Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis did not mince words during an Oct. 15 “Face The Nation” interview: “We cannot accept people from Gaza into this country as refugees.”
But it was DeSantis’s explanation why that has elicited near universal scorn: “Not all of them are Hamas, but they are all antisemitic.”
The interviewer, Margaret Brennan, immediately shot back, “I’m sure you know, all Arabs are semites. But how can you paint with such a broad brush to say 2.3 million people are antisemitic?”
What is the validity of Ms. Brennan’s claim that Palestinian Arabs are “semites” and thus axiomatically incapable of antisemitism? Moreover, did DeSantis “paint with such a broad brush” in his assessment that 100% of Gazans hate Jews?
Brennan chose to regurgitate a common, disingenuous misrepresentation that seeks to deny Arab Muslim Jew-hatred altogether. “Semites” in fact refers to a language, not an ethnic group. These languages include Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic. “Antisemitism” does not refer to hatred of a language group, but to Jew-hatred of any kind. Period. Clearly, Brennan either had no idea what she was talking about or she was being deliberately misleading.
Moreover, the numbers prove that DeSantis was largely correct. Sadly, voluminous data compiled by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) over the past decade has proved as much. The surveys classified “extreme antisemitism” as agreement with at least six of 11 antisemitic stereotypes. Employing this definition, it was proved that there is a pandemic of Muslim antisemitism. Extreme Muslim antisemitism is two to three times more common than among Christians, Hindus, Buddhists or those with no religious affiliation. The same endemic antisemitism is not confined to the Middle East. It is also found among Muslim populations in Western Europe and the United States. Indeed, a new poll by Cygnal shows that the majority of Muslim-Americans believe the Hamas assault on Israel was justified.
Nonetheless, it is true that the ADL’s 2014 survey showed that Muslim Jew-hatred is at its most intense in the Middle East and North Africa, reaching an “apogee” in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. The world’s 16 most antisemitic countries are all in the MENA region, where 74% to 93% of the overwhelmingly Muslim denizens of these nations exhibit extreme antisemitism: Judea-Samaria-Gaza (93%), Iraq (92%), Yemen (88%), Algeria (87%), Libya (87%), Tunisia (86%), Kuwait (82%), Bahrain (81%), Jordan (81%), Morocco (80%), Qatar (80%), the United Arab Emirates (80%), Lebanon (78%), Oman (76%), Egypt (75%) and Saudi Arabia (74%).
A 2011 face-to-face survey in Arabic that included over 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza and Judea-Samaria conducted by U.S. Democratic Party pollster Stanley Greenberg revealed even more disturbing antisemitic tendencies. It exposed violent sentiments clearly motivated by traditional Muslim antisemitic tropes described at great length in my book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism. Specifically, they are based in the canonical traditions of Islam’s prophet Muhammad, as well as in Quranic verses espousing Jew-hatred and jihad against Jews.
Hamas’s founding 1988 covenant reproduces these motifs with accurate citations from both the Quran and the hadith. Greenberg’s unique survey explored how Palestinian Muslims processed an annihilationist Jew-hating hadith included in the Hamas covenant (article 7), along with a modern call for the annihilation of Israel as a political entity by jihad (article 15). Not surprisingly, given over 13 centuries of such canonical Islamic religious incitement of Jew-hatred and jihad, 73% of Palestinians expressed obedience to the dictates of the genocidal hadith, while 80% agreed with the goal of destroying Israel via jihad.
Perhaps most tragic is the irrefutable fact that the combination of Jew-hatred and jihadism in the Hamas covenant mirrors what is still being taught by the most esteemed mainstream religious education institutions of both Sunni and Shiite Islam. Consider Sunni Islam’s Vatican, Al-Azhar University, and its current (since 2010) Grand Imam—the equivalent of the Pope—Ahmed al-Tayeb. In 2002, then-Grand Mufti of Egypt al-Tayeb supported suicide bombing “martyrdom” operations against Israeli civilians. During an interview that aired on Egypt’s Channel 1 on Oct. 25, 2013, Al-Tayeb—by then Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam—gave a brief explanation of the ongoing relevance of Quranic verse 5:82, which has been invoked “successfully” to inspire Muslim hatred of Jews since the advent of Islam:
A verse in the Quran explains the Muslims’ relations with the Jews. … This is an historical perspective, which has not changed to this day. See how we suffer today from global Zionism and Judaism. … Since the inception of Islam 1,400 years ago, we have been suffering from Jewish and Zionist interference in Muslim affairs. This is a cause of great distress for the Muslims. The Quran said it and history has proven it: “You shall find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers to be the Jews.”
Finally, Palestinian polling data obtained from face-to-face interviews of 1,270 adults just four months ago confirmed the public preference for Hamas over Fatah. Hamas polled 10% higher than Fatah on the question of “deserving to represent the people,” while Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was preferred as president by 23% more Palestinians than Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Viewed in this depressing overall context of rampant Muslim Jew-hatred, Ron DeSantis was guilty, at worst, of a small rounding error.