Saudi Media: Time To End Depiction Of Jews As Satan
TEL AVIV – Saudi Arabia is continuing its campaign to combat rabid anti-Semitism in the Kingdom with more articles being published in the government press slamming Arab and Muslim societies for their blind hatred of Jews and insisting that Arab nations would do well to learn from the success of world Jewry.
Earlier this month, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that this dramatic change in attitude is part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to coax public opinion into accepting the strengthening of relations between the Gulf state and Israel.
Since then, more articles have been published and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) lambasting the widespread use of archaic tropes that demonize Jews, such as the claim that Jews are the “human embodiment of Satan.” The writers further assert that changing the discourse surrounding Jews will contribute to curbing Islamic terror.
Writing in the Riyadh-based Al Jazirah, influential columnist Yasser Hijazi called on the Arab world to take an active role in what he termed the fight against “Jewphobia.”
Hijazi explained that he was raised to believe that Jews “possess all evil human traits, and were created to be depraved, evil, lying, treacherous, deceiving, and to do anything that can harm humans in general, and Arab Muslims in particular.”
At some point in his life, Hijazi noticed that the Jews were simply “the scapegoats for all humanity.”
While Hijazi outlines in no uncertain terms his animosity towards Israel, he nonetheless writes that there are Israelis and Jews – and Jewish institutions – who stand for Palestinian rights. On the other hand, claims Hijazi, there is not a single Arab who “absolves the Jews,” who realizes that the Jews are “like any other people – of all the inhumanly negative titles that have been applied to them, and no people on earth can be accused of what the Jews are accused of.”
“Who openly demands to treat the Jews like all other people, some of whom are good and some bad? Is there any Arab Islamic institution that defends Jews – with all their various sects and ethnic backgrounds – and works to end incitement against them and their marginalization due to their image as human embodiments of Satan?”
“We must eradicate the remnants of racism and religious ethnic struggles embedded in our cultural, religious, and institutional discourse,” Hijazi concludes.
In another article published on August 6, Hijazi asserts that eliminating anti-Semitic discourse is a step towards drying up the sources of terrorism as well as Western arguments against Islam:
Just as we oppose the discourse of [Donald] Trump and Western and European racists like him, when they attribute terrorism to all Arab Muslims due to the actions of a minority of our people, thus we cannot attribute despicable traits to all members of [other] religions merely due to the existence of hostility and a struggle with some of them, or even with most of them, who deserve to face judgment before international criminal courts, such as the prime minister of Israel and his defense minister. Netanyahu does not represent Judaism … any more than [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi represents Islam.
In his column in the Al-Riyadh daily last month, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Matroudi called on the Arab world to rid itself of its hostility and to learn from the remarkable history of the Jewish people.
Writing that despite the world’s efforts to banish them to a “dark tunnel,” the Jewish nation has “remained alive and alert, and has continued to build its future, and its sons have reached the top of the pyramid in science, philosophy, and economics.”
Commenting on the revival of the nearly extinct Hebrew language, Al-Matroudi says: “This is a nation that nearly went extinct because its language went extinct, but nevertheless [managed to] preserve its heritage, values, and ideals.”
The Jews, asserts Al-Matroudi, are “astonishing” in that they have “shaped global culture.” Yet instead of learning from them, the Arab world is threatened by them.
The situation of the Jewish nation shames us more than [that of] any other nation. We ignore the fact that it lives well and advances, and that it participates in shaping global culture. Among ourselves, we talk about it, preoccupied with warning about its deeds, and about the evil and venom that it sows in global thought. And this is the habit of cowards, and their way of dealing with those who disagree with them everywhere. …
How have the Jews – when the world schemes against them – succeeded in extricating themselves from isolation and transforming themselves into a nation that [both] shames us the most and impacts us the most?
Saudi columnist Saham Al-Qahtani called on Muslim nations to stop applying the language of the Quran – which was written in a very different era – to today’s world. The Quranic descriptions of Jews – as “killers of prophets, infidels, warmongers, and usurers” is no longer relevant.
The writer further called on Muslim nations to purge themselves of the “cultural heritage” that associates every Jew is being part of a plot.”
Arabs often believe, says Al-Qahtani, that “behind every disaster in Arab history there are hidden Jewish hands!”
In fact, he asserts, “The chief enemy of Arabs is Arabs.”
The thaw in Saudi-Israeli relations is primarily the result of the U.S.-led nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the world powers. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are apprehensive about the deal.
Last month, Dr. Anwar Eshki, a retired Saudi general, sparked outrage by heading a delegation of academics and businessmen on a visit to Israel. Both Eshki and the Saudi royal family said the visit was not sanctioned by the kingdom.
The delegation is said to have met in Jerusalem with Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold and other ministry officials, such as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai.
Eshki and his team also reportedly held a meeting north of Jerusalem near Ramallah with several Knesset members from the opposition. One of the goals was to encourage dialogue on the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative that would see normalization between Israel and the Arab states if a peace deal is signed with the Palestinians.
In April, Breitbart Jerusalem reported Eshki’s claim that Saudi Arabia will open an embassy in Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts the Arab Peace Initiative.