Judeophobia - History and analysis of Antisemitism, Jew-Hate and anti-"Zionism"
Chapter 7: Persecution of the Jews Under Islam
Previous: Chapter 6: Christian European Persecution of Jews in Medieval Europe: III- Myths- Well Poisoning, Blood Libels and Desecration of the Host See also - Anti-Semitism
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You may be wondering whether this Medieval “valley of tears” discussed in previous chapters had a parallel in the Islamic world, and whether Christian Judeophobia was equally rampant within the two main branches of Christianity, Catholic and Protestant.
Islam and Protestantism are similar in that both sought the validation of the Jews, and became Judeophobic out of frustration when they were rejected.
But unlike Christianity, Islam did not emerge out of Judaism. Its founder was not Jewish, and it did not claim to be the realization of the promises of the prophets. Therefore its encounter with Jewry was far less tense. Jews in the Islamic world seldom suffered the tortures, expulsions and burning at the stake that typified Jewish life under medieval Christian rule. However, their life under Islam was usually tainted with degradation and insecurity.
In 7th century Medina, at the time of the beginnings of Islam, there lived a Jewish population from whom Mohammed learned many practices of his new religion (to pray in the direction of Jerusalem, which was eventually changed to Mecca; dietary laws; the Day of Atonement which was later replaced by the fast of Ramadan). But when Mohammed failed to convince the Jews to accept him as a new Moses, he turned against them. His angry reaction was recorded in the Koran, giving millions of Muslims throughout history divinely based antipathy to the Jews.
The Pact of Umar of 720 was the Muslim legal code which prescribed the treatment of Dhimmis, or non-Muslim monotheists. The Dhimmis were required to acknowledge their subservient position to Muslims - they must not manifest their religion publicly, they must rise from their seats if Muslims wish to sit, avoid riding horses, wear different clothes. During the 11th century, the Caliph Hakim of Egypt ordered Jews to wear balls weighing five pounds around their necks, to commemorate the calf’s head which their ancestors had worshipped. Yemen was the only Muslim country with a Jewish minority, that was never ruled by a European power. In 1679 nearly all Yemenite Jews were expelled from their cities and villages. The synagogue of San’a, the capital, was converted into a mosque which still exists and is called “the Mosque of the Expulsion”). Until their departure from Yemen in 1948, all Jews were compelled to dress like beggars, and Jewish children were forced to convert to Islam when their fathers died.
When the Turks occupied Yemen (1872) they asked an assembly of Muslim leaders to stop Muslim children throwing stones at Jews. The answer was that the practice was an old religious custom called “Ada,” and could not be forbidden.
In 1840 a blood libel in Damascus introduced the myth into the Arab world. Only after international protest were the Jews who survived their tortures released. But the libel became popular among Muslims, who often attacked the Jews (mostly in Egypt and Syria) for drinking Muslim blood. The present Minister of Defense of Syria, Mustafa Tlas, is the author of “The Matza of Zion,” a book in which he documents the blood libel. The pamphlet was published in 1983 (!) and distributed to all delegates at the United Nations.
Next: Chapter 8: Judeophobia ('anti-Semitism') in the Reformation
Start- Judeophobia - A History and Analysis of Jew Hate or so-called Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism
These pages are adapted by the kind permission of Dr. Gustavo Perednik.They are based on a twelve-lecture Internet course prepared for "The Jewish University in Cyberspace." During 2000 and 2001, the book by Gustavo Perednik "Judeophobia" was published in Spanish. This course summarizes the core ideas of the book. It presents a comprehensive and unique analysis of the development of Jew hate (Judeophobia or anti-Semitism) throughout history. It tries to answer the question "why the Jews?" - why have Jews been particularly singled out for ethnic, racial and religious persecution, and it traces the relationship between anti-Zionism and racist Judeophobia or so-called anti-Semitism.
Zionism and Israel Information Center is grateful to Dr. Perednik for his permission to popularize his works.
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