Recently, an Egyptian Candid Camera prank type TV show turned very ugly and violent when the guest, an Egyptian actor, was told he was on Israeli TV. The prank was done on several guests with similar reactions: extreme violence and hate speech against Jews who were described as the most cursed by Allah in Islam.
I personally was not surprised by the video clip, but a lot of American friends of mine were shocked by the responses they witnessed on camera. Many books have been written about why Muslims hate Jews but I decided to write my own explanation, which I detailed in chapter four of my most recent book “The Devil We Don’t Know.”
No true Muslim dares to ask why Islam is consumed with hatred of non-Muslims, especially Jews. When I was a Muslim, I never dared to ask that question, let alone objectively answer it. I never dared to question why our religious leaders curse, lie and preach hatred and violence from the pulpit of mosques. To the average Muslim, cursing of Jews in mosques feels normal and even holy. That intense hatred of Jews was especially intensified in the last ten years of Mohammed’s life and it was not a new development in Islamic countries after the 1948 war.
When Mohammed embarked on his mission to spread Islam, his objective was to create a uniquely Arabian religion, one created by an Arab prophet, which reflected the Arabian values and culture. Yet to obtain legitimacy, he had to link it to the two previous Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity. He expected the Jewish tribes who lived in Arabia to declare him their Messiah and thereby bring him more legitimacy with Arabs, especially with his own tribe in Mecca, the Quraish. Because his own tribe had rejected and ridiculed him, Mohammed needed the approval of the Jews, whom he called the “People of the Book.” But the conversion of Jews to Islam was part of the scenario that Mohammed had to accomplish in order to prove to Meccans that they had made a mistake by rejecting him.
That was one of the reasons Mohammed chose to migrate to Medina, a town that had predominantly been settled by Jewish tribes and a few impoverished Arabs who lived around the Jews. The Jews allowed Mohammed to move in. In the beginning, the Koran of Mecca was full of appeals to the Jews, who were then described as “guidance and light” (5:44) and a “righteous” people (6:153–154), who “excelled the nations” (45:16). But when the Jews rejected the appeasement and refused to convert to Islam, Mohammed simply and literally flipped. The Qur’an changed from love to threats and then pure hatred, cursing and commandments to kill Jews. Rejection by the Jews became an intolerable obsession with Mohammed.
Not only did the Jews reject him, but their prosperity made Mohammed extremely envious. The Jewish Arabian tribes earned their living from legitimate and successful business, but Mohammed earned his living and wealth through warfare, by attacking Arab tribes (some of whom were from his own tribe) and trade caravans and seizing their wealth and property. That did not look good for a man who claimed to be a prophet of God. The mere existence of the Jews made Mohammed look bad which led Mohammed to unspeakable slaughter; he ordered the beheading of 600 to 900 Jewish men of one tribe and took their women and children as slaves. Mohammed had the first pick of the prettiest woman as his sex slave. All of this senseless slaughter of the Jews was elaborately documented in Islamic books on the life of Mohammed, not as something to be ashamed of, but as justified behavior against evil people.
One does not have to be an authority on human behavior to see how tormented Mohammed must have been after the massacre he orchestrated and forced his fighters to undertake, to empower and enrich himself and his religion. To reduce his torment, he needed everyone around him as well as future generations, to participate in the genocide against the Jews, the only people who he could not control. An enormous number of verses in the Qur’an encouraged Mohammed’s fighters to fight and kill and curse those who wanted to escape fighting. The Qur’an is full of promises of all kinds of pleasure in heaven for those who follow Mohammed’s killing spree; it curses and condemns, meanwhile, all those who choose to escape from fighting. Muslims are encouraged to feel no hesitation or guilt for the genocide because it is not they who do it, but Allah’s hand which is behind the killing.
Mohammed never got over his anger, humiliation, and rejection by the “People of the Book” and he went to his grave tormented and obsessed that some Jews were still alive. On his death bed, Mohammed entrusted Muslims to kill Jews wherever they found them, which made this a “holy commandment” that no Muslim can reject. Muslims who wrote Sharia, understood how Mohammed was extremely sensitive to criticism and that is why criticizing Mohammed became the highest crime in Islam that will never be forgiven even if the offender repents. Mohammed’s message on his deathbed was not for his followers to strive for holiness, peace, goodness, and to treat their neighbors as themselves, but a commandment for Muslims to continue the killing of, and the genocide against, the Jews. Killing thus became a holy act of obedience to Mohammed and Allah himself.
Mohammed portrayed himself as a victim of Jews and Muslims must avenge him till Judgment Day. Sharia also codified into law the duty of every Muslim to defend Mohammed’s honor and Islam with their blood and allowed the violation of many commandments if it was for the benefit of defending Islam and Mohammed. Thus, Muslims are carrying a huge burden, a holy burden, to defend Mohammed with their blood and in doing that, they are mandated to kill, lie, slander, etc.
Mohammed must have felt deep and extreme shame after what he had done to the Jews and thus a very good reason had to be found to explain away his genocide. Thus, by commanding Muslims to continue the genocide for him, even after his death, until the Day of Judgment, Mohammed expanded the shame to cover all Muslims and Islam itself. All Muslims were commanded to follow Mohammed’s example and chase the Jews wherever they went. One hundred years after Mohammed’s death, Arabs occupied Jerusalem, and built the Al Aqsa mosque right on top of the Jewish Temple ruins, the holiest spot of the Jews. Muslims thought they erased all memory of Jewish existence.
Islam, therefore, has a major existential problem. By no will of their own, the Jews found themselves in the middle of this problem. Islam must justify the genocide that Mohammed waged against the Jews. Mohammed and Muslims had two choices: either the Jews are evil subhumans, apes, pigs, and enemies of Allah, a common description of Jews still heard regularly in Middle Eastern mosques today, or Mohammed was a genocidal warlord and not fit to be a prophet of God, a choice that would mean the end of Islam.
Then and now, Mohammed and Muslims clearly chose the first worldview and decreed that any hint of the second must be severely punished. Jews must remain eternally evil enemies of Islam, if Islam is to remain legitimate. There is no third solution to save the core of Islam from collapsing; either Mohammed was evil or the Jews were evil. Any attempt to forgive, humanize, or live peacefully with Jews is considered treason against Islam and Mohammed. How can Muslims forgive the Jews and then go back to their mosques, only to read their prophet’s words, telling them they must kill Jews wherever they find them? It does not add up, if someone wants to remain Muslim.