Israel is at war. Hence, it is of crucial importance for Israeli politicians and journalists to understand and relate appropriately to Israel’s enemy, especially what the enemy thinks of Jews. For this purpose, allow me to recall what happened some ten years ago when a Jewish reserve soldier, Shmuel Meiri, was lynched by Arabs in Ramallah. I do so because the photographs taken of the faces of his Arab assailants convey a hatred of visceral and demonic proportions. This hatred reminded me of what has been said of the feelings of Muslims Chechens toward Russians.
Writing on the subject in The New York Times (December 18, 1994), Steven Erlanger quotes the celebrated Russian author Leo Tolstoi.
Tolstoi writes of the Russian destruction of a Chechen village: “The emotion felt by every Chechen, old and young, was stronger than hatred. It was not hatred, it was a refusal to recognize these Russian dogs as men at all, and a feeling of such disgust [and] revulsion … that the urge to destroy them—like the urge to destroy rats, venomous spiders, or wolves—was an instinct as natural as self-preservation.” This aptly describes what Muslims feel toward Jews, as was evident in the faces of the Arabs who lynched Shmuel Meiri.
There is a streak of paganism in their boundless hatred. Let me describe how the late Syrian president Hafaz Assad celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. He had Syrian militia girls killing four-foot snakes with their teeth, blood running down their cheeks. The pieces were then roasted and served to Syrian militia men. The men subsequently twisted off the necks of puppies and drank their blood. This is what Arabs and Muslims think of and feel toward Jews.
Boundless hatred and contempt for Jews are fundamental ingredients of Arab-Islamic culture. True, one can find in the Quran occasional passages favorable to Jews. However, those who focus on, and draw conclusions from, such passages suffer from what the eminent psychologist Harry Stack Sullivan called “selective inattention.”
It is common knowledge that the jihad is a basic religious precept for Muslims. The Quran teaches them: “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends” (Sura 5:50). “Allah does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither made war on your religion nor driven you from your homes…. But he forbids you to make friends with those who have fought against you … or abetted others who do so” (Sura 60:8-9). From this passage comes the necessity on the part of Arabs to describe Jews—and not only Jews—as “aggressors.” The Quran’s imperative on dealing with aggressors”? “Kill them wherever you find them” (Sura 2:190).
Moreover, according to the Quran, the Jews should be in a permanent state of humbleness; they should be paying tribute to the faithful (Sura 9:29). What troubles Muslims today is that the Jews now have an independent and flourishing and state of their own, a state whose military power is enormous. All the more reason for the Arabs’ boundless and genocidal hatred—which prompts Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s vow to “wipe Israel off the map.”
Nevertheless, there are Israeli politicians as well as American officials who believe that Arabs can live in abiding peace with Jews. I refer to those who advocate the “two-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This willful refusal to face reality is of long-standing occurrence among Jews.
Thus, referring to the Jewish community (the yishuv) in the pre-State period, Professor Gil Carl AlRoy observed: “One cannot help being astounded at the sheer determination with which the yishuv for so long denied conflict with Arabs—in the face of conflict. There was an extraordinary tension here between the empirical world and personal and group conceptualization.” Even when conflict was admitted, Zionists explained it away by saying the “Arabs did not truly wish it, but were put up to it by others [their leaders],” Nor is this all.
Ponder an oft-quoted statement Ehud Olmert made in June 2005, when he was Deputy Prime Minister: “We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want … to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies. We want them to be our friends …” How boastful on the one hand, and yet so self-effacing on the other—and how different the mentality of Israel’s enemies.
In contrast to Olmert, the most humble Muslim is simply and incredibly proud. Writes AlRoy: “The illiterate Muslim, living in squalor and filth … actually feel[s] as naturally superior to the Jew as English aristocrats would in olden days feel toward Cockneys …”
Still, a picture often reveals more than words. Those who believe that Arabs can live in genuine peace with Jews in the Land of Israel should look at the faces the Arabs who lynched Shmuel Meiri. For them he was not a human being but a Jew—in their eyes something more repulsive than a rat or a venomous spider.
Unfortunately, this inexpungible fact will be ignored by the fools and opportunists now calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.