Recently, an Egyptian Candid Camera prank type TV show turned very ugly and violent when the guest, an Egyptian actor, was told he was on Israeli TV. The prank was done on several guests with similar reactions: extreme violence and hate speech against Jews who were described as the most cursed by Allah in Islam.
I personally was not surprised by the video clip, but a lot of American friends of mine were shocked by the responses they witnessed on camera. Many books have been written about why Muslims hate Jews but I decided to write my own explanation, which I detailed in chapter four of my most recent book “The Devil We Don’t Know.”
No true Muslim dares to ask why Islam is consumed with hatred of non-Muslims, especially Jews. When I was a Muslim, I never dared to ask that question, let alone objectively answer it. I never dared to question why our religious leaders curse, lie and preach hatred and violence from the pulpit of mosques. To the average Muslim, cursing of Jews in mosques feels normal and even holy. That intense hatred of Jews was especially intensified in the last ten years of Mohammed’s life and it was not a new development in Islamic countries after the 1948 war.
After a lot of thinking, analysis, research and writing, I discovered that Jew-hatred in Islam is an essential foundation to the Islamic belief system that Muslims cannot seem to be able to rid themselves of. Jew-hatred masks an existential problem in Islam. If Jew-hatred is removed, Islam itself would self-destruct. This is why:
When Mohammed embarked on his mission to spread Islam, his objective was to create a uniquely Arabian religion, one created by an Arab prophet, which reflected the Arabian values and culture. Yet to obtain legitimacy, he had to link it to the two previous Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity. He expected the Jewish tribes who lived in Arabia to declare him their Messiah and thereby bring him more legitimacy with Arabs, especially with his own tribe in Mecca, the Quraish. Because his own tribe had rejected and ridiculed him, Mohammed needed the approval of the Jews, whom he called the “People of the Book.” But the conversion of Jews to Islam was part of the scenario that Mohammed had to accomplish in order to prove to Meccans that they had made a mistake by rejecting him.
That was one of the reasons Mohammed chose to migrate to Medina, a town that had predominantly been settled by Jewish tribes and a few impoverished Arabs who lived around the Jews. The Jews allowed Mohammed to move in. In the beginning, the Koran of Mecca was full of appeals to the Jews, who were then described as “guidance and light” (5:44) and a “righteous” people (6:153–154), who “excelled the nations” (45:16). But when the Jews rejected the appeasement and refused to convert to Islam, Mohammed simply and literally flipped. The Qur’an changed from love to threats and then pure hatred, cursing and commandments to kill Jews. Rejection by the Jews became an intolerable obsession with Mohammed.
Not only did the Jews reject him, but their prosperity made Mohammed extremely envious. The Jewish Arabian tribes earned their living from legitimate and successful business, but Mohammed earned his living and wealth through warfare, by attacking Arab tribes (some of whom were from his own tribe) and trade caravans and seizing their wealth and property. That did not look good for a man who claimed to be a prophet of God. The mere existence of the Jews made Mohammed look bad which led Mohammed to unspeakable slaughter; he ordered the beheading of 600 to 900 Jewish men of one tribe and took their women and children as slaves. Mohammed had the first pick of the prettiest woman as his sex slave. All of this senseless slaughter of the Jews was elaborately documented in Islamic books on the life of Mohammed, not as something to be ashamed of, but as justified behavior against evil people.
One does not have to be an authority on human behavior to see how tormented Mohammed must have been after the massacre he orchestrated and forced his fighters to undertake, to empower and enrich himself and his religion. To reduce his torment, he needed everyone around him as well as future generations, to participate in the genocide against the Jews, the only people who he could not control. An enormous number of verses in the Qur’an encouraged Mohammed’s fighters to fight and kill and curse those who wanted to escape fighting. The Qur’an is full of promises of all kinds of pleasure in heaven for those who follow Mohammed’s killing spree; it curses and condemns, meanwhile, all those who choose to escape from fighting. Muslims are encouraged to feel no hesitation or guilt for the genocide because it is not they who do it, but Allah’s hand which is behind the killing.