The Sons of Pigs and Apes: Muslim Anti-Semitism and the Conspiracy of Silence

By Lebl, Leslie S. | Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2013 | Go to article overview

The Sons of Pigs and Apes: Muslim Anti-Semitism and the Conspiracy of Silence


Lebl, Leslie S., Middle East Quarterly


The Sons of Pigs and Apes: Muslim Anti-semitism and the Conspiracy of Silence. By Neil J. Kressel. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2012. 282 pp. $29.95.

In The Sons of Pigs and Apes, social psychologist Kressel presents a balanced and sensitive analysis of Islamic anti-Semitism intended to reach readers across the political spectrum. Full of instructive detail, Kressel reveals how much of the Muslim world holds anti-Semitic views, concluding that these ideas are widely disseminated, particularly through textbooks and the media. For example, the words "Jew" and "Zionist" are frequently used by Muslims as insults, including by the educated elite: "Whenever a writer comes up with an idea that does not conform to prevailing opinion, the rumor mill accuses him of being a Zionist agent."

Kressel examines Muslim anti-Semitism in the West, finding that "Muslims in Europe tend to be . . . more hostile to Jews than are members of other religious groups ... [T]he number of antisemitic incidents varies from year to year, but in most Western countries, the general trend is upward." This observation is not new, but Kressel's contribution is to ask why Muslims, more than other groups "feel that their social identity is so severely threatened, and . . . direct anger specifically toward the Jews?" He concludes that as long the Islamic world was prospering, antiJewish prejudice existed but was not acute. But resentment against those minorities increased when Muslims felt they no longer controlled their destiny and were subject to foreigners as well as to liberal refonners who often gave minorities equal rights and replaced Islamic law with civil law. After colonial rule ended, Muslim dictators used the battle against Israel to deflect opposition to their own failures; displaced anger was directed at the Jews, exacerbated by the demonstrable economic and military prowess of a people previously considered weak and contemptible. Ascribing special, satanic powers to Jews provided psychological relief. With educational systems designed to nurture and socialize such bigotry, the explosive growth of anti-Semitism was hardly surprising. …

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