Whenever a calamity falls upon Muslim-majority countries, there is always a country to blame: Israel. There is no need to look for any other reason. If there is a revolution against a tyrant regime subjugating its people, the Zionists are responsible. If there is a clash between Sunni and Shia groups – who else can be responsible? When a bomb explodes on the other side of the world or there is a problem with the economy – no need to look for anyone else. Where else can the control center for destabilizing the Arab world be but in Tel Aviv?
This notorious inclination to blame Jews for every failure going on in the Middle East has been the trend for quite some time. A wide-spread variety of people from different countries, ethnicity, ideologies, sects — even enemies of one other — invariably point to one direction: Israel. From the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi blaming Israel for the violence and unrest in Africa, to Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh saying that the turmoil in the Arab world is some pro-Zionist conspiracy, and a Saudi cleric, Sheikh Ismae’il al-Hafoufi, blaming Israel for the desecration of Islamic holy sites in Syria. Even a Sudanese cleric, Sheik Abd al-Jalil al-Karouri, pointed at Israel for the Boston and Texas bombings; and of course there were the accusations that the tragic events of September 11, 2001 were the fruits of another conspiracy that Zionists planned in order to demonize Arabs and Muslims in the eyes of the world.
This madness of putting the blame on Israel — and Zionists in general — is such a knee-jerk reaction that there is no logical explanation to this evasion of responsibility. The most surprising part is that so many people believe in it unquestioningly, and continue to disseminate these rumors far and wide.
Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Iran, all aggressively hold the Zionist regime responsible for their woes.
While Syrian President Bashar Assad accuses Israel of trying to destabilize Syria, the Syrian opposition also blames Israel for assisting the Assad regime by giving it diplomatic cover. Both sides see Israel as responsible for the bloodshed and unrest going on in Syria. Now with the possibility of an international intervention in Syria, Iranian legislators and commanders are issuing blunt warnings, saying any military strike by the US on Syria would lead to a retaliatory attack on Israel. Israel’s staying out of the equation, it seems, is simply not possible. Even though Israeli politicians refrain from making any comment or taking sides in the regional conflict, all sides point towards Israel anyhow.
On the other hand, we have the Egyptian coup d’état where we see both sides again blaming Israel. Israel has been accused of being responsible for the coup and — interestingly — the Egyptian protest movement Tamarod also blames Israel, yet is urging the Egyptian government not to renege on the Camp David Accords. If Israel condemns the violence committed against the anti-coup alliance, it is labeled as an enemy of Egypt and accused of collaborating to destroy the Egyptian army. Even the state-allied newspaper Al Ahram claimed that Israel is helping demolish the Egyptian army and balkanize the country. Furthermore, in 2010, an Egyptian government official blamed Israeli intelligence for a fatal shark attack on Egypt’s shores, accusing the country of trying to damage Egyptian tourism.
It must sound like a bizarre joke to some, but this tragicomic situation is quite serious for many in the Middle East. We are no longer surprised to hear of Israel as the scapegoat for every single evil in the world, but Iran’s blaming the Zionist entity for a deadly earthquake in the country was pushing the limits of credulity.
Jews are a handful of people, a tiny population when compared to the overall world population, and has been seen as a convenient group to single out for blame. This traditional aggressive Jew-hatred, accompanied by conspiracy theories targeting the state of Israel for all the problems confronting the Islamic world, is indeed a disturbing trend.
Now let’s look at what is really going on in the Islamic-Arab world. There is a continuous and unending stream of hate, of the Shia, the Wahabbi, the Sunni, the Alawi, the Christians, the Jews, and so on ad infinitum. We also see slogans such as “May God destroy Israel; down with the US, damn the West.” Hatred is deeply ingrained in their tradition, in their culture, in their own education and this fierce, venomous style is what is tearing the Islamic world apart; this is exactly what is happening in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan and other countries — Muslims killing Muslims.
Thus it is illogical and unreasonable to put the blame on Israel for the ignorance, bigotry, cruelty, lovelessness, and involvement in brutal sectarian fanaticism of some Muslims. This is an outcome of the intense efforts of some Muslim clerics themselves; there is a serious deterioration in their ideology and belief system. We find this hatred in Muslims’ own books – does Israel publish them? We find this hate in their own speeches – are these clerics Rabbis? Of course not. This occurs entirely within their own jurisprudence.
They educate hatred of the “other.” Do we ever see them talk about love and compassion? Since we see many Muslim clerics inciting violence, explaining in their own words the reasons for the need to hate, why do we put the blame on others? Muslims kill each other, and both sides then turn around and blame the Jews. How do Jews make Muslims kill other Muslims? Muslim clerics hand out fatwas (Islamic rulings) calling for sectarian violence like candy. Wahabbi scholars say that all Sunnis are unbelievers and should be destroyed; Sunni scholars say Shias are unbelievers and their death is obligatory; Shias say that it is obligatory to kill Sunnis, as they are enemies. These are Muslim clerics, not Jewish rabbis, who are promoting the most violent brand of sectarianism, preaching hatred and calling upon their followers to commit massacres. When their followers then heed these calls for violence, these same clerics turn around and promptly blame the Jews.
What about Muslims being united without declaring each other as unbelievers and solving their problems without resorting to violence? What about the Organization of Islamic Cooperation with its 57 member states or the League of Arab States with its 22 states which are utterly helpless to bring about any solutions?
The harm done by some religious scholars is highly destructive, because they have lead many ignorant people astray with their false teachings that plant seeds of hate. They implement a faith which they have largely invented themselves, under the name of Islam; in this faith there is hatred, violence, darkness, and no value for human life. They only speak hostility and espouse bloodshed in the name of Islam, spreading hatred toward Christians, Jews and even other Muslims. These loveless, misguided people are most definitely not Muslims, but bigots or radicals.
So, as Muslims, let’s stop pointing the finger at others whenever we come into trouble. It is time for the Muslim world to take responsibility and to ponder on what has gone so horribly wrong. Superstitions, innovations, localized traditions and bigotry have replaced the Koran in some Islamic countries, and their religiosity is a deeply artificial one. This hatred has to stop and Muslims must embrace the true spirit of the Koran, which is love, compassion and brotherhood for all.
This article was originally published in the Jerusalem Post.
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