click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Our Culture of Hate

Our Culture of Hate

We were brought up to hate -- and we do.


The controversy regarding the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed completely misses the point. Of course, the cartoons are offensive to Muslims, but newspaper cartoons do not warrant the burning of buildings and the killing of innocent people. The cartoons did not cause the disease of hate that we are seeing in the Muslim world on our television screens at night -- they are only a symptom of a far greater disease.

I was born and raised as a Muslim in Cairo, Egypt and in the Gaza Strip. In the 1950s, my father was sent by Egypt's President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, to head the Egyptian military intelligence in Gaza and the Sinai where he founded the Palestinian Fedayeen, or "armed resistance". They made cross-border attacks into Israel, killing 400 Israelis and wounding more than 900 others.

My father was killed as a result of the Fedayeen operations when I was eight years old. He was hailed by Nasser as a national hero and was considered a shaheed, or martyr. In his speech announcing the nationalization of the Suez Canal, Nasser vowed that all of Egypt would take revenge for my father's death. My siblings and I were asked by Nasser: "Which one of you will avenge your father's death by killing Jews?" We looked at each other speechless, unable to answer.

In school in Gaza, I learned hate, vengeance and retaliation. Peace was never an option, as it was considered a sign of defeat and weakness. At school we sang songs with verses calling Jews "dogs" (in Arab culture, dogs are considered unclean).

Criticism and questioning were forbidden. When I did either of these, I was told: "Muslims cannot love the enemies of God, and those who do will get no mercy in hell." As a young woman, I visited a Christian friend in Cairo during Friday prayers, and we both heard the verbal attacks on Christians and Jews from the loudspeakers outside the mosque. They said: "May God destroy the infidels and the Jews, the enemies of God. We are not to befriend them or make treaties with them." We heard worshippers respond "Amen."

My friend looked scared; I was ashamed. That was when I first realized that something was very wrong in the way my religion was taught and practiced. Sadly, the way I was raised was not unique. Hundreds of millions of other Muslims also have been raised with the same hatred of the West and Israel as a way to distract from the failings of their leaders. Things have not changed since I was a little girl in the 1950s.

Palestinian television extols terrorists, and textbooks still deny the existence of Israel. More than 300 Palestinians schools are named after shaheeds, including my father. Roads in both Egypt and Gaza still bear his name -- as they do of other "martyrs." What sort of message does that send about the role of terrorists? That they are heroes. Leaders who signed peace treaties, such as President Anwar Sadat, have been assassinated. Today, the Islamo-fascist president of Iran uses nuclear dreams, Holocaust denials and threats to "wipe Israel off the map" as a way to maintain control of his divided country.

We Arabs must stop allowing our leaders to use the West and Israel as an excuse to distract from their own failed leadership and their citizens' lack of freedoms.

Indeed, with Denmark set to assume the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, the flames of the cartoon controversy have been fanned by Iran and Syria. This is critical since the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to refer Iran to the Security Council and demand sanctions. At the same time, Syria is under scrutiny for its actions in Lebanon. Both Iran and Syria cynically want to embarrass the Danes to achieve their dangerous goals.

But the rallies and riots come from a public ripe with rage. From my childhood in Gaza until today, blaming Israel and the West has been an industry in the Muslim world. Whenever peace seemed attainable, Palestinian leaders found groups who would do everything to sabotage it. They allowed their people to be used as the front line of Arab jihad. Dictators in countries surrounding the Palestinians were only too happy to exploit the Palestinians as a diversion from problems in their own backyards. The only voice outside of government control in these areas has been the mosques, and these places of worship have been filled with talk of jihad.

Is it any surprise that after decades of indoctrination in a culture of hate that people actually do hate? Arab society has created a system of relying on fear of a common enemy. It's a system that has brought them much-needed unity, cohesion and compliance in a region ravaged by tribal feuds, instability, violence, and selfish corruption. So Arab leaders blame Jews and Christians rather than provide good schools, roads, hospitals, housing, jobs, or hope to their people.

For 30 years I lived inside this war zone of oppressive dictatorships and police states. Citizens competed to appease and glorify their dictators, but they looked the other way when Muslims tortured and terrorized other Muslims. I witnessed honor killings of girls, oppression of women, female genital mutilation, polygamy and its devastating effect on family relations. All of this is destroying the Muslim faith from within.

It's time for Arabs and Muslims to stand up for their families. We must stop allowing our leaders to use the West and Israel as an excuse to distract from their own failed leadership and their citizens' lack of freedoms. It's time to stop allowing Arab leaders to complain about cartoons while turning a blind eye to people who defame Islam by holding Korans in one hand while murdering innocent people with the other.

Muslims need jobs -- not jihad. Apologies about cartoons will not solve the problems. What is needed is hope and not hate. Unless we recognize that the culture of hate is the true root of the riots surrounding this cartoon controversy, this violent overreaction will only be the start of a clash of civilizations that the world cannot bear.

This article originally appeared in The Daily Telegraph.

February 18, 2006

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 20

(19) Elon, March 18, 2012 3:48 PM


I don't think that every Muslim's goal is to take over the world and destroy all Jews and Christians. That's completely untrue, and there are plenty of Muslims who just want to coexist. And making Muslims join the human race? What does that even mean? They are human, and saying they need to stop being Muslim is crazy. I don't always agree with what they say or do, but that doesn't make them less of a human. It's not fair to judge the whole religion because of the actions of some. We haven't judged all Christians as evil because of Hiter(who was Christian). We need to find a different solution to stop this hatred of each other, and destroying one isn't the answer. From a concerned Jew.

(18) eugene, March 9, 2006 12:00 AM

Wake Up

The article is full of language of truth not hate. Stop using the politically correct terms of moderate muslim, enlightened muslim, progress muslim or radical muslim, there is only one - muslim, and their duty is to dominate the world.Islam must be the ruler. Peace in islam can exist only within the Islamic world;peace can only between muslim & muslim.With non-muslim world, there can be only one solution - a cease fire until muslim can gain power or stronger & war will start again. It is an eternal war until the end of the days.And the idea of cease-fire is based on a very important historical precedent mentioned in their book.That was what Yasser Arafat did for the Oslo agreement with Isreal; a few weeks after the Oslo agreement was signed, he went to Johannesburg, in a mosque there he made a speech in which he aologized, saying " Do you think I signed something with the Jews which is contrary to the rules of Islam ?" , " That is not so. I'm doing exactly what the pht did.". Pls go visit for more information.

(17) elizabeth toon, March 7, 2006 12:00 AM

thank you

language and gaps in my occurred to me that everyone ties a hate on but to disrespect anyones knowledge or refuse to honour a promise of payment for a job pretty excessive hatred..why anyone believes its okay to kill everyone they hate bothers me- that greed is excessive hatred,it makes me think of cowardice...

(16) Hakan, March 2, 2006 12:00 AM

Unfortunately, we are a minority

Unfortunately, people like her are a minority in our (Muslim)societies. I urge every "enlightened" Muslim to speak up his/her mind, it's your duty!

(15) Andrew Gelbman, March 2, 2006 12:00 AM

Muslims need a new hobby...

Ms. Darwish's article is on the whole rather insightful with many excellent points. However, her statement 'Muslims need jobs, not jihad' is utter nonsense. Bin Laden is a multi-millionaire with assests around US$250M. He is not impoverished or oppressed. He is related to Saudi Arabia's ruling elite. Are you saying giving him a corner office would have averted 9-11? Bullocks!!!!

Islam is the problem. Muslims need to cease being Muslims and join the human race. If they refuse to do so, war is the only reasonable answer. Victory is the overthrow of every Islamic regime on the planet, trial of the party's leaders and a decades long program of de-Islamification of the entire Islamic bloc region.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment