April 10, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 7992

Saudi Journalist: 'Allah Commanded Us To Love And Respect' The Jews; 'Antisemitism In The Arab World Is The Product Of Loathsome Racist Education'

April 10, 2019
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 7992

In his March 3, 2019 column in the leading London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Saudi journalist and businessman Hussein Shobakshi condemned the deeply rooted hatred of Jews in Islamic culture, in which the term "Jew" is strongly derogatory. Shobakshi mused on why the Muslims do not differentiate between the Israeli Zionists and the Jews in general, even though Allah had instructed the Muslims to love and respect Jews and Christians, and even though the Prophet Muhammad himself had married a Jewess, made pacts with Jews, and maintained relations with them. He called on the Muslims to first achieve peace amongst themselves and with those around them, and to recognize that they have profound antisemitic hatred and racism, and that they are capable nevertheless of carrying out Allah's commandment and respect the Jews.

Hussein Shobakshi (

The following are translated excerpts of Shobakshi's column:

"When the extremists in the political Islam organizations want to carry out character assassination against a leader in the Arab world, they are accustomed to reiterating over and over that 'his mother was a Jewess' or that 'he has Jewish roots.' Often, the supporters of this or that leader respond to this by saying of the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood that 'his mother was a Jewess.'[1] This has made me wonder about the scope of the hatred for Jews in our culture, and about our inability to distinguish between the Jews as People of the Book – whom Allah commanded us to love and respect and permitted us to trade with them, eat their foods, and marry them – and the Israeli Zionist political project that has instilled [in us] schizophrenia [in our attitude towards the Jews] from which we have not yet awakened. 

"The intensity of the Jew-hatred disseminated by the media and by art, literature, and political cartoons [in the Arab world] has reached a degree that cannot be ignored. No one, of course, is arguing that the Jewish and Israeli arena itself is free of a culture of hatred within it. In the extremist religious Jewish schools, there is [also] the  same  takfir [i.e. accusing others of heresy, as there is among Muslims] and differentiation between the [Jewish] people and the 'gentiles,' who are worthless and may be robbed and killed. From these schools emerged the well-known extremist terrorists Meir Kahana and Baruch Goldstein.

"However, antisemitism in the Arab world is the product of loathsome, racist education that is rooted in the Arab mentality that is used to labeling people according to tribal, family, and racial affiliation, and according to the religious school to which they belong. It is this education that prompted thousands of Jews who were citizens of Arab countries to emigrate after the establishment of the State of Israel… (this is the same mentality faced by Christians of the Arab Orient and by all other religious [non-Muslim] streams in the region).

"The Prophet Muhammad married a Jewess, arrived at a peaceful coexistence agreement with the Jews of Madina, mortgaged his shield to his Jewish neighbor,[2] and stood at the funeral of a Jew, and the Quran says of People of the Book that they are not all like each other [i.e. that there are respectable people among them].[3] [However], we disregard all these very positive references [to Jews] and present invented theories, interpretations, and motives that justify Jew-hatred, and, based on this, we have formulated views rife with suspicion regarding them and fear of them stemming, in truth, from hatred...

"It is inconceivable that [you, a Muslim] should argue that your religion commands you to respect the People of the Book and yet not implement this in practical, concrete terms. But the [real] challenge [that you face is answering the questions]: Can peace with the other be possible without first actualizing this peace with yourself and with those around you? And do we have a problem of hatred and racism towards Jews? An honest, credible answer to these questions is necessary, and they may be the first in a series of embarrassing questions that we have for many years been avoiding dealing with and answering."


[1] Here, Shobakshi is hinting at the Muslim Brotherhood, that has more than once accused Egyptian President Al-Sisi of having a Jewish mother. For more on this and on counteraccusations that Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna was Jewish, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5657, Muslim Brotherhood Supporters, Opponents Accuse Each Other Of Being Jewish, February 25, 2014.

[2] According to a hadith by Muhammad's third wife 'Aisha, "When Muhammad died, his shield was mortgaged with a Jew for 30 measures of barley."

[3] Quran 3:113: "They are not [all] the same; among the People of the Scripture is a community standing [in obedience], reciting the verses of Allah during periods of the night and prostrating [in prayer]."

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