March 26, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4604

Saudi Arabia Removes Some Antisemitic Content from New Edition of School Textbooks

March 26, 2012
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 4604

MEMRI's report Saudi Textbook: The Enmity between the Muslims and the Jews Is Everlasting[1] examined the antisemitic content found in the 2006-2007 edition of the twelfth-grade Saudi textbook titled 'Studies from the Muslim World.' In this edition, the chapter dealing with the Palestinian cause contains a subchapter titled "The Jews" that, drawing on verses quoted from the Koran, depicts the Jews as prophet-killers, liars, cheats, connivers, conspirators, and covenant breakers. MEMRI's latest investigation found that in the book's most recent edition (2009-2010), this subchapter was omitted in its entirety, along with another subchapter dealing with the nature of the conflict between the Muslims and Jews.[2]

It should be noted, however, that notwithstanding these omissions, the chapter on Palestine in the new edition retains several antisemitic remarks, including claims that the Jews are cunning and aspire to perpetrate deceit and fraud, that the essence of the conflict between the Muslims and Jews is religious rather than national, and that the only way to liberate Palestine is through jihad.

The Portions Removed from New Edition of Textbook

The following are the portions that appeared in the 2006-2007 edition of Studies from the Muslim World but which were stricken from the 2009-2010 edition:

"Whoever studies the nature of the conflict between the Muslims and the Jews understands an important fact, [namely that] this is a religious conflict, not a dispute about politics or nationality, or a conflict between races or tribes, or a fight over land or country, as some describe it. This is a deeply rooted enmity, a conflict between truth and falsehood, between monotheism and polytheism, between heresy and faith...

"The enmity between us and the Jews will not cease under any circumstances until one of two things [happens]: either they join our religion and become Muslims, or we abandon our religion, God forbid. [Allah], may He be exalted, said [in the Koran]: 'They [the Jews] will not cease fighting with you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can' [Koran 2:217]; 'And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians, until you follow their religion' [Koran 2:120].

"They are jealous of the fact that the Seal of the Prophets [i.e., Muhammad] came from among the Arabs and not from among the Children of Israel, and [because] they know well that our master, Muhammad, Allah's prayer be upon him, was the Prophet of Allah... [As it says in the Koran:] 'Those whom We have given the Book recognize him as they recognize their sons, and a party of them most surely conceal the truth while they know (it)' [Koran 2:146]. Once we realize the essence of this conflict, and that this enmity cannot cease, we understand how much those who say the conflict can be settled are misleading [us].

"Our conflict with the Jews clearly began following the hijra of our master, Muhammad, Allah's prayer be upon him, to Medina. It was then that the plots and schemes against the first Muslims began. [These Muslims waged] prolonged jihad against [the Jews], who were expelled from Medina in stages. The Banu Qaynuqa' [tribe] was the first to be expelled, following the incident of the Muslim woman.[3] Afterward, the members of the Banu Al-Nadir tribe were expelled, having tried to assassinate the Prophet, Allah's prayer be upon him, and then, the Banu Qurayza [tribe], who breached their covenant with the Muslims and joined the camps [of Muhammad's Meccan enemies] in the Battle of the Trench [in 627 CE].

"Throughout Islamic history, the Jews have striven to destroy the [Islamic] religion and spread fitna among the Muslims. All know about the fitna caused by the Jew 'Abdallah bin Saba during the time of 'Othman bin 'Affan, may Allah be pleased with him.[4]

"In modern times, Jewish influence has cut deeply into several Western countries, and [the Jews] have taken control of their economies and media. These countries were exploited for the Jews' benefit, and the two sides [i.e., the Jews and the West joined forces and] combined their interests in order to wipe out Islam. After Sultan 'Abd Al-Hamid, Allah's mercy be upon him, stood up to the Jews and rejected their tempting offers in exchange for Palestine, the Crusaders and Jews decided to destroy the Ottoman Islamic Caliphate so that Palestine would be handed to the Jews, and so that the imperialist countries could divide the Islamic world among themselves.

"[After] the Jews strayed from the correct religion brought [to them] by Moussa [Moses], peace be upon him, they did not take root in any land, nor did they legally own any land. They wandered in [various] regions, for wandering from place to place and being divided is in their nature. The Jews lived as oppressed minorities throughout the world, and caused corruption in every land they entered. In every country where they settled, they were a source of trouble and fitna. They build up their confidence by frightening others, which is why the peoples hated them and why they came to be known for their deceit and cunning.

"The noble Koran is the best source to acquaint us with the [Jews'] personality and psychological makeup. The expressions 'Jews' and 'Children of Israel' appear more than 63 times in the book of Allah, may He be exalted. They were the nation charged with ruling the earth, but Allah took their [role of] leadership away from them due to their corruption and destructiveness, and because they killed the prophets. The following are a few brief descriptions of some of their traits, as they appear in the noble Koran:

"1. Attacking the very essence of Allah, may He be exalted: No one will be spared their mischief, even the very essence of Allah [himself], may He be exalted. [Allah], the mighty and exalted, said: 'And the Jews say: The hand of Allah is tied up! Their hands shall be shackled and they shall be cursed for what they say' [Koran 5:64]... 'Allah has certainly heard the saying of those who said: Surely Allah is poor and we are rich [Koran 3:181].

"2. [Spreading] corruption in the land: They are the people of corruption and destruction. They cast doubt on da'wa [calling to Islam], and spread rumors regarding the wives of the Prophet, Allah's prayer be upon him, and spread evil among the Muslims. [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah does not love the corrupters' [Koran 5:64].

"3. Killing prophets: [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'They went on rejecting the signs of Allah and slaying His prophets without just cause. This is because they rebelled and went on transgressing' [Koran 2:61].

"4. Lying, spreading rumors and distorting [truths]: They are the people of lies, which are [all] they listen to, and they are the masters of falsifying and distorting the truth. Not even the prophecy of Allah escapes their distortion, and their Torah proves it. [Allah], may He be exalted, said: 'The Jews (are) men who will listen to any lie and listen even to others who have never so much as come to you. They change the words from their (right) times and places' [Koran 5:41].

"5. Deception and misleading: [Allah,] may He be exalted, said of them: 'They say: There is no call on us (to keep faith) with these ignorant (pagans)' [Koran 3:75].

"6. Rushing to [commit] sin: [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'And you will see many of them racing one another to [commit] sin and exceed the limits' [Koran 5:62].

"7. Inciting to wars and fitna: [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'Whenever they kindle a fire for war, Allah puts it out' [Koran 5:64].

"8. Breaching covenants and agreements: They are the nation best known for this characteristic. [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'Because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them' [Koran 5:13]. They breached their covenants with the prophets, [including] the Prophet Muhammad, Allah's prayer be upon him, more than once, most famously when they breached their covenant with the Muslims and joined the polytheists on the day the [latter's forces] invaded [Medina].[v]

"9. Racist tendencies and scorn for the other: They think they are God's Chosen People. [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'And the Jews and the Christians say: We are the sons of Allah and His beloved ones' [Koran 5:18].

"10. Lust for life – any sort of life, even if it is despicable. [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'And you will most certainly find them the greediest of men for life' [Koran 2:96].

"11. Love of forbidden money: They hoard money by any means [possible]. [Allah,] may He be exalted, said of them: '(They are fond of) listening to falsehood, of devouring anything forbidden' [Koran 5:42].

"12. Cheating: This is manifest in the story of their fishing for a big fish on the Sabbath, when they are forbidden to work. They cheated when they set the net before the Sabbath with the intent of bringing it in after [the Sabbath]. [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'And ask them about the town which stood by the sea; when they exceeded the limits of the Sabbath, when their fish came to them on the day of their Sabbath, appearing on the surface of the water, and on the day on which they did not keep the Sabbath, they did not come to them; thus did We try them because they transgressed' [Koran 7:163].

"13. Argumentativeness: The loathsome manner of their argumentativeness is manifest in the story of the cow and their violation and trickery in the matter of [the cow's] ritual slaughter. [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'And when Moussa said to his people: Surely Allah commands you that you should sacrifice a cow; they said: Do you ridicule us? He said: I seek the protection of Allah from being one of the ignorant. They said: Call on your Lord...' [Koran 67-68. See also verses 69-71].

"14. Their great hatred for the Muslims: [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'Certainly you will find the most violent of people in enmity for those who believe (to be) the Jews' [Koran 5:82].

"15. Cowardice: In their hearts there is fear and anxiety, especially of the Muslims. [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'They will not fight against you in a body save in fortified towns or from behind walls' [Koran 59:14].

"16. Envy: [Allah,] may He be exalted, said of them: 'Many of the followers of the Book wish that they could turn you back into unbelievers after your faith, out of envy from themselves' [Koran 2:109].

"17. Obstinacy: Regarding this, Allah, may He be exalted, said: 'They said: We hear, and we disobey' [Koran 2:93]."[6]

The Portions Retained in New Edition of Textbook

The following portions were retained in the new edition:

A section discussing the reasons for the Arabs' defeats in their wars with the Jews, appearing on page 117, reads: "[One reason is] Islam's estrangement from the domain of [religious] struggle with the Jews, and the appearance of false calls and slogans such as Arab nationalism and socialism. [Another reason is that] many in the ummah disregard the [true] essence of our conflict with the Jews, which is a purely religious struggle, with the Jews drawing their principles from their distorted books. Allah, may He be exalted and glorified, commanded us to pin our hopes on Him. [Allah,] may He be exalted, said: 'And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited' [Koran 3:103]."

Another section of the textbook, dealing with peace with the Jews, found on page 119, reads: "Zionism does not aspire to win over the friendship of others, for it does not want them to join it. Therefore, the Jews' relations with the nations among which they live have been characterized by tension and instability, which caused the peoples to support one another against [the Jews], to molest them, to deal them bitter blows, and to expel them.

"Since the Jews have been in the Diaspora, they have not known peace with any nation because they have [always] striven to [perpetrate] fraud, deceit, and cunning. There is no better proof of this than the Muslims' experience with them in Medina – [which caused] the Prophet to expel them and order to banish them from the Arabian Peninsula – and what happened to them in countries such as Germany, Poland, Spain, and elsewhere.

"Throughout their history, the Jews have never attributed any importance to peace... believing it impossible to establish peace with other nations. They even believe that the nations around them must live in perpetual strife that will undermine their stability, so that they will be unable to fight [the Jews]. This may explain the Jews' aspirations to spread destruction and corruption by various means, even in countries with which they claim to have what they call 'peace agreements.'"

A section enumerating a Muslim's obligations, found on page 125, includes the following: "To overcome the spiritual defeatism that has harmed many of us. We are, as described by God, may He be praised and glorified, the greatest nation to have risen among mankind, and the Jews, as they are described by the noble Koran, are the most cowardly and life-lusting people, as has already been proven by the conflicts with the Jews throughout history.

"Jihad for the sake of Allah is the only path to liberating Palestine. Only through jihad did the Muslims conquer Jerusalem, and only through jihad did the Crusaders leave Palestine. Likewise, only through jihad will the Jews leave Palestine.

"The only point of departure in our handling of the issue of Palestine [should be] absolute faith in Islam and in the fact that all rulings related to this issue must be derived from [Islam]."

Title page of the Saudi textbook
Studies from the Muslim World, 2006-2007 edition

Title page of the Saudi textbook
Studies from the Muslim World, 2009-2010 edition


[1] Special Dispatch No.4345, "Saudi Textbook: The Enmity between the Muslims and the Jews Is Everlasting," December 8, 2011, Saudi Textbook: The Enmity between the Muslims and the Jews Is Everlasting.

[2] The second subchapter that was omitted, titled "The Truth about the Conflict between the Muslims and the Jews," claimed that the Arab-Israeli conflict was part of a broader religious conflict originating in the days of the Prophet Muhammad.

[3] According to Muslim tradition, the conflict between the Muslims of Medina and the Jewish tribe of Banu Qaynuqa' began after a Muslim woman visited the shop of a Jewish jeweler in the market, who demanded that she take off her veil. When she refused, he fastened her cloak with a pin in such a way that, when she got up, she was stripped naked. A Muslim killed the jeweler in retaliation, starting a chain of revenge killings between the sides.

[4] According to some accounts, 'Abdallah bin Saba was a Jewish convert to Islam who became a disciple of the fourth Caliph, 'Ali bin Abu Talib, whom he considered to be divine, and therefore incited against the third Caliph, 'Othman bin 'Affan, bringing about his murder.

[5] According to Muslim tradition, the members of the Kuraish tribe, who were enemies of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca, convinced the Jews to cooperate with them and to attack on Muhammad in the battle of Al-Khandaq in 627 AD.

[6] This is based on the biblical verse "We will do, and we will obey" (Exodus 24:7).

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