Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Historian David McCullough on Work and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Historian David McCullough on Work and the Pursuit of Happiness. By Joseph Sunde. Acton Institute, February 11, 2013.

Life’s Work: David McCullough. Interview by Scott Berinato. Harvard Business Review, January/February 2013.

Muslim Brotherhood: Blaming “el Yahud.” By Zvi Mazel.

Blaming “el Yahud.” By Zvi Mazel. Jerusalem Post, February 7, 2013.

With the Muslim Brotherhood in power, anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel are now part of Egyptian culture.

More on Morsi and Egypt here.


Suddenly the world is discovering that the leaders of Egypt are not afraid to voice their hatred for the Jews and the Jewish state openly.

America is asking for clarifications regarding a blatantly anti-Semitic outburst from Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Essam Erian, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, has called on former Egyptian Jews living in Israel to come back to make room for returning Palestinians after the demise of the Jewish state, which he believes will happen within 10 years.

Erian thus puts into words the deep-seated anti-Semitism of the movement he represents: There cannot be a Jewish state, and Jews cannot aspire to be more than second-class citizens in Muslim countries, dhimmis subject to Shari’a (Islamic) law and living under the protection of Islam only as long as they accept their inferior status. In the past, they and other non- Muslim residents had to pay a special poll tax, the jizya; there are now calls in Egypt to revive that tax, which was abolished in the late 19th century by a much-weakened Ottoman empire.

Historically, Muslim hatred toward the Jews is rooted in the latter’s refusal to accept Islam and its preeminence over all other religions, as expressed in the shahada, the credo of the faithful: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”; Muhammad is the last of the prophets and ushers in an era in which Islam will rule the world through peaceful means – or through war.

Islam claims for its own both the Old and New testaments, and Muhammad was incensed that the Jews, who had introduced monotheism to the world, did not recognize him and accept his teachings. One can find in the Koran far more attacks against Jews than against Christians, who did not acknowledge Islam either. There are numerous verses vilifying the Jews, calling for their abasement and humiliation and, for instance, branding them as sons of pigs and apes, having to bear the wrath of Allah and being doomed to hell on Judgment Day unless they accept the true faith.

The Muslim Brotherhood gave a new slant to the age-old hatred. Hassan Banna, who founded the movement in 1928, transformed what was a “passive” phenomenon into a virulent doctrine, part of both his vision to restore the caliphate and his fight against the British occupation and Western influence on his country.

The hand of the Jews was seen everywhere; they were allegedly attacking Islam and targeting the whole world.

Adopting the message and model of Christian anti-Semitism, the Brothers initiated a program of incitement against Jews living in Egypt and fomented pogroms against the old Jewish quarter of Cairo. In the 1930s and ’40s, Banna developed his theories in countless writings, declaring the Jews the agents of change and Westernization, and responsible for the decline of the West as well as of Islam.

There is an inherent contradiction there, since the Brotherhood is fighting the West and its democratic values, which are alien to Islam. However, Banna corresponded with Hitler; there were contacts between the Brotherhood and the Nazis, and the Brothers published a translation of Mein Kampf under the title My Jihad. Caricatures from Der Stürmer and Nazi texts were translated and printed in their publications.

The Brothers found willing allies in the strong German community living in Cairo in the ’30s, which included a number of Nazi agents.

Those agents also helped the new pro-Nazi party, Misr Elfatat (Young Egypt), established at that time to destabilize the regime and fight the Jews.

With the onset of World War II, Banna offered his services to Hitler while asking him to help Egypt in its fight against the British and the Jews. The clandestine terror organization he set up passed along information on the movements of British forces. A young officer by the name of Anwar Sadat was a member of the organization. King Farouk’s secret services ultimately found and killed Banna in 1949.

THE MAN who set down the religious basis for the fight against the Jews and developed its propaganda themes was Sayyid Qutb, often called the father of the Brotherhood ideology and grandfather of present-day jihadi extremists. Former president Gamal Abdul Nasser had him sentenced to death by hanging, and Qutb was executed in 1966.

In his best-known work, Milestones, he wrote that Jews were working to erase “all limitations imposed by faith and religion so that Jews may penetrate the body politics of the whole world and may be free to perpetuate their evil designs. At the top of the list of those activities is usury, the aim of which is that all the wealth of mankind end up in the hands of Jewish financial institutions.”

He also wrote an essay called “Our Battle against the Jews,” in which he states, “The Jews have confronted Islam with enmity from the moment the Islamic state was established in Medina . . . the Muslim community continues to suffer the same Jewish machinations and double-dealing which discomfited the early Muslims . . . This is a war which has not been extinguished . . . for close on 14 centuries its blaze has raged in all the corners of the earth and continues to this moment.”

He added that “the Jews have installed . . . a massive army of agents in the form of professors, philosophers, doctors, researchers... some even from the ranks of the Muslim religious authorities . . . intending to break the creed of the Muslims by weakening the Shari’a in many ways... with this and that they fulfill the ancient rule of the Jews.”

And there is a reference to the well known historical fake, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion: “Jews are behind materialism, animal sexuality, the destruction of the family and the dissolution of society. Principal among them are Marx, Freud, Durkheim and the Jew Jean-Paul Sartre.”

One could go on and on. Qutb even wrote that Allah had sent Hitler to punish the Jews.

IT WOULD be impossible to enumerate the countless books, essays, pamphlets and fatwas that the Muslim Brothers have published against the Jews – and are still publishing.

Egyptian-born Sheikh Yusuf Kardawi, who lives in Qatar, is the Brotherhood’s main theologian. He attacks the Jews relentlessly; in an Al Jazeera interview on January 28, 2009, he declared, “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the Jews people who would punish them for their corruption. . . . The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. . . . Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”

Interestingly the Koran acknowledges the claim of the Jews to the Holy Land. However, Caliph Omar Khattab, who conquered the Holy Land, subsequently decreed that any land conquered by Islam would henceforth be forever part of the Islamic caliphate. Therefore, the rebirth of Israel was considered unacceptable to Arabs and Muslims – all the more because they were used to seeing Jews as a subservient minority and could not adjust to the new reality in which the Jews were “tearing away” a territory deep inside Muslim lands.

The fact that the small Jewish state defeated the armies of five Arab states during the 1948 War of Independence was seen as an added insult, and anchored hatred of the Jews in Arab and Islamic culture.

In Egypt and in the Arab world as a whole, Jews, Zionists and Israelis are generally seen as one and the same. And since the Jews were cursed by the Prophet, all their deeds are evil, and the creation of the State of Israel is worse. Egyptian media – the written press, television and radio – use “the Zionist enemy” and “the Zionist entity” interchangeably with “Jews” and “Israel.”

When former president Hosni Mubarak took office, Egyptian anti-Semitism included all the above-mentioned elements. The new president did not try to curb this phenomenon, and incitement went on in the media and in the mosques, though they were under state control.

For instance, it was forbidden at the time to criticize the president or the army, or to mention the existing discrimination against the Coptic Christian minority, but one could attack the Jews at will.

Thus there was a daily outpouring of hate against the Jews and against Israel; it was an unwritten rule that no item presenting Israel and/or the Jews in a favorable light could be aired. Whether it was planned at state level or not, this policy was intended to demonize the Jews and Israel and to bring about the delegitimization of the Jewish state and prevent normalization between the two countries.

News was deliberately distorted. Following the 2001 terror attack at the popular Dolphinarium nightclub in Tel Aviv, headlines in the state-owned Al Gomhuria daily screamed, “Pieces of Israeli flesh were thrown in the air as a result of the heroic operation.”

Then, too, state news agencies used various terms to avoid calling Israel by its name: “the occupation,” “the Zionist entity” or “the Zionist enemy.” Israeli cities were called “settlements” wherever they were; reports would describe “a fedayeen operation in the Haifa settlement,” blunting the effect of a terror attack on a peaceful city in the heart of Israel.

Israelis are usually called “el Yahud,” the Jews. Whenever Israel replied to an accusation or tried to set the record straight, the Egyptian media used the word “alleges” to illustrate their rejection.

Editorials in the Egyptian media routinely accuse Jews of all crimes under the sun, including treacherous actions such as “infiltrating into Africa to incite Africans against Egypt.” A recurrent theme is making the Jews responsible for the ongoing struggle between Egypt and upper Nile countries regarding the distribution of the river’s waters.

Some editorials explain that the very existence of Israel is illegal and that the country should be eliminated.

Holocaust denial is the norm, though it takes different forms:

• Regarding the event itself, deniers say that it never happened; that there was something, but on a far smaller scale, and the Jews are deliberately inflating numbers; that Jews are exploiting the event. They ask why Arabs should have to pay for something that involved Europe and the Jews. In any case, they say, Jews are worse than Nazis.

• Caricatures show Palestinian women and small children confronted by soldiers with machine guns and steel helmets marked with the swastika to show how cruel they are. Other caricatures, similar to those of Der Stürmer, depict religious Jews with oversized noses killing Palestinian children.

• There are books, films and television series based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, showing the Jews as monsters, and on the books of European Holocaust deniers such as Roger Garaudy and David Irving.

In addition, Koran verses and Hadith are used to demonstrate the wickedness of the Jews and the way they attacked Muhammad and Islam, as well as the dire fate awaiting them on Judgment Day.

ONE CANNOT minimize the impact of these concerted measures on the Egyptian public, which is deprived of objective information and led to accept a distorted picture.

Repeated protests from the Israeli government have met with the bland reply that the media in Egypt are free. Here are three outstanding examples:

• When Pope John Paul II visited Egypt in February 2000, a scathing February 26 editorial in the state-owned daily the Egyptian Gazette accused the church of having yielded to Israeli blackmail and American intervention in issuing the Vatican II document “acquitting the Jews from the charge of killing Jesus.”

• In 2009, a self-proclaimed historian, Dr. Abdel Wahab Messiri, published his Encyclopedia of the Jews, Judaism and Zionism – eight volumes totaling 3,000 pages. In a television interview, he explained that he had undertaken this work to demonstrate that there was no such thing as a Jewish people. He received an award from Mubarak for his efforts.

• When Shimon Peres visited Egypt in April 2001, a photomontage in the Nasserist weekly Al Arabi showed him wearing a Gestapo uniform.

Unfortunately the fall of Mubarak did not usher in a new era. Protesters brandished pictures of the president with a Star of David to show that he was a puppet of the Jews. American journalist Laura Logan was assaulted in Tahrir Square by a mob yelling, “Jew! Jew!” Focus on Israel and the Jews grew as the Muslim Brothers emerged as the leaders of the revolution, yet the West, blinded by what it saw as a spring of hope and democracy, was reluctant to mention the fact. In January 2012, the Brothers made an all-out – and successful – effort to block the annual pilgrimage to the tomb of Abu Hatzera, a Jewish holy man buried in a small village not far from Alexandria – a pilgrimage that attracts Jews from all over the world.

Gamal Hashmet, a newly elected parliament member from the Brotherhood’s not-so-aptly named Freedom and Justice Party, proclaimed that for the Israelis to come would be “suicidal,” adding that “the Abu Hatzera problem is that of a people who rejects normalization [with Israel] and the presence of any Zionist on Egyptian soil. . . . No one can force the inhabitants of Damanhour to accept normalization.”

The Egyptian Supreme Council of Armed Forces ordered all Egyptian representations not to issue visas for the pilgrimage.

Now that the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, is in power, Islamic anti-Semitism, which is at the core of the group’s doctrine, has become part of the regime’s ideology. Though there is a measure of continuity in anti-Semitism from Mubarak to Morsi, the impact is now far greater.

Clerics, feeling that they have the support of the government and can look forward to the elimination of the Jewish state in the near future as a step toward the establishment of a renewed caliphate, rant against the Jews on a daily basis from their pulpits in mosques or in the media. Since he became president, Morsi has been careful not to voice openly his hatred for the Jews and for Israel, and when confronted on some of his more extreme outbursts – such as those quoted in The New York Times this past January 14 (see below) – he declares blandly that they were “taken out of context.”

But the Brothers had no such qualms. Already during the campaign for the parliamentary elections, they had organized a mass rally “to fight the Judaization of Jerusalem” at Al-Azhar University.

On November 25, 2011, 5,000 protesters heard Sheikh Azhar, who does not belong to the Brotherhood, warn that Al-Aksa Mosque was under attack by the Jews. “We shall not let them Judaize Al Quds,” he declared, adding that the Jews had attempted at the dawn of Islam to embroil the followers of Muhammad in civil war, and “today they are trying to prevent the union of all Muslims.”

Speakers for the Brotherhood called for a jihad to free Palestine and quoted a famous hadith: “The day will come when we shall kill all the Jews, and even the trees and the stones will cry out, ‘There is a Jew hiding behind us, come and kill him!’” This event will be remembered as one of the strongest recent demonstrations of hatred by the Muslim Brothers.

For all his caginess, Morsi himself swore, during the campaign, to deliver Jerusalem and listened with apparent complacency to the violent diatribes of local clerics.

The aforementioned New York Times article quoted him as saying Muslims needed to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for Jews and Zionists.”

The Times added that in a television interview months later, the same leader had described Zionists as “these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”

After Morsi’s election, there was a sharp increase in attacks against the Jews in the Egyptian media from intellectuals, journalists and clerics. The most extreme can be found on the site of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

MEANWHILE, THE Brotherhood is openly pursuing its religious aims while allegedly leaving Morsi to lead the country “pragmatically.” However, all the members of the ruling Freedom and Justice Party are senior members of the movement. Last October, movement leader Mohamed Badie, who holds the title of “supreme guide,” renewed the tradition of Koran and Shari’a teachings that Banna had initiated and that had stopped with his death.

In one of his first lessons, he called on all Muslims to conquer Jerusalem by jihad, since according to him, it was not possible to do so through negotiations or the UN. He added that it was the duty of every Muslim to do so.

Badie alleged that “the Jews have dominated the land, spread corruption on earth, spilled the blood of believers and in their actions profaned holy places, including their own.” In June of the same year, he stated that “Allah had warned us about the treachery of the Jews and their dangerous role in fomenting wars. The war in Sudan and the partition of the country is their work, as is the fight between Ramallah and Gaza.”

Hatred toward the Jews sometimes takes the strangest forms. Thus on November 5, Freedom and Justice, the party’s official newspaper, quoted a learned sheikh as saying, “If Islam had been fated to disappear from the world, then it would have disappeared the day rose the star of the accursed Jew [Mustafa Kemal] Ataturk . . . who committed the greatest crime against the Caliphate.... But it did not happen, because the Caliphate still burned bright in the heart of the Muslims.”

During the mass protests in Tahrir Square during the IDF’s Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip, Brotherhood fighters were chanting, “Give us guns, give us guns and send us to Gaza.”

Jews were also a recurrent theme during the campaign of the referendum on the constitution. The preacher of one of the largest suburbs of Cairo called on the faithful to go and vote, since the Jews were trying to destroy Egypt by paying huge sums of money to Egyptians so they would vote against the constitution.

Last year, the Egyptian pavilion at the Frankfurt book fair, the largest in the world of publishing, displayed a number of anti-Semitic books with lurid covers announcing their content. The Simon Wiesenthal Center protested, but to no avail.

ANOTHER EXPRESSION of the boundless hatred of Israel and the Jews in present-day Egypt was evident in an episode that took place last August. Well-known actor Iman Kandil was invited to a television studio for what he had been told was an interview with a German television show. There, the pretty Egyptian interviewer told him it was in fact for Israeli television. It was a joke, of course, but Kandil did not wait for an explanation and reacted violently, pushing her against the wall and hitting her while cursing until the penny dropped. He did not really apologize, and explained that it was her fault.

The same thing happened with an actress, who also started shouting that Allah cursed worms and moths as he cursed the Jews.

Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel are now part of Egyptian culture, among both devout and secular people.

Unfortunately, as Islam is on the rise both in Arab countries and in the West, no change for the better can be expected – unless the West sits up and takes notice at long last, and decides to do something about it.

Will the al-Qaeda Affiliates Ousting Assad Turn to Israel Next? By Mitch Ginsburg.

Will the al-Qaeda affiliates ousting Assad turn to Israel next? By Mitch Ginsburg. The Times of Israel, February 10, 2013.

Jihadi warriors are fueling the violent rebellion in Syria. Some fear their successes are reviving wider regional ambitions.

Syria crisis: al-Qaida fighters revealing their true colours, rebels say. By Martin Chulov. The Guardian, January 17, 2013.

A schism is developing in northern Syria between jihadists and Free Syrian Army units, which threatens to pitch both groups against each other and open a new phase in the Syrian civil war.

Syria: how jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra is taking over Syria’s revolution. By Ruth Sherlock. The Telegraph, February 8, 2013.

Aleppo has been plunged into despair. Riven with war, life in Syria’s most populous city has become a dog-eat-dog existence: a battle for survival in a place where the strong devour the weak.