Prof. Moshe Maoz
Former Academic Director
"Muslim Attitudes toward Jews and Israel"
The aim of this study is a comparative analysis of Muslim attitudes toward Jews and Israel during the last 60 years. This, vis-à-vis the recently emerging thesis by scholars and writers that Islam — not merely radical Islam – is essentially anti-Semitic from its orgins, and that Muslims have striven to fight Jews and eliminate the Jewish State, Israel.
This study will first outline, and examine in brief, Muslim-Jewish relations from the emergence of Islam until the appearance of the Zionist-Jewish movement in Palestine. It will be followed by a thorough discussion of Muslim attitudes towards Jews, Zionists and Israel. This will include a comparison between various Muslim countries, communities and groups, as well as different periods in the Middle East and beyond. Alongside, religious motives, political, cultural and economic factors, will also be considered in this discussion, in addition to Jewish, Zionist and Israeli inputs.
The pre-supposition of this study is that Islam and many, if not most Muslims, have not been essentially anti-Semitic. For centuries their attitudes towards Jews was ambivalent: contempt and antagonism, alongside tolerance and cooperation. But following the emergence of Zionism, the creation of Israel and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, there has been a gradual growth in Muslim animosity to Jews and certainly to Zionism and Israel. Among Muslim radical groups and nationalist regimes, there has developed a new form of anti-Semitism driving from traditional Christian anti-Semitism and selective passages in the Quran and Hadith. Yet, among large sections of Muslims, including political regimes, distinction was made between Jews and Judaism, Zionism and Israel. And following Israel’s political agreements with Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians, a growing number of regimes and groups in Muslim and Arab countries have developed ambivalent attitudes towards Israel: co-existence and cooperation alongside antagonism and opposition to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.