TEL AVIV – Hatred of Jews and Israel has led the Islamic world to go to extraordinary lengths — including manipulating the text of the Koran — to portray the “liberation of Jerusalem” as the most pressing issue facing it, Syrian opposition activist Issam Zeitoun told Breitbart News.
In a wide-ranging interview, Zeitoun said that the Palestinian issue has become the calling card by which some in the Arab and Muslim world measure central tenets of their faith.
“Destroying Israel and liberating Jerusalem is priority number one,” Zeitoun stated. “They have neglected everything else — health care, education, even massacres.”
“Who decided that Jerusalem was more important than Aleppo?”
According to Zeitoun, who said he hopes to educate fellow Muslims on the topic, Jerusalem only became of interest to the Islamic world following the genesis of the Zionist project in the late 1800s. “Why do none of the Islamic empires or [caliphates] throughout the Islamic periods that took place in the region ever take Jerusalem as their capital?”
He went on to list various caliphates and their capitals, including Damascus, Baghdad, and Cairo.
Zeitoun charged the Arab and Muslim world with manipulating Islam’s core text, the Koran, to match this new ideology, taking phrases that seem to refer to Jerusalem out of context and “putting them in textbooks” in a bid to push the liberation of Jerusalem as a religious duty. Jerusalem does not receive a single specific mention in the Koran.
“This systematic brainwash took place everywhere, in the education system, Arabic media, and religious discourse,” Zeitoun said.
Zeitoun recalls watching an interview with a high-ranking official from the Syrian education ministry around 2004 or 2005 — what he refers to as “the golden years” of the Bashar Assad regime. The interviewer asked the official what steps the ministry was taking to combat the growing phenomenon of thousands of children who were not in schools but spent their days on the street. The educational director answered that unfortunately the ministry could not take care of everything and there were far more important things to worry about such as Israel and freeing Jerusalem from the Zionists.
“These are the toxic ideas of Arab nationalism. They built everything based on this hatred, that Israel is the enemy,” he said. And if anyone expressed otherwise, they were in fear of their lives.
Zeitoun, who today lives in Germany, stated that from the very beginning of the Syrian uprising, in which peaceful demonstrators protested against the regime, Assad accused them of being tools of Israel and Zionist agents. Such sentiments allowed Assad to be “forgiven for killing a million of his citizens or displacing half of his own people,” Zeitoun said.
“The worst thing that you can accuse anyone in the Arab world of is being a tool of Israel or a Zionist agent,” he added.
Last week, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iranian terror proxy Hezbollah, charged the Arab world with becoming Israel’s “tool” after Arab leaders joined Israeli and European leaders at a U.S.-led Mideast conference.
The summit in Poland had “brought out into the open Israel’s relations with the Gulf states,” Nasrallah said.
“We knew about normalization between Israel and Oman and the United Arab Emirates, but at the summit we also clearly saw normalization with the Saudis,” he added.
According to Zeitoun, the thawing of relations between Israel and the Arab world is a “historical necessity” born of the mutual threat posed by Iran.
“This alliance between Israel and the Arab countries is a historical necessity right now, imposed by the brutal assault of this enemy [Iran] which threatens both of us,” Zeitoun told Breitbart News.
He added that the digital age has allowed Arabs to challenge some of their preconceptions regarding Israel, and the ability to research history and actual facts has played a large role in becoming open to the idea of mutual ties.