sparked widespread controversy on social media and in GCC societies. Al-Khamees claimed that the Jewish people are a nation of no faith, and condemned the construction of an interfaith centre in the UAE, the Abrahamic Family House, which will include a synagogue, church and mosque.
Al-Khamees went so far as to claim that the three-in-one religious complex constitutes an act of “infidelity”.He denounced placing what he referred to as the “distorted Bible and Torah” next to the Quran, questioned the project’s motives, and claimed that the Jews are people of “no belief and dignity”.
In addition, al-Khamees uploaded a video to his public YouTube channel (dated 23rd December 2020), stating that the Jews can be referred to “as the brothers of apes and pigs, because essentially, they became like them”.
The question is, how can countries such as Kuwait, which is considered a constitutional sovereign state with a semi-democratic political system that is considered a liberal constitution in the GCC, allow and give al-Khamees a platform to attack the Jewish people and the Abrahamic Accords in such antisemitic terms. Meanwhile, Kuwait continues to host thousands of US military personnel and contractors, many of whom are from a Jewish background.
Antisemitism can be manifested in many ways, ranging from expressions of hatred and discrimination against individual Jews, to organised pogroms by mobs or police forces, to attacks on entire Jewish communities and the Jewish faith. The recent speeches made by al-Khamees are a clear example of antisemitic incitement.
The Jewish community has seen and experienced these acts of antisemitism on multiple occasions. From the first accusation made in the second century (false claims that faulted the Jews for the death of Jesus), the blood libel, the pogroms, the dissemination of the forged document commonly called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the Nazi attempt to carry out Die Endlösung (The Final Solution), antisemitism continues to take many forms.
However, the Abraham Accords hope to bring change to situations like these. In order to gain true justice, radicals such as the Islamist cleric in Kuwait should be condemned and confronted for his antisemitic acts.
Sadly, al-Khamees is not alone. The Middle East saw another recent example of controversy over antisemitism, with the remarks made by Tunisian President Kais Saied. Amid a heated discussion about the ongoing political unrest in the country, the Tunisian President casually referred to the Jews as “thieving Jews,” implying that they might be behind Tunisia’s turmoil.
Saied, a political newcomer elected back in 2019 in an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, is no stranger to antisemitic remarks as he continues to maintain a strong anti-Israeli stance. During his campaign, he said that any attempt to normalize ties with Israel – which he referred to exclusively as a ‘Zionist entity’ – constitute high treason.
Antisemitic acts have always surged to the surface in times of social, political and economic uncertainty, such as our current global context, now made much worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the fact that health authorities the world over unanimously agree that the COVID-19 virus originated in China, antisemites in Gaza, Iran and Yemen have found a way to blame the pandemic on Jews.
During these times, unity between all is vital, and there should be no tolerance for preachers and leaders who choose to frighten or threaten us. We will thrive together with the Jewish State of Israel, and stand against all brutality and racism. The Abraham Accords has created a new and different future for the Middle East- one in which antisemitism is rejected, and harmony between all religions is embraced.
Kuwaiti Islamic Scholar Othman Al-Khamees: Today’s Jews May Be Seen As Brothers Of Apes And Pigs : https://www.memri.org/tv/kuwaiti-sheikh-khamees-todays-apes-not-descendants-of-jews
BBC ARABIC report on Kuwaiti Islamic Scholar Othman Al-Khamees attacking the Abrahmic accord : https://youtu.be/84CUvYjv2js
Report on Kuwaiti Islamic Scholar Othman Al-Khamees antisemitism and attack on Abrahamic accord : https://thearabweekly.com/kuwaiti-preacher-pushes-bigoted-discourse-about-uae