That’s the claim made in the Daily Telegraph by Alan Johnson, Senior Research Fellow at the pro-Israel advocacy organisation BICOM, who is upset about Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s highly-publicised visit to Gaza.
We might note that the angry response of the pro-Israel lobby is itself a tribute to the mass support that Qaradawi enjoys in the Middle East, although of course Johnson omits to mention that, preferring instead to portray Qaradawi as an “extremist and divisive” figure who promotes a “cult of death” and whose “Jew-hatred is undiluted and canonical”. The material Johnson uses to support these claims is supplied by such hardline Zionist organisations as the Middle East Media Research Institute and the Community Security Trust, both of which have a record of grotesquely misrepresenting Qaradawi.
Interestingly, in early 2005, at a time when they were presumably concerned to counter Ken Livingstone’s charge that they had systematically distorted Qaradawi’s views, MEMRI for once actually published an honest summary of Qaradawi’s analysis of the relationship between Zionism and Judaism, providing a lengthy transcript of an Al Jazeera interview he had given on this subject. You can read it here.
Qaradawi states: “Islam honors Man as such, regardless of gender, religion, color, language, geographic region, or status … [People] said to God’s Messenger: ‘This is the funeral of a Jew. That coffin belongs to a Jew, not a Muslim.’ He answered: ‘Is this not a soul [too]? Is the Jew not a human soul?'”
He goes on to say: “Jews lived among Muslims for centuries, even when Europe persecuted them and expelled them… They found a safe haven in Muslim territory and Muslim homelands. This is because Islam considers the Jews to be People of the Book … This is how the Koran views the Jews, and this is how they lived in the countries of the Muslims. They have the protection [dhimma] of Allah, His Messenger, and of all the Muslims.”
He adds: “The battle between us and the Jews began when they occupied the land of Palestine, expelled its residents, and perpetrated all their deeds. They are the ones who started the hostility, not us… There is a difference between Judaism as a religion and Zionism as a political movement with aspirations and goals.”
With regard to verse 5:82 of the Qur’an (“You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers to be the Jews”), which is used by Qur’anic literalists to justify Muslim antisemitism, Qaradawi states:
“This verse talks about an historical position. Islam accepted the Jews with open arms and welcomed [the Muslims’] relations with them, since they are People of the Book … Here [in the verse], Islam is talking about those that did this [i.e. who violated the pact with Muhammad]. However, Islam welcomes those who believe in the [Jewish] religion. Moreover, the Jews are probably the closest to Muslims in terms of faith and law, even more than Christians.”