(February 28, 2019 / JNS) To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the death of anti-Semitism in Qatar are greatly exaggerated. A major new study has revealed that anti-Semitism is widespread in the textbooks used in schools controlled by the government of Qatar. How does that square with the claims by some leaders of American Jewish organizations last year that Qatar is becoming moderate?
The study carried out by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) reviewed the Islamic Education textbooks that are used by grades one through 12. The books were “produced and approved by Qatar’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education, bear the symbol of the Education Ministry, and appear on the ministry’s website,” MEMRI notes. The title page in all the books even “features a portrait of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and the words of the Qatari national anthem.”
The timing is crucial. MEMRI looked at books that were used in the first half of the 2018-19 school year. That’s important because the books serve as a test of the claims made by defenders of Qatar. In late 2017 and early 2018, leaders of several American Jewish and Zionist organizations took part in secret visits to Gulf state. Later, it emerged that some of those groups received various benefits (some financial) from their connections with the Qatari regime.
When news of the visits to Qatar was revealed by investigative journalists, the travelers defended their action on the grounds that there were signs that Qatar, the world’s largest financier of Hamas (and sponsor of the anti-Semitic Al Jazeera television network), was becoming more moderate and reasonable. The very fact that Qatar was willing to bring these leaders to visit the emir’s palace was cited as proof that his royal majesty was becoming less anti-Israel and less anti-Semitic.
So, when MEMRI reviewed textbooks that have been used in the current school year, it was looking at what the Qatari regime is teaching its children long after the Jewish leaders came calling. Here’s what MEMRI reports:
— The textbooks for grades six, eight, nine and 12 “glorify jihad and self-sacrifice for the sake of Islam, presenting them as virtues and as divine commandments that earn Allah’s favor and rewards, chief among them admittance into the highest level of Paradise.”
— The textbooks for junior high and high school repeatedly denounce non-Muslims as “unbelievers” who are damned to hell and whom all Muslims must renounce.
— The books “feature anti-Semitic motifs, presenting Jews as treacherous, dishonest and crafty, and at the same time as weak, wretched and cowardly.”
— One of the assignments in the books requires students “to compare the Jews’ attitude toward the Muslims in the time of Muhammad and their attitude toward the Muslims today, in light of the material learned in the lesson. The students are apparently expected to infer that the traits ascribed to the Jews in the chapter—treachery, cowardice, etc.—are also applicable to the Jews today.”
—The grade 11 textbook presents the West as “a hostile force that introduced heretical ideas into the Islamic world, such as secularism and orientalism, with the aim of destroying Islam [and] casting doubts on the prophesy of Muhammad.”
And who, exactly, did the “moderate” Qatar leaders choose for the committee that oversees the production of these books? Why, a group of Education Ministry officials who in many cases “are clearly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its ideologue Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi,” MEMRI revealed.
The MEMRI study follows a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League that the official Qatari media regularly publishes editorial cartoons “which blatantly demonize Jews.” The cartoons “cross the line from legitimate criticism of Israel or its policies into overt anti-Semitism,” according to the ADL.
The ADL’s report continues: “These cartoons draw on the worst kind of anti-Semitic themes and give them new life, including conspiracy theories of Jewish world domination; blood libels; the association of Zionism with Nazism; the demonization and dehumanization of Israel and Jews; the invocation of William Shakespeare’s Shylock; and the use of stereotypical medieval Jewish imagery.”
And the cartoon controversy followed an international book fair in Qatar’s capital, Doha, which featured books such as The Myth of the Nazi Gas Chambers and Lies Spread by the Jews, as well as an Arabic-language translation of Awakening to Jewish Influence in the United States of America by white-supremacist leader David Duke.
An important part of being a responsible and effective Jewish leader is the willingness to acknowledge when you have made a mistake. The American Jewish and Zionist leaders who went to Qatar and allowed themselves to be exploited by its regime made a terrible mistake—as the latest study proves yet again. They should admit their error and apologize.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His book, “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror,” has just been published.