Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was put on the spot in Germany Wednesday. Georg Mascolo from Der Spiegel asked the President about a 4:42 min video surfacing on the web of him making a case against Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, at the height of which he calls the Jews “the descendants of apes and pigs”. Morsi, clearly irritated by the question, clarified that he’s “not against the Jewish faith” and that "the quotes were taken out of context”, the real context being “the continuing Israeli attacks on Palestinians, the bloodshed of Palestinians.” (Watch the event here @~29:00)
The Jews as apes and pigs tradition has an interesting background worthwhile to look into:
The source is a recount of God turning some (not all) Jews into apes and pigs as a punishment for not observing the Shabbat. The story is mentioned 3 times in the Qur’an (Suras 2:65, 5:60 and 7:166), for example:
5:60 “...They [Jews] are those whom Allah has cursed; who have been
under His wrath; some of whom were turned into apes and swine...”
The story has sparked a division among Muslim scholars as to whether today’s pigs are descendants of the Jews who were turned into pigs, or whether those Jewish pigs eventually died out. (A more complete explanation from AnsweringIslam.org); I couldn’t find a similar discussion about today’s apes.
The apes and pigs reference stemming from these Qur’anic recounts is used as an expression of religious hatred towards the Jews, a particular choice of wording mostly paired with violent speech of the explicit kind. The reference was used on Hamas TV (Al Aqsa) (and here), in an introduction to a speech by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in a suicide bomber’s farewell video, in sermons on Palestinian Authority TV (and here, here), on Al Rahma TV (Egypt), on Kuwait TV, by deputy speaker of Hamas parliament, by deputy rector of Egyptian Al Azhar University on Iranian TV, and also by Mohamed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood affiliation makes this choice of rhetoric entirely unsurprising.
The apes and pigs reference is an Islamic adjective; A religious curse - like you’d imagine a fanatic Christians speaker cursing gays. And that’s something an Islamist President might do every once in a while: curse.
Spinning it to the context of the “bloodshed of the Palestinians” is based on Morsi’s belief that mentioning Palestinian victimhood automatically dissipates any previous suspicions of anti-Jewish air. A variation on the theme: You hear a lot of Antisemitic statements that are being laundered as referring not to “the Jews” but to “the Zionists”, or not to “The Israeli people” but to the “Israeli occupation” or the “Israeli regime”. So how do you get a blank license to hate speech? Speak about Palestinian suffering or refer your statement to the ultimate villain and you're in the clear. This is the essence of the efforts to delegitimize Israel.
In fact, the dogmatic anti-Jews ideology behind the apes and pigs reference is substantive and broadly promoted by Islamists worldwide, it cannot be hidden. The current video is not the first or last time Morsi is ever to express the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology towards the Jews; He has to make this one go away, and be careful not to get busted in the future.
I’m thankful that Georg Mascolo raised the important issue of the apes and pigs. Equally consequential in the video is the occasion for which Morsi had summoned the apes and pigs reference: In his video speech he said that peace talks with the Zionists are “a waste of time and opportunities” and that you either accept “everything they want, or else it is war". All or nothing, war until victory, no compromise. Peacemakers in Germany and around the world should take note of the Muslim Brotherhood’s idea of conflict resolution as expressed by Morsi in this video. Making his rejection of compromise and peace louder, firmer and more committed is the real context in which the apes and pigs were mentioned.
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