Updated: Feb 7
Before I go any further, I want to be clear that not all Muslims hate Israel. Just the truly fanatical ones (and the ones who have never met any Jews but just have a theoretical version of the “Jewish savage”). I have Arab friends here in Israel, and we get along great. At the end of my trip to the United States, I had an Uber driver who told me he was Palestinian. I told him I was Israeli. We had a great talk. We laughed as we talked about Middle East culture. I have met Muslim kings in Uganda who’ve said wonderful things about Israel. But we cannot ignore the fact that most in the Muslim world hate Israel. The question is, why?
Jews must be subservient to Muslims
You have to understand that Islamic law sees the Jew as subservient to the Muslim.
The Muslim legal code that prescribed the treatment of Jews and Christians, or dhimmis as they both are referred to in Islam, was the Pact of Umar, attributed to Muhammad’s second successor, but assumed to date from about 720. Its key characteristic was the requirement that dhimmis always acknowledge their subservient position to Muslims.
Dhimmi was the Arabic word for a non-Muslim monotheist like a Christian or a Jew—as opposed to a pagan who believed in many gods. The Dhimmis had to publicly acknowledge their subordinate role and pay a poll tax called a jizya. The public presentation of the jizya was designed to humiliate the dhimmi. Muslim onlookers were encouraged to enjoy the show as each taxpayer was humiliated. “Public participation was, indeed, essential for the purpose of demonstrating … the political superiority of Islam.”
The dhimmi, Christian or Jew, goes on a fixed day in person to the emir, appointed to receive the poll tax, who occupies a high throne-like seat. The dhimmi stands before him, offering the poll tax on his open palm. The emir takes it so that his hand is on top and the dhimmi’s underneath. Then the emir gives him a blow on the neck, and a guard, standing upright before the emir, drives him roughly away. The same procedure is followed with the second, third and the following taxpayers … Public participation was, indeed, essential for the purpose of demonstrating, according to the Shafi’ite school, the political superiority of Islam.
Dhimmis would have to give up their seat to a Muslim, and they would not ride a horse or any other animal because of their low status.
A Jewish state? Unthinkable!
Given this mindset, it is no wonder that the creation of a Jewish State on land that they consider “Muslim land” is humiliating. A Muslim minority (20%) living in a Jewish majority (80%) country is unprecedented. It is humiliating.
It is the Jews’ refusal to accept an unequal, inferior status that lies at the heart of the Arab-Muslim hatred for Israel. As Yehoshafat Harkabi, a leading scholar of the Arab world’s attitude toward Israel, put it: “The existence of the Jews was not a provocation to Islam … as long as Jews were subordinate or degraded. But a Jewish state is incompatible with the view of Jews as humiliated or wretched.”
This is what keeps the ayatollahs up at night. How could Allah allow this to happen? Where have we sinned? How can these wretched Zionists rule over Muslims? This is why they are dedicated to the destruction of Israel. It’s this kind of Islamic fanaticism that will cause Iran to allow their own people to starve and their economy to be shattered as they seek a nuclear weapon and waste billions funding Hezbollah and Hamas and other terror groups.
The source of the Middle East conflict
A popular fallacy is that Israel is the cause of Middle Eastern unrest, but it is the Islamic belief that Jews must be subservient to them that fuels their hatred.
Only then does one recognize how false are the claims of Israel’s enemies that prior to Zionism, Jews and Muslims lived in harmony and that neither Islam nor Muslims have ever harbored Jew-hatred. The creation of the Jewish state in no way created Muslim Jew-hatred; it merely intensified it and gave it a new focus. So long as the Jews acknowledged their inferior status among Muslims, they were humiliated but allowed to exist. But once the Jews decided to reject their inferior status, to become sovereign after centuries of servitude, and worst of all, to now govern some Muslims in a land where the Jews had so long been governed, their existence was no longer tolerable.
People wrongly believe that the Palestinian issue is what drives Muslim hatred of Israel. That is absurd. Millions of Palestinian Arabs live in refugee camps. Why? Somewhere between 600,000 and 800,000 Palestinians fled Israel during the war of independence in 1948. In the years following, about the same number of Jews, some by choice and some by force, came to Israel. The Jewish nation literally doubled in size and its first few years and was able to successfully absorb all of those new immigrants. The Arab nations had over 100 million people and billions of dollars in oil money but had a policy of keeping these poor Palestinians in wretched conditions for propaganda.
The 650,000 Jews of Israel, with help from Jews elsewhere, housed, clothed, fed, educated, and provided a livelihood for these Jews. In contrast, at the very same time, an equal number of Palestinian refugees were left in great poverty by all the Arab states, and this never changed, despite the enormous growth of Arab oil wealth. It was non-Arabs who have provided the large majority of the Arab refugees’ aid.
Even today, it is primarily non-Arabs like America and Europe who give aid to the Palestinians. Iran is happy to fund terrorist entities but does very little for the welfare of the average Palestinian.
The Arab’s “Famous Three No’s”
After Israel’s shocking victory in The Six Day War, Israel wanted a peace treaty. Abba Eban, the Israeli foreign minister, said, “This is the first war in history which has ended with the victors suing for peace and the vanquished calling for unconditional surrender.” But the Arabs said no to peace. “The Arab world responded to this offer … with the three famous ‘No’s’ of Khartoum; ‘no peace with,’ ‘no negotiations with,’ and ‘no recognition of” Israel.” Recognition of Israel would be an admission that Jews are not subservient to Muslims.
This was not the first time Israel was willing to see the creation of an independent Arab state in lands that once belonged to ancient Israel. The Arabs had an opportunity to have their own state in 1947 when the UN voted for partitioning the region into two countries, one Arab and one Jewish. The Jews rejoiced—for themselves and the Arabs. The Arabs said no.
The Arabs could’ve had their own state in 1948 after Israel was established, but again they said no and instead started a war. They could’ve had their own state in 1967 after the Six Day War. In 2000, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered them a state and roughly half of Jerusalem, but Arafat rejected it. A year later, in Taba, they were offered it again, and then in 2007, again by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. “And in each case, Israel said yes, offering land in exchange for peace. But the Palestinian leadership said no.”
You have to understand it’s not an issue of fairness; it is an issue of Islamic doctrine. Jews are subservient to Muslims. And that is the root of Muslim hatred of Israel. Radical Islamists will never agree to a Jewish majority state in the Middle East.
You might say, “What about the Abraham Accords?” The leaders of these nations, such as the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain, are Muslim, but they’re not fanatics. The ayatollahs in Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan are examples of countries that still hold this extreme view that seeks Israel’s destruction. But even Saudi Arabia has learned to be more pragmatic despite having a horrible human rights record domestically.
Hopefully, more and more Muslim-majority nations will seek peace with Israel.
Photo credit: ISRAELI TSVIKA GPO - Hamas New Year's Greeting Poster declaring: "Jihad is our way."
Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin, Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism (New York: Simon and Shuster, 2003), 108. Prager and Telushkin, 109.  Salo Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1957) 3:167.  Prager and Telushkin, 114. Prager and Telushkin, 119.  Prager and Telushkin, 50. “1967: The Six-Day War and the historic reunification of Jerusalem” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 5, 2017, https://www.gov.il/en/departments/news/1967-the-six-day-war-and-the-historic-reunification-of-jerusalem Prager and Telushkin, 168.  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, "The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign | Animation," YouTube, accessed on February 6, 2023, https://youtu.be/K_pQfsi437A?t=225