Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz (Yale, 360 pp., $35)
In Islamic societies, Jews are still widely thought of as people of bad character who cannot help engaging in criminal conspiracy. Muslims are advised several times in their canonical writings and by Middle Eastern rulers that the rightful ordering of the world depends upon destroying Jews for fear Jews may destroy them. Recent times have fueled this murderous fantasy. The Jewish state is conceived as the outcome of a criminal conspiracy involving Britain and now the United States. Merely by existing, Israel turns upside down the superiority that Muslims believe is their God-given due and induces a sense of shame that must be wiped out by whatever means are available. Huge crowds assemble to shout “Death to America! Death to Israel!” They mean it.
Ayatollah Khamenei, the “Supreme Leader” in Tehran, describes Israel as “a cancerous tumor” that must be removed. One spokesman of his says that “Zionist officials cannot be called human,” while another goes further, finding “jurisprudential justification” to kill all Jews. The Turkish prime minister is not so far behind in his enmity. All over the region, imams are preaching that Jews are descendants of pigs and apes. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist militia in Gaza, has the intention to annihilate Israel written into its foundational charter. Their Palestinian rivals on the West Bank treat as national heroes those who have killed an Israeli. Sunni Islamists fighting in Syria promise that after they have settled the score with the Shiites, it will be the turn of the Jews.