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August 22, 2016

Middle East Press Review: July-December 2015

Anti-Semitism is widespread throughout the Arab and Muslim world, manifested in many segments of society. The Anti-Defamation League monitors and documents anti-Semitic cartoons and articles, which appear daily in the Arab media. This publication is the latest compilation of select anti-Semitic caricatures and themes, and includes examples from July-December 2015.

Newspapers across the Arab and Muslim world continue to feature anti-Semitic caricatures and themes, with stereotypical depictions of Jews that include big noses, black coats and hats. Many promote age-old global Jewish conspiracy theories, including control of the US and international governments, blood libel, the use of animal imagery – rodents, dogs, snakes, and octopuses – and Nazi analogies to portray Israel and Jews as sinister predators.

Filastin, August 2, 2015 (Gaza)

Filastin, August 2, 2015 (Gaza)

A number of current events themes are highlighted in this compilation, including:

  • Cartoons relating to the horrific Duma murder of Palestinian infant Ali Dawabsheh by Jewish extremists.
  • Cartoons accusing Jews of being behind global instability, including Jews depicted as responsible for the terrorism and genocide being perpetrated by ISIS.
  • Cartoons depicting the recent Palestinian violence in Israel – the so-called “knife Intifada” – with Israelis in stereotypical Jewish garb as victims of Palestinian stabbings.

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February 10, 2016

The Marrakesh Declaration

By Rabbi David Fox Sandmel
ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs

As a professional in the Jewish community who works on interfaith relations, I am often asked “why aren’t Muslims speaking out against terrorism and ISIS?” The answer is that, in fact, many Muslims have done so. Equally important is for religious leaders to speak out and address the root causes of extremism in their community, and find ways of discouraging terrorist activity, particularly among youth who are considered among the most susceptible populations. In this regard, one of the most hopeful initiatives, something that has not gotten much attention in the mainstream media, is the “Marrakesh Declaration,” released at the end of last month.

The “Marrakesh Declaration” is the product of a gathering of Muslim leaders from more than 100 countries around the world sponsored by the Moroccan government and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.  At the meeting, Muslim leaders heard several testimonies about the grave situation of various religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.

Marrakesh Declaration

At the end of the meeting, the Muslim scholars who gathered in Marrakesh released the “Marrakesh Declaration,” a brief statement that in which they:

  • Call upon Muslim scholars and intellectuals around the world to develop a jurisprudence of the concept of “citizenship” which is inclusive of diverse groups. Such jurisprudence shall be rooted in Islamic tradition and principles and mindful of global changes.
  • Urge Muslim educational institutions and authorities to conduct a courageous review of educational curricula that addresses honestly and effectively any material that instigates aggression and extremism, leads to war and chaos, and results in the destruction of our shared societies;
  • Call upon politicians and decision makers to take the political and legal steps necessary to establish a constitutional contractual relationship among its citizens, and to support all formulations and initiatives that aim to fortify relations and understanding among the various religious groups in the Muslim World;
  • Call upon the educated, artistic, and creative members of our societies, as well as organizations of civil society, to establish a broad movement for the just treatment of religious minorities in Muslim countries and to raise awareness as to their rights, and to work together to ensure the success of these efforts.
  • Call upon the various religious groups bound by the same national fabric to address their mutual state of selective amnesia that blocks memories of centuries of joint and shared living on the same land; we call upon them to rebuild the past by reviving this tradition of conviviality, and restoring our shared trust that has been eroded by extremists using acts of terror and aggression;
  • Call upon representatives of the various religions, sects and denominations to confront all forms of religious bigotry, vilification, and denigration of what people hold sacred, as well as all speech that promote hatred and bigotry; AND FINALLY,
  • AFFIRM that it is unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.

Lest anyone think that this is a departure from “traditional” Islamic teaching, the Marrakesh Declaration explicitly traces its ancestry to the Charter (or Constitution) of Medina.  According to Muslim tradition, this Charter was written by the prophet Muhammad in 622 C.E. in an effort to end political strife in the city; it guarantees autonomy and freedom of religion to the residence of Medina, including, explicitly, its Jewish population.  While the Charter is not a modern document and reflects the historical setting in which it was created, the principle of religious freedom is found in the Quran itself and other classic Islamic sources.

The threat of Muslim extremism is real, dangerous, and must be taken seriously; even though it represents a small minority of Muslims, we have witnessed its tragic consequences.  The vast majority of Muslims (and let us not forget that it is Muslims themselves who are most often the target of these extremists) reject the terrorists and their ideology.  The Marrakesh Declaration is an important, but certainly not the only, example of Muslims speaking unequivocally, from their own tradition, against extremism, terror, and the infringement of religious freedom.  It is a pity that this and other efforts have not garnered the attention they deserve.

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November 13, 2015

A Religious Ruling Forbidding the Killing of Jews Sparks Controversy

A  recent video featuring a Muslim religious leader issuing a ruling forbidding the killing of Jews has sparked controversy on social media. The video shows Jordanian Salafi Sheik Ali Al-Halabi giving a lesson to a group of students. One of the students says to the Sheik: “The Jews in Palestine – some say it is permissible to kill them under any circumstances.” The Sheik replies: “One who protects you, provides you with electricity and water, and transfers money to you; one for whom you work and whose money you earn – you will double-cross him, even if he were a Jew?! This sort of killing is permissible during confrontation, during a declared war, whereas when there’s mutual trust and you double-cross and kill him – this is not permissible.”

The student then asks if this also applies to armed soldiers walking in the street, to which the Sheik replies “The same answer. Let me ask you a question: ‘Does a gunman walking in the street kill every Muslim he sees?” The student replies “No.”

Another student asks the Sheik if it were true that they [Israelis/Jews] don’t attack unless attacked first? The Sheik answers that while he didn’t know, that is what “the brothers in Palestine informed us.” However, the Sheik adds, “this general ruling – one shouldn’t think we thus defend the detested Jews, but this is the reality. Otherwise, if they killed anyone they saw, no one would remain in Palestine.”

Headline: "A Salafi Sheik in Jordan forbids killing the Occupation's soldiers!"

Filastin newspaper (Gaza), November 3, 2015 Headline: “A Salafi Sheik in Jordan forbids killing the Occupation’s soldiers!”

Perhaps unsurprising, the Sheik’s comments sparked a wave of angry reactions on Facebook, where the Sheik was targeted with hateful posts including: “His face indicates he is of Jewish origin,” “This garbage, who refers to them as sheiks?,” “God’s curse upon you and your likes, it is not permissible to kill the Zionists because they transfer you money and food,” “I spit on sheiks, shave off your beard and make it a broom for the toilet,” “It is permissible to kill you, may God kill you and your likes”.

Following the angry reaction to his comments, Sheik Al-Halabi clarified his ruling, saying “The Jews are usurping occupiers, a double-crossing and treacherous people who are deceptive and cunning. They killed the messengers and the prophets … Jihad against the Jews is an obligatory one, incumbent upon every Muslim state and upon every Muslim who accepts Allah as his Lord and Islam as his religion.”

Another religious leader, Sheik Abu Himam, who was present at Al-Halabi’s lesson, also renounced the prohibition against killing Jews. In a November 7th video, Sheik Abu Himam says: “I emphasize and reiterate that it is permissible to kill the Jewish occupier, and that it is legitimate for our people in Palestine to defend [themselves] in every means and in every way which enables them to repel this enemy and kill them to the extent that they can.” He adds that “Our lofty and sublime Salafi method is known for its fidelity to those who believe and for being devoid of polytheism, atheism, and oppression, first and foremost of which are the descendants of apes and pigs, the Jews.”

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