Watchdog Palestinian Media Watch on Tuesday warned that Pope Francis, as the most senior figure in the Catholic Church, is scheduled to meet with a leader who is renowned for his hatred of Jews.
Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the most senior religious figure in the Palestinian Authority “has an ongoing record of vicious Antisemitic hate speech, which has been condemned internationally,” PMW said in a statement.
The Pope will also meet with Israel’s two chief rabbis.
PMW said that in 2012 the Mufti preached that it is Muslim destiny to kill the Jews. On another occasion, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he taught that Jews were “enemies of Allah,” and in another speech he said that the souls of suicide bombers “tell us to follow in their path.”
PMW cited a speech, broadcast on PA television in January 2012, from a Fatah celebration in East Jerusalem, where the Mufti linked the extermination of Jews to “Palestine,” and claimed that Israelis know that religious war, “Jihad,” is coming and are trying to protect themselves by planting a special tree that will hide them from Muslims when they come to kill them.
The moderator at the Fatah ceremony said, “Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs (i.e., Jews) is a war of religion and faith. Long Live Fatah! [I invite you,] our honorable Sheikh.”
The Mufti began his speech by saying, “47 years ago the [Fatah] revolution started. Which revolution? The modern revolution of the Palestinian people’s history. In fact, Palestine in its entirety is a revolution, since [Caliph] Umar came [to conquer Jerusalem, 637 CE], and continuing today, and until the End of Days. The reliable Hadith (tradition attributed to Muhammad), in the two reliable collections, Bukhari and Muslim, says:
“‘The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. / The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. / Then the stones or trees will call: ‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’ / Except the Gharqad tree [which will keep silent].'”
“Therefore it is no wonder that you see Gharqad [trees] surrounding the [Israeli] settlements and colonies,” the mufti said. “[Gharqad trees] surrounding, surrounding and surrounding. That’s the Palestine we are talking about, with the beginning of the Jihad and the continuation of the Jihad with the struggle and the procession of the Martyrs.”
PMW said it was uncertain as to whether the Mufti knew that the moderator would refer to the Jews as “descendants of monkeys and pigs,” and declare that the Palestinian – Israel conflict “is a war of religion and faith.” However, as shown in video of the speech, the Mufti did not hesitate, retract or condemn the statement, asserting instead that Palestinians are destined to exterminate the Jews.
PMW said that when it publicized his hate speech, the Mufti’s words were condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the British Foreign Office, the European Union and many others.
In another speech, broadcast in May 2012, the Mufti praised suicide bombers who had murdered Israeli civilians as an “elite group of Martyrs.” He added an explicit call to murder: “The souls of the noble Martyrs envelop us, and their souls tell us to follow in their path.”
In another sermon at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, broadcast in June 2010, the Mufti called the Jews “enemies of Allah” who “have even deviated from their humanity.”
PMW said the Mufti also promoted hatred by rejecting Jewish rights in Jerusalem by denying that a Temple ever existed in Jerusalem:
“In truth, there never was a Temple in any period, nor was there, at any time, any place of worship for the Jews or others at the Al-Aqsa Mosque site (built on the Temple Mount, 705 CE),” the Mufti said on PA television in January 2012.
PMW said that, in addition, the Mufti makes a point of publicly rejecting Christian tradition, teaching that Jesus was not a Judean, but a Palestinian who preached Islam, calling Jesus “a Palestinian par excellence” and claiming that Jesus and his mother Mary were Palestinians, not Jews.
The Mufti has also issued religious rulings presenting women as subservient to their husbands, declaring on PA TV that “in general, a woman must [only] leave home at the discretion of her husband,” and that a woman must not refuse her husband’s demand to have sexual relations:
“It’s his right [to have sex]… it is his right. This woman may not and has no right to deny him this right, especially during the permissible time, which is nighttime,” the Mufti said on PA television, in August 2012.
PMW said: “Clearly, the Mufti’s preaching of Antisemitic and genocidal ideology will destroy any chance for peace. As long as Jews are portrayed as Allah’s enemies destined to be killed by Palestinians, peace talks are irrelevant. Adjusting a border or signing a peace treaty will not erase the stigma attached to the Jews by the PA’s most senior religious leader.”
“In spite of the Mufti’s call to exterminate Jews and the subsequent international condemnations, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas did not remove the Mufti from his office, nor did he demand a retraction,” PMW said.
PMW said that it “is confident that the Pope, a symbol of peace and tolerance, will not knowingly honor a Palestinian religious leader who promotes hatred and intolerance. PMW is confident that should Pope Francis choose to meet with the PA Mufti, he will do his utmost to impress on the Palestinian religious leader the necessity of retracting his promotion of genocide of Jews by Palestinians and the abhorrent nature of those opinions.”
PMW also highlighted the international condemnations of the Mufti’s hate speech that were expressed immediately after PMW reported on his January 2012 speech.
The EU said: “The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemn the Mufti of Jerusalem’s inflammatory speech on January 9 at a rally marking the 47th anniversary of Fatah’s founding… In line with Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the EU firmly rejects ‘any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence’.”
British Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said: “I condemn the inflammatory words used by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and others at a recent event marking the 47th anniversary of the Fatah movement. To refer to the Jewish people in such a way and to talk of killing Jews is anti-Semitism, pure and simple.”
The Associated Press: “The Palestinians’ top Muslim cleric faced sharp Israeli criticism Sunday for a speech in which he quoted a religious text that includes passages about killing Jews in an end-of-days struggle.”
Reuters wrote: “Israel condemned the Palestinians’ top cleric on Sunday for reciting, at a meeting of the dominant U.S.-backed Fatah faction, a passage from Muslim scripture that called for the killing of Jews…. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has argued peacemaking has been blighted by incitement against the Jewish state from some Palestinian officials, said of the mufti’s sermon: ‘This is a very serious offence that all the countries of the world must condemn.’ He said he had asked Israel’s attorney-general to open a criminal investigation.”
Watch the Mufti on PA television here.