For many, it is instinctive to automatically associate Jews in general with those who support the state of Israel, along with the crimes it continues to commit against Palestinians. What is not so widely known is the fact that the sternest critics of Zionism have often been Jews themselves. In fact, there exists today a large Jewish group (although a minority) who firmly believe the state of Israel and the deeds of Zionists completely oppose and are contradictory to the true essence of their faith.Amid the escalating crisis in Palestine, with the recent war on Gaza in particular, it is no surprise that Muslims around the world have become extremely sensitive to the grave injustices being perpetrated on our watch. Feelings of grief and frustration are natural and expected; however, what is not warranted is the widespread anti-Semitic attitude we see displayed as a result.
Anti-Semitism – traditionally defined as hostility or prejudice towards Jews and Judaism – is one of the oldest hatreds in all of human history. In light of the current political climate, the crucial factor that many of us forget is that Islam is a religion that opposes all forms of bigotry, racism, and hatred. As Imam Ali (peace be upon him) wrote in his famous epistle to Malik al-Ashtar, “people are of two types: either your brothers in faith or your equals in humanity.” There is no justification in Islam for denouncing or opposing any human being based on his/her religion or ethnicity. As Muslims, we must therefore set ourselves apart from such biases and narrow-mindedness, despite what social or political circumstances may surround us. Yet unfortunately, this is typically not the case.
One must understand that the problem lies not with the Jews or Judaism, but with Zionism. There is a serious need for a clear distinction to be made between the system of Zionism and the religion of Judaism. The core of Zionism is based on the Biblical myth that suggests the Jewish people have a God-given right to the land of Palestine, and hence the justification of their ethnic cleansing that drove millions of Palestinians away from their home, only to be replaced by Israel.
Judaism on the other hand is a respectable Abrahamic religion with which Islam shares the acknowledgement of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and the holy book Torah. It must thus be said – vociferously and unequivocally – that criticism of Israel and its atrocious policies is not anti-Jewish propaganda, but simply the condemnation of a state that has evolved on account of the Zionist regime. Exposing Zionist mythology does not equal condemning the Jewish people but is rather to help resolve a conflict that has, through lies and destruction, affected all Jews and Muslims.
Moreover, we have failed to realize that increasing the already mounting Muslim-Jewish tension does nothing to relieve Palestinians of their suffering. In fact, it is the upsurge of such anti-Jewish conduct that has further hardened attitudes to the appalling injustice and brutality meted out to the people of Palestine.
For many, it is instinctive to automatically associate Jews in general with those who support the state of Israel, along with the crimes it continues to commit against Palestinians. What is not so widely known is the fact that the sternest critics of Zionism have often been Jews themselves. In fact, there exists today a large Jewish group (although a minority) who firmly believe the state of Israel and the deeds of Zionists completely oppose and are contradictory to the true essence of their faith. They bring forth the truth that Zionism is a “foreign growth in the body of the Jewish people”, their “greatest misfortune”, and a creed whose salvation lies in the possession of another’s land.
The Neturei Karta, one such Jewish group which acknowledges Zionist terrorism, has stated in its support for the people of Palestine, “We seek to live in the land of Palestine as anti-Zionist Jews, to reside as loyal and peaceful Palestinian citizens in peace and harmony with our Muslim Brethren, just as our ancestors lived in Palestine for centuries before the usurpations of this tragic century.” More information about the group can found at nkusa.org.
So rather than cultivating a destructive environment of hostility and stigmatization between Jews and Muslims, we should be uniting in our protests against Israel’s oppressive rule with these true followers of Judaism. Not only will this aid in eradicating anti-Semitism, it will also bring two important religious communities to live together upholding mutual values. As long as these values are based on justice and equality, there is no reason for hatred to be directed towards Jews, nor for the entire Jewish people to be held responsible for the barbaric actions of the Zionists.