- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2001

Two Tekoa, Israel, youngsters were found brutally stoned to death in May. In the days leading up to the stoning, there was a marked increase in calls for murdering Jews in the official Palestine Authority (PA) media. Regional Council head Shaul Goldstein said of the local Palestinians that "they are all incited by the PA in the media and the school textbooks to murder Jews. Two boys happen upon some Arabs treated to a constant dose of incitement to hatred and murder … We demand that the government shut down the Palestinian media, which incessantly broadcasts incitement to hatred and murder …"

Although the Palestine media is the conduit, messages broadcast on Palestinian TV and radio are those of Muslim clerics. Typical is the sermon of Sheik Ahmad Halabaya of Gaza in which he warned that Allah will torture and humiliate Jews at the hands of the Muslims. The Jews, he said, "must be butchered and killed." He told listeners, "Wherever you are, kill those Jews."

Clearly such calls from Islamic clergy to murder Jews in the name of Allah have their effect. Bar Ilan University Arabist Mordechai Kedar warned as much several months ago and referenced the explicit support for a Holy War by certain Arab states: "The reaction of the presidents of Yemen, Libya and Iraq, is exactly what one would expect readiness to participate in the Jihad … [I]n these days Israel faces a real, although modern Jihad."

Does Islam really call for murdering Jews?

Imagine if Islam demanded that a good Muslim must support the Zionist enterprise. If most Arabs practiced such an Islam, there would be instant, genuine peace. In fact, the director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community, Sheikh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi says a good Muslim must be a Zionist. "Classical Islamic sources do not support the so-called 'Islamic anti-Zionism' preached by radical groups, Mr. Palazzi writes. "The idea of making Islam a factor that prevents Arabs from recognizing any sovereign right of Jews over Palestine is an artificial apparatus that has no precedent in Islamic classical sources. Reading anti-Zionism as a direct consequence of Islam is a form of explicit anti-historical misunderstanding."

Is Mr. Palazzi an Islamic maverick? He recalls the greatest Sufi master and Islamic scholar of the 20th century, Sheikh Muhammad al-Mutawali as-Sha'rawi al-Azhari, who openly preached peace and cooperation between Muslims and Jews. Upon Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem, Mr. al-Azhar reached this at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque. Mr. Palazzi said, "The fame of his scholarship was able, for a moment, to silence all those fundamentalists who say: 'Peace with Israel is against Islam.' "

"A comparative analysis of Koranic and Torah sources reveals an agreement on the point that the link existing between Children of Israel and Land of Canaan directly on God Almighty's will, toward which we are asked to submit," Mr. Palazzi writes, and adds, " the offspring of Jacob … as heirs of the Promised Land. This is described in the glorious Koran."

Mr. Palazzi continues:

"Whoever should claim that Jewish sovereignty over Palestine is something recent and depending on political plots would actually be denying the history of revelation and prophecy, as well as the clear teaching of the Holy Books. From King Faisel of Iraq up to King Abdullah I of Transjordan, Islamic voices orientated toward inter-Abrahamitic brotherhood were silenced, and irrational hostility toward Zionism was introduced."

Addressing the return of Jews to their land, Mr. Palazzi notes: "The Holy Koran announces a re-establishment of the House of Israel in the land before the last judgment, where it says: 'And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: Dwell securely in the Promised Land.' And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd. (Koran XVII. 104)."

On Jan. 1, the Italian Council of Islamic Scholars issued a statement denouncing violence against Israelis.

"Allah will bless the nations and true leaders who condemn, in clear uncompromising terms, those parents, teachers, and terrorist criminals, who raise children on a poisoned diet of apostasy, hatred and violence. These so-called Muslims send our children to be slaughtered in acts of , while they direct the suicidal sacrifice and slaughter of these children from safe command posts, far from the battle. In defense of a wicked regime, innocent, ignorant children are sent to be massacred in criminal actions. This regime even dares to declare that Islam approves these criminal acts."

Islamic clerics have inflamed passions against the Jews of Israel. It can also work the other way. Mr. Sadat's opting for the path of peace with Israel derived in no small measure from his returning to be a practicing Muslim as a disciple of Sheikh Muhammad al-Mutawali as-Sha'rawi al-Azhari.

The key to Mideast peace, then? That Arabs return to true Islam.

Bruce Brill, who lives in Tekoa, Israel, is director of the Islam-Israel Fellowship of the Root and Branch Association.

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