Andrew G. Bostom spoke tonight in Stoughton, Massachusetts, on the roots of Islamic Antisemitism. He described his developing interest in the subject after the events on September 11, 2001. He then chronicled the history of Islamic Antisemitism going back to the beginnings of the Muslim religion. In his book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, Mr. Bostom gives a detailed account of the roots and development of Antisemitism within Islam.
Mr. Bostom’s lecture was summed up in a story he told about an experiment he did which showed the misconceptions most scholars, theologians, and journalists have about Antisemitism. He sent e-mails to a variety of academics, scholars, journalists, etc., asking the following question:
“In your opinion, would this quote (below) exemplify racial, or at least ethnic Antisemitism? Moreover would you please hazard a guess as to where and when it was written, based upon the contents?” Here is the quote:
Our people [the Muslims] observing thus the occupations of the Jews and the Christians concluded that the religion of the Jews must compare unfavorably as do their professions, and that their unbelief must be the foulest of all, since they are the filthiest of all nations. Why the Christians, ugly as they are, are physically less repulsive than the Jews may be explained by the fact that the Jews, by not intermarrying, have intensified the offensiveness of their features. Exotic elements have not mingled with them; neither have males of alien races had intercourse with their women, nor have their men cohabited with females of a foreign stock. The Jewish race therefore has been denied high mental qualities, sound physique, and superior lactation. The same results obtain when horses, camels, donkeys, and pigeons are inbred.
He read some of the answers he got back:
“Of course it’s Antisemitism of the most vile racist stripe-which leads me to think it likely dates from the 19th century, at the earliest. It also sounds like the sort of thing one would read in the Antisemitic popular literature of the Edwardian period. So, my guess would be somewhere between 1830 and the 1920s.”
“I imagine this was written under the influence of modern theories of racial inferiority.”
“If I had to hazard a guess, I would say this is from a sermon in a Gaza mosque this past Friday..”
“Could be any mosque in the Muslim world, or Nazi Germany if it weren’t for the first line. Definitely racial…”
“How about current Wahhabi establishment?”
“I have no idea who said it but I’ll hazard a guess just for sport: the Mufti of Jerusalem, circa 1940?”
“Probably last week from one of the mullahs in the UK.”
“Yes, racist to the point of being Nazi-like. I would say, the Mufti of Jerusalem or some other Islamofascist, or maybe contemporary Wahhabi.”
“…it’s the usual (modern) boiler plate from the Middle East.”
Unfortunately, the quote represents much more history than the responders gave it credit for.
Mr. Bostom wrote an article for the American Thinker
in May 2008 in which he explains:
The quote in fact derives from a remarkable essay by the polymath Arabic writer al-Jahiz (d. 869), illustrating the anti-Jewish attitudes prevalent within an important early Islamic society, and composed over a millennium earlier than suspected by these interlocutors. It is also worth noting that al-Jahiz (described as a “skeptic,” who harbored “indifferent views toward religion in general”) included sociological observations-the quote cited above-which reveal the interface between indigenous ethnic/racial discriminatory, and Islamic religious (i.e., the essay’s major emphasis, described below) attitudes towards Jews, expressed a thousand years before any secular Western European Antisemitic ideologies would be exported to the Muslim Near East
The bottom line in the information tonight was that Antisemitism among Muslims is not a new thing. It goes back to the roots of Islam and is taught to the children as part of the Koran. The only way to end Antisemitism in Islam is to stop teaching the Koran to Muslim children, and I don’t think that is likely to happen.