Islamist Anti-Semitism Isn’t Based in Islam or Anti-Zionism, but in Hating Jews

According to one interpretation, anti-Semitism in the Muslim world is something intrinsic to Islam itself, rooted in Mohammad’s interactions with Arabian Jewry and a constant feature of Middle Eastern history. Others would argue that it is merely a reaction to Israel’s existence or behavior (perhaps even a justified one). In The Anti-Semitic Origins of Islamist Violence, Evin Ismail presents a sophisticated alternative to these painfully simplistic explanations. Daniel Ben-Ami writes in his review:

Ismail argues that anti-Semitism has played a central part in the Islamist outlook since its inception with the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928. That is, it should be noted, twenty years before the founding of the state of Israel. So, seeing Islamist anti-Semitism as simply a reaction to Israel’s actions is not tenable.

Several factors contributed to the rise of Islamism and its anti-Semitism in particular. In the 1930s and early 1940s the Nazis promoted the Muslim Brotherhood as a counterweight to Britain—which then dominated Egypt—and France. Naturally the Nazis brought their poisonous anti-Semitic baggage with them. But even before the rise of the Nazis other pernicious European influences, most notably the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, were having an influence on sections of Egyptian society.

Later these ideas would blend with other extremist Islamic tendencies, including a hostility toward Shiite Muslims, giving rise to the ideologies of al-Qaeda and then Islamic State (IS):

Islamic State took this anti-Shiism a step further by linking it to their anti-Semitism. It developed the idea that Shiites were not really Muslims at all but—astonishingly—undercover Jews, as they reject the true teaching of Islam. This in turn, in the view of IS, justified its systematic killing of Shiites in Iraq.

This is perhaps the most surprising example of the paranoid conspiratorial anti-Semitism that is central to the Islamist worldview. For example, IS—like most other Islamists—believes that America is controlled by Jews and Israel. It has also referred to Kurdish troops as representing “Peshmergan Zionism.” In addition, IS has claimed that Sunni leaders, especially monarchs, are “apostate rulers” who act as “the slaves of the Jews and the Christians.” . . . Jews are, from this warped perspective, engaged in an evil conspiracy against the entire global Muslim community.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, Islamic State, Islamism, Muslim Brotherhood, Shiites

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security