Juan Cole, a well-known leftist history professor at the University of Michigan, calls his blog "Informed Comment," which suggests that he regards himself as an authority on the Middle East. But a recent post suports Cole's reputation as biased and less than candid.
In "Did the Muslim Brotherhood Threaten to Kill "All Jews"?" posted November 27, Cole criticizes an Israeli news report of a Muslim Brotherhood rally in Cairo. According to Cole, journalist Eldad Beck, "who clearly does not know what he is talking about," reported that "the crowd repeatedly quoted a verse in the Qur'an that spoke of killing all Jews." Cole whitewashes the Muslim Brotherhood and excoriates Israel. He makes a number of statements which are not lies, but just barely. Here are some examples.
The hadith states: "The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:1. Referring to the claim that the crowd quoted a Koranic verse about killing the Jews: "There is no such verse in the Islamic holy book." This is disingenuous at best, because there is a hadith to that effect. A hadith is a report of something said or done by Mohammed, and is regarded by Muslims as authoritative in the interpretation of Islam.
'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.'"You can find this hadith, among other places, in Article 7 of the charter of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood—Hamas.
2. "Jewish fundamentalists believe that the original Jewish temple was atop the mount, and that it can only be rebuilt there if the Muslim mosque and shrine are torn down."
All Jews, and all well-informed non-Jews, believe that the Temple was on the Temple Mount until the Romans destroyed it in 70 CE. There is a continuous tradition going back to the first century CE which leaves no doubt, even leaving aside the archeological evidence. Doubting that the Temple was on the Temple Mount is in the same intellectual and moral league as doubting that the Holocaust occurred. And indeed, the Arabs and Muslims who deny the Holocaust are likely to be the same people who deny the existence of the Jewish Temple, and for the same reason: to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish State.
3. "Jerusalem has never been awarded to Israel by any international body." That is literally true. So what? It is also true of 99.99% of the globe, for the entire history of the world. For example, no international body awarded eastern Jerusalem to Jordan between 1948 and 1967—Jordan conquered the eastern part of the city militarily, killing or expelling all its Jewish residents and destroying every synagogue. If Cole has ever written a syllable evincing any discomfort with this fact, I will donate $100 to charity.
4. "In international law as of 1945-1949, territory occupied by military force cannot be unilaterally annexed." Throughout history, in every corner of the world, territory was and is annexed by military force, including the Arab-Muslim conquest of the Middle East and North Africa in the Middle Ages, not to mention Jordan's 1948 conquest of eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, and Egypt's 1949 annexation of Gaza. Only the Jewish State's successful defense against the 1948 and 1967 wars of genocide excites Cole.
5. "The crowd appears to have shouted that Muslims should raise their children to fight (muqatalah) the Israelis (in colloquial Arabic, Israelis are referred to as 'al-Yahud,' 'the Jews.'). The word to 'kill' (qatala) is from the same root as the word for 'fight' (muqatalah). So presumably Beck heard the former and mistranslated it by the latter."
Cole wasn't there. He gives no reason to believe that the crowd screamed "muqatalah" rather than "qatala." He wishes it were so, and voila!—it is.
But "slaughter the Jews" is perfectly believable—it's an old refrain among Arab and Muslim mobs and religious leaders. To cite just a few examples:
- During the June 1, 1941 pogrom in Baghdad, the Arab mobs shouted "slaughter the Jews" as they tortured and murdered thei victims.
- On December 3, 2008, Sheik Himam Sa'id, Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, said: "We saw how, on a day in 1929, you slaughtered the Jews in Hebron. Today, slaughter them on the land of Hebron. Kill them in Palestine."
- On April 3, 2009, Hamas cleric Ziyad Abu al-Haj said on al-Aqsa TV: "It is the Jews who today are leading the all-encompassing war against Muslims... The prophetic traditions explained at length to Muslims the true nature of Jews... Their war and their hatred for Muhammad and Islam is in their souls, they are naturally disposed to it. . . . The time will come, by the will of Allah, when their property will be destroyed and their children will be exterminated, and no Jew or Zionist will be left on the face of this earth."
- On Jan. 29, 2010, Palestinian TV broadcast a sermon: "Oh Muslims! The Jews are the Jews. The Jews are the Jews. Even if donkeys would cease to bray, dogs cease to bark, wolves cease to howl and snakes to bite, the Jews would not cease to harbor hatred towards Muslims. The Prophet said that if two Jews would be alone with a Muslim, they would think only of killing him. . . . The Prophet says: 'You shall fight the Jews and kill them . . ."
And who does Cole think he is fooling, with the line that "the Jews" is "colloquial Arabic" for "Israelis"?
So Cole may be right (or maybe not) when he says that the particular Muslim Brotherhood speakers at that particular Egyptian rally did not explicitly call for the murder of Jews. But the point remains that Cole is more an Arab/Muslim apologist than a scholar.