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Why is the “Arab street” struggling to condemn Hamas atrocities?

14 November 2023 Expertises   168259  

Hamid Zanaz

Whatever barbaric atrocities they commit against Israel, the Palestinian jihadists of Hamas remain heroes in the eyes of the Arab-Islamic Street. These fanatical and savage terrorists are seen as an army for the liberation of Palestine by the majority of people in the Arab world. They are seen as soldiers who “fight in the way of Allah: they kill, and they are killed”, because “Allah has bought the believers, their persons and their goods in exchange for Paradise” (Koran, verse 111 of sura At-Tawbah).
Victims of an irrational reading of reality, the overwhelming majority of Arab populations imagine that they are surrounded by Jews and their atheist accomplices who are constantly plotting against the Ummah, the nation of Islam. This plunges them into a veritable paranoia!

The ravages of this paranoid obsession with the “anti-Muslim plot” are such that the Muslim ego has been flattered by Hamas’s ferocious attacks on Israeli civilians. Why such complacency for acts of extreme barbarity? Because the Arab-Muslim street firmly believes in the hadith of “stones and trees”, attributed to the prophet Mohammed, which promises the faithful that at the end of time all Jews will be killed, that even “rocks and trees will say: ‘O Muslim, O servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him’!

This is the reason why Judeophobia has become a very popular Arab-Islamic sport: witness the torrents of hatred pouring out of social networks in the Arab world. And while some Arab countries have normalised their relations with the Jewish state, the overwhelming majority of their populations have never embraced this policy of rapprochement and peace with the Israelis.

Other examples: Arab television channels, almost all contaminated by the rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood, delighted in broadcasting the hostile and detestable behaviour of many young Arabs towards Israeli journalists who had come to cover the last football World Cup in Qatar. And in Morocco, a moderate country with the largest Jewish community in Arab lands, huge demonstrations were organised to protest against the normalisation of their country’s relations with Israel.

In Egypt, in the wake of Hamas barbarity against Israeli civilians, on 8 October a policeman fired his service weapon “blindly” at a group of Israeli tourists in Alexandria. Two of them were killed. Previously, last June, three Israeli soldiers had been killed by an Egyptian policeman who had crossed the Egyptian border illegally into the Negev desert.

In many parts of this Israel-obsessed Arab world, people ostentatiously apologise for even uttering the word “Jew”, as if it were a dirty word! “Y’houdi Hachak”, many Algerians and Tunisians say almost mechanically, meaning “Jew, may God preserve you from impurity”.

Hatred of the Jew is an integral part of Arab school curricula. The school creates in children a way of thinking characterised by religious fanaticism and intolerance towards non-Muslims, especially Jews, who are widely vilified in the Koran and the hadiths attributed to the prophet of Islam.

Then, in adulthood, the media take over to continue the brainwashing begun at school, from early childhood. Al Jazeera never ceases to praise the fanatics of Hamas and spreads the deadly ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Arab-Muslim world.

This “fascisation of the mind” has been so successful that, with the exception of a few courageous secular voices, neither the street nor the Arab press have been outraged by the savagery of the recent Hamas attacks. Worse still, in several countries, joy was ostensibly on display in the streets, as in Yemen and Gaza.

Throughout the Arab-Muslim world, the Jew is portrayed as a coloniser who usurped the Muslim land of Palestine, a desecrator of the al-Aqsa Mosque and a “hereditary enemy” of Islam and Muslims. With the argument that Allah himself warned his Messenger and Muslims of all times: “Neither the Jews nor the Christians will ever be satisfied with you, until you follow their religion” (Koran, Sura al-Baqarah). Or again: “O you who believe! Make not friends of the Jews and the Christians” (Qur’an, Sura al-Maidah).

This Judeophobia is clearly inscribed in Islamic religious texts. And even if it is obscured by the official discourse of contemporary Islamic societies, hatred of the Jew remains rooted in the Islamic psyche. So much so that, despite appearances and pretensions to tolerance and modernism – with a few secular exceptions that are increasingly marginalised and even persecuted – hatred of the Jew remains one of the most widely held beliefs in the Arab-Islamic world today!