Rethinking the role of religion in Arab antisemitic discourses

Esther Webman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Palestinian cause is not about land and soil, but it is about faith and belief,” insist Islamists in their attempts to Islamize the Arab–Israeli conflict. This paper examines the instrumentalization of religion in the conflict since its early stages, and its impact on Arab anti-Semitic discourses. It is based on an ongoing research project exploring references to the Jews in Arab, particularly the Palestinian and Egyptian, Islamist as well as nationalist media, during major landmarks in the conflict’s history, from the Arab Wailing Wall riots in 1929 up to US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017. It contends that despite the intensified exploitation of Islam in the incitement against Israel, Zionism, and the Jews, and despite the traditional enmity towards the Jews as a group deriving from Islam, preliminary findings show that the most common themes in the Arab antisemitic discourse originate from a more modern, exogenous vocabulary and perceptions. Classical Christian–Western tropes, such as conspiracy theories epitomized in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Nazi terminology, and Holocaust denial, are extensively used and are much more pervasive.

Original languageEnglish
Article number415
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Anti-Judaism
  • Anti-Zionism
  • Antisemitism
  • Arab
  • Islam
  • Israeli conflict
  • Judeophobia


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