Islam and Anti-Semitism: A Conflicting Set of Stories

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11 Nov 2013

Islam and Anti-Semitism: A Conflicting Set of Histories

History provides us with few disputes as entangled as Jewish-Muslim relations. Though it was not always such a pervasive problem, it has compiled into one of the most divisive, exclusive, and problematic debates of the current era. Countless scholars have attempted to interpret the Muslim outlook towards the Jewish people. Islamic anti-Semitism is one of the greatest oversimplified nuances of the modern Middle East and of Islamic theology. The mere mentioning of Islam in conjunction with anti-Semitism, can act as a prism through which passes widely varying opinions, histories, and myopias. It can be argued that it is a dire imperative that must be
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In his work Islam and Islamism Tibi Bassam agrees with Lewis that Judeophobia existed throughout the history of Islam, but was greatly modified in more recent times. He believes that the more genocidal form of anti-Semitism was a German creation and that Islamic form was much more harmless (prior to the twentieth century). Bassam states that the Islamic world did not see a more radical anti-Semitism until the 1930s (by Arab nationalists, not Islamists specifically per se). He does concede however, that the current form of Islamic anti-Semitism is a dangerous phenomenon. It should be noted that Bassam believes Islam is inherently free as a culture and faith of this hatred, but it “is a basic feature of contemporary Islamism.”

Another argument against true nature of Islamic Anti-Semitism comes from Bernard Lewis. Lewis contends that early Islamic Anti-Semitism was mostly harmless. He asserts that while Muslim populations have perpetuated derogatory Jewish stereotypes throughout much of the history of Islam, things did not escalate until more recent times. In comparison to anti-Semitism exacted by European Christians, Muslims lived not in fear of the Jews, but made a mockery of them. Lewis believes that Islamic anti-Semitism did not become aggravated until the 19th century. If this is the case, then were these

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