It happens so rarely that on those exceptional instances when a politician clearly says what they mean he or she should be applauded. The higher up the greasy pole a politician climbs the more the tongue is guarded for fear of giving offence. It is easy to get the impression that presidents or prime ministers consult focus groups before ordering breakfast and if they ask for muesli will almost immediately issue an apology to, ‘all those hardworking people who begin the day with cornflakes’.
Many thought that the end of WWII put the nail into the coffin of anti-Semitism. We were mistaken. There has been an alarming rise of anti-Semitic attacks in countries across Europe. These range from verbal abuse all the way up to the murder last month of three Jewish people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels by a Kalachnikov toting jihadist.
Political leaders say they are aware of the problem of anti-Semitism and are determined to act. In November, French President François Hollande said that ‘the struggle against anti-Semitism is a top priority’. Angela Merkel used the same words a few weeks later in Germany. In the beginning of December, after a spike in verbal and physical anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, David Cameron said that he wanted to ‘tackle anti-Semitism head on’.
Little, however, has actually been done to confront the core of the issue. The reason most politicians limit themselves to platitudes about this appalling situation is fear of giving offence to those who uphold the source of these attacks. It is generally accepted, but rarely stated, that the rise in such attacks in Europe is largely due to the rise of Islam in Europe.
Czech president Milos Zeman, however, is made of sterner stuff. He went to the heart of the matter and confronted the source of much of today’s European anti-Semitism, the teaching of the Koran. ‘I am not reassured by the claims that this is the work of only a small fringe group. Quite the contrary. I believe that xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism stems from the essential ideology that these fanatical groups are based on.’
‘And let me provide a proof of this assertion in a quote from one of its sacred texts. “The Jews will hide behind stones and trees. Then the tree will call out, ‘A Jew hides behind me, come and kill him.’ The stone will call out, ‘A Jew hides behind me, come and kill him.”’
Naturally this aroused a howl of protest and demands for a retraction and an apology. Iyad Madani, Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, was quickly off the mark. Madani labelled the Czech president ‘Islamophobic’ and said that ‘Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance’. Perhaps he was under the impression that current events in Nigeria, Iraq, Kenya and numerous other countries had been perpetrated by rogue Quakers.
Madani who makes such an impassioned claim of tolerance is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a country where no churches or synagogues may be built and where non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city of Mecca. A 2010-2011 textbook on Islamic Studies issued by the Saudi Ministry of Education states: ‘They are the people of the Sabbath, whose young people God turned into apes, and whose old people God turned into swine to punish them. As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the keepers of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christian infidels of the communion of Jesus.’
The OIC press release continued, ‘It is only appropriate that President Milōs Zeman apologizes to the millions of Muslims worldwide for his deeply offensive and hateful anti Islam statements’.
President Zeman is clearly a politician of a different stamp. Instead of making an apology his spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček issued a statement saying:‘President Zeman definitely does not intend to apologise. For the president would consider it blasphemy to apologise for the quotation of a sacred Islamic text.’