Death to the Infidels. Radical Islam’s War against the Jews
by Mitchell Bard
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 282 pp. $27.
Reviewed by Clemens Heni
Middle East Quarterly, VOLUME 22: NUMBER 2, Spring 2015
There is also a French version of this review
Bard’s latest book is a well-written overview of the history of the Middle East, Islam, and the Jews since the early twentieth century. The author chooses this beginning point largely because it roughly coincides with the reemergence of a flourishing Jewish presence in the Middle East. The work also covers the creation of current Arab states by European powers as well as conflicts within the Muslim world, especially, though not exclusively, the Sunni-Shiite rivalry. Bard includes secular anti-Semitic terror groups in his study and reminds us of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s terror activities since the late 1960s.
Bard warns that the Arab-Israeli conflict is turning into a religious war even as he shows that such a development is not altogether new. Nor is it strictly home-grown or purely based on Islamic texts or sensibilities. For example, just before Easter 1920, British political advisor Col. Bertie H. Waters-Taylor urged Hajj Amin Husseini to foment riots against the Jews.
More recently, the old Arab, nationalist anti-Zionism has been transformed into a global jihad with Iran as the lead actor since 1979. In February 2012, Bard notes, Iran’s highest authority and leader, Ali Khamenei, delivered a sermon, saying that Israel is a „cancerous tumor … that must be removed.“
Death to the Infidels does not delve into the question of whether there is an inherent anti-Jewish bias to an entire religion. Chapters about the difference between Islam as a faith and Islamism as an ideology would have been helpful. Still, Bard has written an important book alerting the world to one of the most dangerous forms of anti-Semitism in the early twenty-first century, the Islamist kind.