By Dexter Van Zile/JNS.org
Mustafa Abu Sway is a Muslim supremacist. He believes that Muslims should wield political power over Jews and Christians in the Holy Land and in the rest of the Middle East. He also thinks Israel should disappear because the existence of a Jewish state is a theological impossibility under Islam. Abu Sway also asserts that Palestinian leaders have “never” taught children to hate, when in fact, they have and have done it a lot.
Despite his supremacist views and misleading testimony, Abu Sway will be speaking at Elmhurst College, a small liberal arts school affiliated with the United Church of Christ located outside of Chicago. His appearance at the college—scheduled for Friday, April 15—will give students and faculty an opportunity to show just how committed they are to honest and robust interfaith dialogue.
Abu Sway, a Palestinian Muslim who lives in Jerusalem, has been making the rounds for a long time. In 1990, he spoke at a peace conference organized by the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts. According to James Thrall, who covered the event for the church, Abu Sway called “for a vast Islamic state in the Middle East ruling Muslilm, Jew, and Christian.” According to Thrall, Abu Sway assured his audience that if a Muslim is “truly” following the Koran, “he would have to be just to the Jew, and to the Christian and all people.”
Thrall reported that Abu Sway was unable convince the Jewish participant at the peace conference, Yehezkel Landau from Religious Zionists for Strength and Peace, of the need for Jews to abandon their sovereign state, but that didn’t stop the Muslim scholar from “trying to convince his friend that total Islamic rule over the Holy Land and most of the Middle East is the answer to the divisions between Arabs and Jews.”
This is Muslim supremacism, plain and simple. And as shocking as it may sound, it’s an argument that Abu Sway made at least two more times in the following years. In 1991, he told Israeli journalist Yossi Klein Halevi, “Theologically, there is no possibility of accepting [a] Jewish state. But Jews should trust Islam. They will be treated justly in an Islamic state, because they’ll be under the protection of Allah.” (Apparently, Islamic State has not been reading the Koran.)
There’s more. Writing for Books and Culture, which is published by Christianity Today, Christian scholar Gerald McDermott reported in 2002 that at an interfaith conference in Jerusalem, “Mustafa Abu Sway remarked, to audible gasps from Jews in the audience, that he wished the state of Israel ‘would disappear.’”
Abu Sway has made himself perfectly clear. He wants Israel to go away and he wants Islamic theocracy to be imposed on Christians and Jews in the Middle East. He wants them to live as second-class citizens, having to rely on their Muslim neighbors to provide for their safety and well-being.
The scholar has also downplayed the hostility broadcast by speakers at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which has been the scene of antisemitic incitement for years. In 2015, he told an interviewer at Duke University that the narrative coming from the pulpit has been “decent” and “moderate.” If this is true, then calling for the murder of Israelis is tolerable in Abu Sway’s worldview.
Finally, at a recent Christian peacemaking conference held in Beit Jala, Abu Sway said in a video interview, “We never, we never, I can tell you we never taught our kids to hate.” If this is true, then those videos we see of kids being encouraged to attack and hate Israeli Jews on Palestinian television that we see on the websites of Palestinian Media Watch and the Middle East Media Research Institute are some sort of Zionist fabrication.
If Elmhurst students and faculty give Abu Sway a pass and fail to confront him over his misleading statements and commitment to Muslim supremacism, the school will have failed in its educational mission. But if they ask Abu Sway the tough questions he deserves, then the school will demonstrate itself to be a liberal arts institution worthy of the name.
Dexter Van Zile is the Christian media analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).