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A distorted interpretation of the past

A distorted interpretation of the past

Dr. Esther Webman

In order to get their antisemitic messages through and to imbue them with a level of sanctity, Islamists rely on negative quotes about the Jews found in both the Qur’an and the Hadith, including those relating to the clashes between the Prophet Muhammad and the three Jewish tribes in Arabia. This reliance on the Qur’an in Islamist rhetoric created a distorted perception in which Jews have always been viewed as the greatest enemy of Islam. However, as we will now see, it is a matter of selective interpretation.

How do Islamists distort past Jewish-Muslim relations and why? How does this distortion affect the way non-Muslims and Muslims today perceive Jewish-Muslim dynamics, both past and present?


  • Ayoob, Mohammed, The Many Faces of Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Muslim World (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008).

  • Jikeli, Günther, “Anti-Semitism within the Extreme Right and Islamists’ Circles,” in Olaf Glöckner and Haim Fireberg, eds., Being Jewish in 21st-Century Germany (Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2015), pp. 188 – 207.

  • Tibi, Bassam, Islamism and Islam (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012).

  • Tibi, Bassam, “Religion, Prejudice and Annihilation: The Case of Traditional Islamic Judeophobia and Its Transformation into the Modern Islamist Antisemitism,” in Anthony McElligott and Jeffrey Herf, eds., Antisemitism Before and Since the Holocaust: Altered Contexts and Recent Perspectives (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp. 115 – 146.

  • Webman, Esther, “The Challenge of Assessing Arab/Islamic Antisemitism,” Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 46, no. 5 (2010), pp. 677 – 697.

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

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