Shoppers who were strolling through Tel Aviv’s upscale Sarona Market on Wednesday when they suddenly encountered two (and possibly three) Palestinian Muslims observing Ramadan. The death toll is now four, and as five other people were wounded, it could rise. Ramadan has just begun, and there have already been jihad murders in Bangladesh, Egypt, and Jordan, among others -- and now Israel. There will be many more.
Observing Ramadan? Yes. The killers, reportedly Palestinian cousins from Hebron, were performing what they no doubt thought was a pious act: punishing the Jews, about whom the Qur’an says: “You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers to be the Jews…” (5:82) The Qur’an exhorts believers: “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the breasts of a believing people…” (9:14)
Thus in fighting against unbelievers, a Muslim becomes an executor of the divine wrath. It was against this backdrop that Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani recently called on Muslims to use this Ramadan to “get prepared, be ready … to make it a month of calamity everywhere for nonbelievers.” Ramadan is the perfect time for a “month of calamity everywhere for nonbelievers” because it is the time during which Muslims are supposed to be redoubling their piety and increasing their devotion to Allah. What better way for a Muslim to increase his devotion to Allah than by allowing Allah to use him to punish “the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers”?
The nonbelievers upon whom al-Adnani and others like him want to bring calamity include, above all, Jews, as a jihad group emphasized in its own Ramadan message four years ago: “The month of Ramadan is a month of holy war and death for Allah. It is a month for fighting the enemies of Allah and God’s messenger, the Jews and their American facilitators. One of our groups aided by Allah managed to bomb a bus full of Jewish tourists, plunderers of holy lands, after careful tracking. The holy war is not confined to a particular arena and we shall fight the Jews and the Americans until they leave the land of Islam.”
In keeping with the character of the murders as an act of Islamic piety, some eyewitnesses noted that the killers were disguised as ultra-Orthodox Jews. A hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “War is deceit,” and so deceiving unbelievers in wartime is a pious act just as killing them is, and deceiving them in order to kill them is best of all.
It came as no surprise, therefore, that Palestinian jihad groups were thrilled with the mass murder of innocent Israelis shopping. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh tweeted: “Glory and salutations to the Hebronites,” along with a victory emoji. Hamas also tweeted out a cartoon depicting the shooting as a Ramadan treat, a bullet encased in sweet dough. Fatah was less openly gleeful but still blamed Israel for the murders, tweeting: “Israel is reaping the repercussions of choosing violence against the Palestinian people.”
In reality, the Israelis are reaping the repercussions of living in close proximity to a people who believe that Jews are the children of apes and pigs (Qur’an 2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166), thus accursed for disobeying Allah’s express commands. Israel is reaping the repercussions of being neighbors of a people who believe that Allah has put the Jews “under humiliation wherever they are overtaken” (Qur’an 3:112). Israel is reaping the bitter repercussions of living among a people who believe they have a divine command to “drive them out from where they drove you out” (Qur’an 2:191): as Palestinian propaganda tirelessly repeats the false claim that the Palestinians were forcibly expelled from Israel when the modern Jewish state was created, the Palestinian jihad to destroy Israel utterly takes on the character of the fulfillment of the will of Allah.
Mainstream analysts consistently dismiss the idea that these Qur’an verses, and many others that excoriate and demonize Jews, have anything to do with the contemporary conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But as many Muslims worldwide read the entire Qur’an during Ramadan, it is useful to reflect upon the fact that this means that the Muslim book’s many anti-Semitic passages are being newly recalled by multitudes.
Jihad groups routinely and unanimously couch their appeals and justifications in Qur’anic terms. The jihad murders in Tel Aviv Wednesday are a grim reminder of the fact that the Qur’an directs so much vitriol against the Jews that blood is bound to be spilled over it – especially during Ramadan.
Brace yourself: there are 25 days to go.