Saudi lessons in Jew-hatred

What is taught in Saudi Arabia’s schools matters a lot, because the kingdom’s lavishly funded support for “Muslim” education – and Wahhabi indoctrination – abroad means that Saudi textbooks and the ideas they propagate are disseminated not only all over the Muslim world, but also among Muslim communities in Europe, the US and elsewhere. This is hardly a trifling matter given that estimates indicate that the Saudis may have been spending some $ 2 billion annually over more than two decades on their “educational” efforts.

In the wake of the terror attacks on 9/11, the Saudi export of Islamist fundamentalism began to attract some much-deserved scrutiny and criticism, and the Saudis found themselves confronted with demands to revise particularly offensive teachings. But a recent study indicates that, despite Saudi promises to address concerns about incitement in textbooks, little has changed in the decade since 9/11.

Part of the problem seems to be that Saudi officials – themselves a product of this education – can’t quite understand what they are supposed to change. Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and the author of the study on Saudi textbooks, recounts that the Saudi Justice Minister explained to her that the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” – a notorious forgery – are “a very old book here” that was also in his own father’s library.

Continued concern about Saudi textbooks and the dissemination of fundamentalist jihadi ideology is particularly warranted given the transformation of the Middle East in the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring”. The enormous popularity of Islamist parties and the unexpected electoral success of Salafi candidates in Egypt – who can count on “spiritual as well as material” support from Saudi Arabia – illustrates the potential reach of Saudi-sponsored “education” that is already teaching many millions of Muslim students to distrust non-Muslims and hate Jews.

A glimpse of the kind of lessons offered in Saudi textbooks is available in a recent MEMRI-report that provides translations of several pages from a twelfth-grade Saudi textbook entitled “Studies from the Muslim World.” The book includes a chapter on the Palestinian cause that teaches students every possible antisemitic lesson. Here are a few of the relevant passages from the MEMRI translation:

Whoever studies the nature of the conflict between the Muslims and the Jews understands an important fact, [namely that] this is a religious conflict, not a dispute about politics or nationality, or a conflict between races or tribes, or a fight over land or country, as some describe it. This is a deeply rooted enmity, a conflict between truth and falsehood, between monotheism and polytheism, between heresy and faith. The enmity between us and the Jews will not cease under any circumstances until one of two things [happens]: either they join our religion and become Muslims, or we abandon our religion, God forbid. [Page 91]

The noble Koran is the best source to acquaint us with the [Jews’] personality and psychological makeup. The expressions ‘Jews’ and ‘Children of Israel’ appear more than 63 times in the book of Allah, may He be exalted. They were the nation charged with ruling the earth, but Allah took their [role of] leadership away from them due to their corruption and destructiveness, and because they killed the prophets. The following are a few brief descriptions of some of their traits, as they appear in the noble Koran … [Pages 92-94, including 17 examples of supposed Jewish perfidy from the Koran.]

Zionism does not aspire to win over the friendship of others, for it does not want them to join it. Therefore, the Jews’ relations with the nations among which they live have been characterized by tension and instability, which caused the peoples to support one another against [the Jews], to molest them, to deal them bitter blows, and to expel them. Since the Jews have been in the Diaspora, they have not known peace with any nation because they have [always] striven to [perpetrate] fraud, deceit, and cunning. There is no better proof of this than the Muslims’ experience with them in Medina – [which caused] the Prophet to expel them and order to banish them from the Arabian Peninsula – and what happened to them in countries such as Germany, Poland, Spain, and elsewhere.

Throughout their history, the Jews have never attributed any importance to peace… believing it impossible to establish peace with other nations. They even believe that the nations around them must live in perpetual strife that will undermine their stability, so that they will be unable to fight [the Jews]. This may explain the Jews’ aspirations to spread destruction and corruption by various means, even in countries with which they claim to have what they call ‘peace agreements.’ [Page 106]

Jihad for the sake of Allah is the only path to liberating Palestine. Only through jihad did the Muslims conquer Jerusalem, and only through jihad did the Crusaders leave Palestine. Likewise, only through jihad will the Jews leave Palestine. [Page 112]

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly last September, President Obama rightly pointed out that “Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them.” But what Israel’s children know, few adults outside Israel know, because the mainstream media don’t report much on the rampant antisemitism that is an everyday feature of Arab and Muslim education, entertainment and political discourse.

Instead, much ink – real and virtual – is wasted on lecturing Israel about the need to take “risks” for peace. But the people doing the lecturing often seem to know and care little about the risks Israel is facing in a region where every year millions of young minds are poisoned with lessons designed to teach them that Jews deserve to be despised and hated.

* * *

Cross-posted from my JPost blog.


I’ve just read the recently published CST report on “Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2010.” (pdf here) On page 45, the report notes instances of “Antisemitism in UK-Saudi school texts”:

BBC’s Panorama revealed the use of Saudi Arabian antisemitic text books within a network of over 40 British Saudi-linked part-time educational establishments, attended by approximately 5,000 Muslim children. (68) This included schoolchildren being asked to list the “reprehensible qualities” of Jews and statements that Jews are “cursed by G-d” and resemble “monkeys and pigs”. Fifteen-year-olds were taught: “Zionists want to establish world domination for Jews by inciting world conflict.”

7 responses to “Saudi lessons in Jew-hatred

  1. Pingback: Who’s defaming Islam? | The Warped Mirror

  2. Petra,

    I might suggest that you read Elie Kedourie’s book, Islam in the Modern World and Other Studies. In particular, take a look at Chapter 5 of that book, which details a discussion between in the autumn of 1937, between Colonel H.R.P. Dickson and Ibn Saud. It is jaw dropping, dripping in hatred for Jews. Kedourie quotes the entire transcript of what appears in the UK Foreign Office file. Among other things, Dickson quotes Ibn Saud saying:

    “Our hatred for the Jews dates from God’s condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa [Jesus Christ], and their subsequent rejection later of His chosen Prophet. It is beyond our understanding how your Government, representing the first Christian power in the world today, can wish to assist and reward these very same Jews who maltreated your Isa [Jesus].”

    I am not sure if this is too long for a post, but here is the complete – I hope it comes out; if not, I can email it to you – Foreign Office report:

    Text of Foreign Office file 371/20822 E7201/22/31

    His Majesty early on turned to the subject obviously close to his heart, namely the Palestine tangle, and for close on an hour and a half delivered himself as follows. He spoke for the most part in low earnest voice as though his words were not intended for his Counsellors sitting round and he continually kept placing his hand on my arm as though to emphasize his meaning.

    (Here I shall use the King’s words as near as possible using the first person plural for the most part).

    ‘We are aware 0 Dickson that you are no longer a Government Official, but as you have held high and honourable post under His Majesty’s Government for many years, we know also that you are trusted by your Government, and so not only do we make you doubly welcome, but we feel we can open our heart to you, and we are glad that you have been able to visit us in our capital.

    ‘We are most anxious that the British Government should send us every eight months or so an experienced officer whom they trust, or equally well an ex-official like yourself, who can listen personally to what we have on our minds, and what troubles our hearts, for times are deeply serious and full of danger these days. We feel that personal contact of such a nature will be far more efficacious, than any amount of letter writing or telegraph representations. The latter though well enough in themselves must nearly always fail to convey the full meaning of our thoughts and anxieties, and if anything will tend rather to breed misunderstanding and misconception than remove same. But such person, if and when he is sent us must be thoroughly conversant with our language (Arabic), and must understand the wider meaning of our beautiful tongue which is so full of parable and expressive phrase. It is no use sending a man who has to listen to what we have to say through the medium of an interpreter. The person sent should know and understand our Arab psychology, be conversant if possible with our Arabian manners and customs, and above all should be acquainted with our Arab pride and our hopes, and have read something of God’s Holy Word, as vouchsafed to us in our Blessed Qur’an.

    Dickson when will your London Government realize that we Arabs by our nature can be bought body and soul by an act of kindness, and vice versa become implacable enemies for all time of those who treat us harshly or deal unjustly with us.

    ‘Today we and our subjects are deeply troubled over this Palestine question, and the cause of our disquiet and anxiety is the strange attitude of your British Government, and the still more strange hypnotic influence which the Jews, a race accursed by God according to His Holy Book, and destined to final destruction and eternal damnation hereafter, appear to wield over them and the English people generally.

    ‘God’s Holy Book (the Qur’an) contains God’s own word and divine ordinance, and we commend to His Majesty’s Government to read and carefully peruse that portion which deals with the Jews and especially what is to be their fate in the end. For God’s words are unalterable and must be.

    ‘We Arabs believe implicitly in God’s revealed word and we know that God is faithful. We care for nothing else in this world but our belief in the One God, His Prophet and our Honour, everything else matters nothing at all, not even death, nor are we afraid of hardship, hunger, lack of this worlds goods etc, etc. and we are quite content to eat camel’s meat and dates to the end of our days, provided we hold to the above three things.

    ‘Our hatred for the Jews dates from God’s condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus Christ), and their subsequent rejection later of His chosen Prophet. It is beyond our understanding how your Government, representing the first Christian power in the world today, can wish to assist and reward these very same Jews who maltreated your Isa (Jesus).’

    ‘We Arabs have been the traditional friends of Great Britain for many years, and I, Bin Sa’ud, in particular have been your Government’s firm friend all my life, what madness then is this which is leading on your Government to destroy this friendship of centuries, all for the sake of an accursed and stiff necked race which has always bitten the hand of everyone who has helped it since the world began.

    ‘It were far far preferable from every point of view if Great Britain were to make Palestine a British Possession and rule it for the next 100 years, rather than to partition it in the way they propose: such partition cannot possibly solve the difficulty but must only perpetuate it and lead to war and misery. Some people seem to think that I, Bin Sa’ud, have an eye on Palestine myself, and would like to benefit by the disturbed state of affairs existing there, to step in and offer to take it over myself. That certainly would be a solution, but God forbid that this should happen, for I have enough and to Spare as it is.

    ‘Today I am tho ‘Imam’ or ‘Spiritual Leader’ as well as the Temporal Ruler of the greater part of Arabia. I also have not a little influence in all the great Muslim countries of tho world. I am being placed in tho most difficult and most invidious of all positions by the British Government my friends. On the one hand I am being appealed to by means of myriads of letters and telegrams by day and night from all quarters of the Muslim world to step in and save Palestine for the Arabs. I am even urged by my own people of Najd, and all good Muslims in the outer world to break with the English and save Palestine for its people by war. On the other hand I see that it would be utterly futile to break with my old friends the English, for to do so would bring untold woe on the world, and would be to play right into the hands of the Jews, the enemies of Arabia as well as of England.

    ‘I definitely shall not wage war against you English and I have told my people this, because I am the only man among them who can see far ahead and I know that by so doing I should lose the one potential ally I now have. For are not Italy, Germany and Turkey (especially the latter) like ravening wolves today seeking whom they may devour. They are all flirting with me at the present moment, but I know they will wish to devour me later. A friendly England will, I believe, always prevent them from accomplishing their ends. Hence though as a Muslim I have no particular love for any Christian European nation, political interest demands that I keep in with the best of them, that is England.

    ‘The difficulty is my Arabs and the Ikhwan tribes of Najd-Over this Palestine business their senses are only in their eyes, and they cannot see one cubit ahead. They even now blame me for wavering and obeying the orders of the English, and yet your Government should remember that I am the Arabs’ religious leader and so am the interpreter of the scriptures. God’s word to them cannot be got round.

    ‘Verily the word of God teaches us, and we implicitly believe this 0 Dickson, that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty. What more then can a Muslim want in this hard world, and this is what my people are repeatedly reminding me of? Most assuredly your Government is placing me in the same dilemma that they did in 1929-30 which ended in the Ikhwan going out in rebellion against me.

    ‘The Jews are of course your enemies as well as ours though they are cleverly making use of you now. Later your Government will see and feel their teeth. For the present they (the Jews) prefer biding their time. Perhaps your Government does not know that the Jews contemplate as their final aim not only the seizure of all Palestine but the land south of it as far as Medina. Eastward also they hope some day to extend to the Persian Gulf. They cozen certain imperialistic-minded Englishmen with stories of how a strong Jewish and Pro-British State stretching from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf will safeguard England’s communications with the East, saying that the Arabs are England’s enemies and will always be so. At the same time they play on the minds of tho sentimental British masses, by telling them that the Old Testament Prophets foretold how they, the Jews, would eventually return to their Promised Land, or again that they, the persecuted and wandering Bani Israel, should not be denied a small place in the world where to lay their weary heads. Now, a Dickson, would the people of Wales like it if you English suddenly gave the Jews their country? But no, it is easier to give away other peoples countries and not so dangerous.

    ‘That the Jews of Palestine are even now straining every nerve to cause a permanent split between the English people and the Arabs can be proved to the hilt by the recent murders of officials in Palestine. It is as clear as daylight to me that the Godless Arab gunmen, hired from abroad, who committed those vile deeds were hired and paid for by Jewish money. We state this to be an absolute fact, for did not the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem swear to us in the ‘Haram’ of Mecca by the Holy Kaaba that he would never resort to any but constitutional methods in opposing the Zionist machinations in Palestine? And I believe him even today.

    ‘What we fear so greatly and what Great Britain must not allow to come to pass is the turning of the Arabs of Arabia and neighbouring Arab countries into enemies of England. Once this happens then an irreparable crime will have been committed, for, as we said above, the Arabs will never forget an injury, and will bide their opportunity to take revenge for a hundred years if need be. Enemies of England would not be slow to take advantage of this, and an England in difficulties, or engaged elsewhere in war, would then be the signal for the Arabs to act.

    ‘The very thought of the above happening is hateful to me Abdul Aziz, yet be assured that Partition in Palestine will bring this about in spite of all your misdirected efforts. And after all I cannot help you forever as I cannot live more than a few years more. I repeat then that the only solution that I can see is for your Government to rule Palestine herself. The Zionists of course will not like this, but their views must not be asked. The Arabs will agree to this solution and those who do not must be made to agree by such people as myself.

    ‘The main thing at all costs is to prevent the Jews from having an independent state of their own sliced out of Arab territory with no one to guide their future acts and policy. For from such will come a perpetual struggle with the Arabs living round them. Firstly, because the Jews are determined to expand, will intrigue from the very beginning, and not rest till they have created discord and enmity between Great Britain and us Arabs, out of which they will hope to benefit. Secondly, they, having the money, will create a highly effective though perhaps small mechanized Army and Air Force, which they will assuredly use one day for aggressive purposes against tho Arabs, seeing that their aim is the whole of Palestine, Trans-jordan and their old stronghold Medina-the land they went to when driven out of Palestine and dispersed after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.

    ‘On top of this your Government must at once further restrict all further immigration of Jews into Palestine leaving alone all those already there but allowing no more to come in.’

    I here took advantage of a pause in the King’s rather forcible harangue to try and explain His Majesty’s Government’s point of view on the lines suggested by Rendel when I saw him recently in London. But before I had gone very far the King in vigorous fashion checked and rather overwhelmed me with the words, ‘By God, your Government has no point of view, except the willful committing of an injustice. Every God-fearing man be he Muslim or Christian knows that it cannot be right to do a wrong, however cleverly the committing may be served up to the people. If I, an ignorant Badawin Arab of Arabia can see, as clearly as I see the sun rise, that the proposed partition of Palestine is wicked and wrong in God’s sight, surely the more clever Western politicians, if they fear God at all, can see this also. Thank God I believe in God and his Oneness, and I know that it is this very belief of mine that makes me see things as clearly as I do. I am as firmly convinced that I am right, and that God has opened my eyes to the right, as I believe that God will punish me if I lie to him. Therefore there is no other side to this question except bargaining with Satan.

    • Absolutely remarkable! So it’s a time-“honored” Saudi tradition to insist that the Quran curses the Jews and that’s it. The problem is no Western liberal will ever believe that this is plainly what the Saudis have believed for a very long time — and what they are now spreading all over the Muslim world. I’ve just updated the post with a quote from the recently published (British) CST report on antisemitic discourse, and it looks like texts similar to the ones I’m quoting are also used in the UK.
      Thanks for posting the document here, it really provides a most interesting historical context.

  3. Kedourie interprets Arab attitudes towards what was then Mandate Palestine in two parts. On the one hand, they certainly believe the nonsense they espouse. On the other hand, they have less to do with the policy of what were then a handful of very weak states than meets the eye. He notes that the leaders of these states, e.g. Ibn Saud, had all too much on their plate – i.e. day to day survival – to care all that much about brethren subjected to Jewish political efforts. Yet, the British came to believe the rhetoric was primary, which, as Kedourie shows in his always brilliant analysis, effectively caused the British to lose control of affairs, most particularly regarding the Arab uprising of the 1930’s in Mandate Palestine.

    There is something to that today, I should add. Leaders of weak states rail about Israel – and likely believe their rhetoric. But, they want most of all to survive.

    However, the above quoted comments caught Kedourie’s eyes pretty much as you saw it.

    • Re. your point on leaders railing about Israel, I think the question now is if there is a difference between the Islamists and the old nationalist guard of the Mubaraks etc. I tend to think there is: e.g. Mubarak saw the anti-Israel rhetoric that flourished in Egypt as harmless occuaptional therapy for the frustrated masses; by contrast, the Islamists see it as a crucial part of their identity.

      • Hi Petra,

        I think you have a good point. Kedourie’s point was about the leaders. And note, he did not deny that the leaders believed their rhetoric. His point, and it was about the 1930’s, is that their beliefs about Jews were not decisive in their political actions.

        In his book, he notes that the British came to believe that they needed the assistance of the Arabs to quiet down the uprising in Mandate Palestine. They bought into the rhetoric of the Arabs when, in fact, what the Arabs were doing was attempting to undermine the British, etc., to enhance their own positions. As a result, the British lost control of the situation which, happily, worked to the advantage, eventually, of the Israelis. At the time, it worked to make the British look weak, needing the help of Arabs to rule Mandate Palestine.

        We have seen more or less the same thing today with the US government thinking it needs the goodwill of the Arabs – hence, to take their rhetoric at face value – in their efforts to quiet down the Arab Israeli dispute. I think Kedourie, were he alive, would say that the US is making a terrible mistake and that the Arab states and people, notwithstanding the sincerity of their hatred of Israel, are only encouraged to keep the pot boiling rather than try to settle the dispute.

        I have no idea what Mubarak believes. I would surmise that he holds the very prejudices and beliefs which are part and parcel of his upbringing. And, part of his upbringing revolved around hatred of Jews and Israel. That was the case, by and large, for most Egyptians. In fact, he would be rather unusual if he did not hold such prejudices and beliefs. At the same time, he wanted to rule a country, which meant getting along with Israel. My bet is that is about as far as his tolerance went and that were he to have perceived that his fortunes would be better without befriending Israel to maintain relations with the US, he would have turned his policy on a dime.

        On the other hand – and here I agree fully with you -, the Islamists really do mean what they say. Otherwise, they would not, as Hamas has done, made it a point of honor to refuse to abide by the demands of the various world powers to recognize your country and accept the various agreements reached. That shows a sincerity in conviction – and fanaticism – which is not similar to the world described by Kedourie who, unfortunately, died too early to offer his analysis of our world.

        Of course, he was a conservative. Unfortunately, most of the first rate scholarship on that part of the world comes from conservatives. I suppose we can make the exception of Maxime Rodinson, a Marxist scholar who, while he had little kind to say about your country (until 1967, that is), but who also wrote, to my reading thus far, the best book ever about Mohammad.

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