For some peculiar reason, many regard the Ishmaelites somewhat sympathetically, even fondly. After all, what Jew does not have nostalgic memories of the cafes of Jericho, of the hot coffee of the Arab market, the spices and colors of the “Arab” sections of the Old City (Jerusalem, Jaffa…)? This is not the place to psychoanalyze precisely why now, in the midst of a war against the Ishmaelites for our very survival, Jews still think of the enemy as “our cousins”. Unfortunately, this is not the first example of this in our history.
It gets worse when all kinds of self-proclaimed Jewish “religious authorities” paint the pastoral picture that “we are all sons of Abraham”. In the case of the Machpelah Cave, for example, we hear many good-natured people (from our side, of course, for no Arab is willing to compromise) who are quite comfortable with the Machpelah being shared among all of “Abraham’s children”. They are broad-minded enough to recognize that there is sufficient room there for all of us.
So let us see what our sources really say, and thus understand how distorted this attitude is.
The Ishmaelites: Sons of Abraham?
To start at the beginning: the Ishmaelites’ hatred for Israel begins with their progenitor, the Ishmael of Genesis, and his hatred for his half-brother Isaac, and his jealousy of his being chosen to be God’s nation even while Ishmael was disqualified and excluded from “the seed of Abraham”.
In Sanhedrin 59b, regarding circumcision, it is written: “It is Abraham whom the Torah originally admonishes: ‘You must keep my covenant — you and your offspring throughout their generations’ (Gen. 17:9)… What about obligating the Ishmaelites [in circumcision, since they are Abraham’s seed]? It says, ‘It is through Isaac that your seed will be called’ “ (Gen. 21:12). The Torah states explicitly that only Isaac, and not Ishmael, will be called Avraham’s seed.
The Midrash Tanchuma (Va-yelech 2) says: “The vineyard” (Isaiah 5:1) is Israel;… “He weeded it” this is Abraham, who threw out the refuse such as Ishmael… And the Mishnah says explicitly: “A Jew who takes on oath… not to enjoy any benefits from anyone who is descended from Abraham — the prohibition applies to Israel, but not to other nations” (Nedarim 3:11) The Talmud asks: And what about Ishmael? – and the answer: The prohibition does not apply to Ishmael, because “it is through Isaac that your seed will be called” (Genesis 21:12). That is to say, the Ishmaelites are not called the “seed (i.e. descendants) of Abraham”. And when the Ishmaelites stated their claim to the land of Israel, Gevia ben Pesisah gave a similar reply (see Sandhedrin 91).
We see from these sources that Ishamel was at best, the rejected son of Abraham.
The Cruelest of Them All
But more than this: The Ishmaelites’ horrendous treatment of Jews in their lands, throughout the millenia of exile in Arabia, is the diametric opposite of the supposed “tolerance” that so many of us have been brainwashed into believing was the case. In fact, the Ishmaelites were more vicious than almost any other nation. Already a millenium ago, the Rambam in Iggeret Teiman wrote to the Jews of Yemen:
You dear brethren, know that God has unfortunately cast us down among this people Ishmael, who plot great evil against us and hate us…; You know that no nation has threatened us, and no nation has done more to subjugate and to humiliate us… Even King David, when he saw through ruach hakodesh all
the troubles slated for Israel, began to wail and lament the wicked Ishamaelite nation: “Woe is me, that I sojourn with Meshech, that I dwell besides the tents of Kedar!” (Ps. 120:5)…
The Ohr ha-Chayyim ha-Kadosh (Leviticus 6:2) similarly said: Worse than the Egyptian exile…is the exile among the Ishmaelites; fortunate is he who has not seen it! They enslave the Jews and embitter their lives…The Jew is robbed of what he has and ordered to pay what he does not have, and he must drink this cup until death.
And later on (Deuteronomy 13:18) he continues: As we have been told in Ma’amar ha-Melech, the Ishmaelites, this gang of murderers, have tremendous lust for killing people, they have totally lost any semblance of compassion, and they have become cruel.
We conclude with two sources that foresaw Ishmael’s evil scheming in the Land of Israel immediately before the Redemption: The time will come when God will heed the scream of the nation, caused by what the sons of Ishmael will do in the Land of Israel in the last days; this is why he is called Ishmael [God will hear]… (Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 32).
And the Zohar says: In the future, the sons of Ishmael will rule in the Holy Land when it is empty, for a long time… And they will prevent Israel from returning home…and the time will come when the sons of Ishmael will arouse fierce wars throughout the world (Zohar, Genesis 119).
But in fact, this entire article has been unnecessary, since you already knew it anyway just from the day-to-day reality of life. Did we really need all these Torah-based sources to prove the hatred and cruelty of the accursed Ishmaelites, and their vicious fight against Israel’s Redemption for more than a hundred years past?!
The determination to ignore reality, to “explain” their hatred, is truly incredible. We have offered all the above to counter the years of propaganda, which is more insidious now than ever before. Listen, O you who are deliberately blind: We have not quoted “fanatics” from the “extreme right”; we have not even opened the books of “Kahane” to reach these conclusions. Rather, this is what our sages spoke of, centuries and millenia ago.
But tragically, one who refuses to see will not be convinced even by a thousand quotes…or even by a thousand murdered Jews. And this is the reason that the Ismaelites do not have to resort to cunning to camouflage their diabolical plot: what they plan to do, they state openly and we refuse to listen.
O deaf ones, listen; O blind ones, look that you may see: who is blind as My servant [Israel], and deaf as My messenger (Isaiah 42:18).