Youssef Qaradawi, one of the most important leaders of the global Muslim Brotherhood, recently told a Saudi English newspaper that he has called for “dialogue with the Jews.” However, he qualifies his statement by making clear that the call for dialog does not include “Zionists.” Qaradawi said in the interview:
I am a believer in dialogue with all human beings. Muslims are commanded to heavy dialogue with all other religions. I said that at the interfaith conference convened in Mecca, which King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called for. I called for widening the dialogue to include not only the people of the book – Muslims, Christians and Jews, but also idolatry religions. Why not have dialogue with the Buddhists or Hindus who number thousands of millions? The major religions dominate most of the world. I have called for dialogue with the Jews, not the Zionists, because the Koran says; “And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong” [Al-Ankabut 29:46]. The Zionists have done wrong; they have invaded Palestine and established a state there, they shed blood and forced the people of the land out of their country and they are colonial settlers. There can be no dialogue between them and us.
Muslim Brotherhood leaders are sometimes accused of saying one thing to English-speaking audiences and another to Arabic-speaking groups. In a sermon aired on Al-Jazeera just weeks before the newspaper interview, Qaradawi’s tone was somewhat different:
People are plagued by epidemics, they are stricken by tragedies, they are ruled by their enemies, they are defeated by [those who should be]the losers, they are treated with impudence by the cowards, and they are confronted with the insolence of the wretched, just as we see in the case of our nation in these times. The Jews, who were stricken with humiliation and misery – “Thou shall surely find them to be the most covetous of life of all people.” Those cowards have begun to tyrannize the Muslims, to rule the Muslims, and to do whatever they like in the land of the Muslims. Is there a catastrophe greater than this?
Despite frequent denials of anti-Semitism, Qaradawi has made statements which appear to question the Holocaust and chaired a Muslim Brotherhood theological body that used the notorious anti-Semitic forgery the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its deliberations. He recently blamed “Zionism” for the Danish Cartoon crisis and suggested that the number of Holocaust victims has been exaggerated. In March, he said on Al Jazeera TV that the “idea of annihilation and extermination came from the Torah.” He is often seen in the company of rabbis from a group known as Netuei Karta (Neturei Karta), a group of Jewish rabbis whose dream is “dismantling the state of Israel” and who have have attended a Holocaust denial conference in Tehran as well as praising Iranian President Ahmadinejad after calling for the destruction of Israel.