Anyone trying to make sense of the situation in the Middle East must understand the mindset that pervades most of the Muslim world, says Kenneth Timmerman, author of Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America. This mindset, he says, is characterized by an extremely intense and deep-seated hatred of all things Jewish-and, by extension, all things Western. Timmerman discussed this and other aspects of his book at a November 20 luncheon held by Accuracy in Media.
Drawing on his extensive research and experience in the Middle East (including personal encounters with terrorists, such as being held hostage by them for 24 days), Timmerman reveals the astonishing extent to which Jews are vilified in many Islamic countries. Much of the hostility is based on irrational myths about Judaism that are often accepted without question.
For instance, the text known as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” supposedly containing the proceedings of a meeting of Jewish conspirators, has long been debunked as a hoax fabricated in 1895 by minions of the Russian Czar. In many Muslim countries, however, the “Protocols” are widely believed-by illiterates and Ph.D.’s alike-to be a genuine account of Jewish plans to take over the world.
Other pervasive beliefs, Timmerman reports, include the notion that rabbis must sacrifice a Gentile at Passover and the claim that “not one stone in Jerusalem belongs to the Jews.” In Saudi schools, where terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden was taught, textbooks state that Jews are “the sons of monkeys and pigs.” In many of the maps produced in the Arab world, the state of Israel does not appear-its entire area is included as part of Palestine.
Timmerman also details how Muslim clerics-who in most Islamic nations are appointed by the government-often talk out of both sides of their mouths regarding terrorism. One Saudi cleric recently won praise in the West for condemning a terrorist bombing in his country. But this same cleric, far from being a voice for peace, had previously appeared on a telethon raising money for the families of suicide bombers.
One especially eye-opening truth Timmerman discusses is the historical connection between Nazism and the modern “Arab nationalist” movement. One influential Islamic leader, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was so obsessed with his hatred of Jews that he became a close friend of the Third Reich. Spending much of World War II in Germany, al-Husseini collaborated with the architects of the Holocaust, recruited Muslims to the SS, and served as a spokesman for Hitler on Arabic radio, telling his listeners, “Kill the Jews wherever you find them.”
After the collapse of Nazi Germany, Timmerman reports, al-Husseini was indicted for war crimes but fled to France and later to Egypt. Although living in exile, he continued in his role as unofficial leader of the Arab nationalist movement and became, not surprisingly, a fierce opponent of the state of Israel. Upon his death in 1974, he was succeeded by his nephew, disciple, and prot?g?, a young man who came to be known to the world as Yasser Arafat. As recently as last year, Arafat referred to al-Husseini as “our hero.”
Arafat, of course, is a major subject of Preachers of Hate. Timmerman shows that the Palestinian leader has no desire for peace, nor is peace possible under his watch. After signing the famous Oslo Accords of 1993, Arafat said in a speech at a mosque, “This agreement, I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Muhammed and the Quraish.”
His reference was to the Hudaibiya peace treaty made between Muhammed and an enemy tribe. Because Muhammed did not include the words “messenger of Allah” under his signature, his followers considered it an “inferior peace agreement” which they could break at will. Indeed, two years later, when they had grown stronger, Muhammed’s forces violated the treaty by slaughtering all the members of the Quraish. Arafat’s habit of comparing his agreements with Israel to the Hudaibiya treaty should put to rest the notion that he has any interest in peace, Timmerman says; to Arafat, “peace” means the destruction of Israel.
But such revelations garner little attention in the mainstream media, says Timmerman, a veteran reporter who has written for such publications as Time, Newsweek, and Reader’s Digest. For many media outlets, “a story about Jew-haters is not a story,” he laments. His frustration with the media establishment was among his reasons for writing Preachers of Hate.
Timmerman makes certain to emphasize that the widespread hatred he describes in his book does not apply only to Jews. Because of the close relationship between the United States and Israel and our shared heritage and institutions, this “anti-Semitism” carries over to Americans as well, as the September 11 attacks made all too clear. “When they hate Jews, they hate us,” Timmerman warns. “What begins with the Jews never ends with the Jews.”