Anti-Semitism in the Muslim world has a varied history. In the early days of Islamic conquest, Jews were on the one hand treated with respect relative to their Ashkenazi brethren in Western Europe: Benjamin of Tudela describes Abbasi Caliph Al-Mustanjid as a friend of the Jewish people, fluent in the Hebrew tongue, and prone to hiring Jews as ministers. And under Haroun Al-Rashid, the Jewish people are to have prospered as tradesmen, writers and artists, able to work with their Muslim brethren without friction. But on the other hand, Jews were Dhimmi’s – religious minorities under Muslim rule – and had to live under discriminatory rules.
They were not allowed to take Arabic names nor build new Synagogues. Yet even these rules are described as having been broken by Jew-friendly Muslims in Cairo. Thus, as a general rule, and relative to the times, Jews were able to prosper and live in peace. The exceptions lie in the massacres during the 11th and 12th century, were anti-semitism rose to such a pitch that Jewish quarters were burned and people killed. But even then, as explained by historian Mark R.Cohen, Jews kept faith in the Pact of Umar which allowed them greater freedom than religious minorities under Christian rule. The general theory is that violent anti-semitism was a symptom of economic and societal instability, as the persecution of minorities has traditionally been. It does not seem to have been a specific hate against the Jews, inasmuch as they and other minorities were often an available escape goat for Muslims mobs.
But since the beginning of the 20th century, Muslim anti-semitism has taken a wildly different turn. Whereas it was limited to short bursts in medieval times, it has been a constant factor of the modern Islamic world. One of the many roots of Muslim Anti-Semitism goes back to Al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and an Arab nationalist. This man had a hand in both the anti-Jewish immigration revolt of the 30’s and in the creation of the Free Arab legion, a largely anti-Semitic military unit under the Nazi army. He is also described as having urged Third Reich-commanders not to bring any Jews to Jerusalem.
This period in Islamic history was followed by the Jewish exodus of the 20th century, in which Jews left due to severe persecutions throughout the Muslim world. In almost every single Muslim country, Jews faced anti-Semitic crowds destroying their shops, burning their houses and killing their brothers and sisters. In many cases, this happened before any military conflict was initiated between the newly formed Israel and surrounding Arab peoples. This trait of anti-semitism has been a continuous factor from these conflicts during the early 20th century, until today: Ahmadinejad, along with the Egyptian News-paper Al-Akbar, has denied the Holocaust. Further, his infamous stance, wanting to wipe out Israel, he based on his opposition to the military conflict in Palestine. Yet at the same time, his military persecuted innocent Baloch, Kurds and Arabs throughout his empire. The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yousef Al-Qaradawi, justified Palestinian suicide-bombings as a last resort of a ‘desperate Palestinian people who are beleaguered by Israel’. And today, Anti-Israel protests riddle Europe and the Middle-East. Amongst the protestors, anti-Semitic insults are frequently heard, as described by police in southern Sweden. Even here, many cite the conflict in Palestine as justification for their Anti-Israelism.
But if the Muslim world is so vehemently opposed to Israel, and so accepting of Anti-Semitism because of the conflict in Palestine, what do they have to say about other conflicts in which Muslims are being slaughtered? When we Baloch have marched through the streets of Stockholm and London, calling for an end to the genocide of our people, we number only at twenty at the most. When Pashtuns protest the inhumane Durand Line, one can easily count the number of protestors without losing track. When Kurds gather to express their outrage at the detention of their politicians and the slaughter of their countrymen, they are, at best, only accompanied by equally lonely minorities. Yet when it is time to call for the death of Israel in relation to the Palestine conflict, tens of thousands of Muslims of every ethnicity rally in vehemence, attacking police and waving their Palestinian flags like the peasants of the French Revolution. But as we Baloch, Pashtun’s and Kurds protest the slaughter of thousands of our brethren, we are only met by the whistling winds of Stockholm and London. It reminds me of an old Kurdish saying: The Mountains are our only friends.
No Muslims march for Baloch’s, Kurds and Pashtun’s, except for these ethnicities themselves, nor does the Islamic world call for the fall of Pakistan, Iran or Turkey. This shows that the genocide or oppression of innocent Muslims isn’t enough to rouse the hate of the Islamic world. How do we then explain their widespread Anti-semitism?
The answer lies in the current state of the Muslim world, which has been ruined by the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century and the following catastrophic division of Middle Eastern lands. France and Britain laid the groundworks for future conflicts when putting varied ethnic groups in one fictive country, called Iraq. Muhammad Ali-Jinnah guaranteed chaos when creating a country Pakistan, in where a Punjab government could rein terror over the Baloch, Pashtun, Sindhi and Bengalis through ‘democratic processes’. The British allowed for an ultra-conservative form of Islam to grow when giving almost the entire Arabian Peninsula to Ibn-Saud, partly in hopes of gaining access to Arabian petroleum. In the creation of these states, the modern chaos of the Middle-East was set in motion, and ever since, the Muslim world has been in a state of despair.
Whereas anti-semitism would rise and fall with the passing of societal troubles in the medieval ages, the anti-semitism which has accompanied the destruction of the Middle-East has not been able to resolve. This, because the conflict not only hasn’t been put to an end, but it even keeps getting worse, with military conflicts in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Thus, as Muslims find themselves engulfed by military conflict, they seek for an answer, a lifeline in a stormy sea – what better alternative but to then blame their problems on a lonely minority in their proximity? It is, after all, what humans have always done. And so Muslims turn their hate towards Israel.
Dominique Mosi explains in his book “The Geopolitics of Emotion”, that a humiliated population looks back at its glory days, a way of getting away from their current state of disrepair. That is precisely what Muslims have been doing. For while their own countries are corrupted by the evil of their own brethren, Islamic clerks, leaders and politicians turn their insecurities toward Israel with an intense focus. They see that their glorious religion has gone from being the leader of science to be the battleground of greater countries’ proxy-wars. And then, instead of turning to resolve their own conflicts, they look to the Jews as an escape goat; it becomes the Jews who are conspiring to destroy Muslims; it’s the Jews who start the wars which have ravaged their lands; it’s the Jews who have corrupted the financial systems of their countries. Why else would the usually glorious Islam be in such a state of chaos?
Certainly, Anti-Semitism has become an excuse for Muslims not to fix their own problems. Until they realize that the solution lies in their own hands, and not in the killing of Jews, they won’t rise from the mud in which they have been lying since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Until the moment that they grab themselves by the bootstraps and repair their world, they will continue to be the sick man of planet Earth.
Are you a Baloch who has experienced oppression at the hands of the military? If so, please send us your story. We at the Organization of Baloch Youth in Europe are collecting testimonials for project Baloch Voices, to be presented to the UN and EU. Contact: Organizationofbalochineurope@gmail.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OBYEurope/